"Had there been a different way, perhaps a different route, then none of this would have happened. Ill at ease. Words are such inadequate, insane constructs. And here I was, fighting the blank page, the blank screen. Did word processors have a lack, an ever rising desire to be filled, to be fulfilled? I wanted to be full. Needed to be. Easy to be ill..."
He rambled on, touching the tips of his fingers against each other nervously. They met stiffly, like the beaks of spastic birds passing twigs or berries into each other's mouths, as if an egg would be lost, as if the entire species of this particular avian would be eradicated if they stopped this useless, repetitive gesture. Beak pecking at beak. Finger tip tapping at finger tip.
I grabbed his hands. I called his name, wanting to pull him out of the stream of words he was drowning himself in. His grey eyes stared fully at me behind those bent and scratched frames that trapped them in. He was lucid, yet he was lost. Such an angular, pale face, like my own. Though I had the light dusting of freckles, he only had his sallow computer tan, such a trendy look nowadays for the cyberspace junkie.
His eyes were shut. His flesh beneath my fingers began to tremble violently, and then his whole body convulsed once, twice. Harsh, wracking cries, and then I was grabbing armfuls of him, as his being fell apart before me, sliding and slipping to the floor with his sobs. I grabbed and clutched at him desperately, showering reassurances like medecine and candy, trying to put him together again.
His glasses had fallen off in his fit. I cupped his face in my hands and he stared at me, his mouth working, face flushed, eyes so clear, so blurred with tears and remorse. He cheeks glistened.
"Listen, I just... I didn't... I did what I had to... She's... I've failed--"
I didn't realize what was happening until it was there, on my lips. Against my lanky frame, pressing hard, with need and desire. I had just wanted to silence him. I was tired of his useless, futile logorrhea, his torrent of meaningless words that leaked and dripped with guilt at every syllable. He needed reassurance from me, he needed my strength and my silence at this moment. I hadn't known that I needed something from him as well.
I tasted his tears on my tongue. His lips were softer than I realized. I delved deeper, exploring his mouth, surrounded in his pain. I mixed my own agony with his, and he answered, instinctively, our tongues rubbing and sliding against each other in a slick and slippery dance of mourning, acceptance, renewal.
Fingers were sliding up my shirt, feeling along the smooth, hard curves of my abdomen, climbing up my ribs, and then stroking urgently at a nipple. I moaned into his mouth. I retaliated, I succumbed, one hand feeling down the curve of his spine to cup and clutch his taut behind, while the other caressed the diagonal line of his hip that brought my questing fingers to his pelvis. Underneath his pants and boxers, I found the bush of pubic hair, and pushed on, sliding my fingers around the hilt of his pulsing and rigid member.
He gasped at the contact. Our eyes suddenly opened, our lips broke apart. He stared at me and began to hyperventilate.
I bit my lip. "Erin, I--"
He tore away, using the hand that was up my shirt to push me backwards, my hands pulling out of his pants to hang limply at my sides as I watched his swiftly departing figure. I couldn't do anything, couldn't call out his name, couldn't go after him, the events of the past couple of minutes replaying grotesquely in my mind and disabling any inclination for thought. I was left alone, with rage and confusion and a hard-on straining against my pants that spoke a truth neither he nor I could bear.
2) Poem: Bride of the Vale
And had we been
But a single sapling
in a silent grove
With the fingers of our being
Extended in opposites
Held strong and fast
Phylum and xylem
Constant in our growth
Brimming with the fruits
That with the jagged bite of metal
Still never could be truly severed
Oh, had we been
The water of this valley
that from the heavens
fell with lucid grace
Winding endlessly, well-traveled
Between the rocks of dangerous appeal
which are worn away
and sensibly avoided
The rushing, babbling, frolicking
Of cool and calming streams
baptize the fish
and folk alike
Or pool and brood within the welling
Bosom of the earth to nourish
like a foster mother
of the unseen masses
And though the sun would gather droplets
The cycle flowed, eternal in its force
If we had been these monuments
These processes of nature’s make
perhaps we would
have prevailed all
And time would not have sent
Its legion of eroding doubts
that freeze ardor
and melt fidelity
To leave one cold, bare, pitiless
Against the biting winds of bitterness
Perchance I would not be so tied to this
A fateful branch, a sturdy trunk
that holds my
neck in place
Caressed by loving zephyrs, soothed by streams
Is this the dream, this sleep, or were you?
3) Novel Excerpt: Park (from #42)
I swung forward, hard, almost falling off and landing on the sand. My hands were wrapped tightly around the chains, my eyes dizzied by the quick transition of ground, to sky, and back again. I felt my hair flying about me, the wind rushing in my ears, my rapid breathing and straining muscles trying to go farther and faster.
The bastard was still beating me.
“Just give up, Lily,” Hunter shouted, as he whizzed past me. We were going in opposite directions, but I could tell he swung higher.
“Sheddup and swing!” I growled.
No use. I knew it was over before it began. Initiating back up plan: I kicked him. I heard the yelp of surprise as I sent his swing careening to the right, then leapt off my own before he had time to come back and crash into me. As soon as I dusted the sand off the knees of my jeans, I started running. I got as far as the soccer field before he tackled me to the ground.
His green eye was furious, but his blue one was laughing. Sand was sprinkled in his orange hair. I noticed this because he had hoisted me above his head before slamming me to the ground in a harmless, but quick wrestling move. Damn him and his insufferable wrestling. Struggling only made his hold tighten.
“You’re a bitch, y’know that?”
I snarled. “Damn right I am. And when I get free, I’m gonna kick your ass back into last year.”
“Yeah, sure there, Lily. Just give it up—”
At those words, I managed to wrench free (though this would probably give me huge bruises all over my arms), and punch him in the stomach, then shove his face into the grass. My foot swung back to give him a swift kick, but his hand grabbed it and I was sent sprawling on my backside once again.
“You’re stubborn,” he commented. He pulled my shoe off and sent it arching gracefully into the trees on the far side of the park.
“You asshole!” I shrieked. “I’m giving you less than a minute to go get my shoe.”
He shook his head and began walking back to the jungle gym. “No way, dude. You were the one who kicked me, remember?”
“Forty-five seconds... forty-two... dammit, Hunter!”
I clenched my fists, and then strode towards the cluster of trees. My shoe was caught on the lower branch of an oak. By the time I got back to the swings, my dyed black hair was in tangles, my jeans and shirt smeared with dirt.
“You suck,” I declared, as I sat down on the swing beside him.
He nodded. “But not as much as you and swinging.”
“You take pleasure in pissing me off, don’t you?”
“Schadenfreude,” he said, tranquil, as he pushed off, feet straining for the clouds.
“Schadenfreude. Deriving satisfaction from the misfortune of others.”
“Isn’t that sadism?”
“No. Sadism is gaining sexual pleasure from other’s pain. Like getting a hard-on when you see a chick getting spanked. Schadenfreude is different. It’s the wave that’s sweeping the world. Well, it’s always been there, but the media blows it up like it always does. It’s like laughing when you see someone trip and fall down the stairs.”
“Ha. Sounds like the majority of my high school. All they do is sit around and bitch at each other, stab each other in the back, destroy each other’s souls—if they ever had any in the first place. Human beings are disgusting.”
“Thanks,” he said dryly. “You also forget that you’re a human being too.”
“Yeah, so what? I had this vision, when I was watching this year’s student council get on the stage, that I was school president. That I could get these stupid fools to look into themselves and realize how monstrous they really are. I had this strange power to change them into what they were inside. And they tried to rip themselves apart. It was funny.”
“So what happened?”
“In the end I got bored and purged the place.”
“Dude, you’re such a pyromaniac.”
“Pah. Fire’s cool. It’s like an unstoppable plague, spreading and destroying. But unlike the human plague, when the fire’s done, from the ashes new things can grow. It’s cleansing.”
Hunter stopped swinging, planting his feet in the sand to stare at me. “Don’t you ever wonder why they’re like that? Why schadenfreude is such a commonplace thing?”
“Because it’s human nature.”
“Naw, man. Don’t they teach you Sartre at school? Humans create their own nature. The inability to cope with that, the fear that comes from the realization we’re the only ones responsible for ourselves can be daunting. Some people just slide into an abyss of angst, into such apathy that they don’t care about anything anymore. They find amusement when there should be compassion. Of course, most people are too stupid to be unhappy.”
“First of all, Sartre was an atheist. You are a Catholic high school student. Second of all, they don't teach Sartre at my school because it’s a shitty public school. Third of all, you just said God didn’t exist.”
“No I didn’t. Humans create their own nature. God created humans. Gave them free will—which is their own nature.”
“I can’t believe this. I’m friends with a Christian existentialist punk rocker.”
“Hey, I like metal too.”
“Irrelevant. What I wanna know is if God knows everything, then everything is predetermined. So how do we have free will?”
“Think of it this way. The paths are there. It’s up to us to choose the path. The chain of events down each path is predetermined. We choose the paths according to the natures we make for ourselves.”
“Y’know, you should teach my Sunday school class, not Reverend Johnson.”
Hunter almost fell off his swing. “What? You go to Sunday school? You’re shitting me.”
“I shit you not, Hunter. My parents found my notebook—”
“Wait, not the notebook? Not the one with the psychotic scribbling and doodles?”
“Yep. The notebook. But instead of sending me to a therapist, like any other dysfunctional family would do for their disturbed child, they enrolled me into a Sunday school class for teenagers needing help. I went to my first one last Saturday. Made quite the impression. Seven of us in total, including me. Got to know all their names before the class began. Most of them are just scared kids questioning their faith. Others got dragged there by their parents. It looks like I’m the only one who’s certifiable.”
Hunter was still shaking his head in astonishment. “That is... incredible. Incredulous. Just... my mind is boggled. You going to a Sunday school? What are your parents thinking?”
“I have no idea. You’d think they’d have some sense by now. All I know is I’m not going back there. I thought regular school was bad—this place is like the mother of all bullshit, which gave birth to the other institutions of bullshit.”
“Why’s it such bullshit?”
“The dude was talking like a Nazi. About superiority, and how we as Christians are better than everybody else. We’re the chosen ones. We’re born for greatness. We have to surrender to our destiny, yady, yady, yah. He sounded like George Dubyah Bush in his fanaticism. I’d love it if adults made sense, for once.”
“You know, maybe you’re looking at it from the wrong angle. What makes sense to you, then?”
I looked at the ground, scuffing sand with my shoe. “I dunno, Hunter. Things never make sense, least of all my own thoughts. Everything just seems routine, seems boring, seems as if it’s all been done before. The world has nothing new to offer.”
“Then take a different route.”
“What the hell are you babbling about?”
“Take a different route than you usually do in life. Look at things differently. Maybe it’ll make more sense. In any case, it’ll be different. Instead of doing things the way you always do it, give something else a chance.”
I gave him a sceptical stare. “Sometimes, you can be such a nauseating optimist.”
“And you can be such an extreme fatalist. That’s why I’m better at the swings than you.” He pushed himself off again. His green eye was grave, while his blue eye laughed, like always. “You always think about how you can never escape from the ground. What you have to do is think of how much closer you are to the sky.”