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Relax. I know what this word means, but I don't often know what it feels like. This is especially the case in the morning when I'm waking up and don't monitor my thoughts as much as I do during the day. Left unchecked, they spread like tail feathers until I'm left with these rich, colorful emotions that aren't particularly welcome. But it's precisely the act of overly monitoring my thoughts that gets me into trouble. Sometimes I wish I could be more like the girl who sits behind me, rattling on about herself and her family like there's no tomorrow.
Anthony brought down the pointed garden tool, uprooting more grass. He thought someone was standing in his peripheral vision, but it was only the blue power box in the backyard. No one is ever in that area of the yard anymore, now that Anthony's father insists on having the lawn mowed professionally. The same pine branch that used to obstruct Anthony's lawnmower ten years ago is still there, beckoning him into the past like a finger from some skeleton. Meanwhile, eighteen-year-old Bruce mows the lawn next door while Anthony watches a rollie pollie wiggle within his latest excavation.
I walked into Bed Bath and Beyond while I waited for Chris to arrive, and breathed out a sigh of relief when I saw a large display of candles. Butter and vanilla based scents always remind me of the horror behind dolls: their fake exteriors, their tendencies to overly objectify the living. There's also a distant memory associated with the scent...of me being lost in the mall somewhere, full of plastic people and banners. That's why I nearly jumped out of my skin when a salesman seemed to appear out of nowhere. "Anything I can help you with?" Nah.
Lucky "Lemon" Masterson hauled crates full of soda into the building. It was around 11:00am so he didn't expect to see anyone, but that's when he spotted skinny Cory approaching. "You know anyone who likes Cherry Pepsi?" Masterson asked. Cory paused and gazed upon the half dozen bottles of expired soda. "Sure, thanks!" Cory exclaimed, grabbing one and continuing outside into the smoking section. Masterson's big, grimy were wet from handling the condensating beverages. He slammed the door to the vending machine shut when it was full and stepped outside, puckering his lips. "Smoking is so unattractive," he thought.
The last time Cory's tennis shoes felt this white was back in 2004. Stu, whom he had just met, and Ramiro teased him about them during their smoke breaks together. Today, Cory donned his new shoes and slid into the cavernous jaws of IKEA. With a roll of down in hand, he caught his reflection in the mirror of a large walk-in closet. Those melt-your-heart candles, those sad, Nelly Furtado songs, and those sleepless nights were safe in Cory's subconscious--but there was no kidding himself. He would have to stop skimming the surface of life soon.
"Red alert!" Captain Hewitt screamed. "Evacuate all Norfair and Tourian portions of the ship immediately!" A violent jolt threw Hewitt to the floor and knocked a large strand of hair loose from her head. "Report!"
"Airlock 2G under Tourian and 3F in West Norfair have been breached," Kinkade yelled. "Brinstar and Craeteria will be breached in five minutes without seperation."
Hewitt glanced around. "Are everyone's... counterparts safe?"
Thoughtful expressions crossed each of the crew's faces and they each nodded in unison. "Fine--"
"Kinkade, you are to take command if I...I lose consciousness," Hewitt said ponderously.
Val stroked the decelerating wind as the bug-zapping, white flourescent lights of a gas station appeared on his right, making a sudden futile attempt to compete with the darkness. He stopped at the intersection, observing the soft yellow lamps that lit the highway signs where the road spread as smooth as peanut butter into ramps going north and south. Val continued, expertly splitting the tides of emotion within, where worry and self-loathing finally took a backseat to exploration and the promise of self-discovery. It didn't matter that there would be no 'off' switch, only the present mattered.
"What the hell was that?" Donna asked, once she had Valerie back in her office. "You failed to make any kind of small talk whatsoever with the Regional Sales Director."
Valerie recalled Tom introducing himself to her department outside her cubicle. Katie launched into an exuberant conversation about her Schnauzer. Phyllis reiterated what Valerie's been listening to some of her inept co-workers say for the last month: "It all seems clear as mud (giggle), but I think once I DO it, I'll manage."
"I just don't...have anything to say," she explained, ominously. "But I want to."
With all of James's struggling, the pressure within the bottle was losing integrity. He sat, dazed, watching miniature bubbles swirl around his fingers--pressed to the heavy brown glass all around him. He was slowly rising toward the cork, like Charlie and his Grandpa in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Suddenly the bubbles, which James thought were merely exfoliating his skin, turned to foam. There was a loud POP before he lost consciousness and flew through the bottleneck at breakneck speed--convulsing wildly after striking his nightstand. Sobriety hadn't been enough for him; soon there would only be hope.
"Captain Hewitt, there's no time," he said. Hewitt waved him off. "When I have a chance, I take it." The captain took the entrance to Brinstar, running down a hill thick with foliage from the previous planet Hewitt and her crew explored. These lifeforms produced their own music--leaving each of the five environments with its own sophisticated sound. At the bottom of the flora and fauna was the elevator to Norfair--where Hewitt's counterpart was last detected. The clock read just under two minutes before Norfair suffered an implosion. "Hewitt!" Hewitt screamed, descending into another world of bubbling heat.
Can it be possible that we unconscuously strive for those things that we can't have later on? I don't know how to pose the question more eloquently. By looking through my journals and camera photos, its clear that I've always preferred night to day. I discovered myself at night when I moved to Florida. I learned how to dance at night. I became addicted, literally, to Richard Marx's song, "Hold onto the Night." The day was full of noise and boring obligations that always interferred with who I was later. Why would I have ever wanted to go to bed?
It's been almost three years since Jimmy last saw his father. Outside, the morning fog parted like a curtain around Jimmy's Ion as he surveyed the road for the neighbor's children, who were recently given battery-powered trucks. Satisfied, he got into the passenger seat and took a deep breath, watching the steam from his coffee mug give purchase to the mist spewing forth between the mountains. "You ready honey?" Boone asked, getting behind the wheel and filling the car with the smell of hairspray and cologne. "Yep," Jimmy replied, exchanging a kiss. "Downtown Lexington, right?" Boone asked. "That's right."
When did the Guernsey end their contract with America's Most Wanted? Whatever happened to the word, 'MISSING' painted in block letters across paper milk cartons? Indeed, survival in the last 500 years has depended on adapting to unprecented amounts of change, whether we're talking about freedom of religion in the 16th century, the industrial revolution or even the current information age. Those unable to adapt have become reasons why more should adapt. I often wonder how different a world would be where the same amount of change that occurs in a decade spans an entire lifetime--where everything remains stagnant.
I enjoyed being a dork at CVS tonight because my favorite cashier was there, handsome and polite as ever. After getting a Cadbury bar for my dad, I loitered down the soap aisle, clicking open caps on cashmere and cranberry-scented moisturizers--spotting him in my peripheral vision. "How is it going tonight?" he bellowed. "Pretty good," I said, snapping back lids and squeezing. A partially dried clump of cherry blossom conditioner spurt into my face. "Ya'll set?" he asked, relinquishing a bottle of cocoa butter that he was pricing at the register. "All set," I gleamed. It's been real.
"He used to drive me nuts," Jimmy reluctantly explained. Boone exhaled slowly and rested his hand on Jimmy's thigh. Jimmy sighed and gently returned his boyfriend's hand, staring out the window. Outside, the rising sun turned patches of fog into living organisms that threatened to obscure everything real. There was the squeak of a finger sketching images into the window. Boone's knuckled hand sat like a fortress atop the transmission. "There was a time when I thought I'd never get away from him," Jimmy finished. Billboards began to fill the silence as they approached the caves. "It's over," Boone coaxed.
"This is Hewitt," the captain's counterpart replied in her leisurely tone. "There's less than two minutes before Norfair implodes," the captain said. "Options?" her counterpart asked. "Get above Norfair immediately!" Hewitt told herself, pausing. "Unless...where are you in relation to Ridley's airlock?" The captain moved to the edge of a cliff, fumbling for her sack of ice powder. The comm device produced only static as the captain dispersed a cloud of crystal over the fire animal, which froze. Hewitt followed suit--she would die if her counterpart died, and her counterpart would need an access code at the airlock.
Sheryl paused to catch her breath halfway across Pendleton Bridge. She leaned over the railing, watching the prisoner ship sail into the sunset as the last decade came into focus: professorship, liberation and an endless period recovery. She tugged on the bill of her cap, freeing her long, voluptuous hair. Another runner closed on her fast, so she disappeared into the growing shadows. Her eyes, two brilliant flames, flickered as visibility was donned over her again like a sweatshirt. Sheryl continued gazing at the horizon, reorganizing her thoughts--immortality would have to be reattained by more measured means next time.
Summer of 2010 has already arrived. The neighbor's patch of orange lilys has bloomed quite nicely against her light-blue picket fence. I took notice of the 6-foot tall flowers last year, after developing an interest in gardening at the Home Depot. As I write this, a severe storm is beating against the windows in my old bedroom, threatening to turn off the power again. Consequently, I'll have to finish this entry quick if I don't want to go through the trouble of losing it. Tonight they are just a collection of words without any design, and that's fine.
While dusting under the pool table downstairs, I heard the clink of plastic and discovered a Capitol One Gold card lying in three pieces on the old linoleum floor. It was my mother's, issued in April of 1997. She used to spend a lot of time in the basement watching TV while I practiced my tae kwon do. Still, she divorced my dad and left the house three months BEFORE the card was issued, so I don't think she put it there. "Throw it into three separate trash cans, my dad said later. Sometimes the basement is a sad place.
His thoughts were adrift in his bowl of soup, becoming one with the steaming broth, pork and seaweed. The pencil he used to order sushi with brushed against his right pinky finger, so he examined it like one would examine a piece of fruit at the store. "More saki?" Rachael asked belligerently. "Look, if I knew this place was going to turn into a soup kitchen I wouldn't have come," he said. "All I wanted to do was share a nice meal with you." Rachael slammed her fists down onto the table. "They need help, don't you care about humanity?"
I made my way slowly through the heavily forested downtown area. I couldn't believe I was seeing Balana again after ten years, courtesy of Facebook. As much as I missed her, a part of me wondered if it was natural to revive friendships that had been dead so long. When I pulled into Balana's subdivision and spotted her house, I sauntered out of my car and was hit with an overwhelming wave of nostalgia from seeing an available lot across the street. It was almost as if I was returning to the subdivision where we met back in middle school.
Cody lied in bed relaxing as the lights from the parking lot made their way through the blinds. The shapes created on the ceiling were unfathomable, especially when the air conditioner turned on and blew the blinds around like windchimes. The only thing real in the room was the digital read-out, sporting an ominous time of 1:11. Matilda was using up way more than her share of the mattress--sleeping on her back like an over zealous Sleeping Beauty. She was never one to wonder about the unfathomable shapes and digital read-outs. Her mind was too strong.
"And carry in the ashtray while you're at it," Ginny said, stumbling toward the garage with the patio umbrella in her grasp. "What's the big deal?" Susan griped. Ginny made a dismissive gesture and slammed the side door to the garage. Susan sat back down, gazing up at the disfigured cloud formations. She took another sip of her beer and watched the lightning bugs flicker, glimpsing a silhouette in the backyard. "Kate?" She inquired amidst the deteriorating weather conditions. But with the next flash of lightning, her sister's friend disappeared. Susan pored her beer through the cracks, willfully petitioning shelter.
Baby-smooth skin, Italian nose. Short, dirty blonde hair, nice hands. I saw it all with each trip to the printer. He was bashful yet articulate and walked with an air of superiority down the long, lonely hallways wrought with the occasional awkward exchange between two people traveling in opposite directions. Surely my lust for him was irrelevant, better kept behind another grey wall--one I hoped no one would visit. No one needed to know--especially not him. I don't need to be wrapped around anyone's finger--not now, not ever. I am in control of my own destiny.
"Come on Richard, get you ass moving!" Sheri said, half emerged in the foliage. "Where are we going?" Sheri responded by adorning a peach-colored scarf and advancing further into the forest. "There's alligators in there," Richard protested, easing his grip on the door handle nonetheless. "Here is where the man-eating plant was 'excavated', Sheri said. Little spores littered the gound over the spot she indicated; Richard though he was going to be sick. "Of course, we never thought it would grow to be so vicious," Sheri relented. "But that didn't stop the government from signing a sizable contract."
In the sparkling abyss, Captain Hewitt received word from her counterpart. She was on her way, somewhere in the bubbled stone room. Something resembling the Scylla in Homer's, The Odyssey, was interferring with her progress. The captain didn't bother chiding her for her inability to fix the airlock and spare Norfair and Brinstar from implosion. There was something of greater concern going on directly above: the triple alloyed door was closing. Hewitt jumped toward the glass elevator. Soon, the door would finish rumbling through the sediment and crush the crystalline shaft. "Go!" Hewitt's counterpart yelled, rising with the lava below.
"Frazzled?" Edwin asked. "Yeah, your friend is a little frazzled," Lori repeated. "What do you mean frazzled--panicky?" Lori nodded. "I guess you could say that." They both awkwardly stared at the bedroom door before Edwin entered. Henrique sat off to one side of a computer desk that was heavily adorned with different kinds of dolls, mainly Barbie dolls. Edwin tried to wake his friend from the trance he was in. "Henrique?" No response. "What's he doing here?" He asked, eyeing Lori with renewed suspicion. Lori shrugged. Suddenly, she looked very dirty to Edwin. "Well, call an ambulance!" He shouted.
Fingers appeared above the quick sand like the legs from some hairless spider. He felt like one of those philosphical sentiments involving whether or not a tree really makes a sound if it falls in the woods with no one around. His fine dark hair began to rise with the sand. Somehow this predicament wasn't what he had in mind when he opted for a breather from the desert palace that seemed to have the scent of soy sauce engrained into its decorative walls and arches. "Hello!" someone announced. But when his eyes left the ground, whoever it was disappeared.
Lately I've been craving that "new" feeling you get when you relocate, try something new or start seeing someone. Even though I changed jobs recently, there's something missing. It's like spending hours cleaning your car only to discover it still smells like rotten eggs. It's like buying new clothes that match your existing wardrobe, or chewing on a piece of gum that instantly loses its flavor to the point you can't wait to spit it out. It's like a doctor performing an autopsy on an alien without his scalpel. There's just something I've been consistently forgetting to bring with me.
I googled existentialism and found that the term applies to the one similarity shared between very different 19th and 20th century philosphers in that the focus of philosophical thought should be to deal with the conditions of the existence of the individual and his or her thoughts, emotions, actions and responsibilities. In truth, I found the word to be readily applicable to my current state of affairs in that my thoughts often go on and on without pause. To speak such thoughts would turn me into the most sociable person around, but I hold back; too preoccupied with my conditions.
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