Fireworks for family: or the madman’s plea

A short piece.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

I went to my parents house, all fucked up
It was fourth of July
I text my cousin, 17 years younger
She just got off work. I just left the Bird.
I needed a ride, so I wouldn’t pass out
On my way up the hill
I demanded her wheels and her heels, on the gas, because I had some things to say, to my family, then I backtracked, because I was being rude and asked politely.

I don’t know how much I had. If you’re like me you don’t count drinks, you count the feelings that are left. I had one. The truth. Which I hear you say isn’t a feeling, but it is when you bounce your truth off of those who don’t know it. It ricochets and comes back as pain. So I wanted the ones I loved to know my lane. Cheesy, I under-stand, but who gives a shit, when they can hardly stand, like a poet who rhymes the same word with the same word. It’s all bullshit, like the sentence and incorrect hyphens.

That little kid, whose diaper I changed, drove me in her Mercedes Benz. She stopped and asked me a question. She wanted to know something first. Now I’m writing this drunk, again, and I wish I could remember, but I know that whatever came out, meant that I loved her.

So she took me to my parents, whom at my 35 years of age, moved into a villa, as they deserved. It makes me proud because when I was 3, we lived in an apartment in Canoga Park, L.A.

It occurs to me now, the luxury I have in writing and not working. In drinking and not worrying. In being divorced and not…well, that part hurts, but it’s all beside the point. I saw my family and they saw me for what I’ve been since 17.

We had hot dogs, as Uncle Sam’s pointing finger demands. My drunk uncle wasn’t there but my drunk ass took up a chair. Thinking now, my baby cousins and only aunt were familiar with this scene, I’m sorry, that was disrespectful to my aunt and baby cousins. (Yeah, there grown, but my age keeps them under) I don’t know why. Never done it before. I’ve always avoided, being fucked up and walking through any of their doors.

My grandma’s were their too, but they didn’t bat an eye. Greeted me as if I was the same quiet guy. But I couldn’t shut up.


It occurs to me that maybe both of their husbands drank and told me lies. One of them died in a drunk accident, then Yaya took up the sacrament, in sacrifice of her only child. My mom, definition of strength, and I walked in with that whiskey/ cigarette stench. 18, all alone, no English, never knowing a home. My Mom, still hugged me, said she loved me.

My dad, with the burden of his old man, telling him it’s over, that he couldn’t stand. Holding on to a pedestal and cementing his feet into a man that knows fucking everything, that’s my dad, who used to squeal and squeeze and call me machete, with a little lisp. Full of love but needing to be tough because, fuck the rules of poetry, he had to hear his dad talk of his own suicide. So now he stands in cement, like a statue, that I admire, but is too tall to hug and too scared to soften his love. Or maybe it’s just my self-pity because he still says machete to me.

Who knows what I said as I ate that soggy, relished bread, full of franks. I wanted to speak frank, but I don’t know what I said, the point was, I love you, I don’t know how to live, and I’m not yet dead. So help, I don’t know. I don’t know, I don’t. Know.

But I love you and I miss the Christmas story that grandpa used to read, even though I stared at presents with innocent greed. Then my cousins, belshnikle, (however it’s spelled) came out with humor when their lives were also in hell. Their daddy, my uncle, lost in his mind with alcoholic bread. Oats, hops, cans, pops, I saw his red face and winced but also pounded gavel. Then told my aunt she should tell him to pound gravel.

Like grandpa’s churchy slides, I projected what I knew should be done to me and it was and I’m no longer rhyming but the truth is, I also kept other people from climbing. If I’m drowning, I’m sinking, shrinking, struck with the curse of the alcoholic, too much thinking.

Too much thinking. I’ll never forget and when I’m drinking, my eyes always blinking. We were supposed to smile until our jaws quake, laugh until our lungs ache, lock our eyes til’ the gaze break and hold our hands til’ our bones break. Now…

If I don’t drink my hands shake. When the phone rings, I don’t take and I keep my eyes open til’ daybreak. I’m a shuttering glitch, stuck in a doorway.

And that’s where I’m at, rambling, not making sense. I want to be understood but I don’t care to understand. So now, I’m using my thumbs to write this shit. I stand in front of the mirror, after never drinking enough all day, after five lines of cocaine and for now my nose is clear, and for now  I’m dancing to the same beat on the speaker my mom bought and I threw up nothing but liquid 20-some times in the sink, while my body still swayed to the music. And I dry-heaved 20 more times, still moving And I keep writing while I have 10 beers and a bottle of wine in the fridge And I rarely use my credit card and I keep writing and I rarely use my credit card but I raise up a line from that hill of California snow, roll up a 10 and breath in that fresh powder, like an asthmatic to his inhaler and I love you all, and the dogs are fine, and I love them too and I lay with them and I feed them and I take them to the vet and we’re fine but I’m not and I’m using too many conjunctions and that’s fine because I don’t want this to end, because I’m too addicted to breathing because I want to see how you all end up but I’m not sure how to stop and I love you and…

maybe this is how it’s meant to be

Wait until I turn into a tree.

Stuck in a long, slow, goodbye

Waiting for earth or sky

Always misbehave

To twirl an elegant wave,

like every stoneage queen’s hand

since water met sand.

© 2021 writesmarcus.com All Rights Reserved

Honor, Describe, On

A short piece incorporating three random words, written in 20 minutes.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

Masks betray allegiance
Character on display
Grocery
Gas
Work
Home
Play

I/me/it
Refuse to play
Masks, sure
Identity, no way

No privilege in opinions held
Only privileged array
It’s somewhere in the middle
Not black
Not white
Gray

Speculative hypothesis
Speeding ticker tape
Brought to you by Skype
Hairy knuckled apes

Schizophrenic bricks
Seizure flashings
Falling skies
Hypnotize

Politics
Tune in
Choose R
No G
Choose B
The race of race
On color screams

Most trusted
Alternative
Number one watched
Hear it first
Quench your thirst
The truth already botched

Condition, Skin, Waiter

A short piece incorporating three random words, written in 20 minutes.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

Slip, drip through cracks. Crocodile flesh the desert floor eats all alive sun baking the heat Venus Fly Trap. Death

Circumstances, existence temporary. Ripping veils kicking, screaming, bleeding, kissing, fucking, missing, sleeping…not waking up. Being

Fingers, toes all in a flurry. Skittering, tittering blurry. Frenzy, quaking and shaking. Sun’s point of view, we don’t move. Waiting

Pain, pangs, sharp, dull. Internal buzzing, humming, thumping, drumming. Moon lathers, shaving, slivering, chiseling, waning. Time

Pain, pangs, sharp, dull. Internal buzzing, humming, thumping, drumming. Moon is full. Love

Surprise, alive, squeeze, squeal. Internal buzzing, humming, thumping, drumming. Moon shaves and grows. Love

Dirt, water, air, fire.

falling stars
waterfalls
choking weeds
blooming buds
browning grass
lush jungle
forest fire
toxic sunsets
fresh air
bleeding noses
Eskimo kisses
Love

Role, Disturbance, Dine

A short piece incorporating three random words, written in 20 minutes.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

It’s not the shoes. It’s the feet. It’s not the feet, it’s the bones, muscles and tissue. It’s not really even those things, it’s the brain. The thing that tells the feet what to do, where to pivot, stop, book it, boot it, jump, slide and plant.

Even when they don’t feel it that day. On any given day the feet come to play, the mind could be a million miles away. Dreaming of that perfect companion with which to dine. Those sorts of things are controlled, some would say, by the heart. So perhaps it’s not the brain, but the heart that when hurt, doesn’t allow the brain to function properly.

Lace up all you wish but the distractions are many and the appetite for play simply isn’t there. Hear the cheers, the boos but if you don’t see that one face in the crowd, the heart just won’t play. Or maybe it will, perhaps it truly can be mind over matters of the heart. Perhaps you can will your feet to connect where they need.

I don’t know. Sports is very one dimensional, usually all or nothing. He gave it his all. She just didn’t want it enough. Is that really the best way to make parallels with our life? Maybe sports are just fun to watch.

Today was a good day for living but not for writing.  

Vitriol

A short piece, September 10, 2020.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

You might read this and you might know me, or at least think that you do, but only those close right now know what I’m up to. I’m not the past, I’m not my experiences, or my family. Those may inform my choices but I am really only what I choose to do right now. So fuck you.

I sharpen my pencil when the letters get fatter on the page. Like a drop of blood sucked into the syringe of an addicts needle, you turn away your attention when my words bleed into your idea of me, just before plunging in your comfortable narrative.

Me? What a crazy concept. A ball of indie movies and music with arms and feet. A scarecrow mixed with contrarianism and a middle finger.

If you want it, chances are I don’t. if you’re talking about it, chances are I haven’t heard it. If you photograph it, chances are it’s not worth remembering.

This piece of vitriol brought to you by truth. Truth discovered by waving a machete through the dank foliage of your hashtags, peace signs, fake idealism and fear masked by makeup and dancing. Hacking at your need to defend yourself when no on is attacking.

My tips getting fat, it needs to sharpen again. It reminds me of you, I think you should get sharper too. Stop talking about what they tell you to talk about and start talking about why they tell you anything in the first place.

If you’re really against “flaming hot cheetos” that run “democracies” (your word, not mine) like dictators, then either put a bullet in his head or give your jabbering jaw a little slack. I know at least my ears will stop ringing from all your white noise, and it is white noise in more ways than one.

April 26, 2020

Evening on the patio.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

A smoke and a tall boy on the back patio. The smell of orange blossoms wafting, every so often in the breeze. Deakan and Baby Girl sniffing at the weeds, chasing crickets and staring off into the yard where Edison does not reach.

I need a new mask, the strap broke on my old one. Too much stretching on and off for every trip to buy necessities, convenience and what-the-hells. Money is on the mind but so is pleasure.

The tall boy’s are sweating. The Black & Mild is sweet. Tears don’t come but I can feel them howling, getting closer like coyotes trekking through the desert, chasing a mirage, feeling the ache of relief but never reaching it.

It wasn’t yesterday or the day before, I don’t remember the date but it was a Friday when we agreed to get divorced.

The études of Philip Glass keep me company as I try to figure out what happened yesterday. Not yesterday, but some time long before it.

I do drink but no bars are open, no restaurants and no parties. The alcohol mixes with sadness. I don’t have a good reason but are things, all choices, justified?

Maybe, like a virus killing off percentages of human potential there is some thing out there pursuing balance. The wild dances of the flame are paid for with the price of a match stick.

In a maze of metaphors I lose my train of thought. I am too easily distracted by the loftiness of deeper meanings of life and its choices.

The magic of a marriage is not in the illusion of happiness but in the preparation and repetition of the illusion itself. The little things that go unnoticed so the grandeur of the illusion is preserved for its audience of one. My time would have been better spent on those little things. Those little things that would have made the whole experience so much more magical.

Smelling candles, trying on clothes, perusing all the aisles of a Target “just to see what they have,” pretending on the occasions when it was important to preserve her excitement, making her lunch, stopping whatever thing I was doing just to say hello, hugging her when I couldn’t fix “it,” hugging her when I didn’t understand her, never interrupting, kissing her goodnight, kissing her good morning, being as excited about my birthday as she was, pushing aside my gripes about buying Christmas gifts and getting lost in her excitement of finding something each person would like, waiting on line and making her smile instead of dismissing it as “too long,” not putting up a fight about the little house things she buys, losing myself in the thought of her excitement when I chose to focus instead on my beliefs about religious holidays, never rolling my eyes in annoyance, never making her wants my observable burdens, expressing my authentic sexual nature to her, getting those tattoos, not telling her to be independent but standing next to her and watching her be it, telling her she’s strong, telling her she’s one-of-a-kind, sharing my doubts, sitting with her while she does something, treating her as equal but also showing that I care, showing her she’s important and not just anyone else.

I know, I have a feeling at least, that there will be more things I think of for years to come.

The difficulty for me is not in all the sudden changes to my external life. The difficulty is in finding the truth in the swirl of thoughts, emotions and new choices without her.

Maybe its not finding truth or not simply finding truth. Maybe it’s something else, one of those words we use to underline our circumstances; a reason, a catalyst, a problem, an answer, etc. I don’t know. There is a piece in all this that is missing. Maybe it’s her. Maybe this is that time between flames when only smoke and charred wood remain, when the next match is scraped against the bottom of a shoe, just before a new fire bursts into existence.

Factor, Attic, Fill

A short story incorporating three random words, written in 20 minutes.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

Fill what’s empty
plenty
one to twenty

space unrecognized
sized
brain disguised

Addict’s eyes
compromise
Attic’s rise

March backwards
hcram
stuffed clam

Time to rhyme
Logic and
Reason be damned

Not a factor
Nonsense
wheal-less tractor



Retain, Function, Analysis

A short story incorporating three random words, written in 20 minutes.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

I haven’t the faintest idea how much I have drunk. I can see what’s left in the bottles and count the beers but those are no indicator as to the capacity or volume of liquid. At least not with my vision in the state it’s in. Perhaps an analysis of my personal ability to consume would be helpful if not at the very least interesting.

My ability to function with certain amounts of H20 and alcohol sometimes astonishes me. Bottles and cans shiver, empty next to the trash can, their use outlived, their spirits transferred into my being. I know that I am able to keep their contents long in the memory of my gut. My guts retention is amazing. A true American in all its glutenous, consumptive old glory.

Like those bottles and cans waiting to be tossed, I too shiver at the thought of needing more. A deep valley, is my body, slowly filling with the trickle of some Joshua tree property hose.

Yet, I still bob my head to the music, play with the dogs, wash the dishes, respond to endless streams of asinine emails and rub out those liquid pearls. What is a man to do with is time, his animal instincts and his intellect? To eat, to masturbate, to read, write and paint. That is how time is measured; in tasks, ideas, grunts and the reckonings of shame and regret.

Some of us take up our kitchen knives and create memories for our bellies. Some of us take up our kitchen knives and create outlets for pain. So much pain. What do we do with this pain? I don’t know, refer to how I spend my time.

The optimist believes in something greater, always better, a rising sun. The pessimist believes in nothing, see’s everything, the rising of the sun, its heat, its cancer, its vitamin D and its setting. The pessimist sees what is and optimist sees what could be. No one is only one of those things. It’s impossible to board an airplane and never think of its crashing.

Crystal, Axis, Angst

A short story incorporating three random words, written in 20 minutes.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

There is an angst that comes with the threat of suicide. Not one’s own, but that of one someone loves. It’s jarring. I love you so much so why would you not love yourself? That’s the question I find myself asking. Where will you go? If you are away from me, what will I do? Where will I be? How much time will it take me to get back on the path of “being okay”?

If I allow anyone to rotate around my axis, to be my moon and stars, how long will it be before they leave me? What have I been doing or not doing that removes them from my orbit? I am not the center of the universe but I like to gaze at the other stars, moons, planets and suns that grace me with their presence.

Don’t leave me. You’re light refracts from me. It reflects from me. I enjoy it’s rays coming to and through me. If your light is not there I am afraid of the darkness that will take over. I may find a new light but it will never uncover the shadows you have left.

A few have left me. A few leave everyone. Confused and contemplative of where we are left when those we love go away, whether from time or death, we stay and think. So I am here thinking.

I do not know where my crystals have gone. What will guide the light towards me when they are gone? When you are gone?

To punch the truth in the nose, why do some of my friends message me via text and never respond? “Hey, let’s hang out!” “Okay, what days and times work best for you?” I reply. But there is never a reply to mine.

Where will you go if you are not with me? Am I not adequate enough? because I feel that you are adequate enough for me, more than adequate. I love you but you leave me. So what do your words mean when they don’t match your actions?

A kitchen knife down the veins of a forearm. A car sitting idle in the garage. A man swimming out as far as he can to make sure he can’t swim back to the sand that grounds him.

Box, Swing, Touch

A short story incorporating three random words, written in 20 minutes.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

Six sides, 8 corners, and hollow in the middle or sometimes the vessel of some great surprise. It’s potential, opportunity, pregnant with possibility. A box.

The stomach holds the great tangled nest of intestines, large and small. Like the patterned maze of the brain, the stomach holds all the feelings. The butterflies, the guilt, the shame, the regret, the excitement. It bares the burden of our most pivotal moments. It’s that spot in the dirt where heels dig in to turn directions and change course.

To rub Buddha’s belly is a sign of good luck, it will bring good fortune. It’s hard not to think of the Buddha being tickled by so much rubbing, with that big grin permanently etched into his golden face. To run a mindless finger around the belly button, to feel the grooves and smoothness of worn away stone or metal, is an act of meditation.

Momentum. The tick and tock of a clock. The up and down of the yo-yo. The yin and yang of life. The back and forth of the swing. The push of feet against concrete against the pull of gravity. To what end? Gravity always wins.

Box, swing, touch. Everything is connected.

Vein, Ghost, Decoration

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

She tapped at median cubital vein, slapped at it. The skin turned red and eventually the vein bulged. Squeezing her wrist, she pushed the tiniest drop from her syringe. The blood she drew into the syringe, wrapped itself into the hero, grabbing it’s hands and pulling him into her body.

The sensation was of wallflowers. Becoming a part of the scenery, the background, a decoration that’s been hanging for so long it’s lost all meaning. A ghost viewing life but not able to live. She leaned back, her mouth open, her eyes only slits. The needle stayed in her vein.

This was what life was supposed to be like, this feeling. The feeling that kids have when their minds are not filled with worry. When everything is a surprise and the smallest pain feels the worst because there are no other comparisons. Their minds aren’t in control, only their hearts.

These were the sorts of Hallmark card thoughts that passed through her mind. The price of this feeling of what life should be like was to miss out on the life she otherwise knew. Her addiction was a dance with what ought to be and the ache of ruining what was.

Addictions, once progressing, have a limited shelf life. They lead always to change. Only to change. The battle is between who and what will be in control of that change. The what has the advantage because the who needs light to make moves and there is mostly darkness in a battle with addiction.

Once down and clear and back in the life she knew, that familiar ache rocked her back to a sitting position. She couldn’t know it now, but that ache was really feeling. Pain of losing a bit of life and feeling that loss immediately after each tiny death. Pain is what separates the decorations from main attractions, the ghosts from the living.

She remembered something, maybe from a tv show or movie, “to feel pain is to know you are alive.” So she pulled out the needle, tears in her eyes and gritting her teeth, knowing that she was still alive.

Word, Square, Nice


3 things to inspire 1 story written in 20 minutes. #story320

words/phrase provided by @justninajo

In Cincinnati lived Samual Meeks. His old colleagues and friends used to call him “Smee”. Now the name felt detached from him, something of myth or legend, just another word that conjured up an old image.

He sat, sipping at his Irish coffee. Really, he had argued, it was the coffee of the working man. Each country had their slight variation on liquor and coffee. Caffeine to wake the body and whiskey to have a nice day, nothing spectacular, just a nice one.

Samuel read the newspaper, something he’d started to do after publishing his memoirs. The publicist he’d been assigned at Hukster & Simple’s Publishing told him he’d be asked about his thought on many topics, not just his book. The publicist said that would make him appear more approachable and position his persona for a much better second book launch.

So he made it a habit of scanning the news. He didn’t need to be an expert, “just care enough to look intelligent but not so much where you become a martyr. Media martyr’s don’t stay long in the public eye,” the publicist had said. He felt more like a square than someone intelligent.

The whiskey in his coffee began changing his mood. On page 6 or 7 of the paper, there was a short human interest piece about a man who claimed to have seen Peter Pan as an adult. The journalist covering the story made the angle more about an otherwise rational adult making an irrational claim. Samuel was curious about the claim itself, in the same way his intrigue was peaked when hearing about UFO or ghost sitings. He didn’t believe it but the possibility was always interesting.

What would make someone ruin their reputation and credibility by claiming to have seen a grown-up that was Peter Pan? That was crazier then Yeti’s or chupacabras.

Samuel finished his coffee, nearly half of it, before finished the article. He squeezed his eyes tight and stretched his throat, realizing how much “a little bit of whiskey” he had actually poured.

The man claiming to have seen Peter Pan was on his way to work at a construction job somewhere in the California Desert. He’d stopped at a McDonald’s for breakfast and said “Peter Pan grew up! He was taking handfuls of salt packets and shoving them in his pockets. He looked homeless.”

That was it. The journalist had not provided any context for which to allow the reader to decide if the man was making a reasonable claim or not.

What ere the man’s religious beliefs? Did he believe in Bigfoot? Had he also seen ghosts and/or UFO’s? A ‘No’ to these questions would make the claim more intriguing, thought Samuel.

Popcorn, Jar, Bounce

3 things to inspire 1 story written in 20 minutes. #story320
words/phrase provided by https://wordcounter.net/random-word-generator

“Listen,” I told the cashier, “I need a tent but I’ve never been camping so I don’t know where to start.”

The cashier, who looked like he had just popped in to work at the Big 5 from a life of camping, stroked his beard while staring me up and down.

“Will you be camping alone or with friends and family?”

I cleared my throat and scratched my cheek. Just as I was about to say “alone”, Madonna’s Like a Virgin came on through the store speakers and I changed my answer.

“I’m a camping with friends.”

The man pulled a Mason jar full of water from below the counter and took a swig. His eyes bulged, his cheeks flushed red and he let out a puff of smoke before replying, “well, if you are camping alone, I recommend a pup tent.”

“Why’s it called a pup tent?”

He ignored my question and pulled a small brown sack out from the same place his jar had come from.

“This here’s a pup tent and I’ll give it to you for $25. That’s a steal kid.”

I looked at the sack, which looked like it had bounced around the back of a pick up truck full of ketchup, mustard, mayo, ranch dressing and BBQ sauce. That’s also what it smelled like.

“Do you have any other–” I began to say.

“No, thats it, the tents you see around are only for display.”

I glanced at the aisle marked CAMPING and saw boxes and boxes of tents.

CLANG! POP! BANG! POP!

I jumped.

The man stroked his beard and took another bug-eyed swig of his interesting water. Droplets rolled down his beard as he reached down and pulled up a camping stove.

“Popcorn?” he gestured with black fingernails. I could see dirt spidering through the cracks in his hands.

“No, thank you. Listen, could I speak to a manager?” I said looking around.

“Manager? Who do you think you’re talkin’ to little feller?”

“Oh, excuse me.” My face curled up unconsciously into disgust as he gently pressed big, damp wads of chewing tobacco into his left cheek, in between large handfuls of popcorn, which he maneuvered to his right side with his tongue.

Parallel, Adjust, Water

3 things to inspire 1 story written in 20 minutes. #story320
words/phrase provided by https://wordcounter.net/random-word-generator

It was right there next to me, the entire time. I never realized it was there until it was gone. And not just the good stuff, but the bad as well, I realized it all.

I saw a kid kick the cane an older man was leaning on. The old man stumbled, did his best to catch himself but lost his balance and fell. That’s almost what it feels like, except the kid would have had to take a step further and snap the cane over her knee.

It’s like losing a leg. No, it’s not. That’s probably worse and better left to those who have that experience. But I can imagine that losing a leg is a lot like suddenly realizing your life was in parallel. Each walk was left, right, left, right, left. Now you’re left with right and have to find a way to adjust.

Another thing that’s confusing is all the racing your mind does in moments like these. It can’t stop, won’t stop thinking. It only takes a small crack for all the fissures to splinter off in all directions. Eventually consuming the mind with all sorts of nonsense that I think holds water.

It usually doesn’t, the thoughts usually don’t. The simplest answer is usually indeed true. But something about us, something about me is still drawn to conflict, still finds its way to war. What they call that necessary evil. Would it be necessary if there were evil? Well how do you get rid of evil?

And that’s what I mean, my mind need only focus on my immediate, personal problem but it wants to find the underlying issue. That single unifying, unavoidable trait in humans that causes pain. What theists call sin and atheists call human nature. Beyond all of their bloviating over “ifs” and “whens” and “proof” there is still our existence. There is still us, our experience.

I think therefore I am tortured.

And again, I’m wandering away from the practical, wandering away from solutions and diving deep, deep into that hole of self.

It’s a bottomless pit, self, a never-ending chasm of self-doubt, self-loathing, self-harm, self-pity, self-denial, me, me, me, I, I, I.

It’s a trap. When I stand parallel to myself and look in the mirror, I see a different man. Sometimes he’s more handsome than yesterday. Sometimes he’s uglier than yesterday. Self-esteem.

Back to the problem at hand, how does one trust when there is nothing concrete on which to rest trust. Reason for no reason.

Accept, Salt, Noiseless

3 things to inspire 1 story written in 20 minutes. #story320
words/phrase provided by https://wordcounter.net/random-word-generator

Peter woke up. It had been raining and water was running down through his spot on the middle of the hill.

He heard birds chirping and could see some light peaking through a slit in the tarp. He knew it was about 6 AM because the sound of passing cars on the freeway was intermittent.

The clock ticking next to him, he never se to the correct time. The ticking sound was all he needed. He wasn’t sure why but he couldn’t sleep in a noiseless environment.

Peter grabbed his hat and bent to step out of the tent. His breath was visible in the air and he pulled his hunting cap down over his ears.

Peter walked under the freeway and up around to the other side. Following the road for about a mile until he came to a McDonalds.

Peter ordered from the dollar menu. While he waited, he filled his pockets with as many salt packets as he could before the manager chased him off.

Peter walked back to his tent. Before stepping inside, he held the bag in his teeth to free his hands for tearing open salt packets.

One packet at a time he sprinkled the salt in a circle around his tent. Satisfied, he took the bag from his mouth and stepped inside the tent.

Sitting back on his pile of rags, he started a small fire and opened up the McDonalds bag. Once again he threw everything in the middle of the burger out of the tent, keeping only the bread, which he toasted in his hands over the fire.

After having eaten, Peter pulled out a crumpled spiral bound notebook.

On the open page was a drawing of a flag, black with a skull and cross bones. Taking a pen from his pocket, Peter continued coloring in the black of the flag. As he did so, a shudder ran through his body, jolting the pen through one of the crossing bones.

Fire, Water, Plant

3 things to inspire 1 story written in 20 minutes. #story320
words/phrase provided by https://wordcounter.net/random-word-generator

The scene was hazy, so I tried to determine which elements were present.

I looked down but could only see, well, I couldn’t see past my belly. I shifted my weight just enough to feel something solid.

Earth.

My lungs weren’t burning and I could feel that familiar habit of inhalation and exhalation. It was automatic. I couldn’t remember a thing but I was breathing. Air was present.

I looked down at my belly again, focusing on something dancing, a shadow bouncing around the rim of my umbilical cord. The shadow was orange and red.

I looked up and saw the source of the orange on my belly. I curled my hands around the cord protruding from my stomach and used it to pull myself toward the slit.

A deep red, orange, yellow wind brushed past my face.

I started to panic as the safety of my darkness was slowly eaten away by the colors.

Now I could see greens and browns leaping out behind the reds, oranges and yellows. I tried to retreat to the safety of the darkness but a weight pressed down on my existence. An apocalypse of my cocoon.

My hands suddenly forced to my sides my nose smashed against the walls of my home. My head bubbling in different directions.

Suddenly my being floated and my world of black exploded into a million pieces of light and color. I floated, my lungs burning. My eyes squeezed tight but the light still stabbing through.

The force accelerated my floating and I burst into an alien atmosphere. My face and body melting, my hands tried to curl around the cord at my belly button but nothing was left.

In shock my mouth sent a scream and all my senses came to life.

I was born.

Pale, Review, Expansion

3 things to inspire 1 story written in 20 minutes. #story320
words/phrase provided by https://wordcounter.net/random-word-generator

Peter sat on the dock, his big right tow the anchor for some fishing line. Although nothing was nibbling, the skin around his big toe was whiter than the rest of his body.

He dangled his feet and looked up at the sky feeling a sense of nostalgia. The smell of the ocean, sound of seagulls and feel of the hot sun seemed to be trying to pull out some distant memory.

Peter had seen something on TV where a guy used one magnet to move around another magnet that was on the other side of a wall. That feeling of nostalgia was like that, a pulling of something that felt familiar but wasn’t seen.

Peter pulled up his feet on the dock suddenly. He cut the dangling fishing line from his toe with a switchblade and stood up. He looked at the sky. Now black clouds were moving to block the sun.

The nostalgia remained but it was blending with a sense of dread. He tried to review the expansion of feeling inside him.

How could he feel so many things? What was that nagging sense of nostalgia bordering on deja vu really about?

Peter walked to where the dock met the sand and picked up a half empty 12-pack of beer. Every time these feelings began to wash over him, he would take a drink. Such a simple, effective cliche. Another thing he had learned on TV.

This time, however, the feelings remained. This time, Peter thought he heard the muffled ticking of a clock and the distant sounds of raucous, drunken singing; chanting following the low rumble of drums.

Peter turned his head to look at the spot where the water met the sky. He finished his can of beer and grabbed another.

The sky above was beginning to thunder. Peter stumbled toward a nearby outcropping of trees and crawled under the tarp he had hung between branches. Before he passed out, he winced at what he thought was the sound of jingling bells.

Yes, No, Maybe

3 things to inspire 1 story written in 20 minutes. #story320
words/phrase provided by @ladychap84

And those are my only choices?

Yes.

I can only agree or decline, correct?

No.

Oh yea, I can say maybe but that doesn’t really mean anything. Which reminds me, why do we say maybe not? Isn’t maybe both the possibility of something and nothing all at once? So maybe is possibility, yes is the affirmative and no is denunciation.

No.

Too simplistic?

Maybe.

Maybe?

Maybe.

So the maybe is both yes and no. Some may be satisfied with my answers above and some may not but did everyone understand? Maybe. I get it.

Yes.

This all seems a bit binary, or I suppose tri-nary, if that is a thing.

Maybe.

Exactly.

Yes.

So I can only answer three ways.

Yes.

Yes is not no and no is not yes and both are maybe. So I’m always in a state of maybe. Maybe is Schrodinger’s cat.

Maybe.

Maybe is the moment between having asked a question and having an answer. And if that answer were also maybe, then maybe would be like standing in between two large mirrors, trying to peer past your own reflection to see the something, but only only staring into possibility, the maybe.

Maybe.

Yes.

Yes.

Yes to maybe?

Yes.

No.

Yes.

No.

Yes.

Maybe.

Yes.

Yes.

Maybe.

So yes to no and maybe but not yes to yes, is that because the answer is both possibility and definition?

Maybe.

So you mean to say it’s more than that?

Yes.

So you’re maybe has a meaning beyond the question asked. In order to become a yes or no, other questions must poke and prod the maybe into a definite yes or no shape.

Maybe.

Maybe, you say maybe because I am close to the true answer but not close enough to a yes or a no.

Yes.

Oh my god, I am something brilliant.

No.

Am I yes?

Yes.

Am I no?

Yes.

Am I maybe?

Yes.

I am?

Yes.

Remake, Iron, Easy

3 things to inspire 1 story written in 20 minutes. #story320
words/phrase provided by https://wordcounter.net/random-word-generator

At first it annoyed Henry. All the reports of micro aggressions that were making their way into the news cycle. Little things like a man or woman assuming the boss or doctor being referred to in conversation was a male. Or things like internet celebrities making videos of themselves destroying property and stealing while critics praised their “courage to take comedy to the next level.”

Frankly, Henry had no clue what a micro aggression really was but like a pressure cooker, we decided to let out a puff of steam once in a while so as not to blow up one day.

He started at the movie theater. The film was a remake of a movie that had already been made and remade five times.

During the movie, Henry would shout things out:

“Bullshit.”

“Come on, that’s ridiculous.”

“Why not film a turd in the toilet, it would be cheaper and more original than this crap.”

That’s as far as he got. The ushers escorted him out but in a sense, Henry fell liberated, a little steam had puffed out.

When he arrived home, the mailbox was stuffed with what to Henry amounted to a big wad of garbage. So, he kicked the mailbox off its post and threw it into the garbage, where he felt the whole thing belonged.

After a couple of days, he received a notice from the United States Postal Service stating that he would need to put up a mailbox or else the mail would no longer be delivered to him.

Perfect, Henry thought. It was easier than I imagined. Then he tossed the USPS notice in the garbage as well.

Then it was his cell phone. He stepped inside his house and heard his phone ringing, without looking to see who was calling, Henry threw the phone in the trashcan outside.

Henry began looking through all of his possessions, realizing that they annoyed rather than brought him joy. He deflated his basketball and football throwing them away. He snapped his golf clubs over his knees and threw them away. He did keep his 5-iron because he liked to hit golf balls at the top of the hill overlooking the freeway. Which, he decided, is exactly what he would do after his material purge.

After the golf session, about 15 minutes of screeching tires, broken glass and honking cars, he drove down to the nicest restaurant in town.

Upon arrival, he waited for a table, noticing the sign that said “no shirt, no shoes, no service.” After being seated, ordering and eating, he removed his shirt and his shoes. When the waiter came by again, he ordered dessert and got away with it.

Henry learned that if you’re already in the restaurant, you can break the rules, not a moment before.

Knowledge, Belief, Motivation

3 things to inspire 1 story written in 20 minutes. #story320
words/phrase provided by Dad

Around the ages of 11-13, you receive a beach ball. The ball is fully inflated and you’re instructed to keep the ball in the air while you do all the other things necessary during your day.

When brushing your teeth, you keep hitting the ball in the air. When eating, studying, working, playing, sitting, driving, ordering, shopping, running, walking, waiting, rushing, etc. You keep the ball in the air.

You’re told that the ball is to remind you that you are not in control and that you must rely on an unseen power. They tell you this because then they tell you it’s okay if you drop the ball as long as you pick it up again. That the most motivation they give you, that if you drop it, as long as you pick it up again, you’ll be fine.

You do your best to keep the ball in the air. You drop it a few times while doing your hygiene routine but pretty soon it becomes second nature to keep the beach ball in the air.

The only time the keeping up becomes a problem is when you study. Your mind focuses deeply on the books you’re reading and for those moments you completely forget about the ball and everything said about it. Then you close the book, see the ball and pick it right back up again, tossing it into the air and keeping it up.

Pretty soon you start to think deeply outside of the books. You find yourself detaching the symbolism of the ball from the action you’re observing. You realize it’s becoming a nuisance, maybe even an unnecessary distraction. But you keep it up because they told you all sorts of things to scare you: “Without that constant reminder that you are nothing without the unseen power, you’ll shrivel up and die.”

Then you become angry, realizing that many people do not keep beach balls in the air and they do not look shriveled in the slightest. In fact, they seem more capable of engaging with and participating in the world around them.

You walk up to one of them and ask, “What happened to your beach ball?”

They say, “I dropped it a long time ago and never picked it up again.”

“Why?” You ask.

“I found that when I focused on what I knew, the world became less abstract. I found that the beach ball had really become a reminder that I don’t know as opposed to what it was intended to be, a reminder that an unseen is in control.”

You think, then ask, “So how do you answer those questions the beach ball answers?”

“I don’t. I’ve found that one of the phrases rarely stated confidently is ‘I don’t know’ yet when it is given as an answer, I feel closer to others than any sort of beach ball brotherhood because it reaffirms that we all don’t know, together.”

Imbricate, Pongee, Zucchetto

3 things to inspire 1 story written in 20 minutes. #story320
words/phrase provided by Dad

In the museum I was mostly bored save for a few minor details that caught my attention. Supposedly, at one time there were these organizations, run mostly like clubs with memberships, that had the benefit of being tax exempt. Religious organizations.

Each one claimed to be different but after millions of years of doubt, questioning, corruption, and frivolous rules, the obvious simply became too obvious to ignore.

There was no catastrophic event, it was only a “last straw” sort of situation.

Now I was passing an exhibit that was part of the Catholic section (one of the largest section of the museum). The guide pointed at an old pink colored hat, just large enough to fit on the back of a skull, and said “Notice the pongee on this Zucchetto. Pongee the Chinese silk fabric on a cap traditionally worn by Catholic clergy. Quite the contrast of cultures and beliefs in one little cap.”

Indeed, the irony was right in front of their faces (or on their heads) the entire time.

We passed a display with all sorts of symbols. The Christian cross was pointed out as another symbol of irony; a torture device used by the Roman Empire became the symbol of a supposedly peaceful belief system.

The Jewish star, a symbol of the merging of heaven and earth, or to others, the merging of male and female. It turns out a symbol of tangled confusion. Most, if not all the symbols had more than one meaning, which, the tour guide pointed out, should have been another clue into the ambiguous nature of religious truths, if it could be called natural.

We passed by books that had been called holy but were now simply considered old and outdated.

We passed miniature cathedrals, temples, churches, synagogues, mosques, etc. All destroyed now and replaced with museums, art installations, libraries or public parks.

When the tour ended, I walked back to the section with miniature versions of the once erected places of worship. They must have been truly magnificent works of architecture and they were inspired by awe, wonder and a deep reverence for something they believed to be as real as the stones, wood and stained glass used to build them.

I stared at one rooftop in particular, the plaque read “This rooftop was built to mimic the imbrication often found in nature. Notice the uneven staggering of tiles, not like a snake or fish but more like that of a pine cone or blossomed flower.”

What was it all about? Who was it really for?

Exciting, Chocolate, Clock

3 things to inspire 1 story written in 20 minutes. #story320
words/phrase provided by @ladychap84

I can feel that bubble welling up in my chest. No, it’s not a literal bubble it’s that feeling of pressure that rises up and sometimes forces your cheeks into a smile or occasionally causes you to shake. when you’re about to get something you’ve been wanting for a long time. The anticipation of receiving that thing you’ve wanted for a while.

I sat on the edge of the check-up bed, my bare ass sticking to the thin paper they pull over the top to stop cross-contamination. I could feel the paper sticking in my crack and start to curl up my thighs. This part was not exciting.

I was waiting for the news about my cancer. The nurses and doctors had been treating me like I beat it. They were slapping my back and saying things like ” I shouldn’t be saying anything like this but I’m 90% sure you’ll be cancer free. Let’s just wait for the tests.”

That was the excitement. Now I was staring at the clock, begging its hands to speed up. I needed to know.

I heard a soft knock on the door and the doctor came in. He didn’t look like a man about to tell another man that they were cancer free. In fact, the doctor looked the opposite.

He came over next to me and said, “Sam, I’m sorry but I spoke too soon. Your tests came back positive and the cancer has spread.”

I could only muster an “oh.”

“I’m afraid you only have another two or three months to live.”

I looked up at the clock, the hands now looked like they were zipping around its face. I wanted everything to stop for a minute so I could wrap my head around it all.

“Can I put my pants back on?” I asked, not really waiting for his reply.

The doctor was talking but I wasn’t listening as I walked out. I still had on the gown over my pants. Passing the reception desk, I reached into the bowl of mini-candy bars.

“Sir,” said the lady at the desk, “we ask that you only take one at a time. We want everyone to have the opportunity to get some.”

“One at a time.” I grunted, then stopped and pulled out a mini-mars bar and stuck it in my mouth. I reached into the bowl and pulled out a mini-reeses pieces. In between chewing the mars bar, I stuck the Reeses in my mouth.

One at a time, as per the lady’s instructions, I unwrapped and ate chocolate covered candy bars, until they were all gone.

It was too much. I started to gag. The lady pulled a trashcan from under her desk and gave it to me. I threw up all the chocolate, a lot of it still intact.

I wondered if it was my gluttony or my cancer that made me sick but then I thought, with two or three months to live is that really what I’m going to think about?

Resonant, Rich, Testy

3 things to inspire 1 story written in 20 minutes. #story320
words/phrase provided by https://wordcounter.net/random-word-generator

I imagined one day that I would have money. Not that I definitely would but I imagined what it would be like to have money.

I remember the movie Richie Rich, Macaulay Culkin living in a mansion with a roller coaster and being transported by helicopter. I remember Scrooge McDuck diving into a vault filled with gold coins. He would do the back stroke and spit out coins like water.

Now I’m older, fortunate to have as much as I do. Now because I’m able to get my car’s oil changed or buy all the groceries I want I feel rich.

It’s an appreciation of wealth. I don’t mean me saying “I’m grateful” I mean since I’ve been able to work and earn money, I understand the value of money.

The realities of having a rollercoaster in the house would be a nightmare; all the maintenance, security, city permits (of which there would be a plethora for safety, zoning, expansion, etc.) not to mention that riding the same ride would get old. Not that I could afford to have a roller coaster but even if I could I would not choose to afford one.

I think that’s what being wealthy means to me, being able to make decisions on what I will choose to afford so that what I need to afford won’t make me broke.

There are a lot of reasons I’m at the point I’m at now. Yes, I have worked hard but really I had a lot of opportunities and help from people who cared, (or at least I think they did). I think that makes me rich as well.

I have a friend who talks about not having much money but their personality is such that they have a wealth of friends, acquaintances, people they’ve met who would provide opportunities at the mere mention of needing help. Not that this friend likes asking for help but people feel like helping.

I know that when it comes to topics of money, wealth and privilege, people can get a bit testy. I can get a bit testy. Privilege is often loaded with politics. No one likes to feel like the things they have are not deserved or even earned.

I used to think about the idea of a “self-made man”, perhaps an out-dated term but it applies to anyone who claims to make “it” on their own.

I don’t know that I believe such a thing really exists. There are people who work hard and look for opportunities, then get them. There are people who work hard, look for opportunities and don’t get them. There are people that don’t work hard, know people and get opportunities.

You see where I’m going. There’s any number of scenarios in which people receive or do not receive opportunities.

Something that resonated with me recently was an exercise that Mr. Rogers used to do on his who and with his crew. It was to take one minute and think of one person who has helped you get to where you are, even if it’s not all the way to where you want to be.

That resonated with me because while I don’t believe in a god, I do believe that other people are as important as myself, and Mr. Rogers’ exercise is a good reminder that we all get a boost from time to time.

Master, Grim, Bate

3 things to inspire 1 story written in 20 minutes. #story320
words/phrase provided by @taabithewonderer

She was in a foul bate sitting in traffic. Her knuckles were white, gripped around the steering wheel and she was gritting her teeth. She refused to look at the drivers or passengers in the cars all around her.

“This,” said Master Tempo, “is traffic. People all over the world would travel to places like this.”

“I feel so angry, Master, why do I feel so angry?”

“Because you are human and when you are sitting in your car, surrounded by moving cages, you are directly facing your limitations in that moment.”

“And people did this everyday?”

“Sometimes twice a day.”

“And that’s what stress was?”

“That was one way to feel stressed, one of many. People realized that to eliminate stress, you eliminate options or choices.”

“But doesn’t that go against what you just said about traffic? That the anger of sitting in traffic is an anger at realizing your own limitations?”

“Yes. Excellent, but that is only because of their choice to drive. If you remove that choice then you are a passenger, simply riding along.”

“But someone has to drive.”

“Excellent again. Yes, so long ago they decided that a few would drive, a few voted and elected to drive. Everyone else would just be along for the ride.”

“You’re not talking about traffic anymore are you?”

“No, I’m talking about our new ways. We all have the same jobs, we all live in the same houses, we all have Master’s and eventually we all become Master’s. And we never have to leave the house. Everything is automated and you learn through the audio/visual headset.”

“But what if I want something, something else?”

“You don’t need to want for anything and the best part is you won’t have to deal with anything you don’t want.”

“What about the garbage, human waste? What about sex and human relationships?”

“You’re experiencing that now.”

Sheryl removed the headset and blinked, letting her eyes adjust to the California sun. A car honked behind her setting off a chain of honks. She put the VR set on the passenger seat next to her.

I’d rather have the choice of getting stuck in traffic than that bullshit, she thought, looking at the VR set.

She took her Tesla out of autopilot and stared at the bumper of the proud parent of a child at McKinley Elementary School.

Curdle, Debauchery, Feckless

3 things to inspire 1 story written in 20 minutes. #story320
words/phrase provided by @salgadoarnie

I was at the office. It was 3:20 PM and I was in my cubicle picking staples out of my arm.

Jerry had come by and “filed a couple of reports” which I guess meant put as many staples in my arm as possible before I was able to wrest the stapler away from him.

It’s okay, Jerry’s dead now. Susan came by with a carton of milk that had been in the fridge for two years. She doused him with it. While he was trying to rub away the milk from his eyes, she asked him if he wanted a towel and instead handed him a plugged in toaster.

It was like watching a reverse Frankenstein story. Where the living creature gets jolted, jumped and jostled around until it’s NOT alive.

So that’s how Jerry went. I don’t have to worry about him but Susan, my god what a psychopath.

I need to get out of here by 5 PM but I have to pass the conference room on my way out. There’s supposed to be a meeting in there until 5:30, which I suspect will be a bloodbath. Ever since the former owners son took over, we’ve all been working ourselves to death.

It was now company policy that only combat wounds received in the workplace were covered by insurance, couple that with the totality of anarchy outside the workplace and you were always on high alert, high strung and needing to keep the adrenaline high.

Kristen came around the corner. A trash can on her head, a two-fanged stapler remover in one hand and a long gel-filled wrist rest for the computer in the other. That thing could leave serious bruises if wielded correctly.

I pulled out the last staple and grabbed my keyboard for a shield. Kristen stopped at my cubicle.

“I have no quarrel with you, where is Jerry?” she asked.

“He’s dead.”

“Well, have you filled out his death report? Called human resources? Put out a casualty memo?”

“No.”

“Well, dammit Stan, what are you waiting for?”

“Yeah, no problem. I got it.” I started looking through papers for the right forms, blood was drying and sticking sheets together.

“Have you seen Susan?” Kristen asked.

“Yeah, she’s the one who ‘filed a couple of reports’ on Jerry.” I said.

“What the hell are you talking about, reports? I told Susan to toast Jerry right after he stapled your arm.” said Kristen.

“Oh, okay, I must have misunderstood what he meant, because he walked in talking about reports…” I was getting nervous and starting to drone on. “…but he did staple my arm, he did do that very well, I only just finished taking them out.”

Regular, Tiresome, Popcorn

3 things to inspire 1 story written in 20 minutes. #story320
words/phrase provided by https://wordcounter.net/random-word-generator

A helicopter flew above them, its blades chopping at the air. Below the canopy of the jungle the two of them sat in their foxhole.

Jerry smoked a cigarette and looked at Miles who was alert and canning the jungle in front of them. The sounds of the helicopter faded leaving only the occasional rustling, lonely sqwuak and, thank god (or whatever was up there) nothing else.

Jerry broke the silence. “Why do they call the enemy Jerry?”

Miles ignored him, so Jerry continued.

“I mean, that’s my name and I’m already out here in the shit taking fire for some rich politicians spoiled son and they have the nerve to call the enemy Jerry.”

“What are you talking about?” Said Miles. “That’s what they allies called the German’s in World War 2. Nobody’s saying that now. Relax, man. And put out that cigarette, Jerry will smell it and be on us like green on leaves.”

“They can’t smell shit. They probably in the same position, scared out of their minds–wait, did you just call them Jerry?

Miles laughed. “But seriously, put it out man, they’re sneaky.”

Jerry put out his cigarette and grabbed his rifle, taking a position next to Miles.

“Do you know how out of my mind I am right now?” Said Jerry.

“What do you mean?”

“I’m sitting out here in the middle of a country I hadn’t even heard of until a few months ago, with a guy I hadn’t met until a few months ago with my face painted in black and green sitting in a deep mud puddle. That’s far out, man.”

“Ditto,” Said Miles.

“Is that normal? Just two regular guys sitting out here aiming loaded weapons at nothing?”

“I know man.” Said Miles. “But you better keep that talk between us, it’s tiresome to everyone else.”

Jerry smacked at a mosquito on his arm.

“If Jerry doesn’t kill us, these fuckin’ mosquitos will. God damn!”

“Hey watch my back,” said Miles. “I gotta take a shit, right on schedule.”

Miles hopped out of the hole and crouched behind a tree, still holding his rifle.

“You been going pretty regular, that’s great,” said Jerry. “I’m still at the mercy of the soup inside.”

“Hey,” said Jerry. “what do you miss most about home?”

“Toilet paper,” said Miles. “As many plies as I want plus folded. Toilet paper.”

“I miss the movies,” said Jerry. “You could feel terrified one minute, then walk out of the theater and head home the next. It was just an experience.”

“well this out here is an experience too.” Said Miles, pulling up his pants.

“Movies and a big tub of popcorn. That’s what I miss,” said Jerry.

Flame, Famous, Shy

3 things to inspire 1 story written in 20 minutes. #story320
words/phrase provided by https://wordcounter.net/random-word-generator

She went on to do great things. Invited to universities she had never attended to give graduation speeches. Invited to television talk shows so her admirers could see she was really like everyone else but in the most glamorous way. Her name was leant to movies, books and T.V. shows as a way to further promote them. She made trips to congress to speak bout issues in which she was passionate. She was loved and adored. Her personal life, however, did not exist.

Her name meant many things to those who followed her but to herself it had lost all meaning. her quiet demeanor was misattributed as humbleness and her few choices of words marked as the attribute of a great speaker, rather than to her shyness.

Long after her body existed, she would live on in the memories of the collective conscience. They would make meme’s of her on social media platforms that generations after would look at and attribute new meaning.

And, of course, she was heralded as a great voice for women all over the world. Though she never directly spoke of women’s rights, her image was used as an example to all women.

To this, she had her doubts. Am I a tool for another’s agenda? Do I belong here for my ideas? Or will I always be a female body with ideas, doomed never to be separated from my anatomy.

These questions would arise in her mind but to them she also rebutted, as long as my ideas are sound they will rise above all superficialities, in time.

She got older and wiser, the political climate changed and issues came, went and came back again. Her image came and went with them.

Now as she neared the end of her life, with only a handful of years to walk this earth, she noticed the same things.

“Here is an example of a woman who has risen above it all to achieve great things, despite.”

“This woman has to rub it in everyone’s faces that she is a woman, just focus on the ideas, lady.”

She had heard the same criticisms all her life, on both sides, calling her woman. They were not wrong but they were miles away from the truth.

As she spent her final days in a house of a quiet neighborhood in some lazy suburb, she would look out the window and watch the world go by, still with that same flame, passion and will. To all of you, she thought, that say I am more than a woman or just a woman, I only ever wished to live as I am.

Cents, Sense, Sent

3 things to inspire 1 story written in 20 minutes. #story320
words/phrase provided by @thebriemarie

The computer is a cold brick compared to a piece of paper. Writing on a keyboard is too mechanical, it doesn’t make sense. There is no continuous flow of thought from brain to finger tips. When writing angry, pressing harder on the keyboard doesn’t show on the screen. On paper, I could read the emotions of any language by the jaggedness of lines, indents left by utensils and letters spilling over lines and bumping into other letters.

No emotion on the screen. I am pissed. I am calm. I am shaking with rage. I am peaceful. But you only know those things because I have to spell the words out.

I can barely spell out the words now. My mind caught between thinking about what to write and remembering my finger placements. Though I’ve been typing for 25-26 years, when it comes to writing something creative it must begin for me with pen or pencil on paper.

I’m too close to distraction on a computer. My mind doesn’t wander into itself, it gets lost in the black hole of whatever question I might have at any given moment (is that really how utensils is spelled? Is there a better word for writing utensils? Who was that guest appearance on Curb Your Enthusiasm? When will my cousin be online playing video games?)

There is only paper and pen when I’m writing with paper and pen. And though often I feel as if my hand needs to catch up with my mind, it’s that furious scrawling that makes the whole thing feel natural. I’m not conscious of the tools of writing only that I am in the act of writing.

Everyday I turn on the computer and get asked about apple this or apple that. updates and notifications that force me to spend time clicking them away just so I can write. I wish sometimes there were a machine that simply allowed one to right and allowed nothing else.

Of course, that doesn’t make sense, or cents. They need to sell a machine that can do everything. They, the ones making the machines. A machine to carry in your backpack, a machine to set up at home or your office. A machine that you can put in your pocket. A machine that you can fold. But really they are all the same fucking machine. With the same abilities, assets, bloody notifications and endless stream of password change requests.

I resent it, though I use it all the time, so who is in charge? Me or the computer? I feel less subservient to paper and pen. It’s my ideas that are master when I’m using ink or lead.

Perhaps I’m old fashioned. Maybe I’m hanging on to something stupid. More bloody nostalgia, that indescribable quality on which everyone seems to be cashing in on these days. Remakes of remakes within my 33 year lifespan.

Make something fucking original. Have some guts. Keep writing on paper.

Enough of this bullshit.

Sent.