So this is it, guys! This is the very last day of My July Challenge. You guys have been... so enthusiastic, more than I could have hoped for. So thanks so much for all your comments and encouragements.
I have tried to post this story so many times that I'm actually not sure if it's on the site or not- either the formatting of the piece screws me up, or somehow the site deletes it. I wanted to do something really, really special for the last day of the Challenge, and it occured to me that this story was just sitting on a hard drive, waiting for it's day to come, and I should fight for it's right to be seen.
8in8 is an album by the band of the same name. Neil Gaiman, Ben Folds, Damian Kulash, and Amanda Palmer came together and decided to try and make eight songs in eight hours and sell them for charity. They ended up with five songs in five hours, but the songs were so completely lovely that I think we can forgive them, can't we? *wink*
I've had the idea to do something like this for quite a long time, and I actually have another one that has been a Work in Progress for close to six months somewhere on my computer for Florence + the Machine's album Lungs.
This is a collection of very small short stories for the 8in8 album- each story is a little scribble for each song on the album. They're not all perfect- I'm not quite happy with Nikola Tesla, and I have this sneaking suspicion that I have interpretated the songs completely wrong (and mis-spelled interpretated) and therefore this is worthless. But it was fun.
I do not even pretend to own these songs, because they are far better things than I could ever write. They belong to Neil Gaiman, Ben Folds, Damian Kulash, Amanda Palmer, and possibly some other people, but I don't know their names. This is me trying not to steal work or violate copyright, so this shall be my disclaimer- I don't own the rights to these songs. I also do not own the songs themselves, something I should really change.
I also know the formatting on this is probably strange, but I just wanted to focus on getting it up. I'll work on getting the formatting right over the week. Note- Yes it was, and I think I've fixed it.
I fully apologize for the long introduction. Enjoy the stories, and thanks for all the wonderful support you gave during the Challenge!
I don’t even know his name.
I met him last night in a diner. All I wanted from him was a light for my smoke. The light was on my counter in my apartment and the only other person in the diner was giving me a disapproving look for smoking in the diner.
All I wanted was a light.
But he looked me in the eye, something guys don’t do. Sure, they look at me. They look at my legs, they look at my tits, they never look at my face. And the fact that he did made something in me jump.
And he really looked at me, y’know? He didn’t want me to be his whore. He didn’t want me to be a one-night stand. He looked at me like he could see through me and gave me my light.
He stood up and held out his hand. I took it. I’m still not sure why. I guess it was the fact he looked at me more than anything.
We walked hand in hand through the streets. He had eyes that were bright in spite of being tired and his hand was warm and his mustache curved up when he smiled and when he kissed me I felt alive.
After he kissed me, I said “Why?” and he said “Because you’re special.”
We walked hand in hand some more before we watched my apartment. We told each other things we’d never told anyone else before. We walked until we got to my apartment and I pulled him into my room.
The next morning we both knew. He kissed me goodbye and said he’d be back one day.
“Is that a one night stand answer?” I asked. He grinned and kissed me on the forehead and somehow that was tenderer than the kiss on the lips.
I don’t know his name. I don’t know his background. He was like the mystery man I dreamed of from my childhood, that would come and take me away from all this shit. I don’t know who he is, only the secrets he told me that night, ones he hadn’t told anybody but me and ones I sure as hell won’t tell you.
I haven’t seen him for decades. I’m getting old, and people have long since stopped asking me why I have given up on dating. My friends have grandkids and I have a dog named Tesla because my mystery man’s middle name was Nikola and I found it ironic that the thing I’d spend the rest of my life would be connected to the thing I never would.
It’s been years.
But that’s okay.
Because yesterday I heard his voice on the radio and somehow it still made my soul sing.
Because the Origami
Dear Mum and Dad,
Hopefully if the mail lady doesn’t crush it with her mail, this will be in the mailbox. It’s a little dove. I’ve written the message on the inside coz my friend Auralie said it was cool when people do stuff like this.
I’m staying with Auralie right now. We’re being supersecret and quiet and stuff. She’s really cool. I go to school with her, and her family’s quiet.
Auralie has one brother, a cat named Rudolph coz when they got him she said he looked like a reindeer, and a Mum and Dad. I haven’t met her Mum and Dad, coz she says that they’ll be mad if they find out she’s keeping me in her room, but I listen to them at night when I’m playing on Auralie’s iPod and they’re very quiet.
I don’t wanna live at our house any more coz it’s not quiet. You and Dad are always fighting and it’s very loud. So I’m gonna live with Auralie from now on, coz she’s very cool. She’s reading this as I write it. She says hi.
Maybe if you stop fighting so much, I can come and visit sometime.
I have to go now because Auralie’s Mum and Dad’s favorite TV show is on and this means while they’re busy we can sneak out and put this in the mailbox.
One Tiny Thing
The world goes on
The stars still shine
The moon still hangs where it should
The girls next door still compete in the motorcycle tournaments
The dog crap from my neighbor’s backyard still stinks
There’s traffic everyday for five minutes downtown
I still have to pay my rent
Life goes on
But without one tiny thing
And that is
That you are not lounging on the back porch
That you are not watching Sunday Night Football
That you are not sleeping in my bed
That your closet holds only my clothes
That there is only one razor in the bathroom
One tiny thing.
Twelve Line Song
Some things are very strange, you know?
Sometimes you’ll just be going along your normal, everyday life and suddenly WHAM!!! Something happens! Can you believe that? Things happen!
Like, say you’re just relaxing, taking a bath. It’s been a normal sort of day, got up, went to work, or school, whichever you prefer, came home, and decided that you wanted a bath. Funny what human beings want, right? Some of it’s really good for you and some of its absolute shite.
Anyway, the bath. You’re just lying there, maybe playing some music, maybe you’ve got bubbles, maybe you’ve got a mimosa, the window’s open, nice breeze, and you’re just there.
And suddenly this thing SPLOOSHES into your bath! And you look around wildly, trying to figure out what this thing is that’s just interrupted your relaxation, and it takes you a few minutes to find it, but then you do, and you’re stunned.
Because you’re holding this squirrel, and it’s twitching in your hands, and then it stops twitching and you just know that’s its dead.
And you stare at this wet, furry, dead creature in your hands, and you don’t get it. Because just a minute ago it was alive and now it’s not and you don’t understand why. Why is it dead? Why did it decide to die? It must’ve been planned, people (and animals) don’t just randomly jump into other people’s bathtubs.
So it killed itself. Why did it kill itself? Why did it, how could it? Was it to save someone? Was there a lady squirrel involved? Or is the lady squirrel you’re holding?
And you make this sudden little noise, this laugh, and you’re horrified with yourself, because you shouldn’t laugh, a squirrel just killed itself in your bathtub.
And then you cry, because a minute ago it was alive and now it’s not.
Some things are very strange, you know?
I’ll Be My Mirror
She thinks of her youth, when she played on hearts and tossed around her body like it were dice, when she didn’t care how many men’s hearts she broke or even if they were the hearts of men.
She thinks of coming home every night and her parents glaring at her, demanding to know where she’d been so late at night. She thinks of stumbling and giving them the smile of the drink and assuring them, slurringly, that everything was all right.
She thinks of when she found out that there was no doubt that she was pregnant. She thinks of wondering who the father was and knowing she would never know.
She thinks of holding the child in her arms and rocking it and smiling at it and how beautiful she thought it was.
She thinks of watching her little girl get older, thinks of when she reached her fifth birthday.
She then thinks of the car accident. Of the nurses telling her she’d never walk without a limp, but not caring, because her baby girl wasn’t breathing, she was gone, and it is all her fault.
So she screams. She screams at herself in the mirror, not caring what anyone thinks because it makes her feel just a little bit better.
The Problem With Saints
I sit down on the park bench with a sack of honey-roasted peanuts next to Joan. Her hair is short, and her tunic hangs loose over the armor.
“Isn’t that heavy?” I ask. She shrugs.
“I have worn it in the heat of battle,” she says, voice strong. “I have worn it while rallying my country to victory. It does not concern me now.”
I shrug. “Okay.” I hold out the sack of peanuts. “Peanut?”
“Thank you.” She takes a peanut and pops it in her mouth.
“I do not like you English,” she informs me, French accent heavy.
“You are all right, however.”
“I shall spare you when I conquer your country and kill many of your kinsfolk.”
“I appreciate that.” I hold out the peanut bag to her and she takes more.