Certainly the End of Something or Another

And it’s time for another round of the Indie Ink Writing Challenge.

This week I am actually going to put what my prompt was after the story. The reason for this is because I fear that knowing the prompt might spoil what I have now dubbed “The Something or Another Trilogy.” (Part I and Part II) I will say that the story came together in my head almost instantly after reading my prompt.

It’s funny, I never intended to make this into a series. It basically started because I liked the sound of the title. My prompts for the past two weeks just worked as perfect continuations of a story that I didn’t plan to continue.

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Police came to the door of The Mother the morning after the jump. The pounding at the door woke her up, hungover to the point where she wanted to perform a lobotomy on herself with a corkscrew. They told her that her son had died. Jumped off a building. When she asked if she was needed to go to the hospital to confirm that it was indeed her son’s body they told her no, there wasn’t any real body left to be identified that they had to go off the dental records and DNA found on the scene and that they were truly sorry for her loss. It was the first of The Man that The Mother had heard since the social worker took him away, all those years ago.

Preparations for the funeral began the next day. There was no coffin; there wasn’t enough of a body left to even be put into one. The Mother was forced to get The Man cremated, though she didn’t want her son to be burned. She wanted him to be buried next to The Father. Body by body.

The funeral itself had few guests. Three, to be precise. There was The Mother, of course, and she had a hidden flask full of vodka with her. The other guests were an older woman with a young child. A girl, crying uncontrollably. The Mother did not recognize either of them.

And the death of The Man is not to say that he actually had nothing to live for. He did. In the most important way imaginable, he still had something to live for. It caused him to delay the inevitable for as long as he did. A daughter. She is currently five years old.

The Man was barely out of the foster home by the time that he met The Wife. He was in the early stages of his alcoholic depression, and she was happy to oblige The Man. Drugs too, there were a lot of drugs at this point in The Man’s life. After The Daughter arrived, The Wife ran away, leaving The Man to raise the child on his own. There is still no trace of The Wife, she is believed to be on the run from the authorities.

After the funeral had completed the woman at the funeral walked up to The Mother and began speaking to her. She told The Mother that the young girl there across the room was The Man’s daughter, The Wife is not around and that she, The Mother, is The Daughter’s closest living relative. The Mother took a long drink from her flask as the woman continued. But given her ‘history’ the state has deemed The Mother unfit to care for The Daughter and that she would be placed into foster care.

She didn’t care, The Mother. The Man had run away years ago, called the social worker. It was he who severed all the ties between the two, not her. That girl is not her problem. Besides, with every single person she is close to, that person’s life turns to shit. The Father died in the snow after years of fighting, and now The Man…well, she didn’t even want to think about that. She was unfit to care for The Daughter and she knew it.

The Mother started drinking more. A lot more.

On the night of his suicide The Man had written two notes. The first note was held in an envelope and remained in his apartment. It stated that it was to be read by The Daughter when she was older. In it he wanted to explain himself. And he wanted to say he was sorry. Pain had won out against love. The second note was mailed and addressed to The Mother. It arrived about a week after the funeral.

When the letter arrived, The Mother was in a rare sober state. In truth it was early afternoon and she was nursing a massive hangover from the night before. She was surprised to see handwritten mail addressed to her, and it took her a few minutes before she realized who had written it. The letter sat on the kitchen table for quite some time, The Mother was afraid to read what was in it. She was sure that The Man was going to blame her for his suicide. She killed him. Even in death, he was going to find a way to ruin her life more.

The Mother took a shot before finally reaching for the letter with trembling hands. She found that it only contained one sentence:

Please take care of her, I know that you can do it.

For the first time since The Boy had been taken away all those years ago, The Mother cried. She cried for the fighting she and the Father did and how it affected The Boy. She cried for the day he tried to drain her vodka. She cried for the day he ran away and the day he was taken. She cried for the fact that she couldn’t have been there in The Man’s final days. She couldn’t save him. But what she cried the most for was that even though she had been such a horrible mother to him, he forgave her.

It has been 15 years since the sink in the bathroom smelled like fat black markers and the drain tasted vodka. Only this time it was The Mother, not The Boy, pouring it into oblivion. She finally decided she needed to make some changes to her life.

After all, she had a granddaughter to meet.

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My prompt this week came from Bran and it was this:

Tell me something bitter, but then turn it sweet.

I took this prompt to mean “The Something or Another Trilogy” as a whole.

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On the Edge of Something or Another

Here we go with another Indie Ink Writing Challenge. My challenge this week comes from My Plaid Pants:

Falling off the edge of the world

This challenge has the honor of being a sort of sequel to the very first piece I wrote specifically for this blog, called To Walk Through the Valley of Something or Another. Overall these two works tell the story of a very hard life. In my opinion they are some of the most brutal pieces I have ever written.

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The Boy, now grown to The Man, is standing at the top of a 32 story building and in precisely 3.4 minutes is going to leap off the edge. Suicide. Nothing left of The Man except a stain and some bones shattered so fine they might as well be sand. It is night, as he doesn’t want to be seen. He doesn’t want a crowd looking up to him, telling him he has so much to live for while one asshole tells him what is he waiting for jump. This isn’t a cry for attention. This is it, the final moments. The ‘real deal,’ as it were.

The Man is 25, but on the inside he felt that he had lived for over a thousand lifetimes. He was tired. And sick. It’s not that The Man was ill; there was no painful, incurable disease. No, it is more like there’s a darkness eating away at his soul. Like there’s a parasite feasting on his will to get up the next morning and start everything over again and again and again and again and again. He wanted to go to sleep and stay that way.

Staying asleep and death are not the same thing, obviously. For The Man, it wasn’t that he ‘wanted to die’ so much as he ‘wanted to not live.’ And there is a difference between the two, make no mistake. The Man was scared of death. Everyone is. But it’s a cost-benefit analysis: is overcoming that natural anxiety to death stronger than the desire to wake up the next morning? For The Man, the scale had finally tipped.

As The Boy he ran away from home shortly after The Father had died while shoveling the snow, now over 15 years ago. He stayed hidden as long as he could, living in the forest at first, using some of his Boy Scout training in order to survive, picking berries and attempting to trap animals. But he couldn’t stay in the forest long. The Boy was caught trying to steal food from the supermarket and brought back to The Mother. Not long after he placed an anonymous phone call to a social worker, The Mother was abusive to The Boy for everything he had done; for running away and for the day The Father died… He was taken by the social worker a week later.

He has not seen The Mother since.

The Boy was 10 when he was placed into foster care. The Boy was too old for adoption, most families choose to pick a young child, no older than two or three. They want to be able to raise the child from scratch, as if it was actually their own. He was in foster care until he was 18.

The darkness hit The Man shortly after leaving the foster home. He just stopped wanting to do anything. There would be days in which The Man would wake up and just lay there, motionless, just waiting for the next time he could shut himself from the world. He started drinking to numb the pain of living. And it was a pain, or it felt like one. Or maybe it was a lack of pain, when looking inward on himself The Man saw nothing. He felt Nothing. There wasn’t depression or anxiety or anger towards his family, the pain he felt was the pain of nothingness. It was the pain of knowing, for a fact, that he had nothing to truly live for. The pain of pointlessness and obsolescence.

It is cold, on top of the 32nd floor. It is always windy on the tops of tall buildings like that. Wind from the city below hits a high rise and shoots straight up. It is now 30 seconds before The Man is going to jump. He thinks back to his life and wonders what was the point, if any, to his existence. All he can remember in his final moment is pain, sadness and loneliness. Or at least that is what he thinks he should feel. Heaven and Hell also creep up in The Man’s thoughts. He supposes that he is now guaranteed to go to Hell, if it does exist. Oh well, it’s no matter, eternal peace and bliss probably gets boring after the first thousand or two years. At least Hell manages to stay interesting. The Man leaps from the building.

Before the jump, The Man pictured himself majestically swan diving off of the building. He thought it would be beautiful. He hoped that something about himself would be. Beautiful. The reality is not so. The Man is tumbling, tumbling and he can see the sky, ground, sky, ground, sky, ground, sky and The Man knows that noth


Whore.

Indie Ink Writing Challenge. Again. My prompt this week comes from Dafeenah, the challenge:

There was a 5.8 earthquake today and it got me thinking. 

That even if I lost everything, my hate for you would still be intact. 

Not much to say except that this piece is pretty dark. I must also admit that I didn’t put in as much time on it as I should, as I’ve actually gotten my first paid writing job as a community reporter and that has been taking up a bit of my time. It’s really great that I’ll start seeing my name on paper. And getting published is key, right?

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You bitch. You bitch, you fucking bitch. Fucking whore. How could you do this to me. Fuck me over? Bullshit. No, that’s some fucking bullshit. What, I wasn’t good enough for you or something? And your reasoning, oh, I’m just too busy for a relationship right now. You weren’t saying that shit at first when you came into my work unannounced.

I don’t get it, I really don’t. One minute you’re practically stalking me, and the next you tell me that you need ‘personal space’ and that I’m ‘stifling’ you. You don’t see the hypocrisy in this? You never saw the hypocrisy in this?

God, what’s the point to even be angry anymore, she’s gone anyways. It’s been months, why, how am I still even fucking angry at that bitch. I need to move on, need to move on but it’s hard.

Fuck, it’s not even that I’m mad at her, why I’m so pissed when I think of her. When I see her face as I’m drifting to sleep. I think I’m mad at myself, for having stayed affected by her for so fucking long. Four months, four fucking months and I still can’t get her out of my head. It’s pathetic, I’m pathetic.

But hell, I’d rather be angry than sad. And I have the right to be angry, after what she did. And over the phone, with friends around. You know how degrading that felt? I’ve never seen someone pull away so fast. And pull away she did. She wanted to spend endless nights together at first, then out of the blue she bails out.

She said that she had work, that it was going to be the busiest time of the year for them. That we wouldn’t be able to spend any time together. But it doesn’t take a whole lot of time to send out a goddamn text message. A ‘hey how ya doing?’ or something like that. Is it so hard? No. That’s why I sent plenty of them out. All day.

Because I cared.

And I’m the one who need to back off? No, fuck that. You’re the one who needed to come back in. I really liked you, all I wanted to do was show that to you. That I cared about you, care about you. I was frustrated that you said that, back off. It’s your fault I was angry, you bitch. Whore. And now you’re gone.

Because I cared.

Whore.


A Symmetrical Asymmetry

My Indie Ink Writing Challenge this week comes from Michael Webb. The challenge was one word:

Symmetry.

I don’t really have a whole lot to say about my thought process in writing for this challenge. This is the first instance in which I actually came up with the title of the piece first, so I worked from there. My thought was to create a story in which there are several different instances of ‘symmetry,’ but in an ‘asymmetrical’ sense, meaning that the symmetry is not quite identical. The italicized parts are supposed to be fleeting thoughts of the narrator, mirroring his narrative in a different way.

(You can read the response of my challenge to Illogical Being here.)

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The whiskey burns as the city comes alive. There are no stars in the city, we have to make do with the skyline. It’s a beauty of a different sort, the city at night. A demonstration to the wonder of mankind.

No one talks like that, at least not out loud. Though we should, I think. Some of the time. Especially while you sit on the roof of your apartment building with a glass of Irish Whiskey, listening to some good music on the first truly beautiful night of spring. Just watching the city move. Breathe.

A cigar would be good too, but I suppose you can’t expect to have everything you want. The music, it’s got a nice groove.

It is cloudless tonight, first time in what feels like weeks. It’s beginning to pick up, the song. Good whiskey drinking music. Everything feels more open with no clouds, it’s more peaceful this way. Though the peace has the tendency to be interrupted by the sound of sirens. Cops, medics, firemen, some kind of emergency somewhere, but who can tell, up here. The lights of the vehicles are more of an abstraction, a flicker of red and blue off in the distance; more lights bringing the city to life. Or maybe it’s more like a painting and those emergencies are like brushstrokes.

It must be the whiskey talking. The cello part, my favorite.

Time stands still up here, and yet you’re excruciatingly aware of the passing of time. Cars on their way home, trying to beat the setting of the sun. Homes coming to life with the flick of a switch. People walk by the building, it’s not high enough for them to look like ants. I doubt they notice me up here.

King of the Gutters, Prince of the Dogs. Good name. Hoo the whiskey burns good.

I am alone up here, and I have no complaints. It’s an unusual feeling, knowing no one knows where you are. My cell phone is downstairs, no contact with the rest of the world. Tricky feat to pull off today.

So why am I up here? I’m not sure I can answer that beyond ‘Why not?’ I was in the mood for a certain atmosphere, and this was the place for that. You need good atmosphere when drinking alone. More so when drinking alone to music.

No one talks like this, at least not out loud. Maybe we should. Some of the time. Whiskey’s gone. Well that’s too bad, but I don’t feel like moving. Not yet. Song’s over. Damn, there goes my atmosphere. Hey, I can see a star up there. Maybe a part of the Big Dipper. A demonstration to the wonder of nature.

I brought my notebook up here, now may be the perfect time to write, being free from distraction:

The whiskey burns as the city comes alive.


Breaking News

Week six of my participation in the Indie Ink Writing Challenge. My challenge this week comes from Tobie, the challenge:

How did you get invited to the Royal Wedding (William & Kate)?

I am going to be bluntly honest, I couldn’t give less of a fuck about the Royal Wedding. My work this week basically reflects that fact, as kind of a rant.  Though I will say that I took a lighthearted approach to it, and writing it ended up being a lot of fun.

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So you want to get invited to the Wedding Extravaganza Event of the Century™, but you are neither rich nor famous? It’s really not all that hard to do, and I shall tell you how. It’s really about two simple words: media exploitation. Study those words, learn them, love them, live them, for they are the key to getting into the Royal Wedding™.

Here’s the thing, for whatever reason people seem to really care that two people they have never met are having a ceremony that will have no effect on them at all. Ever. That means that every single media outlet out there is going to be covering the bajeezus out of this Event. As a matter of fact, CNN is sending twice as many journalists and photographers to the Royal Wedding™ than they have sent to Libya or Japan. And you are going to take advantage of this fact.

What you need to do is simple: London is going to be a chaotic shitstorm of activity this week, and I guarantee that you are going to run into some reporter or photographer at some point. And they will most likely be stressed and frazzled with minute by minute scoops about the Royal Wedding™. Maybe they got a scoop on the guest list, or maybe they found out who is making the cake. You know, serious stuff. Anyways the point is that they will be seriously seriously distracted by important breaking news. All you need to do is steal their press pass.

Honestly, that’s it. More than likely it will only say “Press Pass – Sky News” or something, though I can already hear you asking, “but what if they have a picture?” Easy, you just need a wallet sized photo and a laminating machine. And this goes without saying, but make sure you steal the pass of someone insignificant, if names are on the pass then you sure as hell can’t steal Katie Courics or whatever (I assume she is going to be there, it IS the biggest story of the year, after all).

On the day of the Royal Wedding™ make sure to arrive early, but not too early. Don’t be the first ‘journalist’ to arrive, but you sure as hell can’t be the last. Both could cause suspicion. Also, remember to bring either a professional camera or if you’re too cheap for that (which let’s face it, you are) just bring a writing pad and a utensil to write with. I would highly suggest you wear a fedora to put your press pass on, because you ARE a ‘journalist’ after all. At least for the purposes for this Event, and you gotta play they role seriously.

Oh, and on second thought, the camera would probably be a fantastic investment. Funny story, and this is true, you know those trashy celebrity gossip magazines? Well they are paying upwards of $100,000 for candid photos of What’s-Her-Face. The Bride, or whatever. Hide in the bushes and get a few photos of her in her bridal underwear and you could make some serious bank.

And once the wedding has completed you can leave that night knowing that you managed to con your way into the Biggest Most Awesome Media Event Blitzkrieg Ever™. Did it amount to anything? Did you experience something special? Is your life changed forever? Will you be able to join the rest of us proletariat down here in the real world again, because I mean, you were at the Wedding. You were at the center of the world for a day, though if you ask me, the center seems more like the eye of a storm. Empty, with everything else happening in the periphery.

By, the way, I do charge for giving out this valuable advice. I accept cash, checks (made out to ‘Cash’), all major credit cards and Pay-Pal. And if you do manage to get that Bridal Panty shot, I am also entitled to a 15% service fee.


Shattered Glass

Another week, another challenge for the Indie Ink Writing Challenge. I believe this is my fifth week. I’m working on other stuff, I swear. My challenge this week comes from Leah, who wanted me to:

Pick a moment in your childhood that you think you could’ve parented better

 and rewrite the moment as if you were the parent.

This was an incredibly difficult challenge for me to do, for both personal and logistical reasons. I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to rewrite the moment exactly as it happened, but from the parent’s point of view, or if I was supposed to write the moment as I thought it should have happened. In the end I sorta compromised between the two. As for the story itself, I found myself less interested in the moment itself and more with the thought process that led to the decisions that led to the moment. In that spirit, I ended up writing it as a stream-of-consciousness piece, and a short one at that.

I hope you enjoy!

(You can read the response to my challenge by Wendryn here.)

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Five years sober. Five years sober and now she pulls this shit again, drunk dialing me half a bottle into some shitty vodka. Where did she get it anyway? I mean I drink, sure, but never hard liquor. She actually took the time out to get the damn vodka. God dammit, and the last time she pulled this crap off she tried to drive off with the car. Yeah, that’s the last thing I need right now, I’ve still got four more cars to paint and they’re all expecting pick-up tomorrow but something needs to be done about her, a grown woman who needs babysitting. What about M—-? Yeah, I’m gonna let my fourteen year old daughter babysit her drunk mother besides I think she’s at some friends house anyways. A—–? Jesus, when’s the last time we’ve even heard from him, I suppose I could try calling him . . . Just what I figured, he didn’t even bother answering that’s just great. Oh wait what about T—– he could do it he’s probably home right now and hey it’ll get him out of his damn room for once it’s sad his mother is hitting the bottle again just twenty feet away and he has no idea, he should be the one to watch her. Oh, but that’s right, the last time something like this happened he ended up cleaning her blood up from around the house as I took her to the hospital christ that was a great moment as a father, how old was he then, maybe eleven at the most and it’s not like I told him to do that I thought he was asleep but he must’ve heard her fall into the glass the fact he cleaned it up on his own makes it so much worse for some reason. I really hate to have to do this to him again, but hey he’s an adult now he should be able to handle it besides there is no one else who could help her and she needs help. I suppose I could leave early but I have a responsibility here too and I know I’ll never hear the end of it if a bunch of cars that need to be done aren’t but this should count as what do you call it extenuating circumstances probably and it’s not like I even want to leave hell I’d much rather not have to deal with this bullshit but I don’t want to subject my son to it either, but he should be fine he won’t like it that’s for sure but who would? I don’t know I just don’t know.


The Sky is Blue

This is my fourth week in the Indie Ink Writing Challenge, and my challenge this time comes from Miss Ash Tuesday. The challenge:

tell me a story of a stranger you see out in public.

I want to know all about their thoughts, motivations, and place in life.

I can guarantee that the way I approached this piece was completely different from what Miss Tuesday had in mind, but hey, that’s the point of the challenge. To see what people do with your ideas. When I first read this challenge I was immediately reminded of David Foster Wallace’s 2005 Kenyon College Speech (Part 2) about attempting to change your perspectives in regards to tedium and other people. It was the basis of my response and I highly recommend you listen to it.

Enjoy!

(Also, you can read Random Girl’s response to my challenge here.)

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Here is a common philosophical examination in terms of the function of language; take the statement “The sky is blue.” Look out the window and you know the statement to be true (assuming it’s not overcast or raining or night or whatever, bare with me on this). But now, here is where the philosophical problems begin to arise: How do we know what blue is?

What I mean is is that we’re all raised with a concept of the color of ‘blue.’ As children we are taught that blue is the color of the sky and of the oceans and it’s one of the three primary colors, etc. etc. Someone points out that “this here is blue” and you simply say “okay, now I know to associate this color with the name of blue.” But now, here’s the problem: how can you know that ‘blue’ looks the same to you as it does to me? Isn’t it possible that when we both look up at the same sky and come to our obvious agreement that “yes the sky is indeed blue,” we are actually, the two of us, looking at two completely different colors? Maybe what you see as being ‘blue’ is the color that I normally associate with ‘red’ or whatever. Neither of us would be wrong, mind you, about the sky being ‘blue’, however, our visual interpretations of the concept of ‘blue’ could be different. How could we ever know, for sure, that when we both look up at the same sky we see the same thing?

I guarantee at least one person reading this has at these exact same thoughts at some point, probably while high.

The point that I’m trying to make here is that something everyone knows, deep down, but either can’t or won’t admit; that there is one, and exactly one perspective in which you can view the world and that is your own, because you can only see the world through your own eyes, your own version of ‘blue.’

A similar thought is the idea that if you are not looking at an object, how can you know that it exists?

We are, to ourselves, the complete and exact center of the Universe. Not in an egotistical way, or anything, I just mean that every event in which we are a part of takes place from our own perspective. Take some famous event, when you talk about it it is always from your point of view: “I was at work when JFK was assassinated” or “I was with my family when we landed on the Moon.” Or how about feelings? You can know for a fact that you are sad, happy, angry, horny, hungry or whatever, and you know how each of those feel to you. But you can never know how another human being feels. You can infer, of course, or guess. But even if you correctly deduce another persons current feelings, how can you know that that feeling is that same to them as it is to you? The sky is blue, after all.

It’s kind of sad, when you get into the nitty gritty and think about how alone you are. How impossible it can be to achieve true Empathy, to put yourself into someone’s shoes. Take this asshole who was behind me on the freeway the other day, on my way to work (see what I mean by having only one perspective, the cars are on the road while I’m on the way to work, around me). This asshole, in your typical fashion, was driving the most unnecessarily large pick-up truck. The kind of truck that looks so pristine that it’s obvious that the guy bought a gas guzzling truck for the sake of having a truck, rather than actually needing the flat bed for any decipherable reason. Anyways, the asshole is riding the back of my car because I’m not going fast enough, even though I’m already past the speed limit, flashing his lights at me and honking his fucking horn. Well, I wasn’t going to let him win, so I deliberately stayed in the same lane and slowed down about 5 mph. He passed me after about 7 miles, flipping me the bird, and I could then see him riding another car’s ass about 30 seconds later (he also had a Bush/Cheney bumper sticker, I noted, and I’m pretty sure he bought the truck after the last election). What an asshole, right?

From my universe, he’s a raging dickhead. But what about his universe?In that case I’m the dickhead. And you know what, his assessment is much more true. Because the truth of the matter is that he was driving his very pregnant wife to the hospital. Something was very very wrong with either the wife or the baby. She was in agonizing pain and bleeding a lot. The man in the truck was riding my ass because as far as he knew they could be in mortal danger, and waiting for an ambulance to get to their house would have wasted precious time.

Then there is me, intentionally slowing down and refusing to get out of the way. Did I fucking want his wife and unborn child to die, he was screaming at me. And finally, after about 7 agonizing miles, his wife screaming in pain and bleeding, he finally found an opportunity to get around the fuckwad trying to harm his family. Flipping the middle finger to the fuckwad was the least he could do.

After that there was this guy at work, who got into a screaming match with me when I wouldn’t except his coupon, because it wasn’t even a coupon that we accept. The guy screamed at me until he was red in the face, and finally left with his two kids in a huff. The truth is is that guy was divorced, and rarely got to spend time with his kids. He wanted to take them out for a day of fun, but fun tends to cost money and the alimony checks he had to keep sending were sucking him dry. He found some coupons and decided to use them, but the little shit at the counter refused to accept them. My god, the guy at the counter just kept rolling his eyes, while he was losing valuable time with his kids, whom he loved very much and wanted to be able to care for more than he was allowed to by the court of law.

And the REAL truth is that these situations were made up, by me. Not that these two situations didn’t happen to me the other day, but their backgrounds aren’t true. Nor are they false, for that matter. I have no way of knowing, how can I? But again, how can I be so sure that when people may become angry at me for reasons that seem totally stupid from my perspective, it isn’t totally reasonable and justified from their own?

The sky is blue, after all.