Two out of Three

He has a big important job in a big important world. Up and coming. His bald spot is minimal. He lets his pants droop to show he is hip, he is with it, but wears button down shirts to show that he is serious. And he is. He is serious.

Sam lets the glass door swing behind him and walks through the darkening evening. The afternoons are ending earlier. It’s getting colder. He shouldn’t forget his jacket again tomorrow. His phone is buzzing in his pocket.

He doesn’t like the new girl. He liked her, before, when she wasn’t the new girl yet. Now she makes demands on his time. She should be silent as a sheep. Sheep baaa though. Bad metaphor. He’ll think of another.

Sam lights his cigarette and lets the call go to voicemail. He’ll listen to his wife later, in the privacy of home, and then he’ll call her back. A small, lonely bed waits for him in that privacy, in that home, no home at all without her. She is so far away, and he let her go away. He got a ring on both their fingers first. But now she’s gone.

There are moments when he realizes he is being too harsh. He doesn’t apologize. If he apologizes, the new girl will question his authority. She embarrassed him, on her first day, too, talking in front of the Big Dog boss, humiliating him with obvious opinions. He knows she herself is aware of it. It doesn’t change his impatience.

Sam stops at a dive bar he never goes into for a beer. He doesn’t feel like seeing anyone he knows. There’s a football game playing on the television. He doesn’t know whether it’s live or a rerun or replay or whatever they call it when they screen a game again. Rerun probably. Like old reruns of FRIENDS. What an awful show.

He comes to work early and leaves late. He is dedicated. He doesn’t see why the new girl isn’t. He doesn’t want her to be involved, to give him ideas, but he needs her there as a sounding board. He needs to talk to someone while he works. He needs to see her giving him results, otherwise why the hell is she in the budget.

Sam calls his wife back late, after he’s showered and shaved again (it’s twice a day now that he has to shave. He doesn’t want to be like all the bearded men in his office. It prickles and it makes him look vaguely religious, he thinks). Her voice is distracted. It’s a bad time for her, he can tell. He says sorry for not picking up. He was out, there was wind, he was smoking, etcetera. She tells him she thought he was going to quit smoking. She laughs. He laughs too, relieved. She’s not really rebuking him.

He has a whole weekend ahead of him but his thoughts are consumed with his project. The first one he’s heading. So much rests on this success. He has to make it work. He needs her, the new girl, he doesn’t have the time to do it all alone, but he also doesn’t have time for her, to tell her what she needs to do or if any of it is good. He figures if something is wrong, he’ll tell her. Otherwise, it’s quicker for them both to get on with what they’re doing. More efficient.

Sam thinks he’s a good boss. A good husband. A good man. Two out of three ain’t bad either, though, he thinks.

Ten Things

1. I’m still alive.

2. I’ve been horribly neglectful.

3. The reason for the above is that I’ve been either writing furiously and feverishly on one of my two projects (yes, there are two now, but one needs a composer… Does anyone know a composer?) or tearing my hair out, quite literally, with frustration at not managing to write.

4. After years of reluctance, I’ve finally started watching the Harry Potter films. I’m a huge fan of the books – they changed my life. I might not have become such a reader if not for them. But now, after so long of refusing to watch the films, I’ve agreed to. The first part of the seventh film is coming out in September, I believe, and damn if I don’t want to have something Harry Potter-ish to look forward to. I’ve just finished watching the third film, and I must say that more than anything else, I’m finding great hilarity in them.

5. I do hope that starting today I’ll stop being quite so neglectful.

6. I went to a perfectly marvelous cabaret on Saturday. It was perfectly marvelous. You see, we do have some creative people in Israel!

7. I’m currently reading The Picture of Dorian Gray.

8. And Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.

9. I’m hoping to start taking voice lessons. Hopefully this will lead me back to guitar as well, and eventually to drama too. I know it’s ridiculous, but I can’t help it – I feel the need to try and be creative in every way possible. I want to take drawing lessons, too. *sigh*

10. It’s 1:27 AM in Israel, I’m tired, and I’m going to bed. Goodnight, lovelies.

Tamer and Tamed

Lara let the snake coil around her neck, slithering over her shoulders and looping itself once, twice, until its head was comfortably level with her eyes. The effect was ominous, and it seemed to Barriana that Lara could see out of the snake’s eyes as well as her own. She couldn’t hope to stare the both of them down, and shook her head.

“No. Can’t do it, love. Sorry.”

Lara’s eyes flashed and the snake hissed, moving so its scales flashed in the poor lighting, showing off its poisonous green color. The Tamer stood perfectly still, lips pursed. She couldn’t believe her ears. Having brought Barriana  this far, and to hear her say this? That she couldn’t? Lara couldn’t think of a worse insult.

“Don’t you ever call me that again. You’re finished, you hear me? You’ll never be a Tamer, and what’s worse is you won’t be under my protection anymore. I’ll have my friends chase you to the end of the earth if you ever try to come near me again. You hear me? Do you hear me?!” Lara realized her voice was rising in pitch, getting out of control. She couldn’t have that. She stopped, took a breath, and stroked the snake softly on the head with one long, brown finger. “Out,” she commanded coolly.

Barriana took one last agonizing look at her, at the magnificent, iridescent and beautifully dangerous Lara. She turned deliberately, completely, and wondered if the snake would attack her. The nape of her neck prickled with Lara’s furious gaze – it almost burned with its intensity. But there were no fangs sunken in her flesh, no claws flashing out, no weight bearing her to the ground. So she walked. She took one step, then another, and another. She didn’t allow herself to look back, because she knew that if she did, she’d return to the Tamer and to the Tamer’s life. She couldn’t do that. It had gone too far.

When she got far enough down the tunnel that led out of Lara’s cavern, she started to run. Not knowing how much time she had, nor where she could flee to, she knew this much – Lara wasn’t the kind to forgive and forget. She’d ruin Barriana’s life if she could – and if not for the betrayal she could have done so at any moment out of sheer meanness or spite. That was Lara, alright. Barriana ran on, emerging into air as humid as the tunnel had been, and not much cooler. She took a moment to steady her breath, and then used one of the talents she’d learned from Lara – climbing up a tree, she began to swing from branch to branch, jumping and landing as lightly as she could where she couldn’t get a good grip with her hands. It would take her hours to traverse the humid jungle Lara called home, but every inch away was a bit of her soul that she got to keep to herself.

Barriana fled, using every bit of willpower and strength to keep going. But secretly, a nasty little part of brain wanted to get caught.

Eavesdropping

The owl sat on its regular midnight perch, on the beam that hung between the garage door and the overhanging roof. It was quite roomy there, and she liked having its nest so close by, in the very corner, where there was space right inside the corner of the roof.

She was just about to hoot softly and then fly out to catch little rodents by the tail when she was interrupted mid-hoot by a pair of loud voices that erupted in the middle of the driveway in front of her.

“You did NOT just say that!”

“What? You think you’re the only one allowed to be mean? I know how to be mean too, you know.”

“I’m not mean, you jerk-wad! How can you even say that to me?”

“‘Cause it’s true! You’re stuck up and mean, and you know what? I can stand it when you do it to me, but not when you start ragging on my best friends, too. They don’t get to see you like I do, so they don’t get that it’s just how you are.”

“Oh, what, so because they don’t get to see me naked then they don’t know the real me? Are you suggesting they all come over and we have a big party together?”

“WHAT? When did I ever say that? Where the hell is your head, Angela?”

“And what’s all this about you being okay with me being mean to you, anyway? I’m not mean to you!”

The owl in the eaves of the house cocked her head. The voices changed tones. The whiny, female-smelling one sounded muffled, and the deep-voiced male-smelling one made cooing noises that reminded the owl of the noises she made over her eggs.

“I love you, but don’t you see that you’re going to isolate me from everyone else if you keep behaving like a stuck up bitch with them? I’m not saying you ARE one. I’m just saying you act like it, honey.”

“B-b-but your friends make me nervous, and ever since we moved to this stupid city it’s been all about your friends, and don’t you think I miss mine to bits? It’s not like you were super nice to them or anything…”

“I made an effort and you know it. It was hard when they kept sizing me up with their eyes, checking if I was hot enough for they angelic Angela.”

“Well, they were protective of me. What can I do? All your friends want to do is talk to you. It’s like I’m just a painting on the wall in the room. They stare at me sometimes and then go right back to talking to you about the Diamondbacks or the Razorbacks or whatever that team is called.”

“If you stopped acting like an ice princess, and if you stopped being so cold, maybe they’ll be nicer to you, hmm? They don’t always talk about sports, you know.”

The owl, getting bored with the human jabber and the ensuing wet noises as they did that strange thing humans do with their mouths, decided to get going. She spread her wings and leaped from the eaves, wings spreading out to her sides. She dove and then flew upwards, scanning the neighborhood for some delicious little critters to snap in her beak.

“Wow, did you see that?”

“An owl! I’ve never seen one before! Oh my gosh, that’s amazing!”

“What a beauty, hmm?”

“Yeah, so beautiful…”

Dramatic Scene…?

“I know what you’re thinking,” shot Max at Deirdre. “You’re always thinking the same damn thing. You’re thinking that I shouldn’t go. You’re thinking that I’m being stupid. Just say it already!”

Deirdre looked coolly back at Max’s angry expression. She could have scratched her face off, for plainly showing her thoughts and emotions as it so clearly was. It was too late to fix the expression that had jumped unwillingly to it when Max had told her he was going out. She settled for pretending innocence instead.

“I’m not thinking a blessed thing, boy.”

“The hell you’re not,” Max spat back.

“Well, I’ve got nothing to say to you when you’re in such a foul mood,” Deirdre didn’t give up her act, but gave Max a bland look before turning her back to him. He knew everything she could say to deter him already. It was true that she thought him a fool for going, yet again, and there was no point in having another argument on the subject. Max would do what he wanted, and that was that.

A few minutes passed. Deirdre sat at her vanity, staring blindly at her own reflection. Finally, she heard the sound that she’d been expecting. The front door slammed with a force to shake the very panes of glass in it. She shut her eyes tightly for a moment, screwing her face up in pain.

 

Max waited outside the front door, wondering if this time Deirdre would come after him. But no, the minutes passed and still there was no sound of footsteps inside the large, boring suburban box of a house. He sighed and ran a hand over his face. Taking his car keys out of his pocket, he strode off down to the curb and unlocked, with an unobtrusive beep, the luxurious car parked in front of the closed garage door. He climbed into the front seat, put the key in the ignition, and turned it.

The effect was immediate. His seat bent down all the way back, several contraptions started moving around and making metallic noises, and the car began to pull out of the driveway and zoom down the street on its own.

When Max’s seat came back up, he was dressed in a black, skintight outfit, with a white mask covering his entire face except for a slit for his eyes.

Off to save… someone, Max thought, tiredly. Damn it.

He thought of Deirdre, her shimmering blonde hair running down her back in dripping strands as she took yet another hot shower. She always took showers when he went out on jobs. She seemed to like the sensation of heat when she was upset. Max took cold showers when he was upset. It was one of the many ways in which they differed. Another, rather crucial, point of difference, was that Deirdre wasn’t a superhero. Max was. He was really very tired of it.

Blllrraghl

In acting classes, there are always those extremely odd sessions where the teacher tells everyone to start speaking gibberish. I have to say that apart from being one of the sillier exercises a person can endure, it is also extremely interesting. I know that it might sound strange to say that a bunch of people standing around and making noises that are reminiscent of two-year olds’ babble is interesting, but it is.

Let me try to explain my point. People communicate by tone of voice and facial expression as well as by speech. For instance, a person can say the word “sure” and mean a few different things. They might mean “sure, yeah, right” in a sarcastic way, they might mean “sure” as in “okay,” or they might mean “sure” as in “oh, alright…” The only way we can distinguish between the possibilities is by the tone of voice and the expression used, as well as the body language the person uses while he or she is speaking.

The exercise of speaking gibberish is fascinating, because people can actually enact whole scens of love, friendship, anger or betrayal by not using any real words at all, but rather by using body language, facial expressions and tone of voice to make their meaning come across. It’s a terriffic exercise, and even though it’s hard to let yourself go and make pointless sounds for an hour, there’s a catharsis in being able to throw away all dignity whatsoever in such a performance.

The Teacher

The Teacher heaved a deep sigh as she clasped her worn brown bag. Her hands, no longer slender and delicate, were riddled with swollen veins. Her wedding ring couldn’t come off her finger even if she’d wanted it to. Thankfully, she didn’t. Her marriage was the one thing that still made sense in her life.

The Teacher’s hair had been dyed red so many times that it had taken on a slightly metallic orange tint. She knew she looked like a joke, and she definitely knew the various nicknames she was known by throughout the student body, but white hair meant being a grandmother to her. That word hurt her too much. Grandmother. She had almost been one, and if the loss hurt her, she could only imagine how much it had hurt her daughter. Hurt enough that she had cut herself off from her parents because, in her words, it had been too difficult to see their eyes wander to her barren stomach and then fill with tears.

The Teacher picked up her case and walked slowly down through the empty halls, littered with crumpled paper and the occasional forgotten textbook. She sighed again as she walked. teaching didn’t make sense anymore, and for the last few years, this simple fact threw her whole life out of skew.

Her students weren’t different. Perhaps there were more cellphones in class, more kids copying essays off the internet, but all in all, high-school hadn’t changed all that much since she herself had been a twelfth-grader. No, it was some general something that irked her. Maybe it was the fact that so many parents didn’t seem to care what or how the teachers taught anymore. Maybe it was the fact that Bobby Jones and Nora Lessinger kept showing up to school with no text books because the funding for students like them who came from very low-income families had run dry. Maybe it was the fact that her daughter wasn’t speaking to her, and every teenager she looked at in her class seemed to somehow remind her of her personal life.

The Teacher exited the school building, and the sun flooded down from between a few grey clouds. In the parking lot, as always, was her husband in their old dark green Fiat. She could faintly hear the first Led Zeppelin album playing inside. She smiled at him, gave a little wave, and walked over. At least something still made sense in the world.

Ella’s Grandma [A Short Story]

Roberta Marshall put her head down on her desk and wept. The tears flowed freely from her heavily made-up eyes and created black streaks on her cheeks. She wasn’t thinking about her make-up, though, and nor was she wondering how to conceal her reddened eyes. In fact, Roberta Marshall wasn’t thinking about anything very practical.

After a few more sobs, a rational thought did spring into her mind. She thought to herself I’m being unreasonable.

A few minutes later, she went further.  I’m being stupid.

The tears didn’t stop flowing, though. She felt a grief that went deep in her, piercing some of her most precious memories. She felt as if her whole childhood was about to disappear.

Eventually, the torrent flowing from Roberta’s eyes came to a halt, and she lifted her head up from her arms. She looked around her big office and was glad to see that the door was closed. Shakily, Roberta reached for her telephone, dialed a number and waited.

“Hello?” a soft voice answered.

“Mom?”

“Roberta?” the voice became incredulous. “Are you crying, Honey?”

“Not anymore, but I was.” Roberta’s voice, still thick from her recent crying jag, replied. She spoke again, a plea in her voice. “Mom, do you have to sell the house?”

Silence, almost a physical silence, came through from the other end of the line. Roberta could feel it weighing upon her. After what seemed like an eternity, Roberta’s mother heaved a sigh.

“Oh, Honey,” she breathed. “Yes, we have to sell the house. It’s not practical for us to live there these days. Your father really has a difficult time on the stairs and it’s simply not worth it to rent out the place.”

Roberta already knew all this, of course, and she felt guilty forcing her mother to go into the painful subject again. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath. She remembered thundering up and down those stairs with her brother. She remembered breakfasts in the big kitchen and birthday parties in the backyard and, later, arguments about curfew in the cozy den. Now it would all be gone. The tears threatened to overwhelm Roberta again, but she swallowed the lump in her throat and spoke into the phone again.

“Sorry, Mom. I don’t mean to make this harder on you,” and after a moment’s pause, she began again with a cheerier voice. “And anyway, you and Dad will be closer to Devin and me now, and you’ll get to see Ella more often.”

“Exactly, Honey. This can be a good thing,” her mother answered bravely.

“Ella will be happy to see her grandma more often, that’s for sure,” smiled Roberta as she spoke. After a few more minutes of falsely cheery talk about Ella’s toys and diapers, Roberta hung up the phone.

The tears began streaming out of Roberta’s eyes even as she collected herself and began to work again. She would cry on and off for days, but eventually, she learned how to cherish the memories of the big house and reconcile herself to the reality of losing it. At least, she always comforted herself, Ella’s happy that her grandma can babysit her sometimes.

Short Answer

I cannot truthfully say that I understand why the stage calls to me. Shy and timid for most of my girlhood, I nevertheless jumped at the opportunity to join a drama class of young girls and boys such as myself. I played my little heart out in costumes and masks, had fun inventing crazy and strange situations to place our heroic characters in, and had a merry time all around.

The first time I got to read lines though, was something I will always remember. It felt a little naughty, a little wrong, like reading a letter over someone’s shoulder. I knew, of course, that the playwright had put the words down on paper specifically so others would get to read and enact them, but still, I felt like I was prying.

It didn’t matter though. I loved it even though, or perhaps because, it felt a little wrong. I loved trying on someone else’s face, a face that wasn’t even partly mine, not like the characters I’d invented on my own. Trying to find reason and depth in the character’s words and actions – it thrilled me.

This was going to be my short answer for the common application. Since I wrote this, I have written two others that are shorter and that my mother thinks I should use. I decided to see what the verdict on this one was though, just out of curiosity. Hopefully, this sounds collegiate and well written, despite being short.

Little Dramas

It’s so strange how, as the time goes by, I learn more and more about my co-workers and their dramatic little lives. I feel rather privleged that I’m considered trustworthy enough to become privy to their lives. Then again, I also know that they know as well as I do that we’re not really friends, and we’ll never really be friends. We’re just people who are stuck together for a few hours a day and we better try to make conversation and get along or we’ll turn those hours into hell. But now, onto some of the dramas!

A. lives with her husband and her twenty month-old daughter in a small apartment with her mother-in-law. She is the mother-in-law from hell, the real classic kind, and A’s life is a misery. She’s trying to raise money to be able to move out of their already, and she seems to be blossoming in her job, having something of her own for the first time in years.

I. was religious. She met a boy, fell in love, and slept with him. She had iregularities with her period after that, and fainted from loss of blood. She was hospitalized and through this her mother learned somehow that I. lost her virginty. I. was then shunned completely, and at twenty, she already lives alone and completely supports herself out of necessity.

Last but not least, we have S. who is in love with a man who probably won’t be able to ever give her what she wants, which is commitment. At her birthday party a few days ago, her friends surprised her by bringing him, after they hadn’t seen each other for months. They slept together, and then she realized he’s the same as he always was, cannot commit and doesn’t realize that he’s with someone who’s willing to give her all. And so, mere days after her hope was egnited, it was cruely extinguished again.