Jo’s Bee [Flash Fiction]

In a pinch, anything will do, Jo thought. She wondered whether she should write the sentence down in the little purple notebook that she carried with her, but decided it wasn’t important enough. She watched a bee climb higher onto a flower. Its furry body was enticing, a stuffed-animal in miniature, and she longed to touch it, to stroke its back gently with a finger and feel the hairs tickle her flesh.

She moved very slowly, trying to position herself so that she could see what the bee was doing inside the flower. She couldn’t remember how they carried pollen; did it stick to their legs or their bodies? If it was to the legs, was it the back or front ones? And what about that thing people always said, that bees weren’t, technically, supposed to be able to fly? She’d heard someone say that if you could convey to a bee that it wasn’t supposed to fly, it would fall right out of the air. A beard and rimless glasses shaped themselves in her mind around a thin-lipped mouth saying the words, trying to explain the concept of conceptual reality to her (and that was an issue in itself: the concept of something conceptual? It was all very confusing.). She thought of whispering softly, in bee-language, “You can’t really fly, you know,” but decided it would be much too cruel.

A shadow fell over her, the bee and the flower. Jo didn’t move, and neither did the flower, but the bee was startled and flew away. “Wait,” Jo called to it. “Come back!” But it was gone. She turned to the possessor of the offending shadow. “Look what you did!”

“What did I do?”

“You scared the bee away.”

“I did no such thing. Come, dear, supper is being served. There’s green jello for dessert today – your favorite!”

Jo sighed, but she allowed herself to be helped up and steered inside. She suddenly had an idea. “Can I have honey with my tea and toast?”

“Honey? Why, of course you may, dear. You never ask for anything special, you’re so good, I’m sure we can give you some honey today as a treat.”

“Good.” Jo pulled the notebook out of her pocket and stopped for a moment to write down the following:

If you can’t watch the bee collecting pollen, at least you can taste a little honey. In a pinch, anything will do.

A Bus Ride to Say “I’m Alive”

I got on a bus at the corner of 33d and 7th. It was a big bus; red and black, with a white lightning bolt emblazoned on it. The message was clear: this bus was express, fast, and going places.

The driver, Miss King, was a black woman with frizzy hair and a wide smile. She was big, and as she walked down the aisle to use the bathroom before we started out, she asked people to excuse her. I guess she felt that squeezing her bulk through required an apology. It didn’t, really. She looked happy and comfortable the way she was. She shouldn’t have been apologizing to anybody. A man in his twenties wearing a red-and-black baseball cap (did he wear it to match the bus?) eyed her lasciviously when she passed by. They bantered for a bit, flirting casually.

The bus ride was long. Four hours and fifteen minutes. Not as long as a lot of the flights I’ve been on, but long enough. I slept for about forty minutes, but that’s it. Sleep and I aren’t the best of friends these days. I don’t know what happened between us. Maybe sleep was offended by me somehow? Personally, I feel hurt that sleep comes to visit so reluctantly and leaves so quickly after he arrives. Maybe we’re just playing a pride game now, neither one of us willing to apologize and make it up with the other because we each think that we’re not the ones to blame for this estrangement.

I thought that we saw Baltimore twice, but it was actually only once. The first time wasn’t really Baltimore. When we actually saw it, I was surprised because it looked exactly like I imagined it. There was a port that seemed to cover half the city with boxes and shipping-yard type stuff. The rest of the city was smoggy but beautiful.

Spring Break sounds like the name of a movie with drunk teenagers and naked blondes. Or maybe it’s a safety video about how to take care of trampolines. What spring break really is right now is a piece of family in Virginia, a road-trip, and a lot of homework.

I’m writing. I’m writing almost every day. When I don’t, I feel odd. A red Moleskine has become a new journal. It’s too conspicuous to be one, of course – it fairly screams “Open me!” – but I’m using it anyway. It’s important that I keep using pens. I never want to get to a point where I don’t love pen and paper anymore.

 

Faced with an Empty Page

Opening a new, white and pristine page can be one of two things. It’s either exciting, pulse-raising and inviting, or terrifying, threatening and off-putting.

It doesn’t matter what sort of page this is – it can be a new page in a much used notebook, the first page of an unopened one, or the electronic, virtual one that comes up in a writing program.

No matter what emotion arises when faced with a blank page, the demand that it throws is undeniable. A blank page craves to be filled, to be written upon with ink or to be full of coded letters.

There’s nothing worse than opening a new page and feeling the terror bubbling in your throat, the pressure building up behind your eyes, in the crevices of your very mind. The emptiness seems to call to the very soul, demanding in loud and certain tones what it needs. Sometimes, fear can lead the way into the second, better emotion. Once a page starts to fill up, the demand lessens, the pressure recedes, and bit by bit, the terror evaporates.

There’s nothing better than opening a new page and feeling the excitement bubbling in your stomach, the itch in your fingers as they long to start writing and the images that jump around your mind, urging you onward, ever onward, so that you can’t resist putting down your pen to the paper or your fingers to the keyboard and beginning to write. When the page fills up, bit by bit, a sense of pride in your own words filling up such a space is added to the other emotions, and it too spurs you onward.

Sometimes, when a page is full, it demands another page to be opened. It’s not finished yet, the emptiness of the next page tells you, you must continue.

Sometimes, when the page is full, it’s enough. The urge, the need and the drive all quiet in you, and you can look at the full page and know that you’ve completed something, even if it’s not finished, you’ve put something down on the page, and there it will stay.

Being faced with an empty page is an adventure, whether dream or nightmare.

Journaling?

My mom recently bought me a set of navy-blue Moleskine notebooks that I just couldn’t resist. They’re beautiful, and that’s exactly where the problem lies. I always feel my handwriting is inferior, and as I have an intense stationary/notebook/pen fetish, I’m always scared of ruining my pretty notebooks with my handwriting.

So here’s my plan. I’ll use one of the notebooks to write some favorite quotations in. I always find certain phrases in books that I absolutely love and then I never write them down as I should. So I’ll use a notebook to finally do this properly.

One notebook will be put aside for some other idea if I have one.

The third and final notebook is destined (maybe) to become a journal. Not a “Dear Diary” journal in which I write about my day, but rather a journal in which I answer a certain prompt or question and explore my memories or opinions about things. I was thinking of then posting photographs of the pages on here and expose you all to my handwriting! This is where I need advice, though. Do any of you know any journaling project where you get a prompt once a week or once a day or something? Does anyone want to start a journaling group? Or should I just take prompts from one of the various journaling websites and commit to writing one or two prompts a week?

Hmm.

A Thought On Writing

Although I’m writing about essay-writing in this particular instance, I’m pretty sure that this happens in creative writing as well.

There is a point, while writing something, when your brain simply goes numb. You catch yourself staring at the computer screen or at the notebook in front of you, and for a moment you’re almost sure that no thoughts have gone through your head for the past two minutes. Of course, if you think about it, you realize that you’ve been thinking the whole time, but not about anything profound or interesting – definitely not about what you’ve been writing. Rather, you’ve been thinking about your next meal, or the dress your friend just bought, or the trees with their pretty autumn leaves outside.

It’s a strange sensation – almost like your mind is betraying you, for once it gets to this point, it’s often really hard to get your mind to function properly once more. You may need, at this point, to get up and stretch and do something completely different. If you try to stare at the page for much longer, you’ll fall into despair and won’t manage, under any circumstances, to write something you’re pleased with. It’s a tricky situation, and one which I’ve been reaching over and over again in the past couple weeks.

The real problem is when you don’t let yourself take that break from whatever you’re writing. It’s a problem I repeat too much. I need to learn to listen to my brain, and when it tells me to stop and get up and do something else, I should do it, instead of sit and force myself to write for another half hour or hour or two or three. Having said that, I am, of course, going back to my extremely poorly written essay, even though my brain is going fuzzy. Alas, I must ignore my own conclusions for tonight.

Now

Right now. A moment that doesn’t mean much at all. There aren’t many moments that mean something specific or momentous. But right now I’m feeling. Just feeling something. Listening to the newest album of my very favorite band and savoring every note that goes through the headphones and into my ears. Looking at the little brown and black cardboard notebook in front of me and looking forward to picking up my perfectly-pointed black pen and writing in it, because it says the word “journal” on the front. Feeling the perfect and perfectly strange warm and cold winds flowing through the one open window in my dorm room and feeling that I’m perfectly dressed for both – tank top and long pajama-bottoms.

The music pierces my very core, feels like it’s flowing right into my brain. There is an atmosphere that surrounds me, an unclear one that simply points at a new type of normalcy that I’m not yet used to. The space is still too new for me to feel utterly at home in, but still, my bed in its new sheets and with the new duvet spread on it lies behind me, inviting and warm, a place that feels like my own little den.

There’s absolutely nothing special about this moment. But that’s the point. It’s just now.

My Desk

My desk is wooden, old and creaking. The drawers stumble and rattle when they’re opened and shut, like old wheezing men, protesting the exercise forced on them. The keyboard tray slumps down precariously when any weight is put on it, threatening to someday tumble to the floor.

The desktop itself is large and smooth, real wood or else a very good imitation. On the right there’s a small, square box of tissue, blue and reassuring. It’s a homely little thing, but comforting somehow in its ordinariness. Behind it is a pile of books – Sophocles, volume I and The Norton Anthology of Drama, volume I. Underneath them lie two large notebooks, one black and bearing the name of the college and the other a yellow Mead. Beside them lie a pair of black ballet shoes still in their box and a ball of dark purple yarn and a scarf-in-progress. Behind these, nestled against the wall, are DVDs and CDs, just a few, dearly beloved and not willing to be left behind.

In the middle of the desktop is yet another pile – a blue folder weighted down by a green Mead notebook lying underneath a recycled grey notebook. On top of all these lies a copy of Martin Luther’s Three Treatises, a train-ticket stub tucked at page 105 as a bookmark. A scrunchie lies abandoned between this pile and the large computer screen, along with an overflowing plastic box of paperclips, a pink set of Post-Its, a flashlight and a Scotch-tape dispenser.

Next to these, on the far left of the desk, is a small and cheerful pail with pins leaning against it [STITCH & BITCH and I LOVE HH] and in the pail are an assortment of black pens and brightly colored highlighters, as well as a pair of children’s scissors and an unsharpened pencil with a cheerful star-shaped eraser stuck to its end. Finally, in the left hand back corner of the desk is a black lamp, goose-neck poised in an odd position so as to cast the most advantageous light.

At 1:35AM, the objects on the desk are reassuring and homey, reminders that life can be comfortable, even if it’s only on a small four-by-two foot desk.

“Journal”

According to Google, a definition of the word journal is: diary: a daily written record of (usually personal) experiences and observations.

Such an inadequate definition. The word journal is magical. It conjures up the image of beautiful, classic script embossed in gold upon a leather bound ledger, filled with heavy pages. Another image that comes to mind is the word stamped simply, in bold typeface, on pastel colored notebooks of comfortable size, inviting casual penmanship between their covers. Journal can even raise the picture of a cartoon character brightly painted across the cover of a small notebook, just begging to be filled in with colorful crayons and bright stickers.

Journals are wonderful. They are pages for privacy, of gathering the thoughts that dash across our minds throughout the day. They are a haven, a safe harbor in which to pour out our frustrations, sadness and difficulties. They are a comfort, inviting us to share happiness and pride or rejoice in our blessings and accomplishments. Journals can be friends, sole confidants, secret lairs and hidden treasures.

Journal is a beautiful word.