A Story Excerpt

I was inspired today to start writing something else in addition to my main project. It was one of those things, like Robin of a few days ago, that just started writing itself in my head before I was ready for it. Luckily, I was able to turn immediately to my computer and write. This is only about half of what I’ve written so far, and I don’t know how much potential it has, but I’m going to keep working on it, because, well, I feel like it!

**

The sirens began to wail all over the city, and we made ourselves ready. We all knew what the sound meant. In our shelter, Ben and I gathered up the weapons we had at our disposal – he a staff, and I my twin daggers. He’d learned how to use a staff at his mother’s knee, and he wielded it as if it were part of his body. I envied his skill, especially when he’d shown me that the extras he’d added to his weapon. When twisted in the center, sharp steel blades shot out of either end of the heavy wooden staff, heavier still with the lead infused in it. I could hardly lift the thing, although I’d tried often enough. Ben had the muscles of an infomercial bodybuilder – he’d added two pounds of lead to the staff every year since he hit his teens.

My skills were harder won, for I wasn’t a child of violence. I had never meant to join the revolutionaries, never meant to get tangled up in any of this. My parents were simple folk, and I grew up in a small town near the coast. I learned fishing and cooking while Ben learned the fighting arts from his mother. While he sweated in the gym, I paddled happily in the vast salt lake’s waters. While he took his oath and swore his dedication to the rebellion and revolution, I was picked as beauty queen of the seventh grade. While he debated and studied philosophy and the way of life in which we lived, I was blissfully unaware of anything outside my small community. I didn’t even know how downtrodden we were.

We were allowed television, although no Internet access. I knew vaguely about the Net because of visitors that came to the coast to enjoy some free time. They often complained about the isolation – the radios only caught music stations, and our televisions had no news channels. In our town, the war might well have been a myth. It was a myth to me until I reached adulthood at seventeen and was allowed the knowledge that had been barred from me during my childhood: the world was at war.

Advertisements

Action-Figure?

It’s a very boring life, being an action-figure. I mean, it’s fun at first – there’s your birth, which, unlike humans, we remember of course. We’re born in a factory, when all our parts are suddenly together for the first time. Then we get packaged, in nice cozy plastic that really fits snug all around. I don’t know if most people realize this, but you know how action-figures all have joints that move just this way or that way? Yeah, well, our joints hurt, it hurts when we’re moved to much, so being set into a perfectly me-sized bed made of plastic was probably the most physically therapeutic thing I’ve experienced.

‘Course, that doesn’t last. After we get put in boxes – and usually they’re kind enough to let us have clear plastic around us, too, so we get to see outside – we get put in other kinds of boxes, big cardboard ones that get sent off places. When I was just a newborn, I didn’t know much about what was happening to me – I learned all this later in life. So we get sent somewhere, and then we get unpacked. Some of us, like me, get put up in shelves in dusty rooms that are where they keep the extras. But soon enough they came and got me from that room too, and put me smack on the “Action-Figure!” shelf, Batman on one side and Spiderman on the other. We had a nice chat before a kid with a runny nose tore Batman off the shelf. The next one wasn’t as nice as the first Batman, but he was alright. Spiderman stayed there a long time, just like me, so we got to know each other pretty well, and he told me some of this stuff I just told you.

But then, of course, it happened, just like Spiderman told me it would. A girl, Lisa, a really tiny thing, tried to reach up to my shelf and knocked me down face-first. She picked my box up, though, so I guess even if she wasn’t aiming to get at me, she liked me enough to start yelling at the top of her voice for her mommy to buy me. I got to take a trip around the entire store while her mommy tried to get her interested in Barbie dolls and Dora the Explorer puzzles, but that Lisa, she took to me and wouldn’t let me go. At least I got a tour of the store, though!

Well, I suppose you could say the rest is history. But that isn’t really the point – I mean, yeah, it’s obvious, Lisa took me home, took me out of my box and started playing with me, which is supposed to be a good thing, but man my joints hurt, she was really boisterous that kid… But then one of my arms broke – no wonder, with that kid pulling me every which way – and then I got put up on a shelf, and that’s it.

Now, I’m not trying to make you pity me, because it’s not like I’m one of those dudes from Toy Story. Yeah, I know about that, we all know about that. Lisa has the movie and she watches it over and over. Lucky me – not – my shelf’s facing the TV so I get to hear Woody and Andy and Buzz-what’s-his-face three times a week. But see, they make it look so fun. They can move on their own. Man, the truth isn’t like that at all. Sure, we can think, we can talk if there’s no one in the room, but move? As if.

So that about sums it up. It’s a boring life being a so-called ‘action’-figure. I don’t even know what the ending is for my kind – but hey, maybe Lisa will leave me on this shelf for many more years and I’ll get to watch some more interesting movies than that false-hope Toy Story. A figure can hope, right?

Boots [Part III]

Part I

Part II

“Awesome?” Sandy asked. The boots did look good. They clung, made her knees look good, gave a few inches to her height – they looked incredible on her legs. But with the light blue dress… She thought to herself a bit. Came to a decision. She gave the red-haired woman a half smile.

“Almost awesome,” she said. “I’ll take them, though.”

The red-haired woman rung the boots up, but was puzzled. As the sweet girl left with her new boots in a big bag, she looked determined; her face was set, her mouth a hard line. The red-haired woman had expected the girl to be ecstatic with her new gear, to leave the store with a smile and a bounce in her step. She’d looked instead like someone who had made an important decision, and maybe not a welcome one. Well, she thought to herself, what do I know? Maybe that’s just how the girl shows she’s pleased. She turned to the TV screen, peered surreptitiously at the doorway to make sure no one was there, clicked a button on the remote and sat back happily.

Between shifts at the restaurant and the tutoring she did at the elementary-school, Sandy spent her little spare time that week working on her closet at home. She piled lots of things into a big box. She shoved the box into a corner and left it there. At the end of the week, Sandy looked at what was left in her closet, and frowned, worried. She’d have to go back to the store, she decided. She put her hair up, shoved a couple of black chopsticks through it, smeared some of her cheap new make-up on, donned her boots, and left her apartment.

When Sandy walked into the shop this time, the red-haired woman was just switching on the tape of the horror film on the TV. She looked up from the remote, smiled a distant smile, and said “May I help you?”

“Don’t you recognize me?” Sandy was surprised. She had gotten the feeling that this woman was one of those who didn’t forget anything. Then she saw the red-haired woman’s jaw drop as she looked her over. My, my, the red-haired woman thought. Lookie here.

Sandy was attired head to toe in black. A knee-length black skirt, a black top that clung to her and showed off her white arms, a black band around her throat, and of course the boots. Her eyes were surrounded by thick black make-up, and her lips were tinted to a dark color as well. “Aw, Honey…” the red-haired woman breathed.

“I’m here for some clothes,” Sandy declared. “I don’t own enough black stuff to get me through a whole week, unless I do laundry at least twice.”

“But- I mean- Well, why?” The red-haired woman felt flustered. She had not seen this coming. “What’s wrong with what you used to wear? You know, those cute dresses you had on those times I saw you.” Frankly, the red-haired woman was disappointed. She’d thought she’d found someone who really got it. But no. Maybe not.

Sandy’s lip quivered just a bit as she answered. “Because,” she sighed. “I can’t pull off those boots without the whole- well, the whole look, you know.” Then she mumbled “Like you…”

The red-haired woman stared at Sandy. Then at the TV. Then at Sandy again. “You’re telling me you thought you needed the black clothes so you could wear the boots?”

“Yes.”

“Well, do you like black clothing?”

“Um,” Sandy looked shifty. “No. Not really. My mom always said it made me look pale as death. Which is kind of good for the look, I suppose…” Looking up, Sandy saw the red-haired woman giving her the warmest smile she’d ever received. There was compassion in that smile, appreciation and amusement as well, but most of all, kindness.

“Honey, let me show you something.” The red-haired woman flicked the remote at the TV. The image changed. From a screaming woman, it changed to Tara Banks and a line of girls in front of her, waiting to be judged. “That’s my favorite show.”

Sandy gaped. “America’s Best Top Model?!” She squeaked. “But… aren’t people like you too- too, I don’t know, too cool for that show?”

“That’s why I can’t have it on here. I beg my boyfriend to come and take over the evening shift here so that I can watch it at home, but two days a week he’s working another job and he can’t. So I make sure no one’s in the shop, and switch off the video. Until someone comes in, that is, and then I’ve got to turn the video back on real quick before anyone sees.”

“But then,” Sandy began. “Is it all a show? Are you just faking the whole thing? I mean, why do that?”

“Well, the fact that I wear black and I like big skull rings and spiky boots – all that’s just fashion. I like wearing this stuff. It makes me feel good and it makes me feel cool. I admit that. But sadly, I own this place and I don’t have enough business that I can afford to drop the image of the perfect gothic woman. Some of the clients really do care about all that nonsense – keeping the image, philosophizing about what it means, et cetera. So I hide my love of Tara Banks and too-skinny girls playing at being models and drama-queens.” The red-haired woman was speaking fast now, her words tumbling over each other in her enthusiasm. “But you, Honey, you came in here and had your own look! You just wanted to add to it! I’ve never seen a cooler outfit than that sweet little dress and the kick-ass boots. That’s what made it special, unique! I thought you didn’t care about the whole image bee-ess, and I was thrilled.”

Sandy had listened to the red-haired woman’s speech with amazement on her face at first, then acceptance, and then at the end, amazement again. When the woman finished, she felt silly. “What’s your name?” came out of her mouth without her expecting it.

“Sue,” said Sue. “Yours?”

“Sandy,” replied Sandy.

From that day onward, it was quite common to find a red-haired woman with black clothing visiting a small diner where a girl with a name tag reading “SANDY” greeted her with a squeal and a hug and good service. It was also quite common for a brown-haired girl wearing various pastel colored dresses and very dramatic boots to visit a small shop called “ROCKIN’-ROLL GEAR,” claiming every time that her cable at home didn’t work and begging the woman at the counter to turn on America’s Best Top Model for her. Every time someone asked, the woman at the counter would blame her friend for the show and would roll her eyes. They’d giggle about it afterwards.

In The Spirit of The Gilmore Girls

I don’t know how many of you out there are aware of the TV show “The Gilmore Girls” and I also don’t know whether or not it had as much hype surrounding it in its native country as it did here. I think every single one of my girlfriends watched and loved it at a certain time in their high school years.

My mother and I are not to be excluded from the GG fan base! Oh no, we watched it religiously whenever it was on, and rejoiced at the time when the reruns were on every day and we got to giggle at the excellent script and sigh at the love affairs and family dramas. The odd thing about looking back at that time is that my mother and I, though on good terms in comparison with many a mother and daughter of the day, were not nearly as close as we are now.

Now, she and I, the two girls in the house with only our cats to keep us company, are close. We’re very close, I should think. I cannot express how much it means to me to be able to consider my mother as a friend and confidante, and I love our evening routine of dinner and a movie together. I hope against hope, though it’s quite a foreign thought to me as of yet, that I manage to have such a good relationship with my children as my parents had with me.

Good Idea. Bad Idea.

What show is that from?! I’m going insane. There was a TV show that my brother and I used to love when we were younger. One of my strongest memories of being in Los Angeles with my family was how different, and superior, so much of the television programs I watched were. Not only does there seem to always be an episode of “Law and Order: SVU” on, but also the children’s programs were varied and so much better in the US when I was little.

So there was this show that I adored. I cannot for the life of me remember the name of it now. It had all sorts of sections to it – it was animated – and one of the sections was this part called “Good Idea. Bad Idea.” The good idea would be, for instance, someone changing a light-bulb with shoes on his feet and the bad idea would be someone changing a light-bulb with wet hands and getting electrocuted in an exceptionally amusing manner [at least to young children it seemed amusing]. Also, I don’t think I’m giving a very good example, because it was usually less crudely amusing and less educational, just very silly and funny.

There was also a section in this show of these weird crosses between animals and how they’d look while running a race.

Does anyone have any clue what I’m talking about or have I gone insane and imagined a whole TV show?

Work With What You Know

Following is the beginning of a conversation I had with my brother this evening.

-Hello?
-Hey.
-Oh, hey, what’s up?
-Not much. You?
-Not much either, you know, just applying to jobs.
-Oh yeah, how’s that going?
-Well, the job I applied for last week – you know, with the hotel interview and everything – I didn’t get that one. But I’ve got an interview later this year I’m really excited about.
-Cool! Where is it?
-Just this place in Washington, a research center.
-Wow, that sounds pretty awesome. I hope you get it!
-Thanks. How’re your applications going?
-Ok, I mean, I’m almost done with the essays – I still have to go over them obviously, but I’m mostly done. Now there’s just the bureaucratic stuff to finish. Oh, by the way, have you heard about the book “The End of Mr. Y”?
-No, don’t think so, what is it?
-It’s right next to me now, that’s why I mentioned it… it’s this cool book I’m reading, it’s got a lot of really awesome references to all these psychological and philosophical theories in it.
-Cool, I should check it out. You know a new Terry Pratchett book came out?
-No! Seriously?
-Yeah, a non-Disc-World novel.
-He writes about something that’s not Disc World? Wow, I didn’t know he ever did that.
-Oh yeah, he’s got a bunch of books that aren’t to do with it.

….My brother and I have fun phone conversations. The conversation continued on to talk about many fantasy writers, the reasons why so many of them are Mormon and some music. I now have homework from him. I need to check out this British show called “Ultra-Violet” and another show by Aarin Sorkin. I need to read this short story called “A Logic Called Joe” and look up “The Hipster Olympics” on Youtube. There will be a test.

Big Brother

Will someone please explain to me the fascination people seem to find with watching other people lead absolutely boring lives inside a house? I will never understand it. I see the allure of certain so-called “reality shows” – so called because I know for a fact they’re all freaking scripted – like Project Runway, which is actually about exposure and talent, or even America’s Next Top Model, which is entertaining, if not particularly intelligent.

But what’s with this new [old] genre of Big Brother shows? What’s with people wanting to watch some normal people like themselves stuck inside a house for months with nowhere to go and nothing to do? What is so damn interesting about that?! Every day when I go to work I hear people talking about the damn show – heck, now they can watch it twenty-four seven cause they’ve made a whole freaking channel dedicated to it!

Oh yeah, by the way, did you know that those shows are scripted as well? Meaning you’re not even watching the real goings-on in the house, you’re watching planned and scripted dramas! So why not just turn on a soap-opera? At least then you KNOW it’s scripted and you’re not believing some lame lie!

Argh. I hate this new reality-tv-based society. I like writers who write scripts and tell everyone in no uncertain terms that that’s what they’re doing. Seems more creative and interesting that way. Then again, maybe it’s just me.