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Chili
Jan 23, 2004

college kids ain't shit


Fun Shoe

sebmojo posted:

lol chili you buffoon, you nonghead, you snuckgobbler

Oh for fucks sake. I am so tired. Random Paul you're in. And I am the worst judge.

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RandomPauI
Nov 24, 2006




Grimey Drawer

What did I get with Box 13?

Chili
Jan 23, 2004

college kids ain't shit


Fun Shoe

I left my DSM at home unfortunately, but you got a pretty straightforward one in...

Kleptomania!

WHAT I REMEMBER FROM THE DSM - The persistent compulsion and/or urge to engage in theft. This theft must not occur due to perceived necessity and cannot be exclusively directed towards survival based items for one's self or one's immediate family.

MY SPIN - Again, straightforward. Anecdotally, this is far more frequently a female diagnosis. There is shame and guilt associated with this diagnosis.

If you need more I'll crack open my DSM when I get home later today. Just let me know. 501 BONUS WORDS!

As for "Disorder of Extreme Stress, Unspecified" You probably have a decent idea of what it is as you picked it. I'm not familiar with that diagnosis, specifically. I will provide more information when I get home. Around 4PM EDT.

Again, sorry for all the confusion.

RandomPauI
Nov 24, 2006




Grimey Drawer

My understanding is that the DSM 5 has basically turned PTSD as a catch-all for most trauma disorders. But I'm intimately familiar with why that wouldn't be the case. This'll give you an idea about what I have in mind.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Complex_post-traumatic_stress_disorder

Chili
Jan 23, 2004

college kids ain't shit


Fun Shoe

RandomPauI posted:

My understanding is that the DSM 5 has basically turned PTSD as a catch-all for most trauma disorders. But I'm intimately familiar with why that wouldn't be the case. This'll give you an idea about what I have in mind.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Complex_post-traumatic_stress_disorder

Just write some good words bro.

flerp
Feb 25, 2014

I DON'T ALWAYS
HERDY DUR MUR FLERP FLERPITY
FLOOPIN
BUT WHEN I DO
I YER DER FLERPITY
THURN DER DERMIN
BORK! BORK! BORK!




RandomPauI posted:

My understanding is that the DSM 5 has basically turned PTSD as a catch-all for most trauma disorders. But I'm intimately familiar with why that wouldn't be the case. This'll give you an idea about what I have in mind.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Complex_post-traumatic_stress_disorder

drat these prefaces r getting more advanced, doing them before even posting the stories

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010



Legit Cyberpunk





flerp posted:

drat these prefaces r getting more advanced, doing them before even posting the stories

soon they will attain sentience and start writing the stories

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.


Won't be long now before someone prefaces a story they didn't write with the story of why they didn't write it.

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010



Legit Cyberpunk





missed thranguy in the crits, what a reject i am

There Are Stories of the Dutchman

The best ticket on offer is no good to me. It would get me to New York in twenty-two hours, and by that time my father will be dead. I buy it anyway. It’ll get me into the airport. I pass through security and slightly unfocus my eyes, looking for the signs. briskly presented problem, tinge of weirdness, i'm on board yr story train (plane)

Most airports have a VIP lounge. Big ones have more than one, most of them secret. One for millionaires. One for people even richer. There’s others. Only a couple airports have one for wizards, but Heathrow is one. There’s an invisible rune on the door. I trace it and walk in. this is neat, not messing around, wizard vip lounge hell yeah

I don’t recognize anyone inside. No surprise. I’ve only been in London three months, hanging with street level magic users. These guys are aristocrats. One of them, has the long beard, robes, a huge staff and a coke-bottle-lens monocle floating in front of his left eye, sees me coming. “You look like you need something,” he says. I nod. “Well?”

“I need to get to New York. Immediately if I can.” I say.

“What’s the rush?” says a pompadoured wizard in a plaid jacket.

“If any of us could manage teleportation,” says one, four foot tall and bald, “Do you think we’d be hanging out at the airport?”

“It’s my father,” I say. “He doesn’t have much time left, maybe a few hours. I need to-”

“Are you sure you’re even a wizard?” says the small one. “If it’s your father, just do blood magic. Should be able to keep him up and pain-free for-”

“I know Ghall’s Sympathy,” I say. I conjure a complicated fractal illusion left-handed, by way of credentials. “He’s my stepdad, technically.” My biological father left when I was ten, then died before I could...

“Sorry,” he says, then goes back to cheating at solitaire.

“I can help you,” says the one in plaid. He offers his hand. “Call me Shaw.”

We shake hands. “Aaron,” I say. “How?”

“There’s a plane that can get you across the Atlantic fast enough. Supersonic, about two hour trip. That good enough?”

“Should be,” I say. I’d done the divination, knew exactly how much time I had. “But I thought they stopped flying those years ago.”

“They did,” he says. “But flight 668’s still going. You hear the story?”

I hadn’t. He tells it to me short. Passenger flight, back in 1967. Got hijacked mid-flight, the old fashioned way by a bunch of thugs who wanted to take it to Cuba. Killed about a dozen passengers and crew taking over, so the captain wasn’t having any of it, said he’d take the plane straight to Hell before he’d land it in Havana. So they shot him. The copilot said the exact same thing. The pilot did fly in straight to Hell, and Hell’s where the terrorists departed. But it turns out there wasn’t enough fuel to make it to Heaven, so it’s been flying its usual route ever since, faster than anything short of a rocket ok, love all the details, but it does feel a bit like the story trainplane might only be going to the beginning of the story not the end.

“Now it’s mostly ghosts who fly 668. But the living can come,” says Shaw. “Interested?”

I am. We negotiate a price. Fairly dear, several rare books from my library.

“Now, there’s something you to need know. You’ve got to be very careful with the crew. Polite. The plane’s only solid enough to hold you up so long as they want it to be, so if you get them angry-”

“I get it.”

“I don’t think you do,” he says. “You married?” I shake my head. He pulls out a gold ring. “Take this. Only polite way to turn down a proposition from one of them is to flash one of these, and they will proposition you. You aren’t dog-ugly, and they get plenty lonely and bored with each other up there.”

“But what if I-”

“Ever been with a ghost?” he says. “Didn’t think so. Ghosts aren’t substantial enough even at best, if you get my drift. Everything you’d be doing would be entirely for their benefit, and if you can’t fake an ending convincingly they’ll get offended at that. Better to avoid the trouble entirely.” this is quite a big part of your story, proportionally, and I don't think it carries its weight - guessing it's a flash rule?

I take the ticket and follow his instructions, through the unused corridors of Heathrow to where the ghost plane loads. I board, take my seat, listen to the pre-flight instructions. I order my drinks and, just like Shaw predicted, have to flash the ring a few times to avoid joining the mile-high club. cool well glad we had that little diversion that made no difference to anything We reach altitude and the seat-belt light comes off. I start my drink bad vague verb/noun and hear a voice I haven’t heard in decades. “Aaron? Small drat world, that’s for sure.”

I turn around. He sits down next to me without asking permission. I close my eyes for a second, trying to force him to be a passenger by sheer force of will. I turn my head and open them. He’s wearing a flight uniform. Don’t give offense I think. ah, ok - that's better, i mostly forgive you “Hi, dad,” I say.

We sit in awkward silence for a while. “I know you didn’t go down with the plane,” I finally say.

“Nah,” he says, smiling. “Joined up in ‘92.”

“Why?”

“It’s a living,” he says. “Like that bird on the Flintstones says. Funny, huh.”

“Not really.”

“No, not really. But yeah, I got debts, and they pay me, so...” bad dialogue

We keep at it, small talk with long awkward silences. He asks why I’m flying with ghosts, and I tell him.

“This guy, he been treating your mother right?”

“Better than,” I say, then catch myself. “Better than right.” clever

“Shame, then,” he says. “About the cancer, that is.”

I don’t say anything. The attendant brings another drink. The plane flies, a thunderstorm gathering around it. No turbulence, but when the lightning flashes, under that second of electric light my biological father, the crew, and the rest of the passengers’ bodies fade to translucent and I see only glowing skeletons, laughing and flirting and passing the time.

“I should probably get back to work,” he says.

“Wait,” I say.

“Yeah?”

“Thank you.”

“For what?” he says. “I mean, I know I’ve not done right by you or your mom, not hardly. So what’re you thanking me for?”

I brace myself. He’s probably not going to fade the plane and let me fall. hang on wouldn't a wizard have ways to fly? eh, i guess you answered that at the beginning. He was a bastard, but not that kind of bastard. I hope. “For dying. When you did. If you’d been alive when I started learning real magic, well-”

“You’d have killed me?” He says. “Really?”

“I was a pretty angry young man those days.”

“Well, uh,”

“So I’m glad you kept that off my soul at least,” I say.

“Well, that wasn’t what I was thinking about when I drove ‘round that corner,” he says, “But I’ll take what I can get.” He gets up and goes back to the front of the plane. I finish the drink and close my eyes. In a few hours I’ll get to say goodbye, say ‘I love you’ one more time to my actual father. In a few hours I’ll have to say goodbye to him. I’ve got so much more to say to him before he goes, but right now I can’t find any words other than those three.hmmm so this is a corker of a setup, wizard vip lounge, ghost concorde, just great. And there's a little bit of juice in the ghost dad on the flight but their interaction is a big pile of soggy ghost noodles 'oh hey dead dad i hated how u doin' 'oh ok u know how bout u' 'cool' 'that's cool''yeah' '...' seriously just sniff that missed opportunity it smells of tangerine and heartbreak, (the tangerine is me sorry i just really like them). with a few different paras and less of a cypher in the form of the stepdad this could have really popped.

SurreptitiousMuffin
Mar 21, 2010


Bad Seafood posted:

Won't be long now before someone prefaces a story they didn't write with the story of why they didn't write it.

a good story (the wind whispers and says like 'hey guy do the words')


Muffin stared at his keyboard.

"It's me," he said, "it's the idiot baby bitch. I want to write words but I can't because my stupid fingers keep hitting the wrong keus."

He tried to write a story but it was bad, so he sat and watched the same youtube video he'd already seen like fifty times, and he kinda smiled like 'hey I recognise this -- it does not challenge me and I take comfort in its familiarity.'

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh


SurreptitiousMuffin posted:

He tried to write a story but it was bad, so he sat and watched the same youtube video he'd already seen like fifty times, and he kinda smiled like 'hey I recognise this -- it does not challenge me and I take comfort in its familiarity.'

low blow, man

Mrenda
Mar 14, 2012



Edit: Taken down to rework.

Mrenda fucked around with this message at 18:42 on Apr 18, 2017

Okua
Oct 30, 2016


Only Horse
~1094 words

quote:

Binge-Eating Disorder

There is a dying horse outside my house.

All is quiet but for the flies buzzing and - further away - crying; the persistent squaling of a young girl. Flies gather on the horse's flanks in the shade of cedar trees. In my bathrobe, frozen on my way to the mailbox, I see the its chest expand and contract, contrasting with the heavy stillness of its head and limbs. There are shadows between the ribs and a trickle of blood running across the gravel. I taste iron.

Its eyes fall open. Blackness.

The girl comes back around the bend with her mom in tow, riding helmet askew. Her voice is so shrill, as if this is the greatest suffering she's ever known. "He just fell!" she exclaims.

He mother shakes her head. That’s the scene: Horse, girl, mother.

"Get that off of my property, please," I say.

"Excuse me?" asks the mother, hand resting protectively on her daughter's shoulder. "Can't you see she's upset? We'te getting hold of a veterinarian."

I fight to keep looking at her instead of the animal. Every moment it lies there, I grow emptier, colder, lighter until it doesn’t feel like I’m really there in my slippers. "Just get it away."

The girl cries again.

"It's an animal," I say, voice wavering. "It doesn't think."

But I have committed the mistake of making eye contact with the horse, gazing into it. I can see the meat and bone beneath the hair. (Horse-hair - such a rough texture). The smell of it wafts through the open door behind me and straight into my house.

It follows me as I stalk back into my kitchen. I need breakfast. I need to get my mind off of this.

I can see them through my window: Horse, girl, mother talking on her smartphone. Anxiously waiting.

I draw the curtains, but even though I don't look out, I can still hear the crying. The shrill sound of my kettle coming to a boil does not dispel it. I get out toast and jam and butter, eat two slices, dicover that I can't stop. No matter what I cram into my mouth I still taste iron, but I keep going, even licking my dirty hands -

Two sticky fingers hook themselves around the edge of the curtain. I can't help it. I peek. Horse, girl, no mother. She's off somewhere. The girl is heartbroken, but she still cries - so it could be worse.
The worst is when you open your mouth and no sound comes out at all.

As I mash buttered toast inside me I know that I'm getting full, but it's not enough. The light, uneasy feeling is still there. I shouldn't go on, but I do. All the danger signs are there, bent and crooked signposts sticking out of burnt umber sand, ignored. You’re doing it again. I reach into the cupboard.

Biscuits, dry like a desert. Three packets gone in the blink of an eye. What else? Oats full of fibre, hopefully satisfying with full-fat room-temperature milk lazily soaking through the grains -

When I turn around, the horseman Famine has taken a seat at my kitchen table. He folds his hands, waiting. Of course, it was his horse outside. He has my father's emancipated face, but he is someone else entirely.

"I want to go apologize to her," I say - or more likely, I failt to say it since my mouth is full, overflowing. Milk dribbles down my chin. I soak it up with bread. The girl is still outside, but I am afraid to leave the table; I feel like I might float away if I do. I concentrate on the sensation of barely-chewed paste going down my throat as I pour leftovers from two nights ago, spices and flatbread, into a bowl. Two portions. Then, why not, the last dregs. Leftovers from a land without leftovers, my Ethiopia shimmering in the distance but unable to touch me as the pain in my belly reminds me of where I am.

I wonder what the horseman thinks. He has horse-eyes, dark infinities above gaunt cheeks. He moves his hand, and the curtains flutter. I see the street: no girl, no mother, only horse.

I should at least apologize to the horse if nobody else, but I can't go if I'm not full, if I'm not done, and my body keeps roaring. For what? More or less? The hideous build-up of pressure? I can't go because I have no arms or legs anymore: I am only my stomach, reduced to the hurting and the beating of my heart, the blood, the food inside me.

Hands come away red. The plate is a swirl of brown rust.

And I reach forward, gather the last apple that rolls across the surface of the table and eat that too, in three bites. Down runs the juices; I have eaten Famine himself.

I stagger away from the table.

The air won't get inside me. I groan.

I make it to the front door. The veranda. The path.

I stand above the animal.

What am I thinking? I am thinking nothing. The horse smells of death now, and I know that stench well enough that I don’t dare close my eyes for fear of seeing red earth cracked open by the dry heat of the summer than hollowed out men and made bones brittle. I have a child's memories of starvation swelling like a blister in my mind. I remember mostly hunger pangs.

Now, we are both bloated in the sun. God, at last the car comes up the path, and there's a vet, and I stand back as she unrolls her equipment. Take it away! Relieve my duty as watcher of the horse.

She looks at me like she's heard stories from the girl about a reprehensible man who shouts at mourners. It's not like that, I want to say, but I am scared that I will vomit if I open my mouth. It hurts to stand up straight, my stomach aching, the skin pulled so taut. I suppose she also looks at me as a picture of fat American gluttony. I’m not even American, I want to say. I'm from where you eat all your dead animals.

The doors shut and the car drives awat and I don't even hear it, really.

I hear a little girl crying. I lie down in pain and out of breath where the gravel cuts into my back.

No horse, no girl, no mother, only me.

Jay W. Friks
Oct 4, 2016


Got Out.

Grimey Drawer

Aurumvorax (Diagnosis: PICA) (1228 words)
By Jay W. Friks

Lorenzo stoked the kiln with a flick of the switch. A sharp pain jumped inside his belly. He coughed and spit into his palm. He rubbed the saliva onto a long iron poker with a little lead bead welded to the end, he could remember a time when this whole process wouldn’t make him feel ill.


The ceiling fans rattled the dark green ceilings of his workspace. He looked longingly at the clock and rubbed his stomach as something churned within it. The swinging door to his studio opened with a creak and a portly woman in a canary yellow sundress wobbled in with a basket full of pawned jewelry.


"How goes the design, Lorrie?" Shanna asked. She set the metal basket onto the desk as softly as possible. A slight tremor would upset any of the molds Lorenzo had curing. She had worked on walking less heavily in the studio and setting things down gingerly on furniture.


Lorenza didn't bring it up but she knew the molds took a long time to cure and she didn't want to be responsible for flaws in the product. That was why the last goldsmith had quit. Lorenzo took a glance at the basket and licked his lips. "It's going okay I suppose. It's a bit more complicated than I thought it would be.”


He pointed at a tacked printed paper copy of a dotted line diagram. It was a bracelet with colored borderlines dictating different portions of its construction. It was supposed to be a garden on the wrist. That was the idea that the tourist couple had pitched to Shannon to outline for them.


When they heard that a custom jeweler was near their hotel in Barcelona they had to get something made to always remind them of their honeymoon vacation. Lorenzo appreciated the work but didn’t appreciate the recent cravings he was experiencing. He didn’t know why, but since he had moved to the city he felt something was missing from his body.


The shop had become a place he dreaded because his cravings were at their worst there. He slid his finger down the border of a three leaf plant on the bracelet design,
“ These petals are shaped like clovers which are hard to emulate at the size they asked for."
He wiped his brow with a nearby sponge on his work table.


"It's a bit slow-going.” He said. Shanna asked, “I could help you if you want." She knew she really couldn't but the man looked so pale and sickly. She worried about him and thought she could get him to slow down and drink some water on such a hot day.


"It's alright Shanna. I'll make it. Did that man I told you about show up?" He took another glance at the basket. Right on the top of the mound of silver earrings, brass buttons and cluster of diamond earrings was a trio of little gold figurines. "Yes, Lorrie. He left a note for you and I have it right here." She pulled a crudely taped up envelope from her bosom.


He took it with a nod of thanks. "Is he a friend of yours?" Shanna asked. "No. Just an acquaintance of my cousin." He answered as he pushed the poker into the kiln and quickly retracted it. The saliva was gone in a puff of steam.


"You're not in trouble are you Lorrie?" She asked. He turned from the basket and looked into her eyes. He gave a certain look at that question. He did it with his roommate as well as his ex-wife when he had begun having unreasonable cravings.


He replied with feigned annoyance and a slight roll of the eyes, "I'm fine. It’s a bit warm, that’s all. Please let me get back to my work." She nodded and walked out gingerly. He wished he could ask her out. She was so sweet and she was single. He remembered his former wife yelling at him about what happened to her mother’s earrings and put the desire away.


Two of the little gold statuettes were formed like a pair of bishops like on a chessboard. One was an archer with a cruel looking arrow in his right hand ready to nock it in his bow. It looked barbed. It would feel very painful going down.


He poured the pawned metals into separate drawers. The three figurines weren’t needed for his current projects. The three designs on order didn't call for gold and he had a little bit of time before he saw the doctor. He wrapped a chain of platinum around the poker and shoved it inside the kiln. "


He chose the archer. It looked painful and it would hopefully dissuade him from doing this again. The numbers on the shops' pawn manifest would change a bit again. He pressed it in between his fingers and dropped it into his mouth like a truffle. He rubbed the texture with his tongue.


His body was convinced it was cooling his mouth. Gritting his teeth he swallowed it. A gasp escaped his lips as it went down. He felt like he was feeling better.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
The clinic sat in between two boarded up houses on a street lined with potholes. Lorenzo wrapped his coat tightly around his shivering frail body. The day was hot but his body felt cold and wracked with little screams from his stomach. He slid his cousin’s note underneath the clinic door. An old woman with a long scar across her neck opened the door, "Hello Mr. Vincente! The doctor will be happy to see you."

He sat on a bar stool in the decrepit lounge. The building had been a private server room and the walls were littered with holes were outlets and connections had formerly sat. The old woman stood next to the door with a pistol in her right hand. He rubbed his stomach. He burped and tasted blood.


Steps came up at the door to the basement and a tall lanky man with a discolored surgical mask emerged. The man said something in a harsh language that Lorenzo guessed was Russian. The woman replied to him and the surgeon turned to Lorenzo and offered him a hand. The man guided down the steps to a hallway with six doors. An occasional scream of pain erupted from the first door to his left.


He sat Lorenzo on a surgical table and took some blood and checked his pulse. Lorenzo dropped a wad of cash into a bucket nearby the table. The doctor said to Lorenzo in decent Italian, “I’ve heard much about you from the woman upstairs. You pay for the other half with the contents correct?” Lorenzo nodded. His head was swimming, the pain was tearing its way through every section of his insides.


The surgeon gave Lorenzo a shot and commented before he went to sleep. “It’s like a treasure hunt. This will be fun!”
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Lorenzo was awake. He was clutching a bottle of painkillers and a bag of antibiotics sat next to him. The surgeon was making a racket. He had his hand in the same bucket the cash was placed into and was swirling something around. He held up a gold figurine of a bishop and turned to say to Lorenzo. "Good craftsmanship!”

Armack
Jan 27, 2006


[redacted]

Armack fucked around with this message at 01:29 on Oct 31, 2017

flerp
Feb 25, 2014

I DON'T ALWAYS
HERDY DUR MUR FLERP FLERPITY
FLOOPIN
BUT WHEN I DO
I YER DER FLERPITY
THURN DER DERMIN
BORK! BORK! BORK!




Encopresis (pants shtting disorder)

1100 words

Look, Sometimes It Just Happens, Ok?

flerp fucked around with this message at 21:14 on Oct 11, 2017

Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

Porpoise noise continues.


After the End
1423 words


Hoarding Disorder
323 extra words given


“Denise?”

I poked my head up. “Hey.”

Laura stood in the doorway, looking sick. “Jesus loving Christ.”

I stood up, brushing the dust off my hands. “I know.”

“When did it get this bad?”

“Last year.”

“Jesus. You should have warned me.”

There were boxes on boxes, and newspapers on the boxes, and even more boxes on top of them. Random possessions stuck out like broken limbs. One of the newspaper piles had finally succumbed to gravity and slumped across what I privately called “the track,” effectively blocking my only escape route.

“You don’t really notice when you look at it every day.”

Laura scoffed. “Most people couldn’t stand to do that.”

We were both silent for a moment before Laura asked, “Does Dad know?”

I shook my head. “You know how she was; I wasn’t allowed to tell him anything.” When she opened her mouth to protest, I cut her off: “Mom wasn’t making a whole lot of sense before the end. All she remembered from day to day was not to talk to you or Dad.”

“You could have gone to loving jail for letting it get this bad! There are elder care laws, or something.”

I tried to look indifferent. “Well, it’s not an issue anymore, is it?”

It took almost two hours to clear the first corner. Laura wanted to throw everything in garbage bags and put them on the curb. I did my best to hold on to everything I could, but that only seemed to enrage her:

“Why was this in the ‘keep’ pile?”

“That’s the award she won at the office. It was important to her.”

“Goddammit, Denise, Mom is dead. Why do you need to keep some ‘Accounting Assistant of the Year’ award from 1992?”

“I just told you, it was really important to Mom! She’s dead, but it’s not like she never existed.”

Laura just shook her head and crumpled the yellowing certificate, throwing it in the bag with more force than necessary. It hurt to watch.

It hurt to repeat this conversation, over and over, and after about six iterations we had nearly given up. I cleared a hole on the sofa and collapsed onto the sagging, dusty springs, while she gingerly leaned against the kitchen island and stared at me.

I tried to make her understand. “Look, Mom had kind of a lovely, disappointing life. All she cared about at the end was this stuff. I just think it’s important to honor her memory and not, like, throw everything of hers away.”

“I don’t even think this is her stuff, Denise.”

“Oh, so I’m the one that went out and earned a marathon t-shirt from six years before I was even born?”

Mistake. She pounced. “That’s my loving point, you didn’t. But I bet it was your idea to keep it around for thirty-something years.”

“Mom wanted it.”

“Oh, really? Mom said to you, ‘Hey, my legs don’t work and I’m loving crazy and I haven’t left my house since 2007, but I just want you to know that this one t-shirt from 1979 is super important to me and you should totally hang on to it for the rest of your natural life’? Did she say that?”

I stood up. “Oh, okay, so you know what Mom wanted? Last time I checked, you had called her a “mean rear end in a top hat” and a “hoarder” and told her not to call you anymore. Which is really nice to say to your disabled mother.”

Laura buried her hands in her face. “Oh, my god, yes. I did that. Yes. I couldn’t bring my kids over here anymore, I couldn’t stand to hear her slurring down the phone at me-“

“She was sick!”

“No, she was crazy. You’re sick. You enabled this.”

I scuffed my foot at a random pile. “I was trying to keep her happy!”

My sister looked at me. “Who told you to keep this stuff?”

“Mom wanted it.”

“Who told you to keep it?”

“Nobody told me, she just wanted it.”

“Yeah, but how do you know?”

“Look, she was old and sick and it was comforting to her.”

Laura was quiet, then: “How do you know? Did she ask you?”

“No,” I said.

Laura sighed. “Okay…” She ran her fingers through her hair, the anger slumping out of her. “Okay.”

“I was the only one who was willing to live with her. If I threw something out, and she found out and got pissed, no one was going to come help me. I couldn’t call Dad and say, ‘Mom’s nuts, Mom’s irrational, come get me.’ I mean, he warned me in the first place, and I ignored him because I…she was my mother. You know?”

“I know.”

“So, yeah, I tried to keep her happy. If I tried to out anything in the trash, she’d be like, ‘Oh, that’s the ticket Danny got the first time he took a girl to the movies. We can’t throw that away, it would be like throwing out the memory of your brother!’ and I would just feel so lovely.”

“Yeah.”

“And she was so confused at the end, yeah, but she always knew what everything was, so I let her keep it. Because she didn’t always know me, or like me, and if she got really agitated she’d ask about Danny, and I couldn’t have that conversation again.”

Laura squeezed in next to me. It was the closest I’d been to my sister in years, and I jumped a little. “Do you think the accident is why this happened?”

I pulled a trash bag out of the box and started slowly filling it with pieces of obvious garbage. “Yes. Kind of. But she always did kind of did this, remember? She’d save parmesan packets from delivery pizza, or she’d stuff coupon pages in that big blue folder…”

“She saved all our artwork.”

“That’s kind of normal, though.”

“I have two kids and I don’t even save most of the drawings they bring me. You know why? They’re usually not worth saving.”

Her bluntness made me laugh. She continued, “After Danny died and she stopped talking to anybody but you and I, that’s when it started getting bad.”

“It was hard.” The admission fell out of my mouth without my even realizing it. I regretted the slip immediately, but I also felt relief.

“I know. I’m sorry.”

We sat in silence. Denise looked at her hands. I looked at the piles of shadow that surrounded us. In my imagination, each dusty stack was a grey-haired specter, scolding me: Bad daughter. No sympathy. I heard her voice, thick with tears: Don’t throw that away, that’s your brother’s book. We can’t forget him. Don’t throw that out, I might need it someday. Smaller. Don’t throw me away. Don’t erase me. I wasn’t important, but I was alive. Someone needs to know I was alive. In my mind, she was eclipsed by the garbage, whining and sniffling as trash built around her in concentric circles, burying her. Hiding her face.

Finally, my sister sighed. “I think we need a cleaning service.”

“But what about the stuff?”

“Make a list. If you don’t put something on the list, it goes.”

I swallowed. “Can I have a few days to think?”

“Sure.” She coughed self-consciously, and said, “I was hoping you would stay with us for a while? I could use the help with the kids, and, uh, Dr. Lin…you know, she said she would be willing to have a few sessions with you. For free. Just to try it out.”

I was happy and resentful at once. It would be good to see my nephews. It would be good to sleep somewhere clean, for once. But I could feel the ghost of my mother trying to hold me back. Denise, you’re the only one who understands me. If you change, I’m all alone. “I don’t have to do that,” I said. “I love the kids, I’ll come for a while, but I don’t think I need therapy.”

Instead of blowing up or rolling her eyes, Denise took my hand. “You can’t have one without the other,” she said thickly. “Please? Please try. I don’t want this-“ she indicated the packed house “-for you.”

I looked at the graying ghosts again. “I mean, I’ll go if it makes you happy, but I don’t have to keep going. I’ll go twice, okay? If I don’t think I need to stick with it, I’ll stop.”

“Okay,” she said, “Let’s try that.”

God Over Djinn
Jan 17, 2005

onwards and upwards


Chorea (the Dance) (1099 words)

She comes back from the grocery store without any groceries. I find her in the foyer, trying to slam the front door.

“Want me to slam it for you?” I say.

“I don’t care,” she says.

I grab the door and slam it shut as hard as I can. The sound echoes beautifully. She kept tripping over the area rugs, so we threw them away. Now our home is all bare smooth surfaces, like a church, or a prison.

She drops her crutches to the floor, then lowers herself into a chair. “Can’t loving walk and carry things at the same time with these loving things,” she says. Empty canvas grocery bags are scattered at her feet.

I put my arm around her. She tolerates it for a second. Then she shrieks at me. “gently caress! Stop loving grabbing me! God dammit, I loving hate you.”

“I love you. And I know that’s just the disease talking,” I say.

“You say that every time I disagree with you.”

“Because I know you.”

“Maybe I’ve changed,” she says. “Maybe I’m a huge bitch now.”

They say that Huntington’s makes you irritable. She says it’s dying that makes her irritable.

That winter, I use my bonus to buy her a power wheelchair. I put a fancy bow on it and park it in the kitchen, and surprise her. She loves it. “I’m going to get some saddlebags,” she says.

“You need a little flag,” I say.

“With a skull and crossbones.”

“A skull and crutches. With ‘thug life’ on it.”

“I feel good,” she says. She turns it into a song. James Brown. “When I hold you, in my arms,” she sings, “my love can’t, do me no harm…” She takes my hands, laughing, and we dance in the kitchen, her in her chair, me on my own two feet.

She goes grocery shopping and comes back with lobster, garlic, green onions, a crusty loaf of bread. “I’m going to make you a fancy dinner,” she announces.

I sit on the kitchen counter and watch. Her hands spasm as she minces garlic.

“Get out of here,” she says. “I want at least some of it to be a surprise.”

The knife slices down, over and over, separating garlic cloves. Her shoulders jerk to the left, then the right, then the right again, and the knife slips and skitters on the cutting board. “gently caress,” she says.

“I’ve hardly seen you all day,” I say.

“You’re making me nervous,” she says. She picks up the knife and starts cutting again, a little more quickly.

I can’t stand it. I walk over and take the knife out of her hand. There’s no resistance as her fingers open.

“What are you doing?”

“Let me help.”

“I’m sick, not retarded.”

“I just don’t want you to cut yourself.”

She stares me down. “gently caress you.”

“I’m sorry. I’m sorry. It was a mistake. Here. Take it back.” I hold the knife out to her.

She sweeps one arm across the countertop, flinging the cutting board to the floor. Garlic and green onions scatter at her feet. Her arm starts to jerk uncontrollably, echoing the same motion once, twice, a third time over. “K-k-k-keep,” she starts to say. “K-k-k-keep your f-f-loving-gently caress-“

I reach for the broom. I know enough not to reach for her.

I go out to put the ruined food in the dumpster and pick up some hamburgers. When I get back, the front door is hanging open and our dog is spinning frantically. She’s not in the house. She’s not anywhere. She’s gone.

The police officer who arrives has her hair pulled back in a painful-looking braid. She’s one of those people who never stops making eye contact. “Are you the caretaker?” she says.

I’m not sure what to say, so I nod.

“And this is your… parent who’s missing?”

“My wife.” The cop’s eyes jerk away from me for just a second. I try to channel her defiance into my expression. Yes: two girls who fell in love with each other, and survived. Rare animals indeed.

It’s midnight before somebody spots her outside of town. “Just rolling down the street,” says the cop.

“Is she okay?” I say.

“Don’t worry. I’m sure she’ll be glad to see you.”

They’ve got her waiting in a gas station convenience store. Two cashiers with acne-riddled faces are sitting on the curb out front, smoking cigarettes and looking uncomfortable. One of them stands up when the patrol car arrives. The cop has to come around and let me out. My door doesn’t open from the inside.

She’s browsing the candy aisle. I catch myself approaching with my hands out, like I want to prove I’m not dangerous.

“You’re not mad,” is the first thing she says.

“I’m just glad you’re okay.”

She sighs. “I wish you were mad.”

“I can be mad, if you want me to.”

“It’s what I’ve been thinking about all night. You don’t get mad at a dog for running away. You don’t get mad when your kid says they hate you because you won’t buy them candy.”

“You’re not-“

“If your wife leaves you, you get mad.” She toys with the wrapper of a Snickers bar. “If you’d come storming in here—“ she looks at me and starts over. “You’re thinking, this is just the disease talking.”

“I wasn’t going to say that.”

“Maybe I just wanted to go for a walk. A walk,” she says, gesturing something that I know is supposed to be air quotes. “To clear my head.”

“Is that what happened?”

“No. Yes. Maybe.”

“I’ll go for a walk with you whenever you want. Just say the word. I’ll take you anywhere.”

She looks at me as if she feels very, very sorry for me. “Is that our ride home?” She glances over her shoulder at the police officer who’s leaning against the door. “Let’s get a move on.”

I must look surprised.

“What?” she says.

“I guess, I don’t know. I just saw this ending differently. I thought you’d be mad.”

“You thought I’d put up a fight.”

“I guess.”

“You thought you’d have to… subdue me or something. Like a cornered animal. Should’ve brought the tranquilizer darts.” My wife’s right hand makes a spasmodic gesture, over and over. She looks at it like she’s scolding a disobedient child.

“But you’re not an animal,” I say. “Stop saying that.”

“For now,” she says. I want to ask her what she means, but I don’t.

From then on, I do the grocery shopping alone.

ThirdEmperor
Aug 7, 2013

BEHOLD MY GLORY

AND THEN

BRAWL ME


-archived-

ThirdEmperor fucked around with this message at 13:48 on Dec 25, 2017

RandomPauI
Nov 24, 2006




Grimey Drawer

I'm having difficulties with my story. I thought we had more time, and while the topic is very familiar the stumbling blocks are painful as ever.

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010



Legit Cyberpunk





RandomPauI posted:

I'm having difficulties with my story. I thought we had more time, and while the topic is very familiar the stumbling blocks are painful as ever.

this sort of post will get you shouted at fyi. post, or post not.

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


BLO OD E M PR E SS

of

THUDNER-DOME






You can also come into the #thunderdome IRC channel if you want to whine about how much writing sucks with the rest of us

Thranguy
Apr 21, 2010

Yes, the good words are gone.

Why are the good words gone?!




The Unsolvable Problem

https://thunderdome.cc/?story=5627&title=The+Unsolvable+Problem

Thranguy fucked around with this message at 01:53 on Dec 7, 2017

flerp
Feb 25, 2014

I DON'T ALWAYS
HERDY DUR MUR FLERP FLERPITY
FLOOPIN
BUT WHEN I DO
I YER DER FLERPITY
THURN DER DERMIN
BORK! BORK! BORK!




eurovision redemption!

Germany 2016

878 words

Help! My Boyfriend Wants to Move On Instead of Getting Married!

(posted by Merle the Marvelous)

Ok, so the first thing you should know about me and Mervin is that we are both merpeople.

Oh yeah, and we’re both ghosts.

We live in the underwater city of Domeland, and we got engaged a couple months after I died. It wasn’t really a tragic death. I just wasn’t paying attention near a seaweed chipper and, long story short, fell in. Oh well, it happens to everybody.

So I haunted the Domeland Hospital since I watched a lot of those ghost hunting shows and thought that’s just what ghosts are supposed to do. But there were actual people there and I accidentally scared some of the old ladies and I was really worried they would have heart attacks because even though I’m a ghost I don’t really like killing people but they didn’t die.

So, one day while I’m roaming through the halls, closing and opening doors and moaning and whatnot, I hear this really cute voice call out to me. It’s like, “Hey, you, can you shut up?” So I turn around and there’s this really suave ghost in front of me. He’s got this real long tail and he even sparkled! Which is insane because sometimes I saw other ghosts and none of them sparkled.

And I say, “Oh I’m sorry. Are you single?”

And the mysterious ghost merman is like, “Uhhhhh yeah I guess. I mean I’m dead and all and it’s kinda hard to date when you’re dead.”

“Wait, can ghosts not date? I’m not really sure because I saw a movie once where a guy dated a ghost girl but maybe only alive people can date ghosts but ghosts can’t date each other.”

“Hmmmm.” The ghost merman put his finger under his chin like he was thinking and it was like really really cute. “I’m not sure actually.”

“Well then, why not try?”

So he shrugs and says, “Yeah sure why not. My name’s Mervin by the way.”

So we go to the restaurant and spook some of the patrons and like knock their forks down and make the waiters think they hear weird noises and, just as a little aside, if you have the chance, totally become a ghost! It’s fun as heck!

Anyways, the date ends and he’s all like you’re really cute blah blah blah and we make out for a bit which is actually kind of hard for ghosts but we managed.

So we kept seeing each other for a couple months and we’re like totally in sync with each other. We like the same bands, we like it when the water is extra salty, our tails were even the same color when we were alive. When you die, they just become like a misty white which is really dumb.

So, anyways, he proposes to me in the restaurant where we had our first date. It was super romantic. He possessed one of the waiters and put the ring in the mouth of a salmon and then offered it to me! But then I tried to put it on but I couldn’t grab because of my ephemeral form and all of that stuff. He is like, the most romantic guy I’ve ever dated. I dated a librarian once but he never went out at night, always said he had to save the world or something. I don’t know.

Ok, now get this, right when I said I do, a beam of light flows over him and we hear this really loud booming voice saying, “You have found love in your heart. You can now come into My kingdom.”

And Mervin’s like, “Huh, that’s God I think.”

And I’m like, “Wow! That’s crazy. So, can I come too?”

And God’s a big jerk saying I haven’t found my purpose or whatever which is really rude because I asked what my purpose was but he didn’t explain it. He was all like “Uhhh durrr it’s all about overcoming your inner struggle or whatever.”

So after we talk for a bit, God says to Mervin, “Ok, well, take your time I guess. I mean, it’s either live in this place of eternal strife and pain or live in everlasting peace and bask in My glory. I mean, I know what I’d choose, but you do you.”

And so now Mervin’s going all like I have to go and paradise is waiting for me and all that stuff. And here I am, dead and now my boyfriend wants to leave me to go to Heaven and I’m not even going to be married and I don’t even know what my goal is in and tbh I think God is being a real jerk about this.

We even had a big fight and I hope he doesn’t pass on without me getting to say goodbye!

What do I do????

Edit: Thanks for all the responses everyone! Mervin has moved on ( ;-; ) but I found a new ghost who’s like way cuter and holy cow are his abs impressive and he can swim really fast like it’s actually insane I think I’m in love. Anyways, I’m closing this thread, thank you for all the kind words!

Chili
Jan 23, 2004

college kids ain't shit


Fun Shoe

Deadline is in about 90 minutes!

SurreptitiousMuffin
Mar 21, 2010


Patterns

The clouds were a problem. Hemi tried not to look at them, but they’d changed the whole shape and outlook of the sky. His hands shook. He took a drag on his cigarette, watched the smoke gyre skyward: the wind tore it apart, and it was lost.

He shut his eyes for a moment. The insides of his eyelids were smashed tv screens – dark, showing only static, carved up by a dull network of red capillaries. He didn’t throw up.

“You alright bro?” said Chris. “Tripping out?”

Hemi nodded, then took another deep drag, and coughed at the burnt-plastic taste of filter. He spat it out, then sighed, lay back and stared down the sky.

The clouds had an identity -- castles, mansions, comfortable little starter homes. The wind tore at them, but they held their shape. The static didn’t go away; the whole sky was sick with it.

“You need me to do any– “

“--nope.”

They lay on the hillside. Hemi smoked another cigarette, and another. Chris didn’t say anything about it.

“You know what’s hosed up?” Hemi said, when he was ready to speak again.

“What’s hosed up?”

“My tipuna told me nobody owned land before the British came. Like, land wasn’t a thing that could be owned any more than the sky, or your heartbeat, or your thoughts. She told me we came from the land like, literally -- man emerged from the earth, and the earth is his mother, and cutting somebody off from the earth is like cutting off a limb. You couldn’t say ‘this bit of land is mine’ because it belongs to everybody who came up out of it–

Now it’s the most valuable thing in the country, and we’ll never own any. It’s not even that we were torn away from it, it’s that we never had a connection to begin with. It’s like we’re all born missing a limb and we just have to pretend that it’s normal, because there’s people getting rich selling prosthetics.”

Chris nodded. “That’s super hosed up,” he said. “You wanna do something about it?”

The houses in the clouds would not budge. Hemi’s fingernails were short and ragged.

“Do what?” said Hemi. “I can’t get a job, I don’t qualify for disability. If I did get a job, I’d be sitting in my cubicle all day worrying that my brain is gonna take me somewhere I don’t want to go. Anything could set it off: carpets, wallpaper, clouds. One or two bad choices, and now I’ll be landless forever -- cut off from the only holy thing we’ve got left.”

His voice cracked. Something inside him twisted. He spat onto the grass – stained it yellow with saliva and nicotine.

“They cut off my welfare,” he said. “Failed drug test. I was having a panic attack and I smoked a joint to calm down. Two months later, they’re pulling me aside and saying I’m very lucky the cops aren’t involved, and now I’m on my own.”

“How much have you got left?” said Chris. He sat up. His worry was written plain on his face, but Hemi knew that his friend couldn’t afford to help -- maybe a floor to sleep on, but money was too tight all over the show. Hemi turned the pack of cigarettes over in his hand.

“Rent went out yesterday and that’s $147, then these are $22. That leaves– “

He pretended to run the numbers for a moment.

“Nothing,” he said. “Less than a dollar.”

“Well, poo poo,” said Chris. “You can crash on my couch if you want. I think. I’ll have to ask the landlord.”

“Thanks,” said Hemi. There was one cigarette left, stuck backwards in the box: the lucky. He took it, and lit it. A trickle of smoke escaped his mouth, and went skywards. The castles in the clouds didn’t move, not did they get any closer. They floated overhead: implacable, impossible.

The cigarette burnt down, and neither man spoke.

677 words, HPPD

Killer-of-Lawyers
Apr 22, 2008


*snip*

Killer-of-Lawyers fucked around with this message at 03:59 on Jan 3, 2018

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


BLO OD E M PR E SS

of

THUDNER-DOME






Schizotypal Personality Disorder + Gambling Disorder for 1050 extra words

Messiah's Redoubt
2135 words

removed for editing!

Archive link

Sitting Here fucked around with this message at 01:15 on Dec 7, 2017

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh


Pinballers
1641 words
Conduct Disorder--543 extra words

If you have never been press-slammed by one of your best friends through someone else’s five-hundred-gallon fish tank--with rap-rock blaring through the headset of your hydraulic stuntsuit and the taste of metal in your mouth--then you have not lived, my friend.

cHryss tips over the marble stand and sends the rest of the shattered fish tank to the floor, laughing like a short-circuited clown toy, while Jerrydd does a running headfirst baseball slide across the wet hardwood floor, broken glass and flopping angelfish ricocheting off his stuntsuit. “Motherfuckers!” he screams at the apartment ceiling. “Tag team maneuvers are cheating! Plus I was looking at that fish tank!”

“Cool overrules,” says cHryss. He bellyflops onto the coffee table, headbutting Angelina Jolie on the cover of Us Magazine, and his chestplates go off. I look up just in time to see him rocket-launch up into the forty-inch LED TV on the wall, butt first. He crashes down to the floor, and the TV peels off the wall and follows him down, then caroms off his backplates with a bang and skitters across the floor, coming to a stop in front of the kitchen island.

There’s a pounding on the wall from the apartment next door. We ignore it. There are only so many ways to make the most out of a ten-minute time limit.

These are my boys, and we play human pinball for a living.

When my fourth-grade teacher asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I drew a wrecking ball, like the ones on the cartoons, chain links jangling down to the top of a big black circle the size of an elephant. Drew a smiley face with white colored pencil on top of it, a smiley face with sharp teeth.

Just now, cHryss handed me the Broken Glass Bonus on a silver platter so he could pick up both the Creativity and the Strength Bonuses. Jerrydd’s been working on the Four Walls Bonus, throwing all the framed prints and photos over his shoulder in a tangle of canvas and spiky wood shards. Before cHryss hoiked me up and threw me through the aquarium, I was chipping away at the refrigerator, working on the Compost bonus.The kitchen cabinets and tile are all spattered with crushed fruit, jagged condiment bottles, egg yolks running down the cherrywood like wandering little eyes. This one’s a close race.

But the grand prize still hasn’t been found, not until I hear Jerrydd’s yell of triumph from the other room.

Me and cHryss run towards him as he’s ripping a giant framed Italian movie poster off the wall, exposing the combination safe on a shelf in the wall behind it. We all cheer.

A professional would crack the safe with a stethoscope and a trained ear. But the three of us do this for fun.

cHryss elbows past Jerrydd, yanks the safe off the shelf, and heaves it at my chest. I lunge forward, letting loose a primal roar that echoes inside my shatterproof helmet. The safe hits my chest and knocks me back a couple steps as it flies towards the opposite side of the apartment, making a giant dent in the drywall. I’m on fire, and I’m loving stoked.

I beat at my chest with a closed fist and make a run at the safe in the corner, but Jerrydd bodychecks me out of the way and goes for it with a power leg-drop. His stuntsuit flips him head-over-heels onto his stomach, gasping for breath. A metallic voice rings in my ear: Three minutes remaining.

And as Jerrydd makes it to his hands and knees, cHryss snatches up the safe and hoists it over Jerrydd, aiming for Jerrydd’s backplates, looking to see if he can bank-shot the safe into the kitchen where all the stainless-steel is, like he’s a professional pool player.

I’m getting back to my feet, so I’m the only one that can see the old lady in a bathrobe behind cHryss, the neck of a champagne bottle tight in her closed fist like the handle of a caveman club.

I yell out to cHryss, and he looks at me as the bottle shatters over his head, bubbly pouring down the front of his visor.

He staggers forward. The safe crashes to the floor, just missing Jerrydd’s head. cHryss whips around, throwing an elbow out to catch Player 4 behind him.

The plates on his arm catch the lady under the jaw, flinging her up towards the ceiling with another bang. She hits the wall with a sharp crack, then clatters to the floor, limbs splayed, bathrobe slipping off her shoulder.

No one moves for I don’t know how long.

The metallic voice cuts through the blaring rap-rock--two minutes left--and cHryss jumps into action, grabbing the safe and bodyslamming it against the upturned marble stand. The explosion knocks cHryss into the track-lighting on the ceiling, and he lands on his rear end, sucking wind. The safe door hangs by a hinge.

“There,” cHryss says. “I win, fuckers.” He walks over to the safe and reaches in, yanking out a manila envelope. Me and Jerrydd still don’t move.

There’s more pounding from next door.

“What are you assholes waiting for?” cHryss says. He wipes champagne off his visor with a leather glove. “Our ride’s on the roof. Let’s go.”

One minute left, the robot voice says.

Jerrydd looks at the old lady in the bathrobe. I look, too. Her eyes are open, and her head is lolled to one side. The thought pops into my head that she’s not that old, maybe older than my mom, but not that old.

“Is she dead?” Jerrydd says. He giggles, and then the giggling turns into a coughing fit.

“She’ll be fine,” cHryss says. “More bonus points for me. Shouldn’t have hosed with us.”

“rear end in a top hat,” Jerrydd mumbles, but gets up and follows cHryss, shaking bits of glass loose from his suit. I follow, and only look back at the woman once, then tear myself away.



“...so after the Final Bonus, that makes Chris the winner!” says Mr. Tenzin.

cHryss whoops and slaps the armrests of the leather chair he’s sitting in as Mr. Tenzin counts out a pile of Benjamins for each of us, with cHryss getting the biggest stack. As soon as Mr. Tenzin is done counting, cHryss grabs his stack and kisses it.

Mr. Tenzin leans back in his office chair and beams at us. He’s our boss, and he’s got grey eyes, a growing bald spot, and a favorite tie he wears that’s covered in the logo of my and cHryss’s favorite band, ʞryptiʞ, the two backwards and upside-down k’s next to each other on a red background.

“Fantastic game, all three of you,” he says, leaning forward and looking at us. “I’ll give you a call when I need you again. Make sure to answer your cell phones.”

“Of course we will!” says cHryss. He looks like he wants to toss his money up in the air and start rolling in it like a farm hog.

I turn back to Mr. Tenzin. “What about the old lady?”

His smile twitches for a second. “What was that, Matt?”

“I asked what happened to the old lady,” I say, gripping the sides of the armchair. “The lady that jacked cHryss with the bottle.”

“Oh, don’t worry about it,” says Mr. Tenzin. He nods at cHryss. “Good work, by the way--excellent reaction time. No, we’ll make sure that that sort of thing doesn’t happen again.”

I nod, my lips pressed together. Me and Jerrydd grab our stacks, and the three of us walk to the elevator at the end of the hall and get in.

cHryss hits the button for the ground floor. He leans against the wall and laughs to himself as the elevator doors close.

Next to me, I can barely hear Jerrydd say, “How many more jobs we got left on our contract, again?”

cHryss stands up, straightens his back. “Two, and then we’ll renew for more,” he says.

“cHryss--”

“And then we’ll renew for more,” he says again.

“cHryss, I don’t know, man--”

Without saying anything, cHryss punches the emergency stop button.

The elevator slams to a halt. Red lights flash and sirens shriek.

“What the f--” says Jerrydd before cHryss lifts him up by his T-shirt and slams him against the elevator wall. “What the gently caress are you d--

“Hear that?” says cHryss to Jerrydd. Their faces are less than two inches apart. “Hear that sound? That’s you, that’s me, that’s all of us.”

Let me go, you loving rear end in a top hat--

“You want to set up shop in here?” spits cHryss. “You want to live in a metal box the rest of your life? Bouncing off the walls forever? Is that what you want?”

He shoves Jerrydd against the wall, and Jerrydd crumples to the floor.

The lights stop, the sirens stop.

Mr. Tenzin’s voice comes over the intercom. “Is everything all right, boys?” he asks.

I think of my dad’s landlord, his smooth mustache, his voice that sounded like it crawled out of a shaving kit, his polished shoe planted in the back of my dad’s jeans, sending him stumbling down the stairs towards me. I remember watching the wrecking ball from the back window of our car, buried in my stuff and Mom’s stuff and Dad’s stuff, smashing into the side of our building, and thinking that we were okay because it hadn’t hit the window where we lived yet.

Much smaller in real life than in the cartoons.

“Everything’s fine, Mr. Tenzin,” I say in my most professional, landlord-sounding voice. “Just hit the button by mistake.”

“Oh, good to hear.”

The elevator shakes to life again, and I feel it all the way from the bottoms of my feet to the top of my skull.

sparksbloom
Apr 30, 2006


.

sparksbloom fucked around with this message at 03:36 on Nov 27, 2017

SurreptitiousMuffin
Mar 21, 2010


10 minutes left, we are currently waiting on:

Uranium Phoenix - Reactive Attachment Disorder & Bipolar II 717 BONUS WORDS
The Cut of Your Jib - Childhood-Onset Fluency Disorder (Stuttering) 724 BONUS WORDS
Djeser - Body Dysmorphic Disorder
crabrock - Frotteuristic Disorder
Kaishai - Pyromania
Hawklad - Dissociative Identity Disorder 487 BONUS WORDS
Radical and BADical! - Selective Mutism 644 BONUS WORDS
Kenfucius - Bipolar I
Beige - Restless Leg Syndrome 753 BONUS WORDS

The Saddest Rhino - Adjustment Disorder POXED

If we get six more people sneaking in under the wire, Chili's toxx kicks in.

Radical and BADical!
Jun 27, 2010

by Lowtax


Fun Shoe

The Life, Times, and Comeback of Dana Han
Word Count: 1742

“Welcome, Ladies and Gentleman, to this very special two-hour edition of Echoes in the Chamber, being filmed live at the Constance A. Han Conservatory. Our guest tonight was once among the most celebrated of virtuoso vocalists. Her haunting voice became life's soundtrack for many, and lovers of music looked forward to this artist being around for a very long time, sharing her brilliance with the world. However, it was not to be.”

Dana waited just off set in the stage wings, away from the lights, the cameras, and the greedy, staring eyes of those who had come to see a spectacle made of her life. Michael's velvet baritone vibrated through her as he narrated her early career, and in the perfectly engineered acoustics of the Conservatory's main auditorium, it sounded as if his voice came from the very walls themselves. Its soothing timbre did much to ease the roiling anxiety trashing around deep inside her. Still; she could not bear to open her eyes, to accept that she was here, in this place which was the setting of so many terrifying nightmares. Her fingers wandered up to the blindfold tied tightly across her face, checking it for the hundredth time to see if it felt loose before arranging her flowing, silver locks so as to hide most of it.

His name is Michael Rhood. He is the host. You are not a little girl. You are on a show. A show about you. She isn't here. She isn't here.

“--but now she's finally decided to tell her tale and has come here, to the school built by her tormentor, to the very stage wherein she broke under the weight of her secret past and fled into obscurity. Here with us tonight after twenty years in hiding, Ladies and Gentlemen please welcome Dana Han.”

One of the wheels on her chair creaked monotonously as a stage-hand pushed her out onto that hated wooden platform, but its protests were quickly lost in the thunderous applause that swept through the concert hall. Had she really thought of the audience as greedy, staring voyeurs? Vague guilt for painting them like such villains welled within her heart even as the corners of her eyes ran freely with tears of gratitude at such an outpouring of love.

“Thank you for being here tonight, Dana.” Michael's warm, strong hand encircled her own withered fingers and gave them a gentle but reassuring squeeze.

“It was just time,” she replied, her seldom-used voice crackling a bit as she shook the rust off of it. “I am...amazed that so many people wanted to find out...what happened...”

“It should not be surprising. You were loved.” Michael leaned forward and touched her arm. “I understand if you do not wish to answer this, Dana, but why the--”

“I am afraid.”

“Of what?”

“Of this place. I am afraid that if I see it I will not be able to speak. It used to happen when I was a little girl, and if it happens now I won't be able to do what I came to do.”

“You won't be able to tell your story.”

Dana chuckled. She always did when she got the jitters before a performance. “That is only a small part of what I hope to do this evening. It would be better, however, if I started at the beginning.”
“Tell us then; where does your story begin?”

“It begins with...my mother...”



“So, you think you're better than me you little bitch?”

Dana cringed back against the wall, but knowing about the coming slap didn't stop it from hurting. Her mother once again lifted her electrolarynx up to the hole in her throat. “You think you can just come from behind me and take everything I worked for?” Her words, robotic sounding as they were, still dripped with spite, and she punctuated them with a vicious punch. Something warm trickled from the side of her mouth, and she spat a tooth into her cupped palm. She was six.

It had started with a hard pinch on the day she and her father came back from her speech therapist, a pinch hard enough to leave a bruise. Dana didn't know what she had done wrong. She thought her mother would be proud that her daughter finally found something to be good at, something they had in common. It felt like a chance to show people that she wasn't just the awkward girl with the flyaway hair that talked funny.

“She's a natural! I heard her,” her father had said. Her mother simply took a drag on her cigarette, following it with a sip from her cognac.

“Oh?” Something inside of Dana twisted when she heard how her mother sounded. “Please, Dana, tell your mother all about it!” She turned in her chair and fixed Dana with a somewhat calculating eye.

She was too young to fully grasp the situation, but even as a child of six Dana felt that her mother did not love her. She suspected it had something to do with the diagnosis that came soon after her mother became pregnant with her. It took her career, it took her voice and it almost took her but she somehow survived to give birth to a beautiful baby girl that would one day change the face of music. She never did anything overtly to harm Dana, and things were fine until the day her speech therapist invited her to sing for himself and her father.



“I'm n-n-n-n-o-o-ot sure I w-want to do th-th-this,” she remembered saying (or attempting to say).

“You were so good last week! You didn't stutter once!”

A little voice inside Dana spoke to her. She knew it wasn't a good idea, and she almost said no until her father ran his hand gently down her back and pulled her into an embrace. “Please,” is all he said, and Dana sang.




“That's wonderful, honey.” Her mother's tone sounded like how garbage smelled.

“What's even more wonderful is I recorded it. She's starting at the Conservatory next week.”

Suddenly, Dana's mother was on her feet. She rained blows down on her husband, throwing her drink at Dana's head in the process. “YOU DID THIS WITHOUT ME?” she screeched. Then, as abruptly as it started, it was over. Dana's mother spent the next week in her private apartment in the city.

Then, one day, she was back like nothing had ever happened.

Things went on as usual. Dana continued singing at her speech therapist's office and slowly learning how to make the same sounds when she spoke normally. She hoped it would be enough to stop some of the kids in her classes from saying mean things to her when she started at the Conservatory.

Then, her mother came into her room one day. This almost never happened, and Dana felt a bit out of sorts about it. Her mother seemed to be in a good mood for once, though, and all she wanted was for Dana to come to the Conservatory for a sneak peek at where she would be studying music, just the two of them.

They rode over in silence. Dana felt a sort of unspecified uneasiness as they crested a large hill and came into sight of the sprawling campus her mother had built. This was her mother's lair; she had absolute power here. Call it instinct if you will, but Dana was almost out of her mind with fear and didn't know why.

She found out when her mother attacked her. They had just come into the stage from the left wing when Dana felt something hard crack against the back of her skull.

“There's only one singer in this family, you loving mistake. You ruined my life once and now you want to do it again?” The pointed toe of her mother's pump jabbed into her ribs. Something gave inside her. “Now listen to me, girl. You do not speak a word. You do not sing a note. Not in this building.” Her mother's static-shot voice sounded like an army of angry robots as it bounced around the concert hall.

They came back the next day. And the next. And the next.

“So when it came time to attend your first day of class at the conservatory, what happened?”

“I could not speak. I could not say a word. I could not sing.” Dana wiped away a tear that had slipped out from under her blindfold before it could make a break for her chin. “There was nothing they could do. They sent me home. No one could figure what happened.”

“But when did you break free of this? When did you discover that your talents were still strong?” Michael handed her a tissue, patting her arm once again

Dana smiled, chuckling again but not out of nervousness this time. She remembered fondly the day she shut the door behind her mother and left to make her way. “Everyone has to leave home sometime. I never lost my desire to sing. That was one thing my mother could not beat out of me. I could finally do it once I was away from her.”

“We all know what happened after that,” said Michael, leaping to his feet with emotion. “The awards, the live shows, the rise to stardom.” He sighed, slumping back down into the chair once more. “Then you were gone like you never existed. Why?”

Dana looked at him in a way that would suggest she thought him stupid if he could only see her eyes. “You haven't pieced it together by now? My last concert was on this very stage; you said so yourself.”

“And you couldn't handle it?”

“No. I hid. And I kept hiding for twenty years. I never once stopped singing, though.” With that, Dana slowly pulled the blindfold away. The stage swam in front of her eyes and she squeezed them shut, but the vertigo soon left her. For the first time that night, she looked out at her audience and didn't see her mother staring back at her with rage.

“I'd like to sing a song for you tonight, if that's alright. It was one of my mother's favorites.”

Radical and BADical!
Jun 27, 2010

by Lowtax


Fun Shoe

Also, full disclosure, I posted some stories here under Claven666 but I got a wacky GBS name change. I have an archives account so please add it to that I guess. Thanks!

Kaishai
Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.

Fire Season
(1,085 words)
Diagnosis: Pyromania

The battered Jeep on the side of the highway has its hood popped up to display its failings to the world. I drive past without trying to diagnose them. A couple of miles further on, its owner walks beside the road, and that's a problem I understand at a glance: I slow and slap two cheerful honks out of my horn. The man stops, and I pull over.

"Headed to Red Glen?" I shout out the window of my truck.

"Not that far. I'm due in the National Forest," he calls back. "Ranger station."

I thumb the automatic lock. "That's easy. Hop on in."

He looks at me for a maybe half a minute. There must not be much about a skinny woman in a baseball cap that makes him nervous, since he opens the door and climbs inside with a relieved grin. "My name's Kyle," he says. "Thanks." While he adjusts his seat belt, I take a fast inventory of his features: dark hair, grey eyes, tidy clothes, and a badge on his shirt reading Albedo County Fire Warden.

"You must have interesting stories," I say.

His glance follows mine to the badge. "Maybe a few. You want to hear one?"

"Tell me about the biggest fire you ever saw."

"That was in California," he says. "It burned up forest for a week before it hit a town. The people evacuated, but the houses were a loss. The fire flowed over everything." He sweeps his hands from left to right. "Sometimes creeping, sometimes rushing. At the end the place looked like a lake in Hell, with ripples of gold on the black, burnt-out ground."

The polish on the last line tells me I'm not the first to hear this tale. I nod and keep my eyes on the road--though they see something entirely different than asphalt. Flames crackle in my imagination.

"How about you?" Kyle asks. "Anything to tell?"

Still half in dream, I say, "When I was about three, my mom and dad were screaming at each other in the kitchen. The fireplace was the only thing that seemed warm or safe. So I crawled inside, and I curled up on the logs and the ashes, and I let the fire hold me."

Now I turn my head briefly, not to gauge Kyle's reaction--I can guess that--but to flash a wry smile. "Kid memory, huh?"

Kyle chuckles, though I wouldn't lay money on the amusement being real. "I'm glad you didn't actually try that. I'd still be looking down the barrel of five hours' walk."

The logs crumbled under my weight, back then; my mother spanked me for the ash on my pants that I didn't try to explain. None of it mattered while I remembered how the fire had bent around my skin, caressing without destroying, allowing me a safe haven. I will always remember. So this warden's discomfort doesn't have to matter either.

Kyle doesn't lose time getting out of the truck once we reach the station. "Thanks again," he says. That much does sound sincere. "Be careful if you're headed north. This is fire season."

Why did I tell him? As I lie on a motel bed a few miles away, I question myself. Why tell anyone? It's lonely to have a secret. But I should be used to loneliness, should expect disbelief. There's an answer to both of those things, and I seek it in matches. The burnt ends fall from my fingertips onto safe, wet porcelain of the shower. I could add another scorch mark to the sink and no one would care. Instead I leave the bathroom and turn on the TV.

"Fire has broken out on the southern edge of the Gicino National Forest," the news anchor tells me, an image of smoke and light hovering over his shoulder. I'm in the truck and racing down the highway before I've learned more details. I know what I most want to know.

I park on the shoulder once the smoke gets thick. Red and blue flashes signal a police barricade, but in the dusk, with my own lights off, they either haven't noticed me or have other worries. I run into the heat, toward the orange glow that roars its promise of warmth, of light, of love. My arms are in front of me when I finally reach it, as though I could hold the fire.

I can't, but it holds me. The flame surrounds me, kissing my cheeks and whispering in my ears. One more time I'm three years old, safe, secure, and in need of nothing. I spin, and fire spins with me, dripping from my hair and my unmarked fingertips.

But there's a sound beyond the roar: frantic barking. I follow the noise to a clearing where a golden retriever is trapped, his tail singed already--the blaze doesn't love him. He lets me scoop him into my arms and bend my body around him, cover him with my hair to protect him on the way back to the road.

The dog starts to yelp again as the air gets easier to breathe, and his calls bring someone else running. Kyle the fire warden is there to see me come out of the flames unharmed.

The dog wriggles free and bounds away. Tags jingle on his collar, which probably means I saved someone's pet. That will make me feel good later. Right now Kyle is staring, and I'm not sure I don't horrify him more than the inferno does.

"Did you set this?" he demands.

I shake my head, backing up. Just a few steps will get me back to the light. Maybe I can stay within it until it burns out. Maybe it will spread far enough to take me away from other people forever.

Kyle's walkie-talkie buzzes, and he jabs its button. "There's a family of campers still out there! Last seen two miles west of you, Kyle."

"Here." Digging my keys out of my pocket, I toss them to him. "My truck's close by."

Kyle looks at the keys, and he looks at me. "You'd better drive," he says, throwing them back. "I'll navigate."

"What?"

"Well, I sure as hell can't walk through fire. Are you going to help me save these people?"

It isn't exactly acceptance. More like necessity. But someone knows and believes, and he's calling on me for help. Warmth is possible outside the fire. "Of course," I tell him. "Point the way."

Chili
Jan 23, 2004

college kids ain't shit


Fun Shoe

Keep it quiet but the deadline is gonna be pushed back to 1AM for you last minute charlies.

Uranium Phoenix
Jun 20, 2007


RADIOACTIVE DUST SURGE DETECTED


Floodgates
1314 words

The phone rang. Jacob looked at it, scowled at it, then sighed loudly. Then he picked it up.

“Hi, Dad,” he said.

“Does my voice sound normal? I’ll ask you again, does my voice sound normal? Because last time we talked, you said I was talking to fast, but as you can hear, I’m deliberately… slowing… my… speech… down. I’m not talking too fast, am I? Good. Listen, hear me out. I have a plan. It’s going to solve everything. I had—well, let’s say it concerns Steve. I’ve told you about Steve, right? You heard about him. He’s my lawyer. I met him at the bar, and he’s going to help me sue Motel 6. Did I tell you what they did to me? They said I needed to leave, that I’d made a mess of my hotel room, and I was disturbing the other guests. A mess! Me! I can tell you, the papers I’d laid out on the floor were not a mess, they were all very, very organized. And a scene. They said that to me. They expelled me from the room I had paid for. That’s a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. I’m gonna make a million dollars suing them. I’ve got it all planned out, well, mostly planned, I need to find somewhere to lay those papers out again, I had to stuff them in my third suitcase…”

Jacob put the phone down and left the room, made himself a sandwich, and looked at the sky outside. It was raining, again. Gray, again. He picked the phone back up, chewing on the sandwich.

“…so I’m coming up to Seattle to see you. I’m on my way now, well, except I’m still in San Jose, and I’m talking to the police tomorrow. Someone stole my brand new laptop out of my rental car. And if the police don’t help me, I can sue them too. And sue Enterprise, for having faulty car locks. I’m gonna be a millionaire after this. Enough I can hire a psychologist who isn’t a yuppie moron. I reduced the dose of my lithium so that I wasn’t a zombie anymore—did I tell you how I studied chemistry in college? I swear I know more about it than my psychologist! Because that stuffy moron had me…”

He’d been expecting this, ever since he got a text two days ago from his older sister saying Dad is manic again. He put the phone back down and stared at it. He wanted to scream, tell him to shut up and listen for once, tell him to take his meds, but it wouldn’t do any good. He wanted to tell him how much of a fuckup he was. He wanted to say, You were never there for me. Well, he wanted to say a lot of poo poo. Wanted to tell him how their mom’s death had hosed up his sister too, and that she still blamed him for it, as if he’d chosen to kill her by being born. Wanted to tell him about how hard it had been, being taken care of by his sister, how hard it had been making friends at school, how he still remembered being interviewed by Child Protective Services and how scary it had all been. He felt like those six words, You were never there for me, encapsulated it all, but saying them wouldn’t do any good. Dad would never understand. He couldn’t, because if he understood—really understood—he’d probably kill himself the next time his depression phase rolled around. So, instead, Jacob finished his sandwich.

***

Chris from sales ambushed him by the potted cactus on the fifth floor. “You just gotta get out more!” Chris told him. “Come to the office party. It’ll be great!”

gently caress off, Jacob wanted to say. Instead, he said “Alright, fine,” so that he’d leave him alone. Chris had it in his head that pretty much every bad mood or problem on Earth could be solved by getting shitfaced and being boisterous.

“Great! I’ll pick you up. Yeah, I’m going to do it, otherwise I know you won’t show! But you’ll be glad you went, I promise. It’ll cheer you right up!”

On the drive home after work, Jacob found himself grinding his teeth.

***

At the party, Jacob found a quiet spot out on the porch and made friends with the resident ancient tabby cat. Inside, Chris from sales was obnoxiously singing karaoke. Well, “singing” was a strong word for what was going on. Instead of going inside to piss, where there was the possibility of encountering some other aggressively drunk coworker, Jacob wandered out into the backyard garden and went behind a gnarled tree.

When he came back, there was a woman sitting in his spot, the tabby purring traitorously in her lap. She started. “Oh! I didn’t realize anyone else was out here.”

“Just me. And the cat. Too noisy in there.”

“Yeah. Tell me about it.”

“Has anyone ever told Chris he can’t sing?”

The woman laughed. “Probably not.”

They sat for awhile, Jacob looking out at the cloud-covered night, the woman petting the content cat. “I don’t recognize you from work,” he said.

“I’m Nancy. And yeah, I don’t socialize much. I’m too busy actually working.”

“Unlike a lot of people.” He jerked his head back towards the inside of the house, where he could hear a painfully uproarious laughter over the music. “I’m Jacob.”

“Nice to meet you, Jacob.” Her tone was flat, though. Jacob knew it wasn’t actually nice to meet him.

“Yeah, you too.” They didn’t shake hands or anything like that, which was a relief.

Jacob’s phone started buzzing. He checked, though he didn’t need to. Dad Calling, it said. He turned his phone off.

“Unknown number?”

“Nah, it was my dad. Don’t really feel like talking to him though.”

“Yeah, I know how that can be.”

Probably not, Jacob thought, but didn’t say. No need to have a misery-off.

“I don’t talk to my mom much anymore. I guess I’m still mad at her for making me basically raise my two brothers.”

“Oh?”

“Yeah, she was too busy dating around or going on adventures to take care of us. I still remember… it’s funny, the things you remember. I remember chasing my little brother into traffic and scolding him, telling him to look both ways before crossing the street, and then trying to remember where I’d learned it from and if that was actually the right rule. Then, coming back home and seeing her passed out drunk on the couch. It was so stressful, and I was always worrying. My sixth grade teacher thought I had a learning disability because I couldn’t pay attention in class. Thank god for my grandma. She ended up saving us from the worst of it.”

Jacob stared at her.

“Sorry I’m a bit drunk. I talk a lot when I’m drunk.” Then, “Well, maybe not drunk. I’ve had a few beers. I guess… maybe I’ve wanted to talk about this stuff for awhile, and after I’d had a few I had an excuse to say it.” She gave off an awkward laugh. “Not the sort of stuff you’re supposed to talk about with strangers. Sorry. I’ll stop.”

“No, no, I understand. It’s fine. I…” He hesitated, and then the floodgates opened and his soul poured out. He talked about it all, said the six words he’d wanted to say and all the ones that explained them. They both talked, then, shared those spurs of memories that had been poking in them long enough they had festered.

At the end of it, he looked Nancy in the eye. He saw something. Not love—he’d seen that enough in other people to know it wasn’t that—but a connection. An understanding. It was something to hold on to.


----
Diagnosis:
1. Reactive Attachment Disorder
2. Bipolar II Disorder

The Cut of Your Jib
Apr 23, 2007

THUNDERDOME LOSER

Spit
1742 Words


People trip on their words, add ums and uhs, repeat a word or two. Just a thought stuck in the mud for a second and they give a little tug and it pops free, their brain catches up with their tongue and they carry on. It’s common. Everybody stutters. We just sort of, uh, train ourselves to ignore it when it-it-it happens. If you’re Jeff Goldblum, it’s a charming quirk.

But a few people stutter. It’s not like a brain-fart. My mind keeps going full-steam ahead, but there’s a clog in the pipe. Pressure builds behind the jam and everything is fit to burst. I’ve learned a ton of tricks, staying away from problem words or avoiding things starting with the dreaded eff or with any hard consonant, really, but I always have to put on the red emergency light before I start. Never know when I have to reroute the steam to prevent catastrophic failure.

A lot of the time, it’s just easier to stay quiet. Going digital made it real easy. I never really forget, but between texting and email to self-checkout at the grocery store, I might go a week or more without actually saying anything. I suppose that might seem sad, but it’s a relief. I can get away with seeming normal.

Then a whole slew rushed back when I checked the mail and saw the invite to my high school reunion, hand-written in that same drat pink pen, addressed to Greg “Spit” Mitchell. loving Melanie Tabbish née Greeley. Fifteen years on, and she probably thought the nickname was cute now.

The first time she ever interacted with me was probably in third grade. I had just came back from my afternoon speech therapy session a couple minutes after everyone else returned from recess. Mrs. D didn’t have any other appointment times available, so I had to go right after lunch while everyone else got to go outside.

Before the class had settled and while blanks were being passed out for a spelling quiz, Melanie got up and placed a folded paper on my desk. The note was pink ball-point on a strip of wide rule with the little paper tabs still intact from where it was torn from a spiral bound notebook, written in in the slightly wobbly hand of someone still mastering cursive.

Do you like Greg?
circle one y / n


The circle around the ‘n’ was etched on the paper, carefully traced over and over until the fibers broke down to a fuzzy halo. The question posed, answered, and delivered by Melanie herself. She’d drop a similar note every so often and eventually the ‘Greg’ changed to ‘Spit’ and that stuck.

I pulled down the old keepsake shoebox from the back of my closet and that note, a little yellowed with age, topped a stack of them. Tucked with it was the spelling test from the same day. The student teacher graded and put stickers from the sheet of Looney Tunes on all the perfect scores, working without really thinking about it. It’s only natural. When she returned the papers and saw what sticker she placed on mine, she said, “poo poo” loud enough that it took a full five minutes to get everyone calmed down.

She apologized and tried to replace the sticker, but I was out the door with tears in my eyes and ran down the big ramp, past the front desk, to Mrs. D.’s room, paper in hand. “It was a hurtful accident,” she said. “I’m sure it won’t happen again. Miss Something is still learning.”

I remember so many details from that day, but the student teacher just moves through it like a shadow, fuzzy around the edges like Melanie’s heavy-handed penstroke.

Mrs. D. was the one who suggested I keep the test with the sticker. Maybe I was a little young for the lesson, but people would always be a little insensitive, intentional or accidental. So I packed it away in my shoebox and collected all the little barbs and splinters over the years until there was enough for a strange, cruel shower of confetti. I never asked Mrs. D. what I was supposed to do with the box of stuff. I suppose she’s long since retired by now.

I put the reunion RSVP on top of the papers. The handwriting was a little more elegant, but sure enough, it was Melanie’s. I put the lid on the box and then thought maybe there was some lesson in this. What the hell. I filled out the RSVP and mailed it back.

---

loving Melanie Tabbish née Greeley, sat in front of the gym doors behind a folding table, rows of prelabeled nametags spreading from her like sunbeams. There was mine, Greg “Spit” Mitchell caught in the ray front and center.

“Oh my god, Greg! It’s so great to see you,” said Melanie. She still had the same reddish-brown hair, though it was clipped to a bob around her chin instead of the long ponytail I remembered. She wore a sweater over a cuffed shirt with a collar as wide as her smile. It was hard to tell if she was sincere or just in showmode.

She peeled the back off my nametag as she stood and came around the table, long skirt swishing. She pressed the sticker on my chest. Nemesis is a little strong, but she was never kind. We were definitely not friends.

Melanie did that thing where you’re not sure whether to hug or not, but then she let out a half-breath-half-laugh and put her arms around me. “So great to see you,” she said again without letting go.

The unexpected familiarity threw all my practiced phrases out the window and I stumbled on the very first word I said to her:
Hello,-
Man, she looks good. I think it’s the same perfume she wore in high school. One folk cure is to throw a raw egg in my face everytime I stutter.

“Melanie. It’s nice to see-
I should disengage. Concentrate on the words. I feel a little sweaty already. Drink seawater everyday from a snail shell.

“you, too.”

“Oh, I thought you would grow out of that. It’s cute, though.”

Slow and steady, calm. “You never grow out of a stutter, Melanie. You just learn to control it. Well, mostly. Anyway, I’m going in.”

The gym behind her was practically empty. A few pudgy forms milled around the punchbowl. I didn’t recognize them. The cookie spread was straight out of a country club brochure, far too elaborate and fancy to be sitting under a basketball hoop.

I took a cookie and gave a perfunctory headnod to the trio by the drinks, and they returned the gesture. I meandered over and shook hands with them, and used the mouthful of cookie to point to my nametag as they introduced themselves. Names and faces, classmates, but nothing more.

An hour went by, and just a few more people straggled in. Fewer than ten from the entire class decided to show up. Finally, Melanie came in and poured herself a cup of punch. I stood by my lonesome, listening to the faint PA muzak.

Melanie slid up beside me and said, “You want to go outside?”

I shrugged and followed and we sat on the curb outside the locker room doors where they used to load the gameday buses. Not that that was ever my scene, but there was a certain ritual to the whole thing in little football towns.

She pulled a leatherbound flask from her purse and splashed some into her punch. She did the same for mine.

“Thanks,” I said.

We took sips under the halogens of the bus lane.

“I’m sorry I was mean to you,” she said.

“You were very-
Slap my face every time I stutter with the sole of my father’s shoe.

“Mean. Cruel, even.”

She sniffled.

“My husband left me. I’m all alone, and this?” She gestured towards the doors. “It’s a failure. Why didn’t anyone want to come?”

loving Melanie ex-Tabbish now Greeley full on sobbed and dropped her head against my shoulder.

“I don’t think-
Hold a live cricket in my mouth for one hour every day.

“it’s your fault. Say, do you remember our third-
Keep marbles under my tongue.

“Grade student teacher?”

“Miss Anderson,” Melanie answered without hesitation. “She’s an English professor, now. Why?”

“No reason,” I said. But once I heard the name, I remembered her face, too. “What about Mrs. D.?“

“She and her husband retired and live on a houseboat in the Caribbean. Bill and I ran into them on our anni—”

“Sorry,” I said. “Melanie? Why were you a jerk?”

“I don’t know, Greg. You were weird. You barely ever said anything. I guess it was interesting that I couldn’t figure you out. Or I just didn’t like you for it. We were kids. I guess maybe if you tried to reach out or something.”

Don’t-
Remain silent for an entire year.

“put that on me. How dare you.”

“OK, OK, OK. I’m sorry. Sit back down. Don’t go.” Melanie was huddled like a fragile bird, arms tucked around her knees, her mascara smeared a little.

I put the cup down on the curb beside her. “Thank you for the drink.” I turned and started back towards my car.

She caught my hand from behind. “Wait, here. Greg.” She dug in her purse and found her pink pen as I turned to face her. I posed, hands on my hips. I promised Mrs. D. I would maintain control. I don’t think I had really felt any sort of emotions in a long time.

Melanie peeled the nametag from me and scribbled over ‘Spit’ in tight circles and spirals until it was a little patch of embossed pink. She pressed it back on my shirt.

“I just need to be around someone, right now. Here, come sit down. Talk to me. I’ll listen to you.”

There’s always that little pinprick when you feel like you’re being used. She was still cute, and a little drunk, and sad and pathetic, and she really did need someone right now. So I sat down, pulled the first note she ever wrote me from my pocket, and I tossed it in the shrubs. I let her listen as I talked until the parking lot was long empty. It was what we both needed. loving Melanie Greeley.

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


Hook, Line, and Sinker
615 words

Scattered amongst shipwrecks you’ll find every earthly possession but love. The fish that flit through the barnacle-covered smokestacks know no affection and wish for nothing in a mate. They simply rub up against each other when it’s time, and their bodies know what to do.

I wish other people would hurry and catch up to fish.

All winter I’ve waited for the first nice day, and it’s finally here. I’ve gleefully kicked my goose-down parka under the bed and unpacked my little sun dress: the one with bare shoulders and only a small string across the back. I put it on and twirl. It almost feels like cheating, like I’m wearing nothing at all.

When it snows, everybody bundles up. With that much padding, we might as well be in the NFL. Any contact with another human being feels like smashing into the defensive line, nothing stirs inside me, no biological stoker throws coal into my boiler. It’s such a waste too, because Christmas is the busiest shopping season. You can’t get on a mall elevator and not have somebody violating all sorts of social norms.

But today, when I’m wearing what only barely legally counts as clothes, opportunity abounds.

I head to the mall to feast on the buffet. I squeeze past people on the escalator, lingering for a second longer than necessary as my thin dress presses into the arm of some unsuspecting mother of four. I find the busies aisle in the shoe store and make my way through, biting my lip as I my thighs brush the back of a woman trying to shove her feet into heels two sizes too small. She’s so focused, she doesn’t even notice when I double back and do it again.

Giddy, I head to the pet store. I try not to run to the back, where they keep the fish. I push past the snotspewers and kneebashers and slip behind a moody looking bitch in a college T-shirt. She’s staring into an empty tank.

I point to the little porcelain shipwreck. “There he is,” I say. “Cute lil’ guy.”

She furrows her brow and leans in closer. “In the boat?”

She’s searching so hard she doesn’t notice me press into her.

“Yes, right behind the little cannon.” I’m surprised she can’t feel my heat. I reach out and take her hand, our bare arms touching. I guide her finger to the imaginary fish. “See, right there.” I get a little bolder, shift my weight so that I’m basically straddling her leg. She’s an idiot, for sure, looking at the tank like it’s some magic eye that will suddenly pop out if she stares at it hard enough. I’m practically grinding on her hip and she’s searching a tank clearly labeled “Blue Crayfish - Out of Stock” for a camouflage guppy.

She blows a puff of air and her bangs fly for a second. She darts up, and I take a step back, ready to bolt if I have to. Sometimes I get a little cocky, but the look in her eyes isn’t anger.

“I give up,” she says. “I don’t even like fish anyway, they’re stupid.”

I shrug. “Sorry, I swear it’s right there.”

She hurries away, looks back over her shoulder at me once before disappearing out the doors.

I laugh, grab a can of cat food since I’m here, and head to the checkout line.

The cashier rings me up. “Find everything you were looking for?”

I laugh. “Yup.”

I reach into my purse for my wallet, but it’s not there. I see the girl in the parking lot, full sprint toward a waiting car, my wallet in her grubby paws. “Mother fucker.”

RandomPauI
Nov 24, 2006




Grimey Drawer

Mental Illness in a World of Magic

753 out of words 1601

---

Tim had just started checking his email when he heard the door open. The woman who entered looked familiar but he couldn’t place her. She was a bit short, her jeans were seasonally appropriate, but her overly baggy sweatjacket wasn’t. It was also missing the drawstrings. Her hair was in tight golden curls, her face was just a bit too thin. She wore prescription glasses with thick lenses and a thick purple frame. They couldn’t have been comfortable and couldn’t have been her first choice. Remembering her gained extra urgency when he noticed her looking at him looking at her. He waved a quick hello and pretended to go back to his emails while he figured it out.
Amber, Amy, Jaime, Janelle, Janet. That was it, Janet. The glasses and the jacket were the key. The first time he saw her was a month earlier, on his way out of the psych ward. He was in a partial-hospitalization program to improve his self-compassion abilities -- there wasn’t an improvement.
Janet was being checked in for a stay. She didn’t have the glasses on but she was wearing the sweatshirt and it still had the drawstrings at the time. The stay couldn’t have been planned because she only had a purse with her and they’d have warned her off clothes with drawstrings. But it couldn’t have been involuntary either because there wasn’t someone to make sure she didn’t run off.
The last time he saw her was his last day of partial hospitalization, the first group therapy session of the day. She was barely late but Gary, the group facilitator, was even later. She was wearing the glasses, a dressing gown for a top, pants, and slip-resistant slipper/socks. She was ashamed and humiliated. And she sat next to Tim because that was the last seat left. They talked but he forgot what it was about. He hoped it wasn’t anything important.
At the start of the first group, the facilitator made a crack to Tim about watching his pen around her. Just about everyone gave that guy the stink eye. He didn’t know what the reference was too, just that it crossed the line. The damage was done, she went straight to her room after that group ended. And she didn’t come out for the rest of Tim’s time there. What was the session about. Alcoholism?
Tim waved a quick hello to Janet and pretended to go back to emails. He didn’t feel comfortable striking up a conversation at that time and he wasn’t going to impose one. The important thing was staying calm and collected. If she happened to strike up a conversation that’d make things harder, but things could still be managed.

“Hi Tim, would you like some gum?”

Tim anticipated any conversation throwing him for a loop, but a different loop. Like him having to remember what they talked about. Or her sharing too much information. Or him sharing too much information. He was still in that confused frame of mind when he answered in a stammer.

“Yes, hi, thanks, Hi, um, thank you. Janet right? This is embarrassing, but, well, things have been crazy for the past few days. I remember your name, that we met before but I don’t remember the circumstances. If you could remind me what we talked about that might help jiggle my memory.”

He wouldn’t remember using the word crazy at the time but he would later, and that would eat at him. She frowned.

“It was about my sister. She’d just died and everyone was saying things that were really painful. Everyone expects me to be the strong one who keeps things moving and keeps things together. You gave some advice, and it really meant a lot.”

Tim didn’t remember the conversation but he did remember the advice, because it was advice he kept having to give. It generally took this form:

“I’m sorry for your loss. You’re going thru a lot, you’re going to go thru a lot more, and I’ve got to share something that’ll be a lot to take in.

“People are going to say things to try to make you feel better and they’ll hurt a lot. The words shouldn’t feel like they’d hurt. It won’t make any sense. But that’s because they usually have no idea what to say after a death. They might not have even experienced death before. So they’ll say things that they think they’re supposed to say or that they think you’ll want to hear.”

---

[i]Diagnosis:
1) Disorder of Extreme Stress: Not Otherwise Specificed
2) Kleptomania

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SurreptitiousMuffin
Mar 21, 2010


*** THAT'S 20 ENTRIES ***

However Chili did extend the deadline and so it doesn't seem fair to hold him to that toxx. What does seem fair is that the next twelve hours become an absolute circus of FJGJ screaming. If you're new, it's common practice to scream FJGJ at the judges (FAST JUDGING, GOOD JUDGING) while they deliberate. Often this comes in the form of GIFs or photoshops.



CAN I CREATE A FJGJ PIC?
Yes do it nerd. Post it. This will be a FJGJ to remember.

The Patron Saint of FJGJ is LA Judge Craig Mitchell. He is both a fast judge, and a good judge.

quote:

Los Angeles Superior Court judge Craig Mitchell, an avid runner, started the Midnight Mission Running Club with a few residents of the Midnight Mission, a homeless shelter in L.A.’s skid row area that provides food, shelter and counseling to those who need it. Many of the club members are homeless and battled drug and alcohol addictions before they became runners. The group, which meets three times a week at 5:45 AM for a 5-6 mile run, have completed a number of races in the past year, including the LA Marathon, Accra International Marathon in Ghana and the Rome Marathon this past March.
For the next twelve hours, this thread is the FJGJ photoshop and flashfic zone.

And in case you can't do pictures because you're cursed by a witch or something

:siren: INTERPROMPT: "Fast judging, my friend, is good judging." :siren:

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