Friday, November 29, 2013

Week in Seven Words #191

In the dark, the bracelets look like glowworms wriggling over each other.

Their singing sounds like gentle pleading.

Orange liqueur burns my throat and settles with bittersweet warmth in my head.

Beside a windy leaf-strewn path in the park, he talks about his break-up. We nod in sympathy. We don't let on that we could see it coming months ago.

Staid men, pillars of the community, holler like frat boys. It's supposed to be a display of joyful exuberance, but it frequently comes across as forced.

Chairs in disarray, people nibbling on chicken as others pray. The afternoon festivities wind on in unfocused joy.

A man in medieval garb hums under his breath as he cuts past the bicyclists in the park.

Friday, November 22, 2013

An Unexpected Descent

Bartleby Snopes recently published a short story I wrote called "An Unexpected Descent."

You can read it here.

Enjoy! (Though be forewarned, it's a grim tale…)

Week in Seven Words #190

He introduces himself by one name and gives me a business card with a different one. "They're both my names, in a way," he says without further explanation.

Windswept park benches are my new favorite place to read.

It feels good to talk to someone who understands family dysfunctions and can laugh about them mirthlessly with you.

They press against the tables and gouge the food platters.

She's a shrewdly cute old woman, but it's easy to imagine her fifty years younger, lording it over her children, deflating them.

Her apartment contains antiques, stained glass, and undisturbed shadows.

We drag our chairs out into the sunlight and talk about how to be inspired.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Three Du Maurier Stories from Don't Look Now

Collection: Don't Look Now: Selected Stories of Daphne du Maurier
Author: Daphne du Maurier

For some of the stories, I didn't accept the premise; sometimes there was an over-reliance on coincidence and clairvoyance. But even in those cases, I enjoyed the atmosphere of the story.

Du Maurier is great at upending reality and writing about people who, in one way or another, are trapped in their own minds. They perceive a reality that they can't communicate to others; other people don't want to (or can't) understand them or believe them. Everywhere they go, they're failed by family, friends, the police, doctors, everyone we usually think can help. She understands this kind of terror and isolation. Even when one of her characters experiences clairvoyance, which you'd think would give them a greater understanding of what's going on around them, they're still blind in all the ways that matter.

Her stories will definitely stick with you. These are the three I liked best:

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Week in Seven Words #189

Traffic noise pours in through the window with the cold air and sharp lights.

She's brought lunch for her child in a Tupperware container. She peels off the lid and releases the scent of deli meat. For a moment, we can all taste the sandwich.

She prefers to straighten her hair, but I like it as it is, in an orange cloud around her head.

One of the young men speaks about visiting Syria on an idealistic mission of cultural outreach. The other shakes his head and tells him he'll get his throat cut out.

Being present in the moment, experiencing hope but relinquishing expectations.

The room is bathed in gray light. I linger for a few minutes, enjoying the calm.

As the gates close, they crowd in around me. There's an urgency to the chanting and murmuring.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Interspecies communication: Beluga and mariachi band

This took place in Mystic Aquarium in Connecticut a couple of years ago, where the band had been performing at a wedding.

(I came across the video here.)

Week in Seven Words #188

Cold chicken, sandwiches, and an easing of tension.

It's an episode of self-destruction. Her senses splinter, her mind pursues the dozen sins and slights she thinks are aimed at her. With a single-mindedness, she runs the evening to the ground. Afterwards, her eyes are suspiciously bright, but she can't see that she shares any part of the fault for how badly the evening went.

The color of the day is burnt umber. That's what I feel in me: low-key anger that crisps and singes and stirs up the ashes. But I'm at peace from time to time as well. The day is one of shocking beauty.

Most of the notes are breathy and weak. But the last one comes alive and is held to the limit of human breath.

spun sugar
Weaving fragile lies for the children, so that they'll continue to not put a name to what they might suspect.

He assumes a humble, pious pose and speaks as one who has little experience of the world. Maybe I'm in too cynical a mood to appreciate what he's saying.

Food leaking from aluminum trays. Liquid on the carpet. Little of what matters is salvageable.