Saturday, March 23, 2013

Theme 18 - Love

This wasn't originally a love story. At least not the kind that you're used to. I know you're used to happy endings with a man falling in love with a woman. After all, I've seen those romances too, so I know what it's like to make believe a one true love exists out there.

I'm in New York now, boarding the subway to get home from work. It's crowded as usual with people invading each other's spaces. An older man scoffs at a couple beside him. They interlock lips every now and then as if they're alone. I scoff, too, and roll my eyes, but secretly I wonder if I'll ever experience what they have.

Looking over to my left, I see a man gazing over in my direction. His small half-moon shaped eyes remind me of someone I once helped. I look down at my lap and touch the black scarf around my neck. One side of it is black and the other is red. It was his scarf once upon a time.

He was a Japanese student at Tyoko University, and I was only an exchange student for the year. I'm sure you can imagine how we interacted: not at all. Yes, our different languages kept us apart, and we never spent any time with each other either. Our friends were different and so were our classes. If I had ever seen him outside of our moment, I didn't remember him. I stayed in my world, you know, sticking close to the other International students and trying to avoid the gawking of the Japanese. It was easier than reaching out in a language I barely understood.

On that average day, I searched for the library, slowly marching up and down the halls as I attempt to read the Japanese characters. Unfortunately, I didn't know any kanji yet, just a bit of hiragana. My teacher had sent me to check out a kanji guide, actually. Having that book beforehand might've prevent the whole mix up. I didn't have a clue as to which room was which, and it didn't help that most of the doors on the hall looked like classroom doors. I stopped at the end at a door that didn't look like all the others. I took a deep breath and opened it.

It wasn't the library. In fact, I wasn't even sure which room it was. A pool of red liquid had gathered on the floor, and when I looked up, I saw a young man holding a knife in one hand with a steady stream of blood pouring from the wrist of the other arm. He gaped in horror at me as I gaped in horror at him, his small eyes are large as my round ones.

I slammed the door and ran to the nearest bathroom, barely avoiding a collision with a teacher on her break. She yelled at me, probably telling me to slow down, but I couldn't. As soon as I got into girls' room, I clawed at the towel dispenser. I pulled and pulled on the lever; my heart racing faster as more of the paper sputtered out. Ripping nearly the whole roll from the machine, I darted back to the room and threw open the door.

Japanese was thrown at me, but I ignored it. It was easy to cast aside words I didn't understand it even if I did hear hatred coming from his strong consonants and shortened vowels. Immediately, I wrapped his wrist with the long trail of paper towels and then caught his other wrist in my hand. I jerked the knife away and chunked it somewhere. Where it landed was none of my concern. I just wanted it to go away. Soon after that, I fell back onto my bum and just pressed my hand against his wrist, holding the makeshift wrap in place.

He didn't say anything and neither did I. I didn't know if I could to be honest. My eyes stayed down on the floor or on his wrist. I was afraid to see that he hated me just because I stopped his destruction. Once I finally looked up, I noticed drops fell from his eyes. They came slowly, dropping onto his pants legs at first until he wiped them away with his other arm. Maybe I over reacted, but I threw myself around his neck and cried. My tears came out harder and faster than his. In the end, I think he was the one consoling me. No, I can't tell you why I cried so hard over a foreign strangers. I just prefer to blame empathy.

A few months later, winter came. I spent most of the time shivering, huddled together with my friends. One day they had gone ahead and walked to class without me. Why, yes, I was running late because my alarm clock didn't go off. It's quite a classic excuse, but it's one that can throw your whole day off. Without the warmth of my friends nearby, I shivered more. Running was impossible. Every time I tried, my knees complained and buckled. The cold felt like hell.

I didn't know where he came from, but a red scarf was wrapped around my neck. When I turned to the culprit to shake him off, I stopped. The guy I had helped against his will grinned at me. He wrapped it tight, making sure to tuck in any loose ends and give my neck a cozy home. After that, we accompanied each other to school. I felt the sun shine on my face and everything felt warmer even though I knew the temperature hadn't changed one bit.

Oh, the doors are opening. That's my cue to leave. My apartment is just three blocks from the train station. I file out with a few others, pushing past those not moving. After exiting the station, I take a deep breath and I look into the sky, wondering what that guy's up to. I haven't seen him since that winter morning.

As soon as my ears pick up on quick plodding feet, something gently touches my shoulder. Great...It might be a beggar or someone asking for directions. I turn halfway, wanting to fend off the person, but the grin on his face makes me stop. I know that smile. The man before me is the one from the subway. He points to the scarf and his smile widens. He doesn't have to say anymore. I recognize him from my past.

We wrap each other up, and once we lets go, he rattles off everything. He tells me about his wife, his new daughter, his pet dog, his New York apartment, and everything else I would've never thought to ask. He says that he's come to New York as a chemistry professor, hoping to meet some of the big name researchers in the U.S. I smile at his words and his speech. Sometimes his words come out in English but others are in Japanese. It doesn't matter though. I can understand both now.

He stops at an apartment building one block away from mine and invites me in for tea, cake, or something. Accepting his offer, we head upstairs together, the sun shining on us even though the thick walls of the building.

My friend continues, claiming that I'm the reason why he's gained so much since college. I laugh, but he just shakes his head.

"No, really," he says. "You've encouraged me to fall in love with myself."

A smile cracks open on my face. Perhaps kisses and swells of passion are nice, but I don't think they're necessary for the best love that this world can offer.
Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Theme 11 - 33%

Zach scuttled across a busy road on the way to his friends house. He let out a sigh once he reached the other side. There had to be a better way to travel. Passing by a gas station, he read all the signs that he passed. "Gas - 3.99." "Soda - 1.50." "33%."

"33 percent?" Zach read out loud. He stopped before the sign and tilted his head at the number. Green leaves intruded on the percent sign and the rest of the words as well. Slowly, he reached and pulled the branch back. The sun shined on the words as he read, "Teleportation devices inside. 33% better than before!" A huge smile lit up his face. If it was better than before, then it must be great now. He only had five more minutes to walk 'til he arrived at his destination, but he may as well try a new travelling technique if it's been improved.

Zach sauntered into the gas station, ready to try anything. He stopped at the front desk and inquired about the sign.

The red headed cashier nodded his head and then told him all about the machine. He had bought it a few years ago after owning a promotional model and planned to charge people 25 cents for each trip. It seemed like easy money, and it was much cheaper than gas. However, it never took off. He kept having problems, especially with the promotional one.

"What kind of problems?" Zach asked.

"Well, sometimes body parts would get left behind. Someone even left everything but her neck and head. That wasn't a fun lawsuit. Apparently, when the salesman said the machine was 33% better than nothing, it meant that the machine only transported 33% of someone's body."

Zach's mouth hung open. Surely, that didn't mean...Nah. The second machine was improved now. He could travel safely if he avoided the promotional one--he was sure of it, but he wanted some more assurance from this man. "But the machine's better, right? It probably works well since it's been improved."

"Well, it is only 33% improved," said the cashier, stroking his elongated beard.

The patron scoffed and laughed. "So that means only 66% of someone's body is transported?"

"Yup. Would you like to try it? It only costs 33 cents, 33% more of 25 for the extra 33% of your body."

Zach didn't reply. Instead, he threw himself out the door and ran down the street away, clutching at his favorite 33% of his body.
Monday, January 28, 2013

Layers and Layers of Clothes

Marla and Darla used to get into a lot of trouble when they were the only small children still left in the nest. In fact, they were the youngest out of a whopping eight children. How Ms. Elaine raised eight children is quite a mystery to me, but I'm definitely sure she raised them all with humor and a stern face.

Overtime the twins piled up clothes on the floor. T-shirts, pants, jackets, underwear--they were all over the place! The two sisters remained occupied with school, boys, and recreation, and just left used or unwanted clothes on the bathroom floor (their closet was in the bathroom). They didn't have time for cleaning, but their momma sure fixed them.

She walked into the bathroom, and one glance told her everything she needed to know. "If you're not going to hang it on the hanger, then you're going to wear it. Every piece." After the girls slipped on all their clothing, Ms. Elaine made them sit down for two hours until they final realized that clothes were to be worn or hung up but not strewn out on the floor.

The brother Greg laughed and he laughed at his younger sisters, but that's ok. They had his number.
Saturday, January 26, 2013

January Challenge - Bad Beginning

Misha over at My First Book, has a challenge called Word Master Challenge. January's challenge was to write a really bad beginning. When I wrote this, I purposely wrote a character who was cruel and based on evil stereotypes. Remember, it's supposed to be really bad, so please don't think that my personal opinions are the same as my characters.

The Atrocious Beginning: 

The sky was red and orange because the sun was setting. I just stood there. Watching the sun. And then I almost died ‘cause a stupid bird flew in my face. It was stupid. Dumb. Stupid. Pff. That bird thought he was better than humans, and so he attacked me. I yelled vulgar words at him as he flew away. I was so angry. So pissed. Like, OMG, who did he think he was?

He reminded me of my ex. My ex was an idiot ‘cause he dumped me. I mean, sure, the stupid boy was nice to me and bought me stuff and cool things. He even gave me feet rubs on demand. Then one day, he just upped and said, “I feel like you’re taking advantage of me.” But I wasn’t. I was just enjoying everything he did for me. Still, the moron was, like, treating me like a bad guy and saying he couldn’t be with me anymore, because, like, I wouldn’t do anything for him. Well, duh. That’s because I was the king of that relationship. Ugh, he acted like such a wimp.

Yeah, that’s right. I’m a boy and I like boys. It means I’m gay. Well, anyways, I turned around. Then I walked back to my house. I walked in the house and saw my brother’s girlfriend. She was sitting at the table with glasses on and reading a book. Then my brain gave me an idea. Like, I went to the cabinet and pulled out my dad’s prescription medicine. It was called Viagra. I took it and got enlarged because that’s what Viagra does.  I did it because I’m gay but wanted to dominate my brother’s girlfriend. Then I rubbed up all over her ‘cause she’s a ho. Every woman’s a ho. Then she punched me and kicked me in the balls.

Why it's bad:
  • A horrible character who uses stereotypes 
  • pointing out the obvious
  • repetition
  • telling not showing
  • switching of the verb tense
Again, I don't actually have anything against gay people and I don't think women are all hoes. I just wanted to create an obnoxious character for this challenge.