Utopia

Nestled deeply in her favorite chair, Caroline took a sip of piña colada and contemplated the beauty of the universe. She knew exactly how large it was, and was comfortable with her relative insignificance.

She heard a noise behind her, and turned her head to see who it was. Though she lived alone, she had several neighbors who would come and go. They knew when she didn’t want to be disturbed, and when she did.

Charlotte was there, dropping off a flyer. Caroline said hello, but her visitor was in a hurry, as usual. She came every day with some sort of anti-government propaganda. Caroline read every pamphlet and zine and considered the points they made, but in the end, she always sided with the government. After all, they had encouraged the dissension. Charlotte had made that point in today’s flyer. “How can you trust a government that invites you to destroy it?” Caroline shrugged, as though paper could be convinced by a gesture.

She felt like doing some work today, and went to the employment agency. After a brief instructional video, she was constructing paper hats that would later be affixed to dolls for children, or for adults who played with dolls. The work was tedious, and she was soon tired of it, so she stopped.

At home, she fell asleep for a while. She woke up a few times because she wasn’t feeling enough pleasure, but once that was taken care of, she had nice dreams. Charlotte came and lied next to her for a while, and her revolutionary embrace had a nice sweat in it. She needed to resist to feel happy, and that was fine. A few more friends piled on in the night, and as they lied there content, they contemplated the end.

#agoraphobia, #contentment, #microfiction, #post-irony, #revolution, #submission, #utopia

Teenager

He stared at his hands in disbelief. He hadn’t even been angry, not very. Not enough. Only a psychopath would act as he had acted, but he wasn’t a psychopath, he knew.

“The asshole had it coming,” he told himself, but he didn’t believe it. He tried again. “I didn’t have any other choice.”

The house was dark when he came home. Experience had taught him how to sneak through the back door. It made less noise than the front, and was closed off from the rest of the house.

The seventh and thirteenth steps creaked. He counted and stepped over them.

As he entered his room, he turned on the light and started to remove his shirt. The blood was his, from the struggle, but he didn’t want to explain. He didn’t have a lie prepared.

He jumped when he saw his dad sleeping in his bed. The light hadn’t stirred him, but the brief exclamation from Noel’s adrenaline-poisoned body had, and the man woke up asking questions.

“So you’re home. Where’ve you been?”

Noel’s body shook, and he shook his head. He couldn’t push his tongue against any part of his mouth. All that came out as he tried to talk was a slow stream of dribble.

His dad shushed him. “You don’t have to talk. I know. It’s okay.”

Noel looked up. He started to shake his head again, but his father went on. “Just tell me. What did you do with the body?”

Noel gasped. He wouldn’t explain. He couldn’t.

“Never mind. I’m proud of you, boy. I was a few years older than you when first took a life. You’re a man now.”

Noel nodded. He didn’t believe it yet, but he nodded.

He would be a man the rest of his life.

#male-aggression, #male-bonding, #microfiction, #murder, #rape-culture, #society, #teenager, #violence

Hetero

She poured the last several sips of wine down her throat and stared at the ceiling. The gentleman seemed nice enough in his well-fitting suit, but he didn’t seem to like her. His smile was plastic and conciliatory.

Desiree hadn’t been out in a while, certainly not on what one would call a date. She was out of practice. When conversation lulled, she couldn’t move on to the next topic, and she didn’t know what to do with her eyes. The restaurant had these lime green chandeliers that made the lighting seem tropical, and she knew them well now. They were too bright.

“Sorry to waste your time,” he said. She assured him that she was fine, but he went on. “No, you see, I told Joan I was hetero, but she never listens. You know Joan. I’m just saying, you seem nice and all, but it’s not going anywhere.”

Desiree nodded a few times, though she didn’t understand. “Are you…?” she asked, but she wasn’t sure what the last word of her question should be. A woman? Trans? She left the ellipsis in place, and accented it with a roll of her hand.

“I mean look at us. We’re the same race. Same economic status. Basically. University-educated. Both wear glasses. Democrats. Do you watch Game of Thrones? No? That’s a start then, but it’s not enough. I’m hetero, and I can’t do anything about that. I need my opposite. You’re not even left-handed.”

He waved for the waiter to bring the bill, and suggested that they should split it down the middle. She agreed, and he shook his head.

“We really are on the same wavelength.”

He said it with such disdain that she felt it, too, the loathing that made her want only anything other than herself.

#heterosexuality, #microfiction, #paraphilia, #straight, #the-fetishists

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drink-coke-full

Bills are stacked so high in the room that they take the place of furniture. From under a pile crawls a man. He picks up one of the few letters without dollar signs.

“I’m leaving you,” it says. He throws it with the rest of the junk.

His cat has died facedown in its food dish. He winces as he looks it over, unsure how he’s going to deal with the remains. He decides to worry about it later.

He opens the refrigerator. It is empty, except for a colony of bees that has taken it over. He closes the door as their humming intensifies.

“Don’t bother coming into work tomorrow,” plays a voice in his head.

“Your father and I are very disappointed in you.”

An eviction notice slides in from under the door. He lights it on fire and throws it on top of the rest of the paper.

From the inferno comes a figure made of smoke, well-dressed and red. “You’re just about to give up, aren’t you? I can help if you want. I can give you your heart’s desire.”

“Give me a Coke,” he says. It bursts into his hand. As the sirens approach, he gulps in down in one go, as though it is medicine.

He feels better.

Coca-Cola: Your Only Responsibility

#absurd, #advertisement, #coca-cola, #illustrated, #microfiction

Abridged

His main duty was to sweep the front porch every morning and every afternoon to keep out the fleas.

Mary Lou bought several cases of lima beans. They ate nothing but for years.

The children found a set of false teeth in the yard. No one ever found out whose they were, but they became a favorite toy.

An older boy tied him up and rolled him in a wheelbarrow up and down hills until he peed all over himself. Mama switched him for making a mess.

One cup was for blood pressure. One cup was for heart stuff. The rest were vitamins.

He owned an apartment building. He did all the maintenance.

He was fixing the light, but someone told him not to strain himself.

His children were good at math and science, but they struggled with English and common sense.

“You should write your memoirs,” someone told him, a nurse who was struggling for something to say that wasn’t pity.

A postage stamp cost seven cents, the same as a bottle of soda or a gallon of gas.

He woke up in wheelbarrows sometimes. He was covered in sweat.

A cup of coffee could kill him. So could a dash of soy sauce. So could almost anything.

His daughter had a husband who mistreated her, but he couldn’t really blame her for not knowing any better.

That might not have been his daughter. That might have been a novel by James Michener.

It could have been anything.

#alzheimers, #experiments, #identity, #memory, #microfiction, #prose-poem

Vice

No one knew his secret, that he was the Vice President of the United States.

Out fishing with the boys, sometimes the conversation would turn to foreign policy or federal interest rates. He had to bite his tongue.

His wife suspected something. She came home one night and overheard part of a conversation about diplomatic relations with China. She said nothing. They ate dinner. They tucked in the kids. They sat up reading on their sides of the bed, she the paper, he a spy thriller.

He coughed. “I guess you’re wondering what I was talking about on the phone earlier.”

“Not really.”

“There’s a new guy at work, you see, and nobody gets along with him. We’re just trying to figure that out.”

“Great.”

She wasn’t looking up. She wasn’t even listening. He would tell her the truth someday, when she was ready. If he could hold out three more years, it wouldn’t even matter. A few drinks in, he could reveal himself in an embarrassing little anecdote from the past. “You’ll never guess.” It would be meaningless and charming. He looked forward to that.

His wife made a exasperated noise. “Can you believe this pathetic attempt at health care reform? Ridiculous.”

He had engineered that particular compromise. “I know! They should be ashamed of themselves.”

That was all she wanted to hear. She turned over and went to sleep.

He hated keeping secrets, but it was necessary. She wouldn’t understand. Neither would his friends, or his children. They all hated the powerful, and complained of their sick pleasure, controlling policy and people. At the same time, he couldn’t help but think that maybe they were hiding the fact that they wanted to be powerful, too.

With a sigh, he tightened his collar and strapped himself to sleep.

#absurd, #holidays, #marriage, #microfiction, #paraphilia, #politics, #president, #the-fetishists

Agreeable

As he sank to his knee, she felt sickness take over the rest of her personality. She’d known this was coming, as he had been giving hints all week. She’d hoped hers had been even less subtle, but he had gone on using future tenses, musing what their child would look like. He had asked her favorite precious stone, and it was in his pocket now.

“Oh Luke,” she said, and though she sounded overwhelmed, she noticed that she couldn’t hear the disgust she had intended. Neither could he. He said something about sharing life; something rehearsed, perhaps from a movie.

She wasn’t really listening. She was envisioning the days to come, learning to ignore his snoring. They hadn’t shared a bed together yet, as he was still old-fashioned and she didn’t like him, but she was sure he snored like a parody.

His speech continued, but none of it sounded like the question she was waiting for. When she had the chance, she would say no. Leave it at that. “No.” She wasn’t so low on herself that she would ally herself in a loveless marriage just to avoid hurting feelings. What irritated her was how over-the-top she had to be. If he just paid a little attention, they wouldn’t have to go through this. They wouldn’t even know each other. He would have seen her pity from the start. When she called him dweeb and dork and such, he would know she wasn’t teasing affectionately.

“This is all so sudden,” she said, and she saw his face light with excitement. She tried to speak more clearly, “I can’t believe you went to all this trouble,” but it didn’t sound right. She hated her voice. It deserved him.

#hate, #male-power, #marriage, #microfiction, #obliviousness, #politeness, #resentment, #self-control