Robustness (part 3)

Ezekiel resented privacy, the entire idea of it. He thought about this in public restrooms, how social convention dictates that some behaviors be done in secret. At ten years old he’d had the thought: what if no one else takes off their clothes in the shower? What if that’s just my crazy family? People might think we’re crazy. How would I even know?

A man nodded at him at the sink, and he realized that he had made eye contact while his mind was on other things. While he wasn’t paying attention, he’d studied the man’s face and taken in his wardrobe, down to the hole in the elbow and the open fly. With an empty face, he flicked the water off his hands and tried not to look around. The man was watching him with some curiosity. Ezekiel cleared his throat, expecting him to turn away.

“Well?” the man said.

Ezekiel coughed again. “Excuse me.”

He was done washing his hands, but he didn’t feel he could leave without seeming like he was trying to get away. He put on his headphones, though he didn’t have any music, and moved his body to the music he didn’t have.

“Well, take care,” he said as he left. The man didn’t bother replying.

Ezekiel resented privacy, how it was wasted on the wrong bodily functions. He only wanted it for thought.

#awkward, #bathrooms, #privacy, #social-anxiety

Telekinesis (breasts)

When Lana gave her talks to two or three people instead of a dozen or more, she stammered. Large groups were a blur, and she could monologue about art and artifacts without interrupting herself. In smaller groups, she saw their faces. The man was leering, the woman was staring, and their eyes made her shoulders ache.

“Take a closer look at this eighteenth, I mean sixteenth century vase,” she said, hoping to draw their attention. The couple turned their faces toward the milk-white vessel, though they seemed to ignore her explanation of its significance. Lana crossed her arms in front of her.

“How long have you been working in the museum?” the man interrupted.

Lana shook her head. The question made no sense to her, and the woman was still staring.

“Save all questions for the end,” she said, staring back until the woman crossed her arms, too.

#breasts, #misogyny, #nanofiction, #paraphilia, #self-loathing, #stares, #the-fetishists, #unspoken-rivalries

Sketchbook (tattoo)

Jolie wore long sleeves. Everyone would laugh if they knew she’d been working on a dragon. So far, it was just an outline.

She was polishing windows when a woman in the waiting area asked her what was underneath her shirt. “Nothing,” she said. She tried to affect a blasé attitude. The woman smiled.

“Let me know if you want to show me.”

The woman was older, pushing forty, but she was in good shape. Jolie found her flirtations strange, but smiled back warmly.

Later, when Tom told her someone had requested her, she knew who it was.

“Listen, you can say no. I think you should say no, but this lady wouldn’t listen to me.”

Jolie did not say no. The woman asked her to draw anything she wanted, and it would be okay. She wanted the surprise, she said. “If you’re as inexperienced as they say, the surprise should be fantastic.”

She wasn’t sure where to begin. She sterilized all her tools several times as she interviewed the woman on her interests. Fish were a possibility. Maybe a whole aquarium of tropical fish.

“Just do whatever you would do on yourself,” the woman said as she pulled down her panties and lifted her dress. Jolie wasn’t sure. She leaned back in her chair and nervously tapped her thigh. The woman smiled, taking the gesture as an invitation, and crawled face-down on Jolie’s lap.

The woman’s butt pointed straight up. It was covered in doodles. ‘Stylex’ had signed his name. So many of the old designs crossed over each other that none were fully intelligible. As Jolie pressed the needle down, the woman moaned in a mix of pain and joy.

Jolie drew a dragon. When she made a mistake, she crossed it out and tried again.

#butt, #dragons, #hidden-talent, #intern, #lesbian, #microfiction, #naive, #paraphilia, #secrets, #tattoo, #the-fetishists

Ghost

As his fiancee returned from his funeral, Arturo held her hand. She had no idea he was there, but he could feel her. Maybe she looked around for him. Maybe she sensed him.

He couldn’t tell what she was feeling. Some things don’t change.

As she turned on daytime television, he watched her. He’d never been able to look so long without her swatting him away. “It’s not cancer. I’m pregnant, and it’s your brother’s!” He was able to take in the whole of her body, which looked good in black. “Impossible! My brother’s been dead for three years!”

He put a hand on her shoulder, and she didn’t seem to notice. He tried massaging her, and before long, she was starting to relax. He worked his way down, moving more gently than he could have with his old awkward hands. He touched her breast. It was the first time she’d allowed him to touch her, maybe the first time she’d been touched. “He’s not my brother; he’s my father!”

Pressing deeper, he felt his hand on his chest. He felt vaguely afraid, and somehow more fascinated by the soaps. Distraction was important. How long before he should start dating again? At least he hadn’t been too in love, he heard himself think, and a wave of guilt afterward.

He couldn’t tell what he was feeling.

Since he was alone in the house, he had no need to quantify. Instead, he quietly learned the parts of his vagina over his clothes and prepared to face oblivion.

#death, #ghost, #lovers, #microfiction, #supernatural

Advertisement

The children are outside, playing a game of rock, paper, scissors. They say the words with great concentration as they beat their fists into their palms. The little boy wins more often than the little girl does, but is more frustrated when he loses.

The girl is frightened of his emotion, and because she only wants to have a little fun with her brother, she is trying her best not to win.

“You’d do better if you threw something other than paper,” he tells her. All the same, he throws rock in their next round and loses. “God damn it! You’re not even trying!”

He slaps the air in front of her face, and she backs away.

“I’m sorry,” she says.

Kicking the ground, he mutters, “Paper shouldn’t beat anything.” He seems to get an idea, and runs to the house, and back with a pair of scissors and a sheet of eight and a half by eleven. He sets them down in front of her, and picks up a rock.

“I dare you to choose paper,” he says, winding up with the stone in his hand.

The girl crouches down, watching the boy carefully. She picks up the pair of scissors, and when the boy comes charging to break her, she swings the object toward him. It grazes his cheek, and he stands back, shocked.

“You lose,” he says, and takes the scissors from her. She turns and runs.

From inside, they look as though they’re playing a game of tag. Their parents see them running out of the corners of their various eyes and take symmetrical sips of Coca-Cola.

“It’s good to see the children playing,” the father says.

The mother doesn’t say anything, only carbonated gulps.

Coca-Cola: Your Only Responsibility

#advertisement, #anger, #children, #coca-cola, #microfiction, #misogyny, #sore-loser, #violence

Winner

Though he was early, he leered at his watch. He was only a little early, just enough to make sure he was there first. He liked to be first.

Around the cafe, he saw people, though he couldn’t focus on their faces. None of them were her, and that was all he cared about right now. Everyone else seemed dumb. He heard excerpts of conversation, “You look good for someone on death row.” Half-hearted jokes just to break up the monotony of their one-note lives.

“You’ll be fine, just tell them you’re mentally disabled.”

“Just because I’m gay doesn’t mean I don’t respect a good boobie.”

He tried to stop listening, but every word of inane banter grabbed him by the scruff and smacked him around. It was unavoidable. People speak loudly in public because everyone else speaks loudly. He couldn’t help but hear people talk about themselves, saying whatever they assumed their friends wanted to hear. Probably quotes from some movie they’d seen together. All they did was validate each other. One by one, they laughed, turn by turn, though no one ever said anything worth acknowledging.

She arrived right on time, and he assured her he hadn’t been waiting long. Points for magnanimity, he reckoned. As she told him about traffic, he listened attentively. She wasn’t interesting, but she loved to talk. Each nod of his head added a tally to his implicit superiority. The less he spoke, the smarter he seemed, and she began to love him, he could tell. Her face was made of love, and it was all directed at him. Sweet, merciful, stupid love. Something within him moved, but no one could tell.

He came first. He always came first. He loved to be first.

#dates, #friends, #gross, #idiot, #microfiction, #premature, #small-talk, #socially-awkward

Robustness

As the train pulled into the station, Ezekiel thought about calling ahead, but it was best if she didn’t expect him. His plan depended on a certain amount of secrecy, if he had a plan.

He noted: he was the sort who made plans.

Before he talked to Leslie, he wanted to know what his objective was. He knew why he’d left the first time, and cringed as he remembered. He was certain that his infatuation was over, more certain, surely, than he had been at twenty-three that she was the love of his life. The insanity of who he had been then seemed unreal. The way he’d stalked her, engineered situations with her, tried to be her hero, all seemed like something he’d seen on late-night sitcoms. He’d nearly killed her trying to create an opportunity to save her. She had been more traumatized than grateful.

Once he stepped out of the underground, he would know what he was doing. Almost everything is based upon momentum, and as soon as he stopped thinking, he could proceed in the direction he was going. The escalators all went up. He walked toward them.

He had to use the bathroom, and noted: he was the sort of person who drank too much water.

The entrances to two opposite gendered restrooms were entirely symmetrical, and neither one had a door. Social convention dictated that he should enter the men’s room, but he resented that it said “MEN” so clearly on the wall. The women’s room was nowhere near as capitalized, perhaps due to space restrictions, but he felt a little oppressive using a MEN’s room, convenient as urinals might be.

He noted: he was a thoughtful person. He cared about rights. The thought satisfied him as he peed.

#fiction-in-parts, #idiot, #pretension, #regret, #restrooms, #trains