Introvert

A robin, hopping around a mushroom, seemed unconcerned with food for the moment, more interested in the little shade that had sprung from the earth. The lip was high enough off the ground that she could fit underneath, and this concept seemed fresh and new. She jumped from the sun to the shade and back into the sun, unsure what she liked most.

“What the hell do you think you’re doing there?” The man was trying to disguise the contempt of his voice in big avuncular tones. Amy appreciated the effort, but he was still a feral pig coming straight for her.

“Just watching,” she replied. He wanted to know what she was watching, but the man’s bounding enthusiasm had startled the bird, who was gone. Amy didn’t know enough about mushrooms to pretend she was noting a rare species, and said nothing.

“You’re on my property, so I’d appreciate if you finished up your business and went home.” He wobbled away, through the grass, leaving piles of powdered mushroom in his wake.

The party was a few houses down. College students pecked at each other against every hard surface. Their bodies were pressed together, one hand apiece free for red cups of cheap, available beer, which they sipped alternating with faces.

“Well look who it is!”

“Where’d you come from?”

All her friends were so young. After the initial surprise of seeing her, they put a drink in her hand and went back to their own peer group.

“Let me introduce you. This is Amy. She’s an artist.” The student looked from Amy’s feet to her chest and walked away, shrugging.

Amy sat outside, in the grass recently watered with beer and vomit. “Why don’t you come out more often?” someone said.

#agoraphobia, #artist, #birds, #introvert, #microfiction, #party, #quiet, #social-anxiety, #social-phobia

Critic

As soon as he got to work, Trevor would ask him what he thought of the movie. He had been insistent that he see it, and had even bought him tickets. Two tickets in fact, though Jacob hadn’t used either. While he had had every intention of upending his life last night for the light, affirming conversation they were supposed to have this morning, Jacob couldn’t push himself out the door when the time had come.

He leaned on the door to the lobby, preparing himself before going in. He pulled the door and stepped inside.

“Did you love it?” Trevor asked. “Wasn’t it something else?”

“It was alright,” Jacob replied, trying to seem evasive. A neutral opinion seemed best. If he said he loved it, Trevor would want to commiserate over favorite moments, and if he hated it, he would have to defend his position. Apathy needed little proof.

“‘Alright,’” Trevor repeated, scoffing. Jacob shrugged.

“You know, it was well-made, but predictable.” This seemed safe. Most movies were well-made and predictable. “Thanks for the tickets.”

“No problem,” Trevor said. The way he said it sounded like a problem. They rode the elevator up seven floors, not talking about the movie. As they dinged to a stop, Trevor waited behind, curtseying for Jacob to go first.

Jacob stumbled out, all the way to his desk. He heard Trevor talking.

“I guess I was wrong. I didn’t like it. Jacob said it was boring.”

He felt like he should say something, but he couldn’t.

“What should I have for lunch today, Jacob? Should I eat the sandwich I packed, or something more exotic?”

Jacob promised himself that he would see the movie soon. As soon as it wasn’t important.

#agoraphobia, #critic, #leadership, #microfiction, #sycophant

God

Just as he said the word “darkness,” the power went out. His parishioners called it a miracle. Reverend Gupton was grateful for the vote of confidence, but he found it hard to believe that God would waste a miracle on such measly punctuation.

God, however, knew that such a petty miracle would throw him off Her scent. For years, the Reverend Gupton had had been drawing attention to Her work, even though She did everything in her power to assert Her non-existence.

In his next sermon, She flooded the bathroom. He was talking about Moses in the desert. The church considered it another miracle anyway, and attendance soared.

For the next few Sundays, anytime he mentioned evil, or demons, or anything regarding the nether world, She sent sun through the windows, into Rev. Gupton’s face. He held his hand to the light.

“It’s just coincidence,” he said eventually, from the pulpit. “God isn’t trying to impress any of us. If anything, He wants us to focus on what’s in front of us, not on lofty possibilities.”

She didn’t disagree with his point. He was entirely correct about her and her views. However, putting her intentions out like that made her feel incredibly self-conscious. Not to mention, he was robbing people of their own insights.

She rearranged a few trees so that the light gave him the appearance of horns. A few concerned gasps drew attention to the sight, and the shadow moved with him.

“For the last time,” he said, “this isn’t God. God doesn’t exist!”

She turned her attention away from the preacher, just as She hoped he’d do it return. It’s hard to be yourself while anyone’s watching.

#agoraphobia, #blasphemy, #god-is-love, #microfiction, #pascals-other-wager, #pascals-wager, #social-anxiety, #social-phobia, #theology

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

Tiny Dragons

His phone was ringing. Gerry didn’t mind calls, especially on a Friday night at home, but Fjorik’s nostrils flared, and it was best not to challenge Fjorik. Bjornhard and Thuumbrig were more agreeable, but Gerry doubted he would challenge them either.

The phone rang again. Somehow it sounded more urgent this time. Gerry picked it up and looked at the display. Holding his breath, he accepted the call. Fjorik rolled over onto his knee.

“Hey, Nancy. What’s going on?” She had nothing prepared. She had called just to talk. He had nothing prepared either, but now they were talking.

“How’s your mother? Oh, I’m sorry to hear that. Lots of people go through worse though, so I wouldn’t worry too much.” Bjornhard lifted an eyebrow. Thuumbrig turned his head. “Yeah, I’m great. I couldn’t complain if I tried, not that I’m going to try.”

Fjorik was squinting. Every word Gerry said irritated him more.

Gerry wanted to end the conversation, but it hadn’t really begun. He couldn’t well hang up until the call had been justified.

“So do you have any plans tonight?” he heard himself say. He couldn’t believe he said it. The three ancient beasts lifted their eyes and stared Gerry straight in the throat. Thuumbrig sharpened his claws against the scales on his opposite forearms. Fjorik spit a tiny flame that Gerry swatted out with his free hand. He swallowed. “That sounds nice. I’d love to come, I really would. But I’m afraid I have other plans tonight.”

Some other time.

Together, the wyrms closed their eyes, and curled their necks downward, at peace. Gerry reached out to pet them, but they didn’t like to be touched.

He crossed his arms and held himself close.

#absurd, #agoraphobia, #awkward, #dragons, #microfiction, #mythical-creatures, #social-anxiety, #social-phobia