Reunion (part 10)

Tracy woke up early, before sunrise. Tom had assured her they could leave at dawn, and she waited for the first sliver of sun as a sprinter waits for the crack of a pistol. She tiptoed down the stairs, arms wrapped around suitcases, and gently deposited them by the door. When morning came, she would rouse her husband with breakfast in bed if that’s what it took. They were leaving.

She’d learned the house well enough that she could navigate in the dark. The stairs creaked, as they do under the strain of desperation. She prepared excuses, “Couldn’t sleep, just wanted to get an early start,” and felt safe knowing that soon she would have a hundreds of miles buffer. As the last duffelbag dropped into place, she noticed an underline of light from the kitchen, and shadows of footsteps.

“Oh hi, I hope I didn’t wake you,” she rehearsed. She muttered the words with different shades of mock surprise as she worked up the courage to act nonchalant. “I thought I could sneak a piece of that delicious chocolate pie.”

She opened the door and acted startled to see the little old man sipping tea and making notes at the head of the table. Her surprise became real as she realized who it was. This was David, her husband’s father. “Oh hi,” she said. She couldn’t say anything more. He said nothing at all.

She didn’t want any pie. She pulled a glass from the cupboard and poured some water from the flap on the front of the fridge. She drank it in a few gulps, and filled her glass again. “I haven’t seen you since the wedding. How have you been?”

The man made no reply. He batted at his teabag a little, and resumed sketching whatever diagram or schematic happened to be on his mind. She wondered if he could hear her, or if in his brilliance the passion of his work overrode all senses. “Do you love your wife?” she asked. “Do you love your son?”

He stood up. “I’ve never heard anything so ridiculous.” He threw his teacup in the sink, breaking it. As he stormed back to his basement workshop, he knocked more plates off their shelves and onto the floor, and slammed the door behind him.

As Tracy cleaned up the mess, a piece of glass found its way in her finger. “I’m sorry I’m so clumsy,” she rehearsed. “I just wanted a piece of that delicious chocolate pie.”

“You should have turned the light on,” her husband said. “You should have done everything different. Apologize to Mom right now.”

“I’m sorry,” Tracy said again. They were words his mother understood.

 

#absent-fathers, #abuse, #anger-management, #holidays, #misogyny, #preparation, #time-capsule

Director

As a great admirer of the female form, Paul felt he had a good idea what women were supposed to look like. The proportion of leg and butt to neck and breast was supposed to form a golden ratio, but the more subtle parts of the fractal were in the curves of the ankles and wrists and nose, brachistochrones all three.

“Next,” he called. The woman in front of him, though beautiful, even strikingly so by some social standard, did not pass mathematical rigor.

“I’m sorry? I haven’t even started yet.”

“I’ve seen enough.”

He’d been at this all morning, and had started to find a pleasure in deflating the egos of these models who thought they were special. After thousands of sketches of the ideal woman, anything less was a disappointment.

“Are you casting completely on physical appearance? Is that what you’re doing? Because I thought you were looking for dancers.”

“Listen. I’m sure you’re very talented, but we have a clear idea of what we have in mind.”

The woman kneeled down to her boombox and started her track, a tango. Paul sighed, but allowed her to continue. Her routine was more rooted in ballet, but it fit the music in its own way. She simulated a partner out of air and gesture, and the two of them functioned in a necessary symmetry.

When she finished, Paul clapped for her, and she smiled, coyly. He looked her over again. Her proportions weren’t exactly phi, but better than his own, he had to admit.

As they switched consciousnesses, he felt pleased with himself that he had taken initiative, whatever she chose to do. Whatever her standards were, his were higher for himself.

“Next,” he heard behind him.

#closeted, #dysphoria, #microfiction, #misogyny, #psychics

Credit

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. All rights reserved. Winner will receive an all-expense paid trip to Hollywood, California, where he or she will enjoy seven days of authentic movie magic. Working closely with a talented crew and award-winning director Carl Ingersdotter, the winner will learn exactly how a movie gets made, and even earn a spot in the credits!

“Can I yell ‘action?’”

“You can do whatever you want. You won the contest.”

No one had explained to Carl Ingersdotter exactly what the competition had been, but the powers that be had impressed upon him that an outsider on set would be great publicity. The man had probably opened the right bag of Cheetos, the right Dr. Pepper.

“This is a pretty good scene, but I feel like Georgio — big fan, by the way — needs to act a little bit more, you know what I mean?”

“A bit more what?”

“Just more.”

In the final cut, Georgio slaps his costar across her face, sending her flying. She looks to him with equal parts fear and contempt, and Georgio turns away, smoldering. He stares upward to the heavens, mournfully, and extends his palm upright, as though holding a skull.

“I did that,” A man tells his date over the frantic shushing behind them. “I made that happen.”

By the way she replies, “Mm-hmm,” he can tell she doesn’t believe him. As the credits roll and she stands up, he remains in place. “I’m going to show you my name.”

Carl Ingersdotter has his name all over everything: story, writing, design, directing, consulting. Surely someone else could get a measly Special Thanks.

“I must have missed it,” he says, as the woman, whoever she is, pulls him to his feet. He slaps her.

“Blame Ingersdotter,” he says. “It’s all his.”

#acting, #contempt, #creep, #deception, #discovery, #fear, #jealousy, #misogyny, #self-loathing, #show-business, #ugly

Important

Though you may not yet know his name, Niles “Pop” Goodrich could soon be the most influential writer in Hollywood. For years, he’s been polishing his debut screenplay, and though it’s not exactly what he had in mind when he began the process, he has every confidence the final draft is better than 90% of scripts that see the green light.

“I think I offer a unique perspective,” he says. “No one’s ever seen a movie like mine before.”

The screenplay, a semi-autobiographical tell-all Goodrich describes as “brutally honest,” follows the journey of a struggling writer looking for love and meaning in a cruel, uncaring world. Hounded by the fear of rejection, one man presses on, and takes on society with a laptop and a Starbucks Gold Card.

“You get free refills in the same visit. No one cares if you stay all day.”

Goodrich considers himself a strong feminist, and has crafted the unattainable objects of his protagonist’s affections into people in their own rights. They see straight through his attempts at impressing them, even his charming self-deprecation. “Women are beautiful, and they’re smart,” Goodrich tells me. “They’re able to put their sexual instincts on hold to get done what they need to get done. I wish I could do that.”

Goodrich and interviewer share a meaningful stare. CUT TO:

INT. BEDROOM, NIGHT.
Two bodies violently wrestle under the blankets.

INTERVIEWER
Oh Niles, you’re such a good lover!

GOODRICH
I think it’s important to focus on a woman’s pleasure above all else. People tell me I should be a masseuse because I have great hands, but I think my tongue is better.

INTERVIEWER
Oh, Niles!

#coffee, #gross, #idiot, #misogyny, #pretention, #writer

Mr. Nice Guy

On his way into the grocery store, Kirk noticed a frail and elderly woman pushing her cart, and with a bow, he paused a moment to activate the automatic door for her. The poor woman had gone a bit senile, and eyes forward, face locked in permanent scowl, she rolled right past him. No thanks, no nod, but Kirk didn’t mind much.

He had company coming for dinner. A date, he supposed one might call it, their third, though they hadn’t yet used the vocabulary. Their first outing had been in the company of friends, their second in a museum. Tonight was the first time they would have real privacy, and he wanted the evening to be special.

  • Celery
  • Onions
  • Potatoes
  • Lamb Shank
  • Red Wine Vinegar
  • Red Wine
  • Scented Candles (Cinnamon? Guarana?)
  • Condoms
  • Vasaline
  • Playing Cards
  • Cucumber

He was about to check out when the old woman queued behind him. Though she hadn’t been appreciative before, he thought she might as well have another chance, and he waved her to the front of the line. As though he wasn’t even there, she shuffled forward and lifted her apples onto the conveyor one at a time. Kirk waited for any acknowledgment as she slowly filled out her check and made a note in the ledger. As she stomped away, he shook his head.

“Some people are just ungrateful,” the cashier said.

“Let’s just hope my date tonight is better.” The cashier did not laugh, though this was clearly a joke. He felt a little slighted.

#commerce, #entitlement, #idiot, #lonely, #microfiction, #misogyny, #resentment, #white-people

New (The Fetishists – Secretary)

OBJECTIVE

Though new to the working world, Melanie Blackwell is confident she exemplifies the qualities necessary to thrive as a personal secretary. Typing and organizing come as naturally to her as eating and sleeping come to others, and she has always envisioned herself working in an office, answering phones in a courteous and efficient manner. Maintaining a pleasant and professional demeanor, she is eager to begin her career and service at your earliest convenience.

QUALIFICATIONS

Experience with Microsoft Office Suite

Unquestioning loyalty to authority

Typing speed: 120 wpm

Looks really good in heels

Desperate

EXPERIENCE

N/A, but inexperience can be its own asset. A talented beginner works harder than a veteran, and she can be trained to perform as best pleases her employer. Please accept my vocational virginity for the opportunity it is, for both of us.

The man who came into the lobby had soft, wet hands.

“I’ve really been looking forward to meeting you,” he said, shaking her hand, touching her shoulder.

She followed him into his office and sat where he invited her to sit.

“I just want to thank you again for coming. Would you like some coffee?”

Melanie shook her head. The man poured a cup for himself, and thanked her again.

“Thank you,” he said, taking a long gulp from his tropical coffee cup.

She waited for the interview questions she’d prepared to answer. What makes you a good fit for this company? Where do you see yourself in ten years?

“How long have you worn glasses?”

“They’re new.”

He nodded, as though this was interesting information, and made a note in his journal. “You’re over eighteen, right?”

Melanie nodded, and moments later had a job.

What a gentleman, she thought.

#50-shades, #creepy, #cv, #male-gaze, #microfiction, #misogyny, #naivety, #paraphilia, #resume

Compliment (The Fetishists – BBW)

Shortly after Valerie hit thirty, some of her friends started making playful jokes about her body. “Who’s the father?” was a favorite, and the least subtle. Her friends were terrible and she hated them, but she could not deny the motivational merit of their abuse. She started going to the gym, and even after the comments stopped, she maintained her routine every morning.

“Excuse me,” someone said, poking her in the shoulder. His finger was now covered in her sweat, but he didn’t seem to mind. Valerie almost apologized, and she hated that that was her instinct.

“What is it?” she said. “People don’t usually talk to each other in here. There are rules.”

The man looked nervous. He was young and a little chubby, though not in the way men usually are. All his weight went straight to his chest, and he tried to hide his figure by slumping his shoulders.

“I’m sorry,” he said. “I just wanted to let you know that I think you’re beautiful. Don’t think I’m hitting on you or harassing you. I’m not. I just like seeing a confident woman. You have a good day.”

Valerie resumed her workout. Her earbuds blared Ride of the Valkyries as she climbed the final mountain of the elliptical’s Himalayan Trek. What the hell did he mean by confident? She wiped down the machine and changed in the locker room. The flaps of skin that poured over her waistline could suspend her in water like a jellyfish.

“You’re beautiful just the way you are,” a towel-clad stranger said, noting her distress. It was just the sort of thing they tell fat people.

#abuse, #aging, #awkward, #body-issues, #haters-gonna-hate, #misogyny, #negging

Empire

Even as often as she went out to the woods, Amiril had never seen a creature like this one. Whatever it was seemed born out of the earth, a tree come to life. She stood still, and so did the forest.

The dryad shifted its weight, though it didn’t seem to notice her. Instinct made her back away, and she stayed hidden in the underbrush. She crawled across the dirt, staining her dress. When the creature was out of sight, she returned to her feet and sped through the woods, calling, “Mom, I think I saw something, come quick!”

Her mother grabbed the axe and followed. The tree man was where he had been. He turned to them and bowed magnanimously. Amiril watched her mother’s grip tighten and relax along the hilt of the axe. The creature moved slowly, so slowly that he could never be a threat, and they waited for any excuse to attack in self-defense. The creature straightened its back and stood tall, which wasn’t enough.

Back home, they made the dryad comfortable. They let it sit in a basin of water, and shone sunlamps on it. Amiril read it poetry. Usually, they lit a fire in the evenings, but that seemed insulting to their guest. They sipped soup quietly.

A few days later, more tree people were standing outside their door, and while they seemed to have come in peace, one of them seemed interested in the axe.

“Oh, that’s not for anything,” Amiril’s mother said. The trees conferred.

“Did we upset them?” Amiril asked.

“Not yet, my darling, but we will.”

The trees dispersed from the house and ventured to the village, where they were honored guests in various homes. One of them had taken the axe; as a gift, of course.

#allegory, #fairy-tales, #microfiction, #misogyny, #passivity, #politeness, #trees

Funny

Other kids on the bus sat next to each other, but Marcus always managed to have his own seat. Most days, he wore headphones, but someone had taken them from his cubby today. He had cried, but it hadn’t mattered. His friend Kira called him boring and a crybaby, and now he had nothing to do but stare out the window.

“Some people need to get killed, other people need to get raped, you know what I’m saying?” someone said in the seat behind him. Marcus didn’t know what it meant to be raped, but he had heard the word before. “You wish someone would rape you,” said another voice, and the two of them laughed. “Go rape yourself.”

They kept saying it, but Marcus was having trouble figuring out what it could possibly mean. He didn’t often start conversations with strangers, especially older kids, but he was curious enough that he turned around and asked, “What is rape?”

The two laughed. One pointed to his friend. “He’ll show you.”

“Shut up!”

“You’ll find out soon enough, kid.” They seemed to find this hysterical, and high-fived each other vigorously. Their laughter scared Marcus, and he turned away.

They seemed such close friends, perhaps because they joked around with each other. Marcus never told jokes. That’s why he was so boring.

Kira apologized to him the next day, though it seemed someone was making her do it. She didn’t want to talk to him. Marcus shrugged. “Maybe I’d be less boring if I raped you.”

She looked thoughtful as he said this. She walked away and he watched her whisper to a nearby teacher, who panicked.

When the police came to question him, he cried. “I was only joking,” he said. He plead Joking at the trial, on his epitaph.

#awkward, #children, #fitting-in, #joke, #misogyny, #sad, #upsetting

Romantic Comedy

His sorrow was treading water, and no more alcohol could improve his life. He was at the point of oblivion. Andre was buying, and Andre insisted that all Rupert needed was a few drinks and his obsessions would seem meaningless.

“Your problem is that you’re too nice. Women like a man who will take control. You can’t even buy your own drink. Two more Dewar’s.”

Rupert was reaching his limit, but once the copper fluid was in front of him, he took a sip. The flavor of scotch seemed more subtle the further gone he was, and he wanted to savor it while he could. Andre downed his in a single gulp.

“You’ve been thinking about her too long, but she’s not the one for you. You’re just going to have to accept it. She’s seen the weak part of you, and you’re never going to overcome that. No one wants to fuck a boy. Why don’t you try acting like a man for once?”

Andre demonstrated by starting a conversation with a stranger. “Hey beautiful, do you have a defibrillator? Because I’m dying to meet you.”

Rupert was shocked when she laughed. After an initial, “That’s terrible,” she seemed receptive to whatever came out of Andre’s mouth. A little later, when he threw up on the bar, she took care of him and led him out, to her place.

Alone, Rupert finished his drink, and tried tapping the shoulder of a woman next to him. She turned toward him and held her hand to the spot he had touched like it was bleeding.

“Hello,” he said. “I’m dying.”

As he fell over onto her lap, she leapt to her feet and let him hit the wet ground. He rolled around in Andre’s vomit, his manly secretions, and obsessed.

#bros, #culture, #macho, #male-power, #media, #microfiction, #misogyny, #obsession, #ugly