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

Robustness (part 5)

Leslie was not attractive. He didn’t want to objectify her in any specific way, but she was ugly, no question. Whatever part of him made inventory of physical characteristics and analyzed the data worked automatically. The conclusion was in his favor. The great worry he’d had was that she would trigger the hormonal crazy part of him that had been his personality at twenty, and because she wasn’t attractive, she was safe.

He had not yet started a conversation, or alerted her to his presence. The sculpture in the center of the square was a good enough hiding place for him to catch his breath. It was cube-shaped, on its corner. It represented modernism. His own place in the metaphor seemed less clear, though he supposed if he was hiding behind modernism, it would be some statement on self-awareness in media, or perhaps how modern art obfuscates more than it elucidates.

Leslie hadn’t seen him yet. She was smoking a cigarette, as was her custom, and he watched her take deep tar-filled breaths through her drooping beak. Though she wasn’t wearing a watch, she looked at her wrist several times while he watched. The twilight suited her, especially with the cigarette. She was like a Hopper, or a Norman Rockwell on an off-day.

She was waiting for him. He couldn’t believe she wanted to see him.

“Don’t worry,” he said. “I’m not attracted to you anymore.”

She put out her cigarette. “Hi. I was never attracted to you in the first place.”

She hugged him like a belt. He didn’t know what to say. He never knew what to say. He was glad to see her.

#awkward, #fiction-in-parts, #idiot, #male-gaze, #misogyny, #reunion, #self-awareness, #self-deception, #self-loathing, #selfishness, #stalker

Robustness (part 4)

Ezekiel was waiting in the subterrain for a subway train. He fudded the phrase as he said it, and repeated it several times until all the syllables were clear. Someone saw him muttering and made a face. He nodded in her direction until she turned her head and ran away. Had he won?

Though he wasn’t sure what he was waiting for or where he was going, he was confident he would find out. He wasn’t aimless and he wasn’t a vagrant, so he had a reason for being here. In his backpack, he had a notebook, most of which was blank, but a few pages in the beginning had some phone numbers and comments. Leslie was circled, whatever that meant.

Perhaps he should call her, but he didn’t want to talk. The thought of hearing his own voice was too much to bear. Besides, the fact that she was circled meant that he had probably called her already. Maybe she was waiting for him somewhere.

He picked up a discarded matchbook. It had one match left. He put it in his backpack.

Among the odds and ends he had collected included a glow-in-the-dark rubber ball, a Nintendo DS Lite with a brain training game, a self-published book of poetry he would never read by an acquaintance he hated, and a 0.22 automatic pistol, a gun that could shoot things, automatically.

He closed his backpack quickly. Wherever the gun had come from, it was in his possession, and there had to be a reason for it. He felt vaguely threatened. The underground air was stifling, and he couldn’t bear it. He went up the broken escalator to the street.

Leslie was waiting in a nearby square, next to a cube. He was glad he didn’t shoot her.

#automatic-life, #backwards-life, #guns, #idiot, #inventory, #misogyny, #not-misogyny, #uncertainty

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

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