story

My Future

Several years ago in college, we were given an assignment to do a write-up of where we saw ourselves in fifty or so years. Naturally, I did mine in story form. This was the result.

It is October the 2nd, 2052. 7 P.M. at night. Scenery scrolls by from the car window on my right side. The smooth hum of the electric engine echoes a soft vibration from beneath my feet. I catch my reflection in the windowpane. Sags have grown under my eyes after years of staring at words all my life. A thick head of gray hair, styled forty years out of date, lies atop my loose scalp – my own head of hair, no less. I tap on the transparent surface with my ring finger. The gold wedding band clinks as it lightly touches the surface.

The car is long with cushioned seats facing each other in the back, the interior of a limo. I’m being driven someplace. Two younger people are in the seats facing me. One is a woman in short cut polymer dress, while the other – a male – sits bow-legged in a color-shifting tuxedo. Both appear chipper, if relaxed, while my expression is a bit vexed. Both appear to be in their late twenties, and slightly resemble me in the face. Yet they have their mother’s dark brown eyes.

“This isn’t what I had in mind,” I say aloud with a grumble.

“You said you’d do it for Mom,” the woman replies. “She’s been planning it for months.”

“I didn’t ask her to plan it, Karen.” I turn away for a moment, gazing out the window again.

“Dad, just view this as something that’s been long in coming,” the younger man chimes in. “I mean, hell, they made a movie about it.”

My eyes close, but I smile a bit. “It was a pretty bad one at that, too.”

“What’d you expect? Look at the director they chose,” he laughs.

The car slows to a stop in front of an amphitheater. Both of my progeny quickly jump out. It takes a bit longer for me to roust myself from the seat – more due to my reluctance than any actual physical impairment. A banner is flying over the Romanesque exterior. It reads:

A TRIBUTE TO ELDYR’HAI

The series that I’d written over twenty years ago – five books total. All of which chronicled the misadventures of three space-borne outcasts, and was later made into three movies. The characters were horribly miscast, but they kept the story intact somewhat, which surprised me. I never thought it was my best work, but I had the most fun writing it.

On the exterior steps, a dignified brown-haired woman (five years my junior) races down. Even at her age, she still possesses an inhuman sense of grace – the woman who became my muse. She flashes me her token grin. I return her jovial gesture with a partial half-smile – awkward.

“Are you ready?” she asks.

“No,” I respond.

“Good,” she says, kissing me on the cheek as we walk up.

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Thursday, December 11th, 2008 Prose No Comments

Day’s End

Day Brennon never knew how much he missed it. Like a sea-born breeze brushing his hair back, the memories of a bygone moment in his life invaded him. Stepping through the sliding door brought forth the nostalgia instantly. The lobby hadn’t changed after all the time that had passed. Couches still lined the back wall, and weren’t all that different from the ones he remembered. Students herded through the open walkway, cautiously avoiding the bookworms that occupied the round tables on the far side. The couches on the other hand were the communal rest area for a varied array of slackers. Just like back in Day’s time at Elderwood High.

He walked slowly towards the entrance to Senior Hall, the lockers – lacquered white – in regimented columns ushering him in. Feeling out of place was a new emotion for Day. Everyone looked so young, and the ceiling seemed farther down upon him. Even the seniors, who deemed themselves ready for adulthood, still bore the onslaught of acne and questionable fashion tastes. At least, they were questionable to him. No one wore pants two-to-three waste sizes larger back when he attended. Black wasn’t a preferred color, and hairstyles didn’t defy gravity during his tenure as a student. A lot had changed on the surface, but the essence of it was still recognizable to him.

Vivid recollection crept up to him. Senior Hall held a particular significance. Locker #357. Day faced it with all the wonder that one bestowed upon a valuable relic. A crack in the locker’s door hinge revealed itself to his wondering eyes. He made that crack with an art cutter his sophomore year! His girlfriend dumped him that day, complaining that his name ‘Day’ was too queer. That moment lingered in his mind as a humorous stumbling block rather than a moment of grief. The so-called relationship lasted far longer than his friends predicted. Steiner – an old friend – kept tabs on the bets made in favor of the breakup. A bet that Day himself had entered.

Another peculiarity, which bothered him, was the memory of being one of the only sophomores in Senior Hall. The area designated to his ilk had overcrowded that year, leaving several in his grade locker-less. Others migrated to Freshman Hall at the urgings of the faculty, while a few others and he were given the leftovers in Senior Hall. Day dreaded that day he held his schoolbooks, gazing up at the overhead scowls of upperclassman; all glaring in dismay at their sovereign territory forever violated by the presence of an underling amidst their ranks.

He strolled further down and encountered an old man dressed in faded blue overalls. Regardless of his haggard appearance, the ancient figure wheeled a mop over his shoulder with surprising youthful ease. Day recalled that maneuver, and the man who made it famous. Chuck Whiltman, the Senior Hall janitor.

Good ol’ Chuckie hadn’t changed, even his face looked as sandpapery as ever. The only difference Day could spot was a missing tooth along his lower bridge, but that gave him character. Not that the old janitor needed any more character than he already possessed. How could he don the same grin, and hum the same tune after so many decades? It was beyond the former student’s comprehension.

The janitor passed by him without even the slightest hint of recognition. That didn’t surprise Day any. He never really stuck out to Chuckie. No one did. A different world surrounded that man, a perception everyone wished they could attain, but would never understand.

Day chuckled inwardly at the irony then decided it was time to depart.

Nostalgia possessed a divinity all its own for a fleeting moment, then receded back into the subject’s mind like an outgoing tide. Day stood there, feeling the change come over him as the memories trickled into the present. Recollection toppled over to welcome reality. The former student sighed.

The memories were small ones, insignificant to the blinking eye. However, those simple happenings held more symbolism than the grandiose events that supposedly defined the “high school experience.” He could recall his first pencil sharpener, yet couldn’t remember his first dance. A carving on the bathroom wall in the shape of a phallus amused him, yet the pep assemblies were little more than a blur. His first beer, still sour upon his lips, replayed itself in his thoughts, yet he couldn’t spell the name of his prom date. What type of phenomenon was this?

Then it hit him. One simple sentence.

“Dad? Can we go now?”

The lanky young freshman looked up at him, barely above five-four in height with green-dyed hair shaved to Chia Pet length. A skateboard hung from his left arm, while a tattered backpack relaxed limply on his bony right shoulder. The boy smiled quizzically, his braces flashing in the fluorescent lighting.

“Oh sure, Joe, no problem. I’ll get the car,” Day replied, as if awoken from a trance.

He wandered outward, pushed upon the handle of the less-than-sturdy glass door, and placed his reflective penny-loafers on the discolored cement. Turning his head, he viewed the sign upon the windowpane.

WELCOME FRESHMAN

It was then that he understood why he couldn’t recall the majority of the grander events of his youth, why only the little inconsequential things stuck out in his mind. His time had ended, while his progeny ventured forth to make memories of his own. Day withdrew his keys, and pressed the button on his obsidian-black key chain. The car alarm to a chrome-colored Lexus parked in front chirped in reply.

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Wednesday, December 10th, 2008 Prose No Comments

Rain

He peered down. Elderwood High’s blacktop expanded before him. Jay decided this was the perfect place to do it. With careful thought, with great consideration, and with much reluctance, he’d chosen this to be the place where he would be remembered – as a spattered corpse, maybe, but remembered nonetheless. A real legacy, something that would stick . . .

Stick like his opened skull would in a few minutes. Jay smirked at that. No one understood his sense of humor. All of his peers found him morbid. Perhaps he was. On that same token, he found their mediocrity horrifying. Like pubescent geese they squawked about nothing of importance with stapled smiles that never waned. If he had to endure a world like that for the next three years – a pointless game of minced words – he would rather sit it out.

The ledge of the school’s gymnasium – the home of the Elderwood Satyrs – provided the highest point that the three-story school had to offer. Such an end would have a sense of poetry to it, a person who viewed life as a game plummeting from a place where games were played. Yes, that would be his legacy amidst the popculture herd of high school. At least he would finally have one. Years of anonymity would end – not with a bang, but with a splat!

What caught his eye from the left corner tore him away from that thought. A girl maybe no older than sixteen in faded blue overalls stood on the ledge as well, surveying the blacktop as he had, eyes blanketed by an oily mat of brown hair – an overdone bowl cut. She was singing:

If the rain comes
they run and hide their heads
They might as well be dead
If the rain comes
If the rain comes

“Hey you,” he called out. “Beat it!”

The girl stopped in mid-tune but didn’t respond.

“Look, I dunno what you’re doing here, but I would rather not have company,” Jay said.

She turned her matted head to him, and a dimpled grin appeared on her face – a Cheshire glow amidst a curtain of brown. “I’m waiting for my cue.”

He titled his head. “Cue?”

“Yes, cue. It’s supposed to rain today.”

Jay scoffed. “No, it isn’t. It’s sun-” a crack of thunder interrupted him “-ny.”

In his pondering, he hadn’t noticed the thick patches of gray gathering above him in the mid-day sky. Droplets followed – the very “cue” she had spoken of. Her smile widened and she giggled. Jay swore he found melody to the sound of it.

“It’s here!” she shouted, outstretching her arms, embracing nothing. “It’s here for me.”

“What the hell’re you talking about?” Jay asked. “What’s here? Why for you?”

“The rain is here for me,” she said. Streams of water cascaded down her cheeks, creating the illusion of tears. “The rain is me. I am the rain.”

Turning away from him, she returned her gaze to the puddle-dotted blackness below. Her arms fell slowly to her side. Drenched as she was, her pale undershirt didn’t cling at all. If anything, it appeared feathery. Jay squinted then gasped. Her clothing wasn’t wet at all, only her skin.

“Time for me to return,” she said through the beating shower, standing off her heels, bearing weight on the tips of her toes.

A moment passed. The downpour continued, clanking and splashing against stone slabs and metal rungs of the roof. Her chin raised, mouth closed, and hair parted away from her face due to sheer water-weight. Her chest didn’t heave. No chilled spasms racked her body. Why Jay noticed this, he didn’t know. Something about her seemed . . .

Before he could find the right words, she was no longer there. A muddled imprint of her shoes remained in her place. Jay dashed to where she had stood and gazed downward. The blacktop was empty. No blood, no body, just puddles.

“What the . . . What the . . .” he repeated looked up at the gray-smeared sky above him. “FUCK?!?”

* * *

He walked among the puke-green-lacquered lockers inside the school. Darkness shrouded the hall except for a few flickering florescent bulbs. They reflected off the trails of wetness Jay left in his wake as he trudged for the nearest exit. His lips contorted into a grimace, thinking about the last few minutes, still breathing heavily. Obsidian hair bungeed the water that remained – dangling, mocking.

With his right hand he swiped the follicle mop away from his vision. And he noticed the locker rows had ended. Several plaques lined the free wall. Framed black and white pictures, arrayed in segments. He read through the years of each. Some dated back as early as six decades ago. He hadn’t noticed this area before. Then again, he rarely set foot in Senior Hall. After screening the photos for a few minutes, he stopped at one in particular.

Jay’s face paled.

The photo of a brunette girl with a dimpled smile stared back at him. The etched letters below it read:

IN MEMORY

OF

RAIN MORGAN

1951-1967

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Monday, December 8th, 2008 Prose No Comments

I work for tea money.

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