Reddit Writers Anthology

Even though I’ve been more or less silent on my main blog here, that doesn’t mean I’m not working on stories and filling up my own slush pile of pieces that are being sent out to the world. Hopefully I can get the stragglers out here, but for now, enjoy either my more frequented micro fiction blog or the newly instated Reddit Writers Anthology that just released, to which I am also a part of. Just started getting my hand into the stories, and yeah, the work and effort and passion went into making this thing, really shines.

 

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Arbitrary

Arbitrary:

The wave of words that crash within your ears
telling you that nothing you do will ever amount to anything.

Or:

The wealth of those around you, in your world,
that surround your eyes that cause your health
to rise into anything but, well.

Or:

“You can’t”
“It’s too late.”

Or:

Anything that doesn’t leave you having a smile at night or
a flight into the clouds where everything is, okay.
Anything that doesn’t leave you with something to ponder
during times of rain, where you can say with both hands held high
along with your eyes that “this is who I am, and where I am.”
Anything that says otherwise that you are what you are
and not defined by the lies spilled by things as fragile
as cries of worthless self-worth.
Or:

Thinking that: “none of this matters”

Skyscraper

My father convinced me to grow a tree when I was young. It fit into my palms as if I was holding the world. I watched it every day as if it was my child. I wanted to race it in height. We never stayed in that house for long. I wonder if that tree still remembers me.

My feet hung over the edge of the roof in a pendulum. The breeze of the city ran up my legs. My eyes had yet to adjust to the darkness. I wished it never did. The city roared in its business.  Green. White. Blue. All of it came together in a pool of mud. Someone had left a wallet at the corner of the roof.  I chuckled and closed my eyes. My pulse softened. I heard breathing behind me. “What brings you here? To end a life? A dream? A day?” My ears grasped at his words that hung in the air. I wanted to turn, but my body refused.

“Would it be fine if all of it was true?” I heard the man jump onto the ledge, making quiet strides. He hummed a quiet tune.

“In any case, If you are here to end your life, then I advise you not to do it here. I wouldn’t want to be bothered if they come.”  He hopped over my legs. His jeans brushed against my face, the smell of rotting wood followed.

“Sounds awfully demanding for what I’m trying to do here.”

“It isn’t so much demanding as it is common courtesy. Your death inconveniences those you love, and those around you. Which is me by the way.” He turned at the edge and continued, ignoring the wallet.

“I’ve never heard of anyone taking residence atop a skyscraper,” I said as my mind fixated on the wallet. I rubbed my eyes to clear my head. Without a light to grasp, I held onto his words as if they were the stars.

“We all have our homes. And we all want common courtesy in our homes.” He hopped over my legs. The stench of rotting wood grew. The streets lived in its bright lights. An airplane in flight erupted the atmosphere. The bladed winds danced on my cheeks.

“Then are you going to kick me out?” He laughed.

“This is my home and I do have my rights. But so do you. I’m not annoyed, just wondering if it had to be this skyscraper. You know, value would drop if you die here.” He landed back onto the roof and circled behind me.

“And would that really concern me?”

“It wouldn’t. But if you do a good deed now maybe you won’t be left in eternal hell.” He began to pace, the soles of his shoes emitting a soft scratch with every step. Eventually, he stopped.  I heard him ruffle through his pockets. Coins bounced about. My father always did that when we were walking to the store. He would play with the coins, flicking it between his fingers. I once asked him why. He told me it was comforting.  “Are you religious?”

“If I’m up here I don’t think I am.”  His laughter replaced the city’s air.

“Have you ever considered living?” My entire body faced him. His shirt was filled with dirt. His jeans littered with cuts. His hair seemed to be modelled by the results of a paper shredder. He held a picture. I stood and made my way towards him. It was a picture of a family. One father. One mother. One daughter. One son. All smiles. “It isn’t so bad you know, living.”

“That’s debatable — Is that your family?” He nodded, turning the picture with a slight smile.

“At least, what’s left of my family.” His words cut the air. The words in my mouth scrambled like shattered glass. “I don’t think you can tell me how hard it is to live if you haven’t lost your entire family. Have you lost your entire family?” I shook.  He stuffed the picture into his pocket and turned. He began toward the other side of the roof that was blocked by the entrance. I was left alone.

My body’s pulse slowed. The light that surrounded me melded into my fingers. The city called for me. I inched back to the ledge. My hair fluttered in the ensuing winds, calling me deeper into the city. I rolled in my mind all the people in my life. They found their way onto both my hands. My face churned. My pulse matched the city. I remember a waking night when I had forgotten to close my curtains. The stars peeked through my window, exposing the slight dust that began to settle over me. I thought that if I stretched enough, that I would be able to find the source of that light in my palms. It would sit there with my sapling. The two things I could hold in my life. My body froze on instinct when he appeared giving me a raised face and a wave.

His sleeping bag seemed as if it had just been torn from the store. A duffel bag filled with bottled water and non-perishables sat with a box of odds and ends. A candle illuminated his way. He rummaged in the box, the flame of his candle nearly licking the hem of his shirt.

“You smoke any?” He asked with a box of cigarettes in tow. I shook. “At least take a seat. Unless you’re in a hurry.” He laughed as he plopped a smoke in his lips and produced a lighter. He leaned against the walls of the entrance and puffed out a cloud towards the darkened sky. It was brighter than any of the lights from the city. I took a seat opposite his candle, watching as it danced in the low winds and merged with the clouds. “Now I know what you’re thinking. I’m homeless. How do I get off spending money on cigarettes? But listen here. One man throws away a box of smokes because of a bad brand, and another man picks it up. That’s the cycle of life.” He dangled the smoke over his fingers and tapped the ashes towards his candle, letting it rest on the edges of the stick.

“Where’d you get the lighter?” He laughed. His eyes mellowed as he produced a picture from the box. He handed it to me over the flame. It was a shot of a landscape painting. Green pastures for miles with a light blue sky and tired clouds in the distance. There was a single tree planted in the middle of the painting, its bark seemed to be tearing off. The leaves were already dead.

“That’s what I used to do,” he said with a puff.  He  plucked the picture and laughed, the frame almost singed. “What an old painting. Must have been a few thousand?” He stuffed the picture into his pockets and drowned his hand into the box.  “I got all kinds of toys here. You like toys? Even the homeless do.” The questions in my mind that escaped through my mouth fell flat with the rushing air of the city. It paraded my skin in short brushes. My hair fell into my eyes. He produced another photo. I took it through the flames. “That one’s alright. Not much going for it but it was worth a few Christmas presents. My daughter wanted the most ridiculous doll house. You wouldn’t believe it.” His smile cut the darkness.

“And even with this you made your way up here?” He laughed. With a flick and a stomp, the smoke died in a low cry. He pulled another. The clouds began to converge. He closed his eyes, and laid onto the bed roll.  The candle fluttered out of existence.

“The reason why I’m up here might be the same reason why you’re up here.” He nearly swallowed his smoke. “I mean, let’s be real. Falling from a building is the first thing that popped in your mind? Ever heard of carbon monoxide? Have your car running and just sleep your life away. Or even cyanide.” As I opened my mouth, the only thing I could comment on was the candle.

“Your candle’s out.” He snickered and braced himself up.

“Thing lasted longer than I thought.” I handed him the candle and watched as he traced his fingers over its plastic body. Another plane roared in the sky, thrusting the stars out of view. The lights from another building began to cascade into darkness.

“I shouldn’t be intruding anymore.” I stood with my words.

“Hold on. I’m not going to stop you or anything. Couldn’t care less.” He rummaged through his box and produced a notebook with a pen. “But put your name down.”

“This for the cops?” He chuckled.

“If they do book me up here, I can just tell them some info about a woman who threw herself off the edge. But that isn’t it. You got a family, right?” I nodded. “They know about this?”

“I’d be locked in my home if they did.” He snuffed the smoke in his fingers and produced a palette and a brush.

“I’ll give them something to remember you by. Say I’m a street painter or something and caught you in my eye.”

“Sounds like a waste of your time.”

“You don’t have the right to lecture me on wasted time.” His eyes didn’t meet mine as he brought out water bottles filled with paint.  My body couldn’t move. I told every muscle to edge off the roof, but I stood watching as he set up his station. His landscape picture was displaced onto the bed sheet in the commotion of his searching. He found a lighter and the candle came ablaze, swaying with the short winds of the night. He stretched, cracked his neck, and launched another smoke into his mouth.  “So you going to write your name and jump?” My body was planted onto the roof. No means of my mind would work.

“I’ll wait for the candle to go out.” I sat and watched his brush on the paper, closing my eyes and listening to the waking city below. The image of his tree paraded me.  I remember my father telling me I should visit the old house. To see if that tree was still there. Maybe it would remember me.

Older draft of Skyscraper

Starlight

Revisited this piece with some new edits that hopefully makes it a better read. Hope you enjoy.

BrianDWriting

We thought we were immortal. The air surrounded us, winter creeping into our arms. Our steps echoed in the low light of the stairs. Her pulse grew the closer we got. I turned once to see her eyes in a brilliant glean. The air’s ballad mixed with our steps as we stood in front of the rusted door.  Winter slept in the steel platform draining itself into the soles of our feet as our bodies converged in irregular panting. I tightened my grip. She winced, and her pulse lowered. The cracks of the doors exhaled ash and fuel. Everything came together in the sky. I remember how we first met. We were both trying to fly. We thought we were immortal.

Her dress fluttered in the wind. A thousand frills accompanied a thousand sirens as we came to the edge of the roof. It was barren save for our naive…

View original post 940 more words

Aphorism: 406

406: Time fills itself through the constant demands of other (George Murray, Quick)

Time is meaningless. I mean that literally. What exactly is one second? Can you hold it? Have you ever held time? Have you ever sold time? As in, you stood there for ten seconds doing nothing, and you earned a dollar? Have you ever converted time? As in, you found a way to convert ten seconds into a minute. As in, you took the world’s collective ten seconds and moved the universe a minute ahead in time. That all sounds ridiculous. Time is after all a temporal concept. It’s not something that can be melded in reality. It’s just an understanding. As in, we understand that twenty-four hours dictates roughly one revolution of the earth. That is as physical as time can get. And even so, what of it? We might as well say that one hour equals ten minutes. And I can even say that my one day is actually made up of two hours. That sounds even more ridiculous. But what if my seconds are actually worth a million of your seconds?

That’s why we’ve created a shared system of units for time. We can all agree on a second, and a minute, and an hour. It makes everything streamlined. But how does one go about fitting such a psychic concept into something so streamlined as time? It’s like giving a unit to a shared understanding of boredom. I’m two dry paint walls bored.  And despite this, we still say, we have ten minutes left, and an hour to go. Everyone will nod, everyone knows.

Time is meaningless, but we need it to have meaning. We wouldn’t be able to do a single thing without having a gauge of how long it took or when we need to stop. I don’t think time has ever meant anything when it was first conceived. Time was just looking at the sun rise and fall. It never asked to be set into months and years. It never asked to have a date to which the next party happens. It never asked to hold onto the day in which your graduation is supposed to happen. But it does. And it does so without complaining. It holds onto every one of your precious memories. You say you remembered last week. Or you say, on that day, and time will hold onto that for you. So you shouldn’t complain about time. You should never call time, wasted. As in, I wasted that day. You didn’t. It’d be disrespectful to time if you half-heartedly threw that around.

How’s everyone doing?

It’s been a strange few weeks and months as I settle down and really harbor down on my own writing. It’s definitely been an ebb and flow of revelations and stalwart stillness. But no matter what, this is something that I can’t seem to escape. It’s a notion that I think many of us can relate to. We can’t escape the words that squirm on our pages and the worlds that draw us in. That’s just who we are, and at the same time, we have to learn to fail, and learn to grow. There’s no wasted effort in art, is something Burnie of Roosterteeth said, the same guy in a spare bedroom with his friends who talked into age old mics over Halo who then went on to create one of the most influential companies in the online sphere. There’s no wasted effort in art because we put everything we have in the moment to create art. And if it sucks, then it sucks. We learn. We fail faster so we can strive to create something amazing. But that only counts if we manage our leases and mind our manners to the ensuing failures that berate being an artist in a saturated society.

But I’m not here to ramble philosophy. No, not at all. How’s everyone doing? All your writings and project been going well I presume? I’ve been following a few on Twitter and they seem to be making strides, as should it be so. Small strides, big strides, it doesn’t matter. Progress is progress, and moving just 0.01% closer to your goals is better than naught (Shattered Dreams reference *cough*) which, speaking of Shattered Dreams has been closed off for now. In other words, I’m putting the bow on it as I’ve gone through and spent countless hours staving away its editing to the point where if I keep dwelling on it I wouldn’t be able to write anything else. So much like my other works, it’ll sit for the annals of time and possibly be of use in the future. I still really like what I made for Shattered Dreams. But, the actually topic isn’t that dusty (it hasn’t been that long but still) tome that I’ve made. It’s another dusty (hmmm) tome that I’ve made called SchoolOfWords.

Here’s the short spiel of it, SchoolOfWords is one word prompts turned into flash fiction so we can all have fun learning new words. And I’ve now combed through two/three words of every letter of the alphabet all the way to Z. So that’s roughly 50 some odd words covered. And originally I was going to reset so that I’ll start from A and work my way down again. But what the hell, let’s spice things up.

I’m going to keep the spirit of learning new words in fun ways. But this time, I’ve decided to learn foreign words. More specifically, foreign words that don’t exactly have an exact English equivalent.  So, thus starts a new season of SchoolOfWords, and all is invited. I’ll be posting today’s first word over there, so check it out if you will. On another note, how’s everyone doing?

 

Up Here, Down There

Up Here, Down There

Just being on Earth was enough for me. I remember seeing the sunrise one day when I was home in the country. The cool fall winds came in swirls as the leaves rustled in a twisted dance. Our wind chimes whistled with the tree trunks. A cold glass of apple juice came onto my lap. My father smiled and pointed towards the sky, his words lost in my memory. I held my head high, the clouds parting. I thought I was being swallowed up by the sun. It eroded every part of my face, blinding me the more I stared. When I squinted to ease the pain, it became like a flickering flame.

It was the last day of summer when I realized how little I had done. Coming into the city never fazed me. I thought I should have been a good citizen, tour a little and see what made the apartments so grey. I never did like the steps of the streets. Everyone was brushing past me, trying to find something I couldn’t quite understand. They were frantic, their eyes peering into a world I had no business in. Even if I had come into the city, they knew I didn’t belong. Why would I? I couldn’t stand in. Eventually I stopped trying. Except I knew that my parents wouldn’t be so forgiving if their thousand dollar expenditure turned into soot.

The streets were devoid of the usual roaring cars and stampeding feet. My steps lingered in the air. I couldn’t stop noticing them. The burning air wrapped around my arms and legs, wanting to send me to Earth. Taking off any more layers would have been dangerous. Though perhaps it would have made a great story.

The buildings that overlaid every corner were like sentries over the horizon. Large red signs and painted women splattered on every window. Even the street lights and telephone poles lost semblance of their purpose. I nodded to the closed pizza store beside the four way. I stopped to peer under its sign board. Mounds of gum was still stuck there. As I walked up to the edge of the sidewalk I heard the sound of a bell. The rotation of its wheels on the pavement muddled with my footsteps. That sound soothed me. A second more and I would have been sent flying.

“Ah damn it. You’re not hurt are you?” He said, his bike briskly on the hem of my shirt. His voice flew off the air. I laughed when I saw his dead eyes and half strewn hair.

“Really? I thought I was going to get yelled at by another old dude,” he said with a sigh.

“Sorry I couldn’t live up to your expectations,” I answered as he put his bike on stand. He walked towards me and looked over at the stoplights ahead. Not a single car came by. He stretched his hands up into the air, and then began reaching down for his toes.

“You doing some morning exercise too?” He asked as he got up to thrust his back. I turned away. His bike had chipped. The blue paint began to meld into a steel. He had a sticker of an exhaust pipe on the seat tube. I wondered why no one ever told him the price tag was still on the seat post.  My father would have died hearing that.

“Who do you think I am Joel?” I asked as I shrugged. I didn’t know why I was friends with Joel. I bet he couldn’t tell me why either. We just happened to like the same pizza store that ran the four way. I really did wish that someone would point out the price tag on his bike.

“I think you’re the type of guy who would almost get run over by a bike in the morning, Eli.” He brought his face to the glass window of the store. Its darkness pervaded him. He shrugged. I couldn’t help but join him.

“You think they carry their store home?” He asked as he side eyed me. The chairs and tables were set up in rows. The counter was guarded by glass, and the broken clock was still beside the menu.

“Like they bake pies for dinner,” Joel added, his eyes glued to a fly buzzing about. I never did peg the store to be anything but dingy. When I first ordered, it took thirty minutes. Something to do with the oven breaking down. Tasted like cardboard but the cashier gave me a bag of chips for free. They were stale. The water was warm. But I loved the place. Joel shrugged once and went over to take the stand off his bike.

“I better get going. The morning’s young but I’ve got a game to catch.” I almost forgot Joel put fifty on the game at lunch. He was too scared to put a tab on the night show. Said the anxiety would kill him. As he began to roll his bike, I stopped him. He was right. The day was young. Those words reminded me of the sunset I saw back home. I had yet to see one here. He looked at me with raised eyes.

“Mind doing me a quick favor?” He sighed. He had been here ever since he was born. I figured he would know a good spot or two for when I needed to be up there and not down here. He nodded to me.

“You know any good spots around here where you can see the sunrise?” I asked. He snickered. He rolled his bike down onto the streets. The stoplight flashing red. I followed.

“The sunrise?” He looked up towards the buildings that watched over us. His eyes loomed into that rising sky. As we finished crossing, he chuckled.

“The last thing I thought you’d ask me is seeing a sunrise. Actually, that was never on my mind.” He stretched his hand towards the sky, letting out a small groan.

“Come on, let’s go.” He began walking his bike, allowing me to meet his stride. The clouds seemed to mimic our steps as we moved away from the grey of the city. The buildings lowered as the sidewalk began growing vegetation. Wild flowers simmered with the wind. I felt my entire body lighten. I began to construct a narrative for my father. He would have believed anything his sweet little boy told him. Perhaps I had a girlfriend here. Perhaps I stopped my best friend from overdosing drugs. Or perhaps I was just barely getting by, scraping the ends of the street for some semblance of my life. He’d even like that. He never did bring me out to see sunrises after that day. I never got to ask why.

“It’s been so many years since I last saw a sun rise. You’d almost think you couldn’t. But you’d be surprised,” Joel said as he stopped his bike and kicked his stand down. We were standing in front of a construction site. Piles of steel garters, wood, and bags of cement were strewn about near the fence. I couldn’t quite tell what the construction was but before I had time to think, Joel started, “You see that crane there? That’s where we’re headed.” I looked towards the tower crane that stood overlooking the site. Its body ran for the sky, its arm out stretching the length of a two homes. Its steel wanted to glisten.

“There must be some law against sneaking into a construction site,” I said as I followed him up the fence.

“As long as we don’t get caught,” he answered as he plopped onto the dirt. Our feet bellowed a small sand storm.

“Why isn’t anyone here?” I asked as we strode towards the crane.

“That’s a good question. This has always been here ever since I could remember. They’ve never made progress. It’s not even on the news. People just don’t care about it. But it sits here watching,” his words fell into my ears like the soft spluttering of rain. I could hear my home’s chimes as his hands meshed into the steel of the crane. He kicked a line in the dirt before ascending the ladder.

“You know what this was supposed to be?” I asked.

“Who knows. I’ve tried asking. No bites.” The quiet sift of the air brought me back to my home. I forgot I was in the city as we climbed.

“You into sunrises?” He asked as we reached the top. He shifted into a crawl as he went up the lane of the arm. We weren’t high enough to touch the clouds, but as I stretched my arms towards the sky, I wondered if I could. My childhood was ecstatic.

“Not really. I saw one when I was a kid. But that was out in the country.”

“I see. It’d make a good memory seeing one in the city. Not many people can contest that they’ve ever seen the sun,” he said with a chuckle. He sat at the edge of the arm, his legs dangling in a pendulum. I crawled towards him, the steel sending shocks to my skin. I took a whiff of the material. It was rusting. The buildings that surrounded us barely made my eye line.

“Being up here is totally different than being jacked up on a blunt. You can’t really say you’ve been in the clouds until you’re this high. Literally,” he laughed. I couldn’t help but join him.

“Do you have anything like this back home?” Joel asked as he brought his hand towards the steel of the arm, allowing his fingers to trace its dust. Before I answered him, I took a whiff of the air. It was warm no matter where I was.

“There’s an old train station. Rundown place with vines. Cold as hell if you go in. No matter what season it is. There’s an abandoned tunnel in there. I think they wanted to connect the country and city with it,” I answered with a chuckle. My father loved going down there and exploring the tunnels that were never used. Broken glass and ruble lined the floor. The tracks were brown, touching them would have gave us as any number of strange disease.

“Sounds like a hell of a place. If I ever visit the country you should bring me there.”

“Except its nothing like seeing a sunrise. Country sunrises are so–Well, I haven’t seen a city one.” He laughed.

“But I’m sure that no matter where you are, being up here will always feel better than being down there.” He closed his eyes as he brought his hands out. His feet stopped, they hung like necks. The warm winds made me itch for a cold glass. I closed my eyes, and waited. The crane creaked in the ensuing gust. My entire body tightened as my skin wanted to melt itself. As I opened my eyes, I half expected my father’s hand on my head.

“And here it is.” He pointed towards a spot between two buildings where the sky began to bleed yellow. It was as if the world was slowly burning away. It blinded me, and as I squinted to ease the pain, it became like a flickering flame. Somewhere in that painted sky was the distant ocean of my home. But that all faded as the crane churned in our weight. My body shook as I looked down at the dirt. It would be splattered with red if I sneezed. I turned back towards the sunrise. The sky was alive, it made me want to stand, and so I did. Joel didn’t peep a word as he turned to see me with my arms out, fluttering in the wind. I imagined the entirety of that sky swallowing me whole. At least now I had a story to tell.