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Written by rh in portal Simon & Schuster

daylight/divided

He heard it the moment both his feet landed on the tile floor, the music that drifted through the darkness. Aaron crouched there, letting his eyes adjust and watching the dust swirl through the threads of light that poured their way through rents in thick concrete and brick walls wrought by time’s neglect. He had found an opening in the building through a window outside covered by thin plywood that gave with little effort. There were dozens of hard plastic tables layered with soot, their colors alternating between faded shades of the primary colors and lined up in symmetrical aisles that centered themselves in front of a wide stage set two feet off the ground. This was the school’s cafeteria. He caught the name of the piece that was playing-- Debussy, and horribly out of tune. The felt hammers of the piano fell upon the steel strings in a lazy, uneven, way, ringing along the walls and through the halls of the old Oleander Elementary. The new school had been built five miles south to replace this one years ago after a fire devoured an entire wing of the building, reducing the U shape to an L. Aaron tried not to concern himself with the number of school children and staff. Numbers meant a great deal to the living but not to the dead, and the dead is who he had his business with.

He reached into the cargo net of his backpack and pulled out a flashlight, moving it in slow arcs throughout the room. Aaron knew he was seen already, he could always feel them stare. Not here, he thought, and then began to walk down the center aisle toward the stage. The fire had taken place between breakfast and lunch, there was to be an assembly that day, wood props of trees and homes were set, the crimson colored curtains drawn back. The dust patterns on the stage told him that the curtains had just been pulled. The piano continued to play, verse by verse in that clumsy way; here, Aaron knew, something strong would be laid to rest today. No echoes. Any sound Aaron made was suffocated the moment it escaped by a weight pressing against him in the school, a gravity.

“I’m here to help.” His voice was calm, but still audible. Aaron tried again, “I’m here to help.” This time, only ‘I’m’ and ‘to’ were heard.

I want to help, he said. This time it worked. The curtains and rod fell and landed with a sharp crack that was smothered at once.

Show me where, Aaron said, his voice stolen before it could know the air.

Show me. The school bell began to ring, muted, but still audible.

Thank you, I’ll be quick. Aaron followed the bell out of the cafeteria and into the hall. He crossed the entire length of the first floor, pushing open doors that had been shut for decades and running the tips of his fingers across the rusted desks. Climbing up the steps to the second floor the bell became louder. He took the ascent with care, over the years he had seen much and his recklessness was often punished. Aaron had to be more careful, he was a father now, and over-confidence was no longer on the table. Reaching the top step, the bell became clear. If you were to stand outside, you would never know it was happening. Every step Aaron took was like lens finding focus in the distance. He walked down the second floor hall toward the severed end of the school. A patchwork of tarps had been placed over the exposed roof eaten by flame with the intention of preserving whatever it was inside for history. No one could agree that museum and memorial may as well mean the same thing. 

A storm had blown in the previous night and unbound half the clasps that held the tarp to the roof, leaving the furthest end of the hall exposed to the open air. The bell stopped ringing once Aaron was beneath the rotten and scared roof, but the piano was as loud as ever. No use for the flashlight now, its bulb now a dim flicker.

I want to help, Aaron repeated, each word spilling to another time. There was an anger here and he knew he wouldn’t be breathing soon. No matter how many times he did this, in all the years, he was intoxicated by the cocktail of panic, adrenaline, and excitement that blooms just before let it seize him. The sky was bare but the light seemed to spiral, casting shadows that swirled around him. Colors dulled not by dust or time but by unseen gears that turn silent clocks. It’s a strong one, Aaron thought, and it’s about to get a whole lot stronger. He could hear in the empty rooms the sound of tables sliding across the wooden floor and calm voices that urged everyone to line up in a by the door. The small hammers of the school bell swelled to a fever pitch.

Aaron stood at the building's jagged edge, looking out into the field where what remained of the school rested like charred bones of a great beast. Aaron could no longer breathe. His hands remained still beside his sides while he blinked hard into the open air. The music ceased and with it, Aaron’s heart. He fell forward, one arm spilling over the edge, while his eyes adjusted. The crisp mountain air that rushed in his open mouth soon tasted of smoke and ash. His eyes refocused and saw the heavy billows of smoke traveling through the corridor. He stayed low and began to crawl across the floor, his limbs too weak to do any more. Children hurried passed him with staff members as shepherds. Many of them met his gaze, some even stopped long enough to look upon him with wide curious eyes before being shoved from behind to keep moving. His legs felt stronger. Aaron crawled to the edge of the hallway and used the wall to help him stand. Closer, just a little closer. Fire crawled along the ceiling in small rolling waves and Aaron knew that his time was short.

Where are you? He asked, before turning around and walking back. The only door he found closed was marked 212. Here. The knob was hot to the touch. He pulled one of his sleeves over his hand and quickly gave it a twist. Inside he saw a ring of children, twelve in number and none over the age of seven, gathered in the center of the room with joined hands. At the middle of the circle was a woman slumped on the floor. As Aaron walked into the classroom every pair of round eyes turned look to him.

--You don’t belong here the door is too hot to open we don’t know what happened to her you don’t belong here neither does he it hurts to breathe why did they leave us you don’t belong here help us help us help us is she hurt help you don’t belong here—

It will be over soon, Aaron said. He could feel a heavy breath wash over him as the flame began to eat through the walls and ceiling. The children broke their circle and spread a little wider so that Aaron could join them. He sat crossing his legs before holding up his hands to join them, his large palms engulfing their tiny fists like stones. From here Aaron recognized the woman and saw her leg and hands twitching. Looking at them he said-- Stay with me. Each of you will see a stream and when you do, step into its water. There, you will find your release. Keep your eyes on me. Don’t let go. There they waited while the fire spread across the walls and then, in a violent burst, the air was sucked out of their small mouths and fed the flame that swirled around the room setting all to cinder. They could not scream, but they felt the searing. Neither of them let the other go and the world would never know their courage.

I’m so sorry. Aaron felt the grip on his hands tighten; tiny finger nails digging deep into his flesh, while the fire swept them up off the ground for a moment. This would be what he would remember the most: suspended in the air with joined hands, all eyes on him searching for the river he promised as the fire blackened them to ash. What fell back onto the floor was him and nothing else. Aaron blinked hard again and saw himself rolling on the ground, again on the edge of the severed school. The colors looked a little brighter and the light from beyond the building’s ruin poured over his cold body. 

His heart returned to life with sharp raps against the bone of his chest, stumbling before catching rhythm. He couldn’t keep his hands from shaking. Aaron swatted at his body while rolling around the floor, half-believing he was still on fire. Looking at his palms he could see the small crescent shaped marks of fingernails that did indeed draw blood.

From the edge of the building he spotted his station wagon and the toddler’s car seat strapped into the back. Aaron leaned forward, pressing his head against the cold floor and began to weep. He saw himself in the air, looking into their eyes and wide mouths.

He felt himself being pulled down the hall, away from the building's edge, slow at first and then lifting from the floor altogether. Arrested by grief and disbelief while spinning backwards at a speed gaining in momentum. This isn’t supposed to be happening, Aaron said to himself while sailing across the darkening hall. He spun his floating body around and saw the wall at the hall’s end fast approaching. Closing his eyes he put both hands forward and tried to press against the gravity pulling him. The tiles on the wall fell around him while landing with a thump. Aaron rolled onto his stomach, trying to pick himself up before he was pulled into the air again and hurled down the hall toward the opposite end where there was nothing to stop him.

“Shit.”

The hall grew darker the closer he came to the exposed end of the building. The heavy breath he felt wash over him in the class room now made a sublime kind of sense. Five feet from being flung out into the open air to his death his feet began to drag along the floor. He dug the rubber bottom of his heels and leaned back. Three feet away he slowed further and just before spilling over the edge he stopped, falling backward with his sweat-drenched clothes sticking to his skin. The world around him went black in the way a room appears as you fall into sleep. The building groaned and buckled, as if it would collapse upon itself, then nothing more.

He stood up, his muscles and limbs in knots. He found his backpack halfway down the stairs-- its contents exposed-- which he gathered together while trying to slow his heart down. He fell out of the window he came in, covering his arms and jeans in mud, then carried himself across the tall grass to his car waiting in the old parking lot.

After fishing around his pockets for the car keys he remembered that he had kept them in the bag. Reaching into the backseat he felt the car rock side to side though none of the trees around him swayed. He plucked his keys out of the small zippered pocket at the top of the bag and started the car. The engine stuttered and a white smoke crept out from beneath the hood. Switching the radio off, Aaron drove in silence through the winding country roads that led back to the highway.

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Simon & Schuster is one of the world’s leading publishers and we are always looking for fresh new voices. Write a story, chapter, or essay about whatever you like. The 50 best entries will be announced by Prose and read by our editorial staff for consideration.
Written by rh in portal Simon & Schuster
daylight/divided
He heard it the moment both his feet landed on the tile floor, the music that drifted through the darkness. Aaron crouched there, letting his eyes adjust and watching the dust swirl through the threads of light that poured their way through rents in thick concrete and brick walls wrought by time’s neglect. He had found an opening in the building through a window outside covered by thin plywood that gave with little effort. There were dozens of hard plastic tables layered with soot, their colors alternating between faded shades of the primary colors and lined up in symmetrical aisles that centered themselves in front of a wide stage set two feet off the ground. This was the school’s cafeteria. He caught the name of the piece that was playing-- Debussy, and horribly out of tune. The felt hammers of the piano fell upon the steel strings in a lazy, uneven, way, ringing along the walls and through the halls of the old Oleander Elementary. The new school had been built five miles south to replace this one years ago after a fire devoured an entire wing of the building, reducing the U shape to an L. Aaron tried not to concern himself with the number of school children and staff. Numbers meant a great deal to the living but not to the dead, and the dead is who he had his business with.

He reached into the cargo net of his backpack and pulled out a flashlight, moving it in slow arcs throughout the room. Aaron knew he was seen already, he could always feel them stare. Not here, he thought, and then began to walk down the center aisle toward the stage. The fire had taken place between breakfast and lunch, there was to be an assembly that day, wood props of trees and homes were set, the crimson colored curtains drawn back. The dust patterns on the stage told him that the curtains had just been pulled. The piano continued to play, verse by verse in that clumsy way; here, Aaron knew, something strong would be laid to rest today. No echoes. Any sound Aaron made was suffocated the moment it escaped by a weight pressing against him in the school, a gravity.

“I’m here to help.” His voice was calm, but still audible. Aaron tried again, “I’m here to help.” This time, only ‘I’m’ and ‘to’ were heard.
I want to help, he said. This time it worked. The curtains and rod fell and landed with a sharp crack that was smothered at once.
Show me where, Aaron said, his voice stolen before it could know the air.
Show me. The school bell began to ring, muted, but still audible.
Thank you, I’ll be quick. Aaron followed the bell out of the cafeteria and into the hall. He crossed the entire length of the first floor, pushing open doors that had been shut for decades and running the tips of his fingers across the rusted desks. Climbing up the steps to the second floor the bell became louder. He took the ascent with care, over the years he had seen much and his recklessness was often punished. Aaron had to be more careful, he was a father now, and over-confidence was no longer on the table. Reaching the top step, the bell became clear. If you were to stand outside, you would never know it was happening. Every step Aaron took was like lens finding focus in the distance. He walked down the second floor hall toward the severed end of the school. A patchwork of tarps had been placed over the exposed roof eaten by flame with the intention of preserving whatever it was inside for history. No one could agree that museum and memorial may as well mean the same thing. 

A storm had blown in the previous night and unbound half the clasps that held the tarp to the roof, leaving the furthest end of the hall exposed to the open air. The bell stopped ringing once Aaron was beneath the rotten and scared roof, but the piano was as loud as ever. No use for the flashlight now, its bulb now a dim flicker.
I want to help, Aaron repeated, each word spilling to another time. There was an anger here and he knew he wouldn’t be breathing soon. No matter how many times he did this, in all the years, he was intoxicated by the cocktail of panic, adrenaline, and excitement that blooms just before let it seize him. The sky was bare but the light seemed to spiral, casting shadows that swirled around him. Colors dulled not by dust or time but by unseen gears that turn silent clocks. It’s a strong one, Aaron thought, and it’s about to get a whole lot stronger. He could hear in the empty rooms the sound of tables sliding across the wooden floor and calm voices that urged everyone to line up in a by the door. The small hammers of the school bell swelled to a fever pitch.

Aaron stood at the building's jagged edge, looking out into the field where what remained of the school rested like charred bones of a great beast. Aaron could no longer breathe. His hands remained still beside his sides while he blinked hard into the open air. The music ceased and with it, Aaron’s heart. He fell forward, one arm spilling over the edge, while his eyes adjusted. The crisp mountain air that rushed in his open mouth soon tasted of smoke and ash. His eyes refocused and saw the heavy billows of smoke traveling through the corridor. He stayed low and began to crawl across the floor, his limbs too weak to do any more. Children hurried passed him with staff members as shepherds. Many of them met his gaze, some even stopped long enough to look upon him with wide curious eyes before being shoved from behind to keep moving. His legs felt stronger. Aaron crawled to the edge of the hallway and used the wall to help him stand. Closer, just a little closer. Fire crawled along the ceiling in small rolling waves and Aaron knew that his time was short.

Where are you? He asked, before turning around and walking back. The only door he found closed was marked 212. Here. The knob was hot to the touch. He pulled one of his sleeves over his hand and quickly gave it a twist. Inside he saw a ring of children, twelve in number and none over the age of seven, gathered in the center of the room with joined hands. At the middle of the circle was a woman slumped on the floor. As Aaron walked into the classroom every pair of round eyes turned look to him.

--You don’t belong here the door is too hot to open we don’t know what happened to her you don’t belong here neither does he it hurts to breathe why did they leave us you don’t belong here help us help us help us is she hurt help you don’t belong here—

It will be over soon, Aaron said. He could feel a heavy breath wash over him as the flame began to eat through the walls and ceiling. The children broke their circle and spread a little wider so that Aaron could join them. He sat crossing his legs before holding up his hands to join them, his large palms engulfing their tiny fists like stones. From here Aaron recognized the woman and saw her leg and hands twitching. Looking at them he said-- Stay with me. Each of you will see a stream and when you do, step into its water. There, you will find your release. Keep your eyes on me. Don’t let go. There they waited while the fire spread across the walls and then, in a violent burst, the air was sucked out of their small mouths and fed the flame that swirled around the room setting all to cinder. They could not scream, but they felt the searing. Neither of them let the other go and the world would never know their courage.

I’m so sorry. Aaron felt the grip on his hands tighten; tiny finger nails digging deep into his flesh, while the fire swept them up off the ground for a moment. This would be what he would remember the most: suspended in the air with joined hands, all eyes on him searching for the river he promised as the fire blackened them to ash. What fell back onto the floor was him and nothing else. Aaron blinked hard again and saw himself rolling on the ground, again on the edge of the severed school. The colors looked a little brighter and the light from beyond the building’s ruin poured over his cold body. 

His heart returned to life with sharp raps against the bone of his chest, stumbling before catching rhythm. He couldn’t keep his hands from shaking. Aaron swatted at his body while rolling around the floor, half-believing he was still on fire. Looking at his palms he could see the small crescent shaped marks of fingernails that did indeed draw blood.

From the edge of the building he spotted his station wagon and the toddler’s car seat strapped into the back. Aaron leaned forward, pressing his head against the cold floor and began to weep. He saw himself in the air, looking into their eyes and wide mouths.
He felt himself being pulled down the hall, away from the building's edge, slow at first and then lifting from the floor altogether. Arrested by grief and disbelief while spinning backwards at a speed gaining in momentum. This isn’t supposed to be happening, Aaron said to himself while sailing across the darkening hall. He spun his floating body around and saw the wall at the hall’s end fast approaching. Closing his eyes he put both hands forward and tried to press against the gravity pulling him. The tiles on the wall fell around him while landing with a thump. Aaron rolled onto his stomach, trying to pick himself up before he was pulled into the air again and hurled down the hall toward the opposite end where there was nothing to stop him.

“Shit.”

The hall grew darker the closer he came to the exposed end of the building. The heavy breath he felt wash over him in the class room now made a sublime kind of sense. Five feet from being flung out into the open air to his death his feet began to drag along the floor. He dug the rubber bottom of his heels and leaned back. Three feet away he slowed further and just before spilling over the edge he stopped, falling backward with his sweat-drenched clothes sticking to his skin. The world around him went black in the way a room appears as you fall into sleep. The building groaned and buckled, as if it would collapse upon itself, then nothing more.

He stood up, his muscles and limbs in knots. He found his backpack halfway down the stairs-- its contents exposed-- which he gathered together while trying to slow his heart down. He fell out of the window he came in, covering his arms and jeans in mud, then carried himself across the tall grass to his car waiting in the old parking lot.
After fishing around his pockets for the car keys he remembered that he had kept them in the bag. Reaching into the backseat he felt the car rock side to side though none of the trees around him swayed. He plucked his keys out of the small zippered pocket at the top of the bag and started the car. The engine stuttered and a white smoke crept out from beneath the hood. Switching the radio off, Aaron drove in silence through the winding country roads that led back to the highway.
#excerpt  #workinprogress  #fuckery  #backinblack 
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Written by Prose in portal Prose

Later, Chris.

     Rome. 2016, March. Hadn't seen him since the '90s. Drunk on being away from the States, drunk on red and white wine, and a stomach gorged with in-house pasta, bread, and anything else I could get my hands on. Alley, restaurant. Trevi fountain checked off. Young Italian girls waving Americans in to their restaurants. A brothel feel. I want to go into the story about the two Italians fighting over the check. The owner and a drunk patron. I want to go into the gelato after, the air of Rome, the bricks of the alleys. But I can't. Rare to see this profile written in first person, but this is different. Like Rome is different. Lost there. Must gaze upon the Pantheon during the first rays of moonlight. 

Lost there. Around a blind corner I nearly walked into Cornell. The man was tall. I'm 6'1 and he loomed over me. We glanced at each other, I registered the situation, and kept moving. GPS called me a moron in code, so I followed Cornell and his wife, and their little girl. I wasn't listening but I was. He was telling his girl about how life is in Italy. I heard, "In Italy..." then the crowd around us absorbed the rest. A few people took fast second looks, and then went back to their tables, their drinks, their own trips and lives.

     In Rome no one cares who you are. 

     Quite a beautiful feeling.    

     Rome is different.

    Crossing back toward where I had to go. Losing light. The Sun becoming the Moon, and I'm standing there then, staring at the street that I would cross to my hotel, to give up, but I'm feeling too fine, and I'm in Rome. I'm in fucking ROME. Not to sound incredulous. I put my phone to my ear to hear the directions, looked down the street. Cornell. Giving me a skeptical but not-so-sure stare, a sideways check. It would appear I was following them, but I wasn't. It didn't bother me. I laughed ahead. Rome is different. He disappeared down the street with his family, and I realized I'd been going the right way the whole time. Turned back, walked and thought about it. I could have had a conversation with him, I could have dropped one name. His parents lived next door to my friend's parents here in West Seattle. He'd skated with Cornell, and once told me he and his parents would watch Cornell mowing his parents' lawn from upstairs, even after Soundgarden took off. We could have had a conversation away from the music, the words, just two dudes from here laughing about the suddenness of meeting in Rome with such far-reaching connections to the past. What stopped me from shaking his hand? I would like to fall back on ego, but it was only ego in the sense that I didn't want to be a fan, a number, even with a rare connection. 

     But the truth is I am a fan. And though I don't believe in regretting something you've already done, I should have shaken his hand. I didn't have to tell him that his lyrics were brilliant, his voice one of the most distinctive in all remembered time, or any of that bullshit people like him, the few of them, hear and have to deflect or appropriate when they're out in the world. I also simply didn't want to interrupt him or his family while they walked in peace as the Moon rose over Rome. 

     

     I found the Pantheon, young moonlight. Breath stolen. 

     This morning I awoke to a text from my buddy, Dave. Four words and an abbreviation: Dude, Chris Cornell died. WTF?

     Tap google. 52. Suspected suicide. No matter, he's gone. They all go, they don't live long enough to see themselves shine like the rest see them. And they don't care. Sitting here now, blasting Louder Than Love, and sending my best thoughts to his family. 

     Bukowski once said in a letter, "Death isn't a problem for the deceased, it's a problem for the living." Or something like that. Looking back on the dead artists of the last few years, Cornell hits pretty hard. 52 years old.

     Much love to his people. Hands All Over just started. I need more coffee, and to kiss my dogs. 

     Outside it's grey and bright and warm. 

     

     

     

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Written by Prose in portal Prose
Later, Chris.
     Rome. 2016, March. Hadn't seen him since the '90s. Drunk on being away from the States, drunk on red and white wine, and a stomach gorged with in-house pasta, bread, and anything else I could get my hands on. Alley, restaurant. Trevi fountain checked off. Young Italian girls waving Americans in to their restaurants. A brothel feel. I want to go into the story about the two Italians fighting over the check. The owner and a drunk patron. I want to go into the gelato after, the air of Rome, the bricks of the alleys. But I can't. Rare to see this profile written in first person, but this is different. Like Rome is different. Lost there. Must gaze upon the Pantheon during the first rays of moonlight. 
Lost there. Around a blind corner I nearly walked into Cornell. The man was tall. I'm 6'1 and he loomed over me. We glanced at each other, I registered the situation, and kept moving. GPS called me a moron in code, so I followed Cornell and his wife, and their little girl. I wasn't listening but I was. He was telling his girl about how life is in Italy. I heard, "In Italy..." then the crowd around us absorbed the rest. A few people took fast second looks, and then went back to their tables, their drinks, their own trips and lives.
     In Rome no one cares who you are. 
     Quite a beautiful feeling.    
     Rome is different.
    Crossing back toward where I had to go. Losing light. The Sun becoming the Moon, and I'm standing there then, staring at the street that I would cross to my hotel, to give up, but I'm feeling too fine, and I'm in Rome. I'm in fucking ROME. Not to sound incredulous. I put my phone to my ear to hear the directions, looked down the street. Cornell. Giving me a skeptical but not-so-sure stare, a sideways check. It would appear I was following them, but I wasn't. It didn't bother me. I laughed ahead. Rome is different. He disappeared down the street with his family, and I realized I'd been going the right way the whole time. Turned back, walked and thought about it. I could have had a conversation with him, I could have dropped one name. His parents lived next door to my friend's parents here in West Seattle. He'd skated with Cornell, and once told me he and his parents would watch Cornell mowing his parents' lawn from upstairs, even after Soundgarden took off. We could have had a conversation away from the music, the words, just two dudes from here laughing about the suddenness of meeting in Rome with such far-reaching connections to the past. What stopped me from shaking his hand? I would like to fall back on ego, but it was only ego in the sense that I didn't want to be a fan, a number, even with a rare connection. 
     But the truth is I am a fan. And though I don't believe in regretting something you've already done, I should have shaken his hand. I didn't have to tell him that his lyrics were brilliant, his voice one of the most distinctive in all remembered time, or any of that bullshit people like him, the few of them, hear and have to deflect or appropriate when they're out in the world. I also simply didn't want to interrupt him or his family while they walked in peace as the Moon rose over Rome. 
     
     I found the Pantheon, young moonlight. Breath stolen. 

     This morning I awoke to a text from my buddy, Dave. Four words and an abbreviation: Dude, Chris Cornell died. WTF?
     Tap google. 52. Suspected suicide. No matter, he's gone. They all go, they don't live long enough to see themselves shine like the rest see them. And they don't care. Sitting here now, blasting Louder Than Love, and sending my best thoughts to his family. 
     Bukowski once said in a letter, "Death isn't a problem for the deceased, it's a problem for the living." Or something like that. Looking back on the dead artists of the last few years, Cornell hits pretty hard. 52 years old.

     Much love to his people. Hands All Over just started. I need more coffee, and to kiss my dogs. 

     Outside it's grey and bright and warm. 
     
     

     
#culture 
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Written by Prose in portal Prose

White rabbit.

      Austin, 2014. An idea was born into the streets. Two men walking, teeth dry from the ways of liquor. One stares in front. Downtown festival. Talks to the city ahead, but to the one walking next to him.

     I have an idea for an app. 

    Small city, the grey heat. Overcast no match. No hope to burn off the film from the damage last night. Hotel lounge, hair of the dog. The city had grown, and they were strangers now, each waiting to leave there, one by plane, one by car and dog. Talks of Prose., the font. Talks of why it would work, a family the size of a world. Strangers yet not quite. Revolt against apathy. Earned things, lost in paces too fast to retain soul, to keep their light. Drinks and words, the lobby bar turned museum for the old death of the words eaten by technology. A way out through a way back in. 

     We are all here now. 

     Thank you for being here with us. 

     Thank you.  

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Written by Prose in portal Prose
White rabbit.
      Austin, 2014. An idea was born into the streets. Two men walking, teeth dry from the ways of liquor. One stares in front. Downtown festival. Talks to the city ahead, but to the one walking next to him.
     I have an idea for an app. 
    Small city, the grey heat. Overcast no match. No hope to burn off the film from the damage last night. Hotel lounge, hair of the dog. The city had grown, and they were strangers now, each waiting to leave there, one by plane, one by car and dog. Talks of Prose., the font. Talks of why it would work, a family the size of a world. Strangers yet not quite. Revolt against apathy. Earned things, lost in paces too fast to retain soul, to keep their light. Drinks and words, the lobby bar turned museum for the old death of the words eaten by technology. A way out through a way back in. 
     We are all here now. 
     Thank you for being here with us. 
     Thank you.  
#prose  #culture 
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Written by Prose in portal Prose

Estimados Bastardos Magníficas

     It’s true. 

     Shots of bourbon in our coffee lead to reverence for you in the voice of Neruda.

     Where to begin? Does anyone who asks that question not know where to begin?

     We’ll start.

     Swift but graceful changes here at Prose. Our coder, while also knee-deep in slaying dragons and winning digital hills on rendered battlefields, is working on new features as this is being typed. Keep your eyes peeled. In another change, call it a red sun rising, we’re taking the app to 18 and over after the next update. Any young guns existing won’t need to worry, and should anyone under 18 sneak past the doorman and smooth-talk the bartender into a drink with no ID then you probably belong here, anyway. 

    

     Many more things to appear on the horizon.

    

     Stay tuned. Stay hungry.

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Written by Prose in portal Prose
Estimados Bastardos Magníficas
     It’s true. 
     Shots of bourbon in our coffee lead to reverence for you in the voice of Neruda.
     Where to begin? Does anyone who asks that question not know where to begin?
     We’ll start.
     Swift but graceful changes here at Prose. Our coder, while also knee-deep in slaying dragons and winning digital hills on rendered battlefields, is working on new features as this is being typed. Keep your eyes peeled. In another change, call it a red sun rising, we’re taking the app to 18 and over after the next update. Any young guns existing won’t need to worry, and should anyone under 18 sneak past the doorman and smooth-talk the bartender into a drink with no ID then you probably belong here, anyway. 
    
     Many more things to appear on the horizon.
    
     Stay tuned. Stay hungry.
#nonfiction  #prose  #news  #culture 
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Written by Iseun1

Ice for the broken

I'm writing currently with my left hand. Thank God for autocorrect because this is just unacceptable. My right index finger feels broken, but the nurse just has ice on it. I believe that's because she wants to enhance the pain I already feel.

To the right of me in this pit of despair (ie the nurses' office) is a mouth breather. Not sure why he's here, but he needs to shut it. I sit with one leg folded underneath the other; I'm wearing these Aladdin type pants that prevent me from sitting well. And nurse beds are super wide. 

Plus, my hand hurts, so I can't adjust anything or move without dropping all my stuff. 

I hurt my hand, because I got into a fight today. Over a stupid bag of chips. I mean, Drake had a point when he said "all you niggas fightin' over crumbs where the bread at?". I took a chip from him. An invasion of privacy, I know. Never touch another man's food, I KNOW. You done fucked up Ethan, GOD DAMN IT I KNOW! But why you gotta punch someone in the face over it?

So, in my defense -although I did instigate- he hit me first. I punched him back, which was sort of instant bad Karma for me, because I think I hurt myself more than I hurt him. I'm not even sure if it hurt him, but then again the adrenaline was rushing, and I felt no pain until afterwards either. I felt the shakes first. My hand trembled like one of those dogs with canine distemper. Then a stabbing pain that made my eyes wince and I hobbled around holding myself, because I have never really punched anyone before.

I am glad, however, that I landed a punch, because it's a pride issue. I'm not gonna lose my first fight without getting any hits in. Plus, I wanted to see my strength. I realize now, maybe I need more calcium.

My dad picked me up from school. I think he was more mad that I made him late to a meeting than actually being in the fight. (One because it was my first, and Two I only got in trouble because I defended myself.) I think he was secretly proud that his first born finally manned up (although it was his immaturity that got him there).

So now I sit, writing this. The ice is burning my skin. My hand is so numb, and yet, I wear this spectacular grin. Yes, I wince from the pain. Yes, I am embarrassed that I made a fool of myself. So why am I smiling?

I honestly, have no idea.

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Written by Iseun1
Ice for the broken
I'm writing currently with my left hand. Thank God for autocorrect because this is just unacceptable. My right index finger feels broken, but the nurse just has ice on it. I believe that's because she wants to enhance the pain I already feel.

To the right of me in this pit of despair (ie the nurses' office) is a mouth breather. Not sure why he's here, but he needs to shut it. I sit with one leg folded underneath the other; I'm wearing these Aladdin type pants that prevent me from sitting well. And nurse beds are super wide. 

Plus, my hand hurts, so I can't adjust anything or move without dropping all my stuff. 

I hurt my hand, because I got into a fight today. Over a stupid bag of chips. I mean, Drake had a point when he said "all you niggas fightin' over crumbs where the bread at?". I took a chip from him. An invasion of privacy, I know. Never touch another man's food, I KNOW. You done fucked up Ethan, GOD DAMN IT I KNOW! But why you gotta punch someone in the face over it?

So, in my defense -although I did instigate- he hit me first. I punched him back, which was sort of instant bad Karma for me, because I think I hurt myself more than I hurt him. I'm not even sure if it hurt him, but then again the adrenaline was rushing, and I felt no pain until afterwards either. I felt the shakes first. My hand trembled like one of those dogs with canine distemper. Then a stabbing pain that made my eyes wince and I hobbled around holding myself, because I have never really punched anyone before.

I am glad, however, that I landed a punch, because it's a pride issue. I'm not gonna lose my first fight without getting any hits in. Plus, I wanted to see my strength. I realize now, maybe I need more calcium.

My dad picked me up from school. I think he was more mad that I made him late to a meeting than actually being in the fight. (One because it was my first, and Two I only got in trouble because I defended myself.) I think he was secretly proud that his first born finally manned up (although it was his immaturity that got him there).

So now I sit, writing this. The ice is burning my skin. My hand is so numb, and yet, I wear this spectacular grin. Yes, I wince from the pain. Yes, I am embarrassed that I made a fool of myself. So why am I smiling?

I honestly, have no idea.
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///// Nightdwellers 'Beginning Line' Challenge (April) ///// Write a piece of literature with the beginning line ‘Twilight, and the ocean breaks…’ Tag it #nightdwellers #beginningline. http://www.facebook.com/groups/NightdwellersWrites/
Written by AtMilliways

Trust

“Twilight, and the ocean breaks on the pylons of the dock like that,” Valencia told me, pointing out the rough chop of the water. “That's the best time. I'll show you the rest later, you need to eat now.”

I nodded weakly, and even that hurt my pounding, swimming head. It felt awful and I was starting to think that I'd made a huge mistake. Not that I could take it back… I shouldn't have trusted her, this tall dark-haired Amazon with her musical accent that I still couldn't place.

She helped me down to a sitting position on the dock and smoothed my damp hair back from my hot forehead and temples. Her touch was so soft, so concerned, that I closed my eyes automatically and leaned into her hands. Then she kissed me briefly on the mouth, stood up, and stepped off the end of the dock into the water with barely a splash.

From the first night I'd seen her she had fascinated me to the point of distraction. It was on a Lesbian Wine Tasting tour. When I asked around discretely to find who she was, no one knew. She wasn't part of the group. The next night at another special after-dark tasting there she was again, and from somewhere inside myself I plucked up enough nerve to take the spot next to her and strike up a conversation. She told me her name was Valencia and that she was originally from Europe, though she was coy about exactly where or when she’d moved to America. As we leaned closer into each other, locked in our own private bubble of conversation, she'd touched the small of my back with the hand not attending to her wine glass. The contact sent delectable shivers along my spine that pooled in my belly. The next night we blew off tasting and had dinner together instead, and by the dessert course her hand was up my skirt and teasing up the inside of my thighs. In my hotel room I spread my legs wide and let her taste me, because she'd been dropping little hints about that all night. It was so exquisite, her fingers and tongue playing me with expert precision until my knees were so wobbly I don't think they would've held me up if I'd tried to stand. But that hadn’t been the kind of tasting she’d meant.

One more time she'd asked if she could taste me. She asked if I trusted her, and I said yes.

It was too late to do anything about that now.

The dark closed in around me as twilight faded into true night. Without quite deciding to lay down I found myself stretched out on the dock, the rough wood pressed against my cheek, Valencia’s kiss still tingling against my lips like a promise. How long had she been gone? I felt too weak to get back up on my own and had no choice but to wait. I felt like I was dying all over again.

Even at the start it had hurt, a piercing pain that started where my neck and shoulder met and lanced straight down to my heart. I think… I think if I hadn't been so relaxed I would have tensed, it would have hurt more. Within seconds I couldn't move at all. The pain slowly faded, everything faded. Her body moved over mine and I couldn't see. Her lips slid over mine and she urged me to taste. It felt like I was falling and I was so scared, I did what she told me to because she was the only lifeline I had to grab onto. She told me to drink; I did. After that I didn't remember much.

It felt like hours before Valencia returned, hauling something nearly twice her size up the dockside ladder. She threw it down and I thought I saw it flinch weakly, but there was this smell. This intoxicating, rich, warm smell drifting from it on the cool salt breeze. Before I even knew what the thing was I began crawling towards it.

Valencia, dripping wet, helped me get to it. The thing was radiating heat and I felt so cold. She guided my hands to hold onto it and my mouth to a dark, dripping spot . The best thing I've ever tasted flowed over my tongue, down my throat. Then I could feel it trying to struggle. Useless little tremors that only made me grip harder, digging in with my teeth for better purchase. The more I drank, the more the pounding in my head subsided, and the stronger I began to feel. I began to feel… alive.

By the time I let go it had stopped moving and I knew what it was. I wiped my hand over my wet lips and it came away bloody in the moonlight. I licked my lips and it tasted divine.

“Did I just eat a seal?” I asked shakily. It hadn't occurred to me that I would like the taste so much, and the dead-fish smell might have made me feel sick to my stomach if the blood hadn't made me feel so sated and whole.

“Sea lion,” Valencia replied. She sat beside me, turned to let her legs hang off the side of the dock. “See the external ear flaps? Seals don't have those.”

I took a deep, slow breath and dropped my head into my hands. “Why?”

“Look.” She pointed out across the water and I looked up to see fin tips cutting through the choppy waves. It should have been too dark but even so, to my eyes it was as though the scene was bathed in daylight. “Blood is in the water. We take the blood but not the body.” She reached back and dragged it to the edge with one hand, effortlessly tipping it down into the water. “The sea will take it back. It's neater this way. Besides, starting you on other blood is better. It'll help you keep your head around humans, help keep you able to make your own choices.”

“No.” I shook my head, looking down at my blood soaked hands that I could see too well in the dark. They didn't even cast shadows sitting there on my lap. “Why did you this to— hic!”

My hand flew to my mouth before I had a chance to register the absurdity of manners at this point.

Valencia patted my shoulder. “It's okay, you just ate too fast. Everybody does the first few times.”

Another hiccup burst out and I couldn't help it; I giggled. My fingers were buzzing and the sudden lack of heavy pounding in my temples made my head feel as light as a balloon. Once the giggling nervous giggling started, though, I couldn’t stop. It just kept coming in between hiccups, and sounded more and more hysterical with each passing second. The taste in my mouth was blood. I had sucked the blood out of something until it died.

Then her arms were around me, rocking me back and forth.

“Why did you do this to me? I was a vegetarian for god's sake,” I gasped, and buried my face in her hair as I cried. Her hair smelled of salt, damp, and remaining hints of tea tree shampoo.

“You reminded me of someone.” Valencia held me tighter. “I won't say I'm sorry, because I’m not. I want you with me. But I'll take care of you, I promise. Just trust me.”

I didn't know if I could. But she was the only lifeline I had left to hold onto. 

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///// Nightdwellers 'Beginning Line' Challenge (April) ///// Write a piece of literature with the beginning line ‘Twilight, and the ocean breaks…’ Tag it #nightdwellers #beginningline. http://www.facebook.com/groups/NightdwellersWrites/
Written by AtMilliways
Trust
“Twilight, and the ocean breaks on the pylons of the dock like that,” Valencia told me, pointing out the rough chop of the water. “That's the best time. I'll show you the rest later, you need to eat now.”

I nodded weakly, and even that hurt my pounding, swimming head. It felt awful and I was starting to think that I'd made a huge mistake. Not that I could take it back… I shouldn't have trusted her, this tall dark-haired Amazon with her musical accent that I still couldn't place.

She helped me down to a sitting position on the dock and smoothed my damp hair back from my hot forehead and temples. Her touch was so soft, so concerned, that I closed my eyes automatically and leaned into her hands. Then she kissed me briefly on the mouth, stood up, and stepped off the end of the dock into the water with barely a splash.

From the first night I'd seen her she had fascinated me to the point of distraction. It was on a Lesbian Wine Tasting tour. When I asked around discretely to find who she was, no one knew. She wasn't part of the group. The next night at another special after-dark tasting there she was again, and from somewhere inside myself I plucked up enough nerve to take the spot next to her and strike up a conversation. She told me her name was Valencia and that she was originally from Europe, though she was coy about exactly where or when she’d moved to America. As we leaned closer into each other, locked in our own private bubble of conversation, she'd touched the small of my back with the hand not attending to her wine glass. The contact sent delectable shivers along my spine that pooled in my belly. The next night we blew off tasting and had dinner together instead, and by the dessert course her hand was up my skirt and teasing up the inside of my thighs. In my hotel room I spread my legs wide and let her taste me, because she'd been dropping little hints about that all night. It was so exquisite, her fingers and tongue playing me with expert precision until my knees were so wobbly I don't think they would've held me up if I'd tried to stand. But that hadn’t been the kind of tasting she’d meant.

One more time she'd asked if she could taste me. She asked if I trusted her, and I said yes.

It was too late to do anything about that now.

The dark closed in around me as twilight faded into true night. Without quite deciding to lay down I found myself stretched out on the dock, the rough wood pressed against my cheek, Valencia’s kiss still tingling against my lips like a promise. How long had she been gone? I felt too weak to get back up on my own and had no choice but to wait. I felt like I was dying all over again.

Even at the start it had hurt, a piercing pain that started where my neck and shoulder met and lanced straight down to my heart. I think… I think if I hadn't been so relaxed I would have tensed, it would have hurt more. Within seconds I couldn't move at all. The pain slowly faded, everything faded. Her body moved over mine and I couldn't see. Her lips slid over mine and she urged me to taste. It felt like I was falling and I was so scared, I did what she told me to because she was the only lifeline I had to grab onto. She told me to drink; I did. After that I didn't remember much.

It felt like hours before Valencia returned, hauling something nearly twice her size up the dockside ladder. She threw it down and I thought I saw it flinch weakly, but there was this smell. This intoxicating, rich, warm smell drifting from it on the cool salt breeze. Before I even knew what the thing was I began crawling towards it.

Valencia, dripping wet, helped me get to it. The thing was radiating heat and I felt so cold. She guided my hands to hold onto it and my mouth to a dark, dripping spot . The best thing I've ever tasted flowed over my tongue, down my throat. Then I could feel it trying to struggle. Useless little tremors that only made me grip harder, digging in with my teeth for better purchase. The more I drank, the more the pounding in my head subsided, and the stronger I began to feel. I began to feel… alive.

By the time I let go it had stopped moving and I knew what it was. I wiped my hand over my wet lips and it came away bloody in the moonlight. I licked my lips and it tasted divine.

“Did I just eat a seal?” I asked shakily. It hadn't occurred to me that I would like the taste so much, and the dead-fish smell might have made me feel sick to my stomach if the blood hadn't made me feel so sated and whole.

“Sea lion,” Valencia replied. She sat beside me, turned to let her legs hang off the side of the dock. “See the external ear flaps? Seals don't have those.”

I took a deep, slow breath and dropped my head into my hands. “Why?”

“Look.” She pointed out across the water and I looked up to see fin tips cutting through the choppy waves. It should have been too dark but even so, to my eyes it was as though the scene was bathed in daylight. “Blood is in the water. We take the blood but not the body.” She reached back and dragged it to the edge with one hand, effortlessly tipping it down into the water. “The sea will take it back. It's neater this way. Besides, starting you on other blood is better. It'll help you keep your head around humans, help keep you able to make your own choices.”

“No.” I shook my head, looking down at my blood soaked hands that I could see too well in the dark. They didn't even cast shadows sitting there on my lap. “Why did you this to— hic!”

My hand flew to my mouth before I had a chance to register the absurdity of manners at this point.

Valencia patted my shoulder. “It's okay, you just ate too fast. Everybody does the first few times.”

Another hiccup burst out and I couldn't help it; I giggled. My fingers were buzzing and the sudden lack of heavy pounding in my temples made my head feel as light as a balloon. Once the giggling nervous giggling started, though, I couldn’t stop. It just kept coming in between hiccups, and sounded more and more hysterical with each passing second. The taste in my mouth was blood. I had sucked the blood out of something until it died.

Then her arms were around me, rocking me back and forth.

“Why did you do this to me? I was a vegetarian for god's sake,” I gasped, and buried my face in her hair as I cried. Her hair smelled of salt, damp, and remaining hints of tea tree shampoo.

“You reminded me of someone.” Valencia held me tighter. “I won't say I'm sorry, because I’m not. I want you with me. But I'll take care of you, I promise. Just trust me.”

I didn't know if I could. But she was the only lifeline I had left to hold onto. 
#lgbt  #vampires  #nightdwellers  #beginningline 
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Chapter 5 of Post Bellum
Written by Cross in portal Poetry & Free Verse

Never Enough

Have we not lost enough?

Have we not mourned enough?

Real people die, fighting

Our fictional enemies.

Have we not cried enough?

Have we not had enough?

Hate cannot douse hate

The cause cannot be the cure.

Have we not lied enough?

Have we not stolen enough?

Manufactured genocide

Of generations yet to come.

Have we not killed enough?

Have we not destroyed enough?

Regret everything

On your deathbed

But the dead

Are still

Dead.

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Chapter 5 of Post Bellum
Written by Cross in portal Poetry & Free Verse
Never Enough
Have we not lost enough?
Have we not mourned enough?

Real people die, fighting
Our fictional enemies.

Have we not cried enough?
Have we not had enough?

Hate cannot douse hate
The cause cannot be the cure.

Have we not lied enough?
Have we not stolen enough?

Manufactured genocide
Of generations yet to come.

Have we not killed enough?
Have we not destroyed enough?

Regret everything
On your deathbed
But the dead
Are still
Dead.
#poetry  #war  #loss  #aftermath  #PB 
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Chapter 35 of Of Love, Loss & Loneliness
Written by Cross in portal Poetry & Free Verse

Your Velvet Stars

Sometimes,

A stone is just a stone;

And the ocean,

Simply a body of water.

Sometimes,

The stars are only distant suns;

And velvet,

But a fabric.

This time, however,

A stone is

My shattered heart.

-Heavy and hard-

Harsh and cold.

The ocean is

The vastness of your love.

Untamed, wild;

Consuming.

The stars are

Your shining eyes

-Casting their light

To dispel my darkness-.

And velvet is

Your flawless skin.

Your heavenly touch

On my sandpaper soul.

No finely crafted metaphors

-No words of unspoken beauty-

Can surpass the perfection

Of you.

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Chapter 35 of Of Love, Loss & Loneliness
Written by Cross in portal Poetry & Free Verse
Your Velvet Stars
Sometimes,
A stone is just a stone;
And the ocean,
Simply a body of water.

Sometimes,
The stars are only distant suns;
And velvet,
But a fabric.

This time, however,
A stone is
My shattered heart.
-Heavy and hard-
Harsh and cold.

The ocean is
The vastness of your love.
Untamed, wild;
Consuming.

The stars are
Your shining eyes
-Casting their light
To dispel my darkness-.

And velvet is
Your flawless skin.
Your heavenly touch
On my sandpaper soul.


No finely crafted metaphors
-No words of unspoken beauty-
Can surpass the perfection
Of you.
#romance  #poetry  #love  #LLL 
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Describe the moment death became real to you. Any style will do. Please tag me for the read.
Written by croissant

the happiest place on earth

I still remember the bright, light blue letters plastered on that old orange juice advertisement: “A day without orange juice is a day without sunshine." I guess that’s why losing my father will always remind me of citrus. He made me fresh orange juice in the morning before taking us all to church every Sunday. Thinking of him tastes like lemon zest that tightens your jaw and makes your teeth cramp. He helped me plant orange-lemon hybrids in our backyard. The first time we tasted one, I cringed. He will always feel like the rinds peeled off of me that left white residue and dried tang on your fingertips. To me, his death is that familiar sticky coating that lingers on your fingers even after you wash your hands. After digging your nails into the bright orange rinds and causing a little juice to spray out, it leaves a thin layer that makes my peeled body seem slightly more protected from the outside world. It separates me and brings me comfort.

I still wear my father’s old jackets even though I know it will sting being covered in his old lining. My mother said it was gross of me to keep some of his clothing, like it was the skin shed from a snake: lived-in. But I like zipping up a layer of him and feeling myself settle into a person who had experienced more life than I. It makes me feel like I can just absorb some of his knowledge; some of him. Maybe he can still help his little girl learn to take on the world, like he used to. Maybe I just want to feel something. Even if it’s pain.

The day he died, my mother was sitting on my bed at 7:35 in the morning. We were going to Disneyland to celebrate my little brother’s birthday a week early and my mother’s birthday a day early. My brother, Aron, was turning nine. She received a call from the hospital he had been in for the past year and half; we thought that maybe he felt a bit better and it would be him on the other end of the phone. My mother and I were victims of hope. Hope is my least favorite word and I am totally its bitch. It makes sure that you will never accept your reality like a knife capable of slicing skin and making juice trickle out. I felt like a tangerine, subjected to the thin blade of longing and dribbling out at the seams.

My mom put the phone call on speaker as the man on the other end relayed to us that this morning my father’s lungs had finally forgotten how to breathe and that his heart had learned to stop beating. That man introduced me to loss: a loss of a past filled with rides at Disneyland and churros on Sunday. And a loss of watching the special tree grow in the front yard and plucking off the ripe oranges. I learned two things that day:

1. Birth smells of citrus spraying out of the freshly peeled orange whose rinds are still pushed underneath your nail beds. An unparalleled attachment between me and my mother was born that day.

2. Death is when you squeeze the pith out. My father died.

The only good thing about knowing you have ALS is that you know that it will kill you. What you must learn is that it will also kill you slowly. I guess I was relieved that he no longer had to struggle to breathe. I found comfort in knowing that his muscles were no longer furiously disobeying him and bruising him from the inside out. It was August 7th, the day before my mother’s birthday. I skipped breakfast that day.

I rode in the passenger seat of the car with red heart-shaped sunglasses covering my damp eyes. On my phone, I searched “amyotrophic laterals sclerosis, death.” The ALS association website was the first to pop up. The link was already purple from me clicking on it so many times before; I had poked at it so often that the website developed the texture of an overly ripe Valencia orange that fell heavily off of the tree with a thump and gushed out just a little bit. My father did the same thing until his plump body flattened on the dirt soil and all his juice drained out, slowly.

This website explains that ALS is a neurodegenerative disease that literally translates to “No muscle nourishment.” Without nourishment, the muscles degenerate, which leads to the loss of voluntary actions. Voluntary actions include: putting his arms around me, posing for a family photo, and making us breakfast in the morning. It meant he could no longer go to Disneyland with us, sit in the white boats of “It’s a Small World,” and sing that incessant tune over and over again until it grinded my nerves. Who knew that I would ever miss that.

“Don’t let your brother know yet, I don’t wan to ruin his birthday.” Ok mom, I won’t.

We both wore sunglasses while she drove in silence. Today was a celebration.

Nothing reminds me more of my father than Disneyland. He loved that place so much none of my older siblings can even stand to hear the theme song anymore. It still held wonder for my younger brother and I, though. We used to go almost once a month and my father always made us all go on “It’s a Small World” at some point in the day. I always dreaded that. I wanted to go on all the fun and exciting rides, like “Thunder Mountain” or “Indiana Jones,” and I hoped that he forgot or might let us skip it. But he insisted that it was one of the most beautiful creations in this “small world,” apparently there was “an inexplicable presence there.” I always thought the secret “presence” was long, drawn out boredom and I would try to put it off till late in the night so I could nap on my father’s cushiony bicep. Only I ever saw him cry a little underneath the Mexican dancers when the tune started being sung in Spanish. I don’t think he ever suspected that I opened my eyes and saw him weep for his home country and his own deceased father. I kept it my little secret.

On the day he died I rode it twice. My unknowing brother complained while Mom and I cried. Now every time I sit in those white little boats and go through the castle to the unchanging tune of “It’s a Small World,” I can’t help but feel the presence of my father as if I’m 8 years old and he’s buying me pink cotton candy. I feel him put his arm around me and call me his little princess again. The time passes so slowly, and I love it.

It makes me want orange juice for breakfast again.

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Describe the moment death became real to you. Any style will do. Please tag me for the read.
Written by croissant
the happiest place on earth
I still remember the bright, light blue letters plastered on that old orange juice advertisement: “A day without orange juice is a day without sunshine." I guess that’s why losing my father will always remind me of citrus. He made me fresh orange juice in the morning before taking us all to church every Sunday. Thinking of him tastes like lemon zest that tightens your jaw and makes your teeth cramp. He helped me plant orange-lemon hybrids in our backyard. The first time we tasted one, I cringed. He will always feel like the rinds peeled off of me that left white residue and dried tang on your fingertips. To me, his death is that familiar sticky coating that lingers on your fingers even after you wash your hands. After digging your nails into the bright orange rinds and causing a little juice to spray out, it leaves a thin layer that makes my peeled body seem slightly more protected from the outside world. It separates me and brings me comfort.


I still wear my father’s old jackets even though I know it will sting being covered in his old lining. My mother said it was gross of me to keep some of his clothing, like it was the skin shed from a snake: lived-in. But I like zipping up a layer of him and feeling myself settle into a person who had experienced more life than I. It makes me feel like I can just absorb some of his knowledge; some of him. Maybe he can still help his little girl learn to take on the world, like he used to. Maybe I just want to feel something. Even if it’s pain.


The day he died, my mother was sitting on my bed at 7:35 in the morning. We were going to Disneyland to celebrate my little brother’s birthday a week early and my mother’s birthday a day early. My brother, Aron, was turning nine. She received a call from the hospital he had been in for the past year and half; we thought that maybe he felt a bit better and it would be him on the other end of the phone. My mother and I were victims of hope. Hope is my least favorite word and I am totally its bitch. It makes sure that you will never accept your reality like a knife capable of slicing skin and making juice trickle out. I felt like a tangerine, subjected to the thin blade of longing and dribbling out at the seams.

My mom put the phone call on speaker as the man on the other end relayed to us that this morning my father’s lungs had finally forgotten how to breathe and that his heart had learned to stop beating. That man introduced me to loss: a loss of a past filled with rides at Disneyland and churros on Sunday. And a loss of watching the special tree grow in the front yard and plucking off the ripe oranges. I learned two things that day:
1. Birth smells of citrus spraying out of the freshly peeled orange whose rinds are still pushed underneath your nail beds. An unparalleled attachment between me and my mother was born that day.
2. Death is when you squeeze the pith out. My father died.


The only good thing about knowing you have ALS is that you know that it will kill you. What you must learn is that it will also kill you slowly. I guess I was relieved that he no longer had to struggle to breathe. I found comfort in knowing that his muscles were no longer furiously disobeying him and bruising him from the inside out. It was August 7th, the day before my mother’s birthday. I skipped breakfast that day.


I rode in the passenger seat of the car with red heart-shaped sunglasses covering my damp eyes. On my phone, I searched “amyotrophic laterals sclerosis, death.” The ALS association website was the first to pop up. The link was already purple from me clicking on it so many times before; I had poked at it so often that the website developed the texture of an overly ripe Valencia orange that fell heavily off of the tree with a thump and gushed out just a little bit. My father did the same thing until his plump body flattened on the dirt soil and all his juice drained out, slowly.

This website explains that ALS is a neurodegenerative disease that literally translates to “No muscle nourishment.” Without nourishment, the muscles degenerate, which leads to the loss of voluntary actions. Voluntary actions include: putting his arms around me, posing for a family photo, and making us breakfast in the morning. It meant he could no longer go to Disneyland with us, sit in the white boats of “It’s a Small World,” and sing that incessant tune over and over again until it grinded my nerves. Who knew that I would ever miss that.


“Don’t let your brother know yet, I don’t wan to ruin his birthday.” Ok mom, I won’t.
We both wore sunglasses while she drove in silence. Today was a celebration.

Nothing reminds me more of my father than Disneyland. He loved that place so much none of my older siblings can even stand to hear the theme song anymore. It still held wonder for my younger brother and I, though. We used to go almost once a month and my father always made us all go on “It’s a Small World” at some point in the day. I always dreaded that. I wanted to go on all the fun and exciting rides, like “Thunder Mountain” or “Indiana Jones,” and I hoped that he forgot or might let us skip it. But he insisted that it was one of the most beautiful creations in this “small world,” apparently there was “an inexplicable presence there.” I always thought the secret “presence” was long, drawn out boredom and I would try to put it off till late in the night so I could nap on my father’s cushiony bicep. Only I ever saw him cry a little underneath the Mexican dancers when the tune started being sung in Spanish. I don’t think he ever suspected that I opened my eyes and saw him weep for his home country and his own deceased father. I kept it my little secret.

On the day he died I rode it twice. My unknowing brother complained while Mom and I cried. Now every time I sit in those white little boats and go through the castle to the unchanging tune of “It’s a Small World,” I can’t help but feel the presence of my father as if I’m 8 years old and he’s buying me pink cotton candy. I feel him put his arm around me and call me his little princess again. The time passes so slowly, and I love it.

It makes me want orange juice for breakfast again.
#nonfiction  #death  #father  #disneyland  #ALS 
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CotW #66: Write about the biggest lesson life has taught you.
Written by starryEyes

Learning to the song of the beeps

Leaning against the padded gym wall, I gasped for breath. My lungs burned. My legs felt wobbly. And I was going into shock.

Out on the floor, some of the other kids were still running in synchrony with the beeps emanating from the portable stereo. It was assessment week in gym class. Today’s test? Run the marked lane and cross the line before the beep. Then turn around and run back before the next beep. And again. And again. If you failed to keep up with the quickening beeps, you had to leave the course and your time was marked.

Gym class was one of those things that could only be endured. Why it should be part of my curriculum, I couldn’t fathom, although I’ve oft suspected that some parts of school were implemented purely to torture the students. As far as I was concerned, ping-pong and written tests were the only pleasant aspects of the class.

Yet at the announcement of this upcoming test, I took an unusual interest in the event. It was something that was scored. Therefore I wanted to do well. Obviously, I would do well. No half-measures for me, no apathetic dragging of my feet. Determination would win the day. I’d run until the cassette tape quit.

Still panting, I slid down the wall to the gymnasium floor. Something had gone horribly wrong. I struggled to work it out as my heart worked double time to supply my brain with oxygen. Then I had it:

I failed.

I gave it my all, but it wasn’t good enough.

At sixteen years old, I was slapped with the realization that the adage I’d lived by all my life, “you can do anything you set your mind to,” wasn’t actually true. My world had been turned upside down.

Naturally good at all things school, I was used to success. I loved learning. I relished every academic challenge and persevered through the toughest of them to “win.” I was also artistic, musical, and creative. What couldn’t I do?

Run to the cadence of gym class beeps, apparently.

A day later, the shock was wearing off and I was laughing with my friend. “You thought you could just decide to ace the test?” I was embarrassed to admit that I had. I hadn’t considered that there was a physical dimension that might eclipse my will.

And truly, I hadn’t considered that there could be something I wasn’t good at. Oh, but it felt good to laugh at my folly!

As funny as it sounds, that day in gym class changed my life. It opened my eyes to the fact that I’m not good at everything. I began to notice and accept my shortcomings, and even admit them out loud.

But do you know what else is funny? I didn’t realize until after college that I could actually learn to do better at things I’m not naturally good at. Not easily or quickly, and maybe not to the point of greatness, but it's possible to improve.

I now see what was obvious to the rest of the world: I probably would have done better in the gym assessment if I had trained for it!

I wonder what I’ll learn next?

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CotW #66: Write about the biggest lesson life has taught you.
Written by starryEyes
Learning to the song of the beeps
Leaning against the padded gym wall, I gasped for breath. My lungs burned. My legs felt wobbly. And I was going into shock.

Out on the floor, some of the other kids were still running in synchrony with the beeps emanating from the portable stereo. It was assessment week in gym class. Today’s test? Run the marked lane and cross the line before the beep. Then turn around and run back before the next beep. And again. And again. If you failed to keep up with the quickening beeps, you had to leave the course and your time was marked.

Gym class was one of those things that could only be endured. Why it should be part of my curriculum, I couldn’t fathom, although I’ve oft suspected that some parts of school were implemented purely to torture the students. As far as I was concerned, ping-pong and written tests were the only pleasant aspects of the class.

Yet at the announcement of this upcoming test, I took an unusual interest in the event. It was something that was scored. Therefore I wanted to do well. Obviously, I would do well. No half-measures for me, no apathetic dragging of my feet. Determination would win the day. I’d run until the cassette tape quit.

Still panting, I slid down the wall to the gymnasium floor. Something had gone horribly wrong. I struggled to work it out as my heart worked double time to supply my brain with oxygen. Then I had it:

I failed.

I gave it my all, but it wasn’t good enough.

At sixteen years old, I was slapped with the realization that the adage I’d lived by all my life, “you can do anything you set your mind to,” wasn’t actually true. My world had been turned upside down.

Naturally good at all things school, I was used to success. I loved learning. I relished every academic challenge and persevered through the toughest of them to “win.” I was also artistic, musical, and creative. What couldn’t I do?

Run to the cadence of gym class beeps, apparently.

A day later, the shock was wearing off and I was laughing with my friend. “You thought you could just decide to ace the test?” I was embarrassed to admit that I had. I hadn’t considered that there was a physical dimension that might eclipse my will.
And truly, I hadn’t considered that there could be something I wasn’t good at. Oh, but it felt good to laugh at my folly!

As funny as it sounds, that day in gym class changed my life. It opened my eyes to the fact that I’m not good at everything. I began to notice and accept my shortcomings, and even admit them out loud.

But do you know what else is funny? I didn’t realize until after college that I could actually learn to do better at things I’m not naturally good at. Not easily or quickly, and maybe not to the point of greatness, but it's possible to improve.

I now see what was obvious to the rest of the world: I probably would have done better in the gym assessment if I had trained for it!

I wonder what I’ll learn next?
#nonfiction  #prosechallenge  #lifelessons  #Itslit 
29
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11
Juice
523 reads
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