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Tell me six impossible things that you believe in. Share me your list.
Written by DrSemicolon in portal Fiction

Make that 7 Impossible Things

1. I believe that all sunrises should be mandatory. (Make mornings great again.)

2. I believe that when the going gets shitty, the shitty get going.

    2a. I believe that when felons are outlawed, only outlaws will be felons.

    2b. I believe that the other side of the coin should be what you call. Trust me.

    2c. I believe that if you follow your dreams, anything is possible if you're still asleep.

         2c(1). I believe your mileage may vary.

3. I believe that if this weren't a free world, I could tell you to float in the air and you'd have to do it.

4. I believe that what is impossible can be rendered possible simply by adding half * a tube of anchovy paste. (*Season to taste.)

5. I believe commutatively that if God is love, love is blind, and Ray Charles is blind, then Ray Charles must be God.

    5a. I believe that any decent pantheon should include Stevie Wonder, Helen Keller, and Justice. And ambition. And sides.

7. I believe the number 7 comes before the number 6.

    7a. I believe that in the alphabet, R comes before N; that song is just plain wnorg.

         7a(1). Actually wrong is right.

    7b. I believe that the rotisserie comes before the egg.

    7c. I believe that all palindromes are self-recursive, making someone like Hannah a fractal.

    

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Tell me six impossible things that you believe in. Share me your list.
Written by DrSemicolon in portal Fiction
Make that 7 Impossible Things
1. I believe that all sunrises should be mandatory. (Make mornings great again.)

2. I believe that when the going gets shitty, the shitty get going.
    2a. I believe that when felons are outlawed, only outlaws will be felons.
    2b. I believe that the other side of the coin should be what you call. Trust me.
    2c. I believe that if you follow your dreams, anything is possible if you're still asleep.
         2c(1). I believe your mileage may vary.

3. I believe that if this weren't a free world, I could tell you to float in the air and you'd have to do it.

4. I believe that what is impossible can be rendered possible simply by adding half * a tube of anchovy paste. (*Season to taste.)

5. I believe commutatively that if God is love, love is blind, and Ray Charles is blind, then Ray Charles must be God.
    5a. I believe that any decent pantheon should include Stevie Wonder, Helen Keller, and Justice. And ambition. And sides.

7. I believe the number 7 comes before the number 6.
    7a. I believe that in the alphabet, R comes before N; that song is just plain wnorg.
         7a(1). Actually wrong is right.
    7b. I believe that the rotisserie comes before the egg.
    7c. I believe that all palindromes are self-recursive, making someone like Hannah a fractal.
    
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Chapter 61 of The Peristalsis of Dr. Semicolon;
Written by DrSemicolon in portal Trident Media Group

Kate's Canary

Kate knew she was crazy. She had been crazy since her first year of high school when the strangers began visiting her and told her what to do. Diagnosed with schizophrenia, she had done well on her medications and currently was functional in her clerical employment. The visitors came less frequently but their disembodied voices still called to her. When she had the right prescription she could defy them and refuse their bidding. There had been no office episodes at work nor any public psychotic breaks, but she well knew of what she was capable. Her pills were so important: take some in the morning, some at night, some on a full stomach, some on an empty stomach; and the regimen worked so much better when she had a good night's sleep.

She lived alone in a one bedroom apartment that sat over an elderly man’s unattached garage. She liked that. She could pace. She could clomp around as much as she needed and there would be no one below to complain. She could play music as loud as she pleased, except that she hated loud music and found it unpleasing. But if she wanted, she could, and that was what mattered. A garage filled with the memorabilia of another person’s life buffered her from the rest of the world. One would have to slog through his entire life’s story to reach her. Hopefully, her visitors would be exhausted by the time they got to her.

What this really meant--what was important to her--was that she could scream and no one would hear it. One might think if a scream were necessary, it would be a bad thing if no one could hear it. In her case, however, it was a good thing because it happened so often. Whenever the screaming increased in frequency, she knew it was time for a change of prescription.

When she saw the ghost she was not troubled. It had been a long time since a stranger had come to visit, so she figured it might just be time for a new medication. She hoped the people who made medicine would keep inventing the new ones as quickly as the old ones stopped working. She ignored her ghost which was particularly gruesome. It appeared gouged about its head and was bloody everywhere. There was drool. 

It tried to get her attention. She would turn and it would slip back in front of her. She would turn again and it would repeat the maneuver. She looked into the mirror and it was in the reflection behind her. She had seen all of these tricks before. She continued to ignore it.

She wanted to get ready for bed. She had had a very busy day and was tired. She didn’t appreciate that someone or something was trying to keep her from her night’s sleep, which was so important in balancing her medications. She walked to the window of her bedroom and pulled the curtains back. It suddenly appeared outside her window as if it had climbed a magic ladder. How many times, she wondered, had it spied on her? It was all she could do to stare defiantly right through it. The stars twinkled brightly and clearly in the new Moon dark sky.

“Beautiful night,” she said out loud to no one, rudely ignoring her visitor. “Not a cloud in the sky.” This had broken the seal, for her voices never initiated conversation, only responding with their counter-arguments that urged her on to bad choices.

“You know I'm here, Kate." She tossed the curtains together abruptly. "Did you hear me, Kate?” She turned around sharply and there it stood, again in front of her. “I said that you know I'm here. How rude, Kate. Don't ignore me. That won't work this time." She finally fixed her eyes on it and took in the full impact of its appearance. This one was a very troubling sight, indeed. It appeared pleased to get her attention.

She refused to scream. It still would take way more than this, she vowed, to make her scream. Not even the smell of the rot that accompanied her visitor. Or even the aftersmell of vomited rice. No solitary ghost ever could compete with some of the bizarre things her diseased brain had conjured up for her in the past. Things that fed from the deepest troughs of her mind. Terrible things. Horrifying images and morbid tableaus. Things that brought out her most excellent screams. She had made great strides, however, even to the point where she could not only suppress her screams, but actually argue with her hallucinations.

“I know you’re not real,” she told the ghost finally. It was fuzzy, semi-transparent, and wore a face of mischief through its disfiguring facial gore.

“Just how do you know I’m not real, Kate?” it asked her. Its voice was deep and tremulous. The reverb, she felt, was a bit of a cliché and over the top.

“How do I know? Well, first of all, seeing ghosts is just plain crazy, and crazy is not reality. If ghosts were reality, I'd be carpooling with some every day to work. And there are a lot of crazy people to keep ghosts popping up in what folks hear. Even people not as crazy as me say they see ghosts. There's even a TV show about it."

"Ah," said the ghost, "a reality show. What was that you were saying now?"

"Seeing ghosts is not reality. Shadows, sneaky reflections, sounds from the attic, creepy feelings. I’m not buying it. I’m not falling for it. It’s just the buried crazy part that comes out when someone sees one. And another good reason I know you're not real is because I’m already crazy to start with. Crazier than most people who say they've seen ghosts. My crazy ain't buried so deep you see, so I’m liable to see anything. Don’t feel so special.”

“But you are up to date on your meds, aren’t you? Have you missed a dose, perhaps?”

“No. I’m good at taking my medicine. But then there's you,” Kate said timidly, her voice fading to a frightened whisper.

“If you’ve been taking all your medicine, then you’re well. It’s not because you’re crazy, is it, that I’m here? You’re being treated. I must be the real deal.”

“Seeing ghosts is still crazy, crazy ghost. Even with my meds going good. There ain’t no such things as ghosts, anyway. Haven’t you heard?”

“Oh, I’ve heard. But now I’m not buying it.” The ghost patted itself briskly up and down, tufts of dust and wafts of malodor erupting with each slap. “I’m here. Plain as day. Just like you, Kate. A phantom, a wraith, true, but real as you and troubled by unfinished business.”

“Then you’re dead if you’re a ghost.”

“Ouch.”

“Well, you said it, not me. What’s your unfinished business, ghost.”

“Tell me, Kate, have you seen the stars tonight?”

“Yes. You know I did. You were right out there in the window when I did.”

“No, Kate, they’re gone.”

“Oh, they’re there,” she insisted.”

“No, Kate, they’re gone. Take another look.” She walked back over the window, and when she parted the curtains again the sky was ink black. Again the ghost appeared outside her window, looking in at her. He raised a mangled hand to point up. She followed his aim to a starless sky.

“It’s overcast,” she said, “and they’re above the clouds.”

“No, Kate. They're not above the clouds. There are no clouds. Not tonight. You said so yourself.” She strained to look, but saw no stars at all. Were they really gone or just part of the hallucination that had ferried her ghost to her?

“No stars is crazy, too,” she said.

“No, Kate, they are no longer shining in the sky for you. But they're around, trust me. They're just hiding.”

“Hiding where?”

“Kate, you know where. They’re in the place no one dares to look.”

“Riddles and games. I don’t know what you’re talking about, ghost.”

“Those deepest places where your deepest thoughts are. Your scary thoughts, Kate. Ugly thoughts. Dangerous thoughts. Things you want to do but know you must not.”

Kate waited. She did not like what the ghost was saying. These things were hurtful things, for she had seen her deepest thoughts. She had heard her deepest voices. Thoughts and voices about scary things, ugly things, and dangerous things. Things she used the rest of her mind to suppress.

“You need to leave, ghost,” she said.

“But if I go, who will remind you of your deepest thoughts? They are you, aren’t they? Don’t you want to be yourself? Most people go through life trying to find themselves, but you live to deny your true self. Don't you need to be you? Self-actualization, Kate. What would Maslow say?”

“I don't know any Maslow, and I don't want to be the real me. No. I want to be someone else.”

“Who, Kate? Who else do you want to be?”

“The person I should have been all along, before my sickness.”

“That’s not you, Kate. You need to be your real person. How dare they tell you not to be you? You can show them, Kate. Show ‘em good.”

“Stop, crazy ghost. Leave me. Go away.”

“Do you want me to go where the stars went? Do you want to go where the stars are?”

The thought of that gave Kate a strange sense of comfort. “Yes,” she muttered to herself, “that would be nice. That would be normal. Like everything used to be.” She was thankful that the stars had always been there for all of us--for her. It didn't matter where they were. They promised the same world the next day, day after day, in a universe that remained constant and familiar. A stable universe. Something she could wake up to each morning. Home. Reality. The ghost spotted the hearth burning warmly in her eyes.

“Ah, then, yes, Kate. Very good. Join me there. You see, the stars are our innermost thoughts. The thoughts that you think it is good to suppress, but it’s not good to do that. They are what are normal, what we all are. And when we bury our real selves that deep, we’re not ourselves anymore. The stars are like the canary in the mine. Do you see, Kate?”

“Yes,” Kate replied. “I do.” She paused. She reflected. A troubled look of conflict passed over her face. This is how they always trick me, she thought.

“Don’t think, Kate. Do. Act on your impulses.”

“No, crazy ghost. I'm better than that.”

“Better than your real self?”

“We were born with Original Sin, ghost. We’re better than that now. Our real selves were the sinners. The original sinners. We can do better. I can do better. I know better.”

“That’s religion talking, Kate. That went away with the stars.”

“Yes, ghost. The canary died. We’ve been warned not to go back to being our real selves. Our deepest selves.”

“Oh, Kate, you’re being foolish. When you deny your real self, you’re denying what God has made you.”

“God? You? Like God has anything to do with you. You bring up God? Now, how dare you?”

“God’s with the stars, Kate. Our deepest ugliest, scariest thoughts created him. Created religion. Santa Claus, magic, and luck. It’s all make-believe.”

“And you, ghost, are you real? Or make-believe?”

The ghost paused now. “That is a trick question, Kate.”

“Is it now? God’s not real but you are? You come from my deepest thoughts and fears, too, ghost. You can’t have it both ways. Now I’m going to tell you this just one more time.”

“Yes?”

“Leave. Go back into my deepest thoughts and fears and worries. Stay there. And then I’ll throw away the key.” The ghost pouted.

“Eve was a great woman, Kate. Even she took the apple—why can’t you?”

“Goodbye,” Kate told the ghost.

“I’ll go. But I’ll be back. You’ll see.”

“Perhaps,” Kate replied. “I take every day one day at a time. Just like my medicine.”

“You and your goddamned medicine! Fool! You killed your own canary! You!”

“Goodbye. And really, don’t come back.”

“You wish!” said the fuzzy, transparent shade, becoming more transparent and fuzzier the angrier he became, its mischievous face replaced by one of vindictiveness. “I will come back,” it promised. “You know I will.” It seethed.

“You usually do,” she replied, and then the specter faded away altogether.

Kate turned to draw her bath and looked forward to the renewal the water would bring. After that, she planned to retire for the night. The next morning she would take her daily medicine. She felt good. A day without screaming.

It had been another good day.

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Trident Media Group is the leading U.S. literary agency and we are looking to discover and represent the next bestsellers. Share a sample of your work. If it shows promise, we will be in touch with you.
Chapter 61 of The Peristalsis of Dr. Semicolon;
Written by DrSemicolon in portal Trident Media Group
Kate's Canary
Kate knew she was crazy. She had been crazy since her first year of high school when the strangers began visiting her and told her what to do. Diagnosed with schizophrenia, she had done well on her medications and currently was functional in her clerical employment. The visitors came less frequently but their disembodied voices still called to her. When she had the right prescription she could defy them and refuse their bidding. There had been no office episodes at work nor any public psychotic breaks, but she well knew of what she was capable. Her pills were so important: take some in the morning, some at night, some on a full stomach, some on an empty stomach; and the regimen worked so much better when she had a good night's sleep.

She lived alone in a one bedroom apartment that sat over an elderly man’s unattached garage. She liked that. She could pace. She could clomp around as much as she needed and there would be no one below to complain. She could play music as loud as she pleased, except that she hated loud music and found it unpleasing. But if she wanted, she could, and that was what mattered. A garage filled with the memorabilia of another person’s life buffered her from the rest of the world. One would have to slog through his entire life’s story to reach her. Hopefully, her visitors would be exhausted by the time they got to her.

What this really meant--what was important to her--was that she could scream and no one would hear it. One might think if a scream were necessary, it would be a bad thing if no one could hear it. In her case, however, it was a good thing because it happened so often. Whenever the screaming increased in frequency, she knew it was time for a change of prescription.

When she saw the ghost she was not troubled. It had been a long time since a stranger had come to visit, so she figured it might just be time for a new medication. She hoped the people who made medicine would keep inventing the new ones as quickly as the old ones stopped working. She ignored her ghost which was particularly gruesome. It appeared gouged about its head and was bloody everywhere. There was drool. 

It tried to get her attention. She would turn and it would slip back in front of her. She would turn again and it would repeat the maneuver. She looked into the mirror and it was in the reflection behind her. She had seen all of these tricks before. She continued to ignore it.

She wanted to get ready for bed. She had had a very busy day and was tired. She didn’t appreciate that someone or something was trying to keep her from her night’s sleep, which was so important in balancing her medications. She walked to the window of her bedroom and pulled the curtains back. It suddenly appeared outside her window as if it had climbed a magic ladder. How many times, she wondered, had it spied on her? It was all she could do to stare defiantly right through it. The stars twinkled brightly and clearly in the new Moon dark sky.

“Beautiful night,” she said out loud to no one, rudely ignoring her visitor. “Not a cloud in the sky.” This had broken the seal, for her voices never initiated conversation, only responding with their counter-arguments that urged her on to bad choices.

“You know I'm here, Kate." She tossed the curtains together abruptly. "Did you hear me, Kate?” She turned around sharply and there it stood, again in front of her. “I said that you know I'm here. How rude, Kate. Don't ignore me. That won't work this time." She finally fixed her eyes on it and took in the full impact of its appearance. This one was a very troubling sight, indeed. It appeared pleased to get her attention.

She refused to scream. It still would take way more than this, she vowed, to make her scream. Not even the smell of the rot that accompanied her visitor. Or even the aftersmell of vomited rice. No solitary ghost ever could compete with some of the bizarre things her diseased brain had conjured up for her in the past. Things that fed from the deepest troughs of her mind. Terrible things. Horrifying images and morbid tableaus. Things that brought out her most excellent screams. She had made great strides, however, even to the point where she could not only suppress her screams, but actually argue with her hallucinations.

“I know you’re not real,” she told the ghost finally. It was fuzzy, semi-transparent, and wore a face of mischief through its disfiguring facial gore.

“Just how do you know I’m not real, Kate?” it asked her. Its voice was deep and tremulous. The reverb, she felt, was a bit of a cliché and over the top.

“How do I know? Well, first of all, seeing ghosts is just plain crazy, and crazy is not reality. If ghosts were reality, I'd be carpooling with some every day to work. And there are a lot of crazy people to keep ghosts popping up in what folks hear. Even people not as crazy as me say they see ghosts. There's even a TV show about it."

"Ah," said the ghost, "a reality show. What was that you were saying now?"

"Seeing ghosts is not reality. Shadows, sneaky reflections, sounds from the attic, creepy feelings. I’m not buying it. I’m not falling for it. It’s just the buried crazy part that comes out when someone sees one. And another good reason I know you're not real is because I’m already crazy to start with. Crazier than most people who say they've seen ghosts. My crazy ain't buried so deep you see, so I’m liable to see anything. Don’t feel so special.”

“But you are up to date on your meds, aren’t you? Have you missed a dose, perhaps?”

“No. I’m good at taking my medicine. But then there's you,” Kate said timidly, her voice fading to a frightened whisper.

“If you’ve been taking all your medicine, then you’re well. It’s not because you’re crazy, is it, that I’m here? You’re being treated. I must be the real deal.”

“Seeing ghosts is still crazy, crazy ghost. Even with my meds going good. There ain’t no such things as ghosts, anyway. Haven’t you heard?”

“Oh, I’ve heard. But now I’m not buying it.” The ghost patted itself briskly up and down, tufts of dust and wafts of malodor erupting with each slap. “I’m here. Plain as day. Just like you, Kate. A phantom, a wraith, true, but real as you and troubled by unfinished business.”

“Then you’re dead if you’re a ghost.”

“Ouch.”

“Well, you said it, not me. What’s your unfinished business, ghost.”

“Tell me, Kate, have you seen the stars tonight?”

“Yes. You know I did. You were right out there in the window when I did.”

“No, Kate, they’re gone.”

“Oh, they’re there,” she insisted.”

“No, Kate, they’re gone. Take another look.” She walked back over the window, and when she parted the curtains again the sky was ink black. Again the ghost appeared outside her window, looking in at her. He raised a mangled hand to point up. She followed his aim to a starless sky.

“It’s overcast,” she said, “and they’re above the clouds.”

“No, Kate. They're not above the clouds. There are no clouds. Not tonight. You said so yourself.” She strained to look, but saw no stars at all. Were they really gone or just part of the hallucination that had ferried her ghost to her?

“No stars is crazy, too,” she said.

“No, Kate, they are no longer shining in the sky for you. But they're around, trust me. They're just hiding.”

“Hiding where?”

“Kate, you know where. They’re in the place no one dares to look.”

“Riddles and games. I don’t know what you’re talking about, ghost.”

“Those deepest places where your deepest thoughts are. Your scary thoughts, Kate. Ugly thoughts. Dangerous thoughts. Things you want to do but know you must not.”

Kate waited. She did not like what the ghost was saying. These things were hurtful things, for she had seen her deepest thoughts. She had heard her deepest voices. Thoughts and voices about scary things, ugly things, and dangerous things. Things she used the rest of her mind to suppress.

“You need to leave, ghost,” she said.

“But if I go, who will remind you of your deepest thoughts? They are you, aren’t they? Don’t you want to be yourself? Most people go through life trying to find themselves, but you live to deny your true self. Don't you need to be you? Self-actualization, Kate. What would Maslow say?”

“I don't know any Maslow, and I don't want to be the real me. No. I want to be someone else.”

“Who, Kate? Who else do you want to be?”

“The person I should have been all along, before my sickness.”

“That’s not you, Kate. You need to be your real person. How dare they tell you not to be you? You can show them, Kate. Show ‘em good.”

“Stop, crazy ghost. Leave me. Go away.”

“Do you want me to go where the stars went? Do you want to go where the stars are?”

The thought of that gave Kate a strange sense of comfort. “Yes,” she muttered to herself, “that would be nice. That would be normal. Like everything used to be.” She was thankful that the stars had always been there for all of us--for her. It didn't matter where they were. They promised the same world the next day, day after day, in a universe that remained constant and familiar. A stable universe. Something she could wake up to each morning. Home. Reality. The ghost spotted the hearth burning warmly in her eyes.

“Ah, then, yes, Kate. Very good. Join me there. You see, the stars are our innermost thoughts. The thoughts that you think it is good to suppress, but it’s not good to do that. They are what are normal, what we all are. And when we bury our real selves that deep, we’re not ourselves anymore. The stars are like the canary in the mine. Do you see, Kate?”

“Yes,” Kate replied. “I do.” She paused. She reflected. A troubled look of conflict passed over her face. This is how they always trick me, she thought.

“Don’t think, Kate. Do. Act on your impulses.”

“No, crazy ghost. I'm better than that.”

“Better than your real self?”

“We were born with Original Sin, ghost. We’re better than that now. Our real selves were the sinners. The original sinners. We can do better. I can do better. I know better.”

“That’s religion talking, Kate. That went away with the stars.”

“Yes, ghost. The canary died. We’ve been warned not to go back to being our real selves. Our deepest selves.”

“Oh, Kate, you’re being foolish. When you deny your real self, you’re denying what God has made you.”

“God? You? Like God has anything to do with you. You bring up God? Now, how dare you?”

“God’s with the stars, Kate. Our deepest ugliest, scariest thoughts created him. Created religion. Santa Claus, magic, and luck. It’s all make-believe.”

“And you, ghost, are you real? Or make-believe?”

The ghost paused now. “That is a trick question, Kate.”

“Is it now? God’s not real but you are? You come from my deepest thoughts and fears, too, ghost. You can’t have it both ways. Now I’m going to tell you this just one more time.”

“Yes?”

“Leave. Go back into my deepest thoughts and fears and worries. Stay there. And then I’ll throw away the key.” The ghost pouted.

“Eve was a great woman, Kate. Even she took the apple—why can’t you?”

“Goodbye,” Kate told the ghost.

“I’ll go. But I’ll be back. You’ll see.”

“Perhaps,” Kate replied. “I take every day one day at a time. Just like my medicine.”

“You and your goddamned medicine! Fool! You killed your own canary! You!”

“Goodbye. And really, don’t come back.”

“You wish!” said the fuzzy, transparent shade, becoming more transparent and fuzzier the angrier he became, its mischievous face replaced by one of vindictiveness. “I will come back,” it promised. “You know I will.” It seethed.

“You usually do,” she replied, and then the specter faded away altogether.

Kate turned to draw her bath and looked forward to the renewal the water would bring. After that, she planned to retire for the night. The next morning she would take her daily medicine. She felt good. A day without screaming.

It had been another good day.
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Chapter 60 of The Peristalsis of Dr. Semicolon;
Written by DrSemicolon in portal Fiction

Dirty Laundry

She always liked how I did her laundry. Truth be told, I liked doing her laundry, too. I would guess at what she was doing by her laundry. I would look at the grass stains, the caked-on mud, and the mysterious bodily fluids and fantasize scenarios about what she did to get such soiling. She was busy. Always creating dirty laundry.

I would always smell her laundry, as much a part of the process as detergent or setting the length of the spin cycle. Ah, the spin cycle.

Even the nefarious stains, each with their own tell-tale olfactory clues, could not mask away her own womanly scent. How would I describe it? Her scent is she. As real as the train approaching when you’ve been tied down to the tracks, yet as elusive as a unicorn. As much to do with the real world as a cloud, yet when I smell she, I smell life on Earth—evolution, foraging, mating, and natural selection. I smell the intangible of joy. Like the tesseract, it cannot be categorized within the limitations of mere human sensorium. It is victory, submission, defiance, conquest, and surrender all rolled into one.

It is she.

I lift one of her very personal items to my face and inhale deeply. I am with her when I do this. I am lifted; I leave, out-of-body, coasting on the pleasure of my forebrain. The second cranial nerve has allowed me to appreciate her beauty. The eighth cranial nerve has allowed me to harmonize to her song. But my first cranial nerve is a gift from God. Pheromones blow me into a singularity, all places and one simultaneously. I am drunk with her scent.

She. Just the word, with its digraphical phoneme…

Pheromones and phonemes. She. With its unvoiced fricative, my vocal chords don’t even vibrate until I get to the long ē. But it is worth the wait. It is when the angels join the chorus of my pleasure.

I sit atop the washer, sorting and smelling, separating and sniffing. When I think I have exhausted all of the odorifics contained thereon, I let it slip through the open door to join the others. The t-shirt with its musky tale of mammalian exertions. The scarf, sure to be ruined by the machine, with the alchemy of its man-made perfume concocting with the fragrance of she a bouquet of marriage between her and the rest of the world and all its wonders, not the least of which is the wonder of herself.

On second thought, I reach back in to retrieve the previous olfaction delight. I have not exhausted it, and I bask one more time in the fragrance of lovely, of feminine, and of implied symbiosis with me.

I appraise her other clothing, piece by piece. The bend of her knee here, the flex of her elbow there. Pivots that separate her sinews and pumping muscles. Rhythmic tightening and relaxations, glistening with the thinnest layer of moisture that sparkles magically on her faint hair. Bodily functions contained within a working model of woman, sculpted from fulfillment. I dream of these sinews and pumping muscles atop myself, and both of us atop this very washing machine. Machinations and machines come together today because it is wash day.

I reach for a towel. It is a heavy towel and it is not even dirty. It will conflict with the delicates; it will upset the balance of the rotation. It is on purpose: I want an uneven load. I place a detergent packet into the machine, to wipe the slate clean, to start over, to deliver to me the next generation of sensory enchantments. I push the right buttons.

I disrobe.

The machine is an old one. It is not level, again, on purpose. I can feel the warmth on my bare buttocks as it begins its cycle of operation. I become aroused. If she were to walk in now, she would see it plainly.

She knows the game. She enters and feigns surprise, then outrage. She approaches me tenuously, testing each step as she does. Her livid expression undergoes devolution into one of lust. The machine is rumbling in its excitement. My arousal becomes stronger, crying for help. She disrobes, letting her things drop methodically and silently to the floor, staring into my eyes the entire time. Sex isn’t with genitals, it is with the brain.

It is with the soul.

She wants to join me during the machine’s excitation phase. Nude, a word that only portrays beauty, is not correct; she is naked, the better word, because it is the name that promises action. She steps up on a footstool and then throws one leg over my lap. Next she is sitting on top of me, insertion completed in one fell swoop. Deftly. I am surprised at her moisture. Again, the wrong word. She is wet, the name for love.

In the next phase of the machine’s cycle, there is a plateau during which it maintains a continued churning agitation. My anticipation builds, as we await the next phase. The thin layer of moisture on each of us is now the only thing between us. Alternating movements and alternating current both conspire to initiate in each of us the next phase of the cycle. The machine pauses. It is a spinal pause in us, as well, like that one moment on the roller coaster where the chain that drags the cars up the first and highest hill disengages in preparation for the headlong rush into the lake of adrenaline below. Chink, chink, chink, chink…then… the moment for which I have waited.

The spin cycle.

My friend, the heavy towel, creates the uneven load. The bespoke footpads, upon which the machine sits unevenly, partner with the towel. If the water-filling of the machine was the excitement and the agitation the plateau, the spin cycle is our climax. Woman and man and machine are one, as centripetal battles centrifugal and undulation and reciprocal pumping become cohorts. And that smell, she, wafts up to engulf us. Not just she, however, but us.

The spin reaches its peak as do we, and once again I am submerged within muscles and sinews and soul.The machine is frantic, the woman is ravenous, and the man is desperate. The sum greater than the addition of the parts.

There is a physiological reckoning in us when the machine now experiences its final phase, its spin down. It is a resolution, as we collapse in our own spindown. When all of the torque is spent, so are we. All is quiet—woman and man and machine.

I look down to regard the clothing she had removed before. I look back up toward her and she smiles.

“Very dirty clothes,” I say to her. They promise another laundry day.

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Write an R-rated short story.
Chapter 60 of The Peristalsis of Dr. Semicolon;
Written by DrSemicolon in portal Fiction
Dirty Laundry
She always liked how I did her laundry. Truth be told, I liked doing her laundry, too. I would guess at what she was doing by her laundry. I would look at the grass stains, the caked-on mud, and the mysterious bodily fluids and fantasize scenarios about what she did to get such soiling. She was busy. Always creating dirty laundry.

I would always smell her laundry, as much a part of the process as detergent or setting the length of the spin cycle. Ah, the spin cycle.

Even the nefarious stains, each with their own tell-tale olfactory clues, could not mask away her own womanly scent. How would I describe it? Her scent is she. As real as the train approaching when you’ve been tied down to the tracks, yet as elusive as a unicorn. As much to do with the real world as a cloud, yet when I smell she, I smell life on Earth—evolution, foraging, mating, and natural selection. I smell the intangible of joy. Like the tesseract, it cannot be categorized within the limitations of mere human sensorium. It is victory, submission, defiance, conquest, and surrender all rolled into one.

It is she.

I lift one of her very personal items to my face and inhale deeply. I am with her when I do this. I am lifted; I leave, out-of-body, coasting on the pleasure of my forebrain. The second cranial nerve has allowed me to appreciate her beauty. The eighth cranial nerve has allowed me to harmonize to her song. But my first cranial nerve is a gift from God. Pheromones blow me into a singularity, all places and one simultaneously. I am drunk with her scent.

She. Just the word, with its digraphical phoneme…

Pheromones and phonemes. She. With its unvoiced fricative, my vocal chords don’t even vibrate until I get to the long ē. But it is worth the wait. It is when the angels join the chorus of my pleasure.

I sit atop the washer, sorting and smelling, separating and sniffing. When I think I have exhausted all of the odorifics contained thereon, I let it slip through the open door to join the others. The t-shirt with its musky tale of mammalian exertions. The scarf, sure to be ruined by the machine, with the alchemy of its man-made perfume concocting with the fragrance of she a bouquet of marriage between her and the rest of the world and all its wonders, not the least of which is the wonder of herself.

On second thought, I reach back in to retrieve the previous olfaction delight. I have not exhausted it, and I bask one more time in the fragrance of lovely, of feminine, and of implied symbiosis with me.

I appraise her other clothing, piece by piece. The bend of her knee here, the flex of her elbow there. Pivots that separate her sinews and pumping muscles. Rhythmic tightening and relaxations, glistening with the thinnest layer of moisture that sparkles magically on her faint hair. Bodily functions contained within a working model of woman, sculpted from fulfillment. I dream of these sinews and pumping muscles atop myself, and both of us atop this very washing machine. Machinations and machines come together today because it is wash day.

I reach for a towel. It is a heavy towel and it is not even dirty. It will conflict with the delicates; it will upset the balance of the rotation. It is on purpose: I want an uneven load. I place a detergent packet into the machine, to wipe the slate clean, to start over, to deliver to me the next generation of sensory enchantments. I push the right buttons.
I disrobe.

The machine is an old one. It is not level, again, on purpose. I can feel the warmth on my bare buttocks as it begins its cycle of operation. I become aroused. If she were to walk in now, she would see it plainly.

She knows the game. She enters and feigns surprise, then outrage. She approaches me tenuously, testing each step as she does. Her livid expression undergoes devolution into one of lust. The machine is rumbling in its excitement. My arousal becomes stronger, crying for help. She disrobes, letting her things drop methodically and silently to the floor, staring into my eyes the entire time. Sex isn’t with genitals, it is with the brain.

It is with the soul.

She wants to join me during the machine’s excitation phase. Nude, a word that only portrays beauty, is not correct; she is naked, the better word, because it is the name that promises action. She steps up on a footstool and then throws one leg over my lap. Next she is sitting on top of me, insertion completed in one fell swoop. Deftly. I am surprised at her moisture. Again, the wrong word. She is wet, the name for love.

In the next phase of the machine’s cycle, there is a plateau during which it maintains a continued churning agitation. My anticipation builds, as we await the next phase. The thin layer of moisture on each of us is now the only thing between us. Alternating movements and alternating current both conspire to initiate in each of us the next phase of the cycle. The machine pauses. It is a spinal pause in us, as well, like that one moment on the roller coaster where the chain that drags the cars up the first and highest hill disengages in preparation for the headlong rush into the lake of adrenaline below. Chink, chink, chink, chink…then… the moment for which I have waited.

The spin cycle.

My friend, the heavy towel, creates the uneven load. The bespoke footpads, upon which the machine sits unevenly, partner with the towel. If the water-filling of the machine was the excitement and the agitation the plateau, the spin cycle is our climax. Woman and man and machine are one, as centripetal battles centrifugal and undulation and reciprocal pumping become cohorts. And that smell, she, wafts up to engulf us. Not just she, however, but us.

The spin reaches its peak as do we, and once again I am submerged within muscles and sinews and soul.The machine is frantic, the woman is ravenous, and the man is desperate. The sum greater than the addition of the parts.

There is a physiological reckoning in us when the machine now experiences its final phase, its spin down. It is a resolution, as we collapse in our own spindown. When all of the torque is spent, so are we. All is quiet—woman and man and machine.

I look down to regard the clothing she had removed before. I look back up toward her and she smiles.

“Very dirty clothes,” I say to her. They promise another laundry day.
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Written by DrSemicolon

The prologue of my new book, "STARLESS and Bible Black," now available.

(I am sorry I didn't post this while it was free on Amazon. If you'd like it, comment on it with your email and I'll send you a free PDF of the finished book.)

Prologue:

The Flicker—the Night the Stars Went Out 

It was a beautiful, crisp, starry night blanketing the shadowed half of this predominantly religious world. The countless flickers, scintillating pinpoints of divine camaraderie, proclaimed our fellowship with the rest of creation. Too distant to render any heat, they bequeathed warmth in other ways.

They were our legacy, the stars. Our progenitors. We were in the continuum of stellar ontogeny, perhaps mere side effects; perhaps crowning achievements. Our dust was as germane to this continuum as the dust that made the stars that made us. We have lived as the progeny of fusion, depletion, collapse, and explosion, all forging elements heavy enough to become the sentient beings that wrote about them, first as myth, then romantically, and finally scientifically.

The twinkling night both chased behind and receded away from the day, the metronome by which all life on Earth bides time. For half of all of our heartbeats until the last, the gift of the night was ours to behold, allowing us to fall asleep in a comfort of constancy that our world would be there when we opened our eyes again. The repose that ended each day, when all brows unfurrowed and the beauty of infinite calm swept all faces, evidenced how we indeed were made in his image and likeness.

The sky dazzled those who looked up on this beautiful, crisp, starry night. It was cloudless, the curtains drawn away from center stage for the show that must go on. Night after night, since Man first looked up, this show was enjoying a good run. A million million points of light, often the metaphor for giving hope as it always had, promised an end—someday—to our loneliness: Were we first? Were we only? Were we left behind? The answers shined in staccato encryption on the dome of each night, awaiting meaningful dialogue.

Our large orbiting telescopes brought the beauty of the cosmos to the common man who financed it invisibly with withholdings from his earnings. There was a science called Astronomy, as richly explored as any other discipline. Cosmological certainties played the music of the spheres to those who danced with gravity and time and space, hoping to decrypt overtures from the aether. There was a pseudoscience called Astrology, as richly exploited as any other discipline. Cosmological alchemy played the music of the spheres to those who were tone deaf to the realities.

Astronomy looked outward, astrology inward. Outward, however, was where there were both hope and anticipation, beyond…perhaps, just perhaps...

The hope in the stars often slipped away, neglected and unappreciated, less and less on the minds of the distracted busy men and women otherwise going about their days that separated their nights; even children, who felt the hope more, only rarely fantasized the comic book possibilities of others elsewhere offering new ways that could change everything.

Mostly, life went on in our predominantly religious world, day after day, night after night, our stars unnoticed as much as the air around us; as much our companions as the love, hate, greed, benevolence, ruthlessness, and mercy that directed our motives and decisions. Always there for those ingrates who could simply look up, the stars faithfully held our hands in the universe whether we beheld them or not.

On a night we were to look up and see nothing, look up and see them no more, it would be a nightmare, just as intangible yet just as horrific.

We were not immune to nightmares, however. The astronomers at work at the eyepieces on our big telescopes financed by common men—on Mauna Kea, in the Canary Islands, and at Palomar—were having a bad night as their viewing opportunity drifted to them from the east at the speed of the world’s rotation. On this one evening, for those astronomers who watched along serially darkening longitudes, the stars were gone. They had gone out. In a blink.

They simply were no longer.

No one guessed correctly the reason for their sudden disappearance, instead misdirecting blame on a suddenly overcast sky, on pollution, or even on washout by a greedy grandstander full moon which persevered as our only remaining friend in a universe previously filled with hope.

Motorized telescopes the world over moved more this night than in many years combined. But this—Shakespeare’s o'er-hanging firmament—they discovered, was brave no more; this roof, they realized, was no longer majestic or fretted with golden fire.

The Saturn Encounter mission took the straight line into oblivion, no longer circling within the rings, because Saturn wasn't there. The New Horizons mission that had visited Pluto and now aimed for future Kuiper belt targets went astray into nothing. Martian rovers stopped sending data. The historic Voyagers I and II, now forever only moving away toward nothing, would never reach anywhere at any time, ever.

Astronomy ended that night. Astrology ended that night. Hope and anticipation ended that night. The Earth jutted out as a crag overhanging a sterile abyss. The sky was universally starless over cities like New York, Paris, Moscow, Beijing, and Llareggub. The sky was evenly Bible black over bucolic forests like Sherwood, the Sequoias, and Milk Wood.

Just as we outlast our nightmares, extinguished by each dawn, we are only one sunset away from the nightmare’s return.

(I just published STARLESS and Bible Black on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0722CKQT7). 

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Written by DrSemicolon
The prologue of my new book, "STARLESS and Bible Black," now available.
(I am sorry I didn't post this while it was free on Amazon. If you'd like it, comment on it with your email and I'll send you a free PDF of the finished book.)



Prologue:
The Flicker—the Night the Stars Went Out 

It was a beautiful, crisp, starry night blanketing the shadowed half of this predominantly religious world. The countless flickers, scintillating pinpoints of divine camaraderie, proclaimed our fellowship with the rest of creation. Too distant to render any heat, they bequeathed warmth in other ways.

They were our legacy, the stars. Our progenitors. We were in the continuum of stellar ontogeny, perhaps mere side effects; perhaps crowning achievements. Our dust was as germane to this continuum as the dust that made the stars that made us. We have lived as the progeny of fusion, depletion, collapse, and explosion, all forging elements heavy enough to become the sentient beings that wrote about them, first as myth, then romantically, and finally scientifically.

The twinkling night both chased behind and receded away from the day, the metronome by which all life on Earth bides time. For half of all of our heartbeats until the last, the gift of the night was ours to behold, allowing us to fall asleep in a comfort of constancy that our world would be there when we opened our eyes again. The repose that ended each day, when all brows unfurrowed and the beauty of infinite calm swept all faces, evidenced how we indeed were made in his image and likeness.

The sky dazzled those who looked up on this beautiful, crisp, starry night. It was cloudless, the curtains drawn away from center stage for the show that must go on. Night after night, since Man first looked up, this show was enjoying a good run. A million million points of light, often the metaphor for giving hope as it always had, promised an end—someday—to our loneliness: Were we first? Were we only? Were we left behind? The answers shined in staccato encryption on the dome of each night, awaiting meaningful dialogue.

Our large orbiting telescopes brought the beauty of the cosmos to the common man who financed it invisibly with withholdings from his earnings. There was a science called Astronomy, as richly explored as any other discipline. Cosmological certainties played the music of the spheres to those who danced with gravity and time and space, hoping to decrypt overtures from the aether. There was a pseudoscience called Astrology, as richly exploited as any other discipline. Cosmological alchemy played the music of the spheres to those who were tone deaf to the realities.

Astronomy looked outward, astrology inward. Outward, however, was where there were both hope and anticipation, beyond…perhaps, just perhaps...

The hope in the stars often slipped away, neglected and unappreciated, less and less on the minds of the distracted busy men and women otherwise going about their days that separated their nights; even children, who felt the hope more, only rarely fantasized the comic book possibilities of others elsewhere offering new ways that could change everything.

Mostly, life went on in our predominantly religious world, day after day, night after night, our stars unnoticed as much as the air around us; as much our companions as the love, hate, greed, benevolence, ruthlessness, and mercy that directed our motives and decisions. Always there for those ingrates who could simply look up, the stars faithfully held our hands in the universe whether we beheld them or not.

On a night we were to look up and see nothing, look up and see them no more, it would be a nightmare, just as intangible yet just as horrific.

We were not immune to nightmares, however. The astronomers at work at the eyepieces on our big telescopes financed by common men—on Mauna Kea, in the Canary Islands, and at Palomar—were having a bad night as their viewing opportunity drifted to them from the east at the speed of the world’s rotation. On this one evening, for those astronomers who watched along serially darkening longitudes, the stars were gone. They had gone out. In a blink.

They simply were no longer.

No one guessed correctly the reason for their sudden disappearance, instead misdirecting blame on a suddenly overcast sky, on pollution, or even on washout by a greedy grandstander full moon which persevered as our only remaining friend in a universe previously filled with hope.

Motorized telescopes the world over moved more this night than in many years combined. But this—Shakespeare’s o'er-hanging firmament—they discovered, was brave no more; this roof, they realized, was no longer majestic or fretted with golden fire.
The Saturn Encounter mission took the straight line into oblivion, no longer circling within the rings, because Saturn wasn't there. The New Horizons mission that had visited Pluto and now aimed for future Kuiper belt targets went astray into nothing. Martian rovers stopped sending data. The historic Voyagers I and II, now forever only moving away toward nothing, would never reach anywhere at any time, ever.

Astronomy ended that night. Astrology ended that night. Hope and anticipation ended that night. The Earth jutted out as a crag overhanging a sterile abyss. The sky was universally starless over cities like New York, Paris, Moscow, Beijing, and Llareggub. The sky was evenly Bible black over bucolic forests like Sherwood, the Sequoias, and Milk Wood.

Just as we outlast our nightmares, extinguished by each dawn, we are only one sunset away from the nightmare’s return.

(I just published STARLESS and Bible Black on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0722CKQT7). 
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Word Play Time! Try to write a piece with every word starting with consecutive letters of the alphabet, like this: ("A Beastly Challenge, Don't Ewe Find? ") Miss-spelling allowed, as long as it makes readable sense. I wonder if anyone can make it through the whole alphabet with a coherent story?
Written by DrSemicolon

O I C U R 1 2

Apocalyptic brethren can dodge every ferocious, gruesome hazard in just keeping low, making no observable perturbations, quite reticent, secretly traipsing under vegetation when xenophobes yell, "Zombies"!  

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Word Play Time! Try to write a piece with every word starting with consecutive letters of the alphabet, like this: ("A Beastly Challenge, Don't Ewe Find? ") Miss-spelling allowed, as long as it makes readable sense. I wonder if anyone can make it through the whole alphabet with a coherent story?
Written by DrSemicolon
O I C U R 1 2
Apocalyptic brethren can dodge every ferocious, gruesome hazard in just keeping low, making no observable perturbations, quite reticent, secretly traipsing under vegetation when xenophobes yell, "Zombies"!  
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ProseChallenge #67: Write a poem about grief.
Chapter 59 of The Peristalsis of Dr. Semicolon;
Written by DrSemicolon

The Unbearable Nothingness of Grief

Forsaken, I stand naked and alone

A singular point on the number line

Ill winds from aft force me whither unknown

Subtraction will kill with a minus sign.

Searching for feelings true and grandiose

Grieving for the life that was there before

I furl fetal, shrunk, and ourobos

And await my fate from love’s carnivore.

I faltered, my failed opportunity

Creating a void that demands from me

To give myself in perpetuity

But then the vacuum collapsed completely.

She is gone, but a vector needs two points

Unable to sense anyone at all

I pray fiercely for the One who anoints

Those is love, but I feel His withdrawal.

I feel no one’s presence now, no love, no God

No faith, no purpose, not even my soul

I fall to the ground where no one dares trod

For fear of waxing unwell and unwhole.

The emptiest place filled with all bad things

My hollowness did beget the ill wind

‘Gainst gossamer webs of mind misfirings

That blow my loose atoms, my smithereens.

I feel now the pain of the paradox

Of knowing the sting of oblivion

Feeling myself rot and consumed by pox

To become thoughtless misteps’ carrion.

My grief is without substance and unblessed

And ungrounded, ballast lost and now missed

The animal that feeds on the soulless

Will have no trouble dragging me from this.

Now I can hear a most terrible sound

The noise that can thwart even the ill wind

I fear for the sound as it comes around

Where rage, rejection, hopelessness begin.

It deafens me with the sound of collapse

Of my worth and value and self-esteem

Where once love was, my grief cannot adapt

When hearing how loud God Himself can scream.

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ProseChallenge #67: Write a poem about grief.
Chapter 59 of The Peristalsis of Dr. Semicolon;
Written by DrSemicolon
The Unbearable Nothingness of Grief
Forsaken, I stand naked and alone
A singular point on the number line
Ill winds from aft force me whither unknown
Subtraction will kill with a minus sign.

Searching for feelings true and grandiose
Grieving for the life that was there before
I furl fetal, shrunk, and ourobos
And await my fate from love’s carnivore.

I faltered, my failed opportunity
Creating a void that demands from me
To give myself in perpetuity
But then the vacuum collapsed completely.

She is gone, but a vector needs two points
Unable to sense anyone at all
I pray fiercely for the One who anoints
Those is love, but I feel His withdrawal.

I feel no one’s presence now, no love, no God
No faith, no purpose, not even my soul
I fall to the ground where no one dares trod
For fear of waxing unwell and unwhole.

The emptiest place filled with all bad things
My hollowness did beget the ill wind
‘Gainst gossamer webs of mind misfirings
That blow my loose atoms, my smithereens.

I feel now the pain of the paradox
Of knowing the sting of oblivion
Feeling myself rot and consumed by pox
To become thoughtless misteps’ carrion.

My grief is without substance and unblessed
And ungrounded, ballast lost and now missed
The animal that feeds on the soulless
Will have no trouble dragging me from this.

Now I can hear a most terrible sound
The noise that can thwart even the ill wind
I fear for the sound as it comes around
Where rage, rejection, hopelessness begin.

It deafens me with the sound of collapse
Of my worth and value and self-esteem
Where once love was, my grief cannot adapt
When hearing how loud God Himself can scream.
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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 DrSemicolon in portal Simon & Schuster

Diamond Dog

It seemed that dying was not such a dreadful thing anymore, because David Bowie had died. She was not supposed to outlive Bowie. He was too important to her to go first. She claimed she had been to every live performance over five decades. She even claimed she had had sex with him in her groupie days. She had every one of his albums. Actually, she had two copies of each one, one to play, another shrink-wrapped virgin vinyl, unopened, she was keeping to pass on to her children and grandchildren. She didn't have any progeny, however. Being obsessed with Bowie meant that venturing into other social interactions was simply not on her list. She had recorded every TV performance, now collected on a shelf of VHS tapes she could only play on an obsolete machine she finally had found at Good Will.

Anna could see herself going out, fading away, with Bowie. It lent a romantic respite from the toxic melancholy that had tormented her since she had heard her diagnosis. A diagnosis like his. Coincidence? Their connection was strong. Among her phases of denial, anger, pleading, and acceptance, romance sneaked in right at the end, courtesy of her absentee man who had sold the world. Yes, I can go out with my David, she mused. When she ate, drank, slept, and breathed her disease and mortality every waking and sleeping moment since her bad news, it was easy, even comforting to imagine that the disappearance of Bowie had a fateful relationship with her own pending disappearance. Let the world do without the both of us, she thought. A small black Pug jumped onto her lap.

“I won’t leave you, though” she promised the small dog. “No, we’re a package deal, huh?” She continued her conversation with the Pug who barked his responses. “I should have named you Diamond, right, Elvis?” she said to Elvis, what she had really named him. “Or Major Tom, or even…Ziggy! Yes, Ziggy!” Elvis yipped in agreement to the happy chirpy sounds of her voice. “So, what do you think about all these ch-ch-changes to my health?" she asked, and laughed, and Elvis laughed with her. "Did you even know who David Bowie was? I guess not, sweetie.” She made exaggerated smooching noises all around his head as Elvis licked her face.

“I guess I should feel deserted,” she said to him. “My life is leaving me now but my David has left me first. He was unfaithful.” Elvis jammed his snout firmly into her belly and snorted and sniffed rapidly. He could smell her disease, her scary monster. He had smelled it long before any biopsies, scans, or even suspicions had hinted of it. “But you’re not leaving me. Not you. You would never do that, would you?”

She knew that to Elvis, she was his Bowie, his ultimate destination, his million points of light. She was his hopes and dreams, even when his time was to come, his own eternal rest, because dogs were not supposed to outlive their masters. He had never heard Bowie, even as often as it played throughout the house, because he never listened any further than Anna's voice. He had never even seen the stars because he had never looked any higher than her face. Just as Man had reached for the stars, Elvis had reached for her. His small canine brain saw himself as much a part of her as her own arms and legs and tumor. When she suffered, he suffered. When she would grab her lower abdomen and groan in pain, Elvis would slink toward her, his legs all double-jointed and his tail down. It did not matter to Elvis that Bowie was gone; it only mattered to him that Anna was still here. But as small as his mind was, it sensed her coming departure from his world.

She thought of it often, but she never spoke of it with him. She knew some things dogs understand without knowing any words except for treat, vet, bath or his name. Anna was fond of saying that dogs were a gift from God, and truly their dedication—total, loving, even ridiculous—could only have come from God.

She also had a cat that she seldom saw. It was an outside cat, living a cat people life that was interrupted only for a visit to the milk bowl on her step. She knew that the cat knew there were no more Bowie, but that it simply didn’t care. Cats knew almost everything, but cared about almost none of it. They were survivors and would do just fine dealing with the loss of Bowie or anything else. But she also knew a cat would have no clue of the rot inside her that doomed her and threatened the milk supply.

Elvis knew that no dog should outlive his master. It just wasn't allowed. It was just the way it was. A law. His small canine mind couldn’t use a vocabulary to put it into words, but somewhere among his simple synapses he could sense the train wreck coming and that his stars, his ultimate destination, and his million points of light would soon be gone. He knew, then, that he would be gone soon, too, and first, according to the law.

He cried at night, even if Anna didn’t know why. He cried for both of them, even if Anna didn't know how.

She labeled Elvis her comfort dog, insisting he accompany her to the grocery, to the mall, even to her doctor’s office. Old Dr. Burgess saw her in his office when she had kept her follow-up appointment. She sat in a chair and settled in, as he looked with disapproval of the dog on her lap. He raised an eyebrow.

“Don’t even start. He’s my comfort animal.”

“Comfort, hmmm…You shouldn’t have canceled your chemotherapy appointments or refused your radiation if you wanted comfort. In fact, you have refused to discuss further any remedy at all.”

“Remedy? Is that what those things are? They’re remedies? They will fix me?”

“Anna, you know what I mean. I agree that the survival rate—”

“My rate? I’m going to have a rate of survival?” Elvis picked up on the sarcasm and yipped a high-pitched bark that hurt Dr. Burgess’ ears. The doctor flinched.

“Enough to make you deaf!” he complained.

"Deaf-er, you mean."

“No reconsideration, Anna?” She sighed.

“No, not for me.”

“Why do you keep refusing?” he asked.

“Again, you ask me? Again, Dr. B., I ask you back, did you know that Bowie was gone?”

“Oh, that. Yes, I have. And again I ask, how does that figure into a decision to not do what’s best for you?”

“Dr. B., I've had radiation all my life. Cosmic rays, X-rays, gamma rays—all from the stars. And the day Bowie left us is the day you gave me my diagnosis. Advanced this or advanced that.”

“Advanced mixed muellerian carcinosarcoma.”

“If you say so.”

“Well, then,” he said with a mischievous smile, “maybe all that radiation kept your cancer away. More reason to consider it now since you’re on your own.”

“Funny, Doc, real funny,” she said. “A 10% survival rate with your man-made radiation?”

“Yea, I know.” He understood. She knew he understood. “You have to try,” he urged her, having to try.

“No, I really don’t. Look, all I know is that I came from dust and to dust I will return. With or without radiation.”

“You came from the dust of stars,” Dr. Burgess added. "Just like all the radiation you were talking about. And the the iron that sits in your hemoglobin, even though you're anemic; the oxygen you breathe, even though you're short of breath; the stuff that makes your bacteria—both the good and the bad, although in you the bad seem to be overpowering the good. The hydrogen, the nitrogen, the magnesium, the sodium, the potassium—all of these things came from the stars. You came from them."

“I stand corrected,” she said. "Not dust to dust. Stardust to stardust." She laughed to herself, but then suddenly became sad. "My dust—my dust is supposed to go back into the stars, but I guess that's impossible right now because it has to go into the Earth first, and it won't be back into the stars until the Earth falls into the stars. When will that happen, Dr. B.?"

"Not for another five billion years or so."

"Oh, I'll be long gone by then. But I guess I'll finally be home. But for now, my dust will be parked. It will be worthless. It will be wasted.”

"What about David Bowie's dust? Is that wasted?" he asked.

"Oh, Dr. B., that is good dust."

“Well, don’t throw away your dust just yet, Anna. It’s good dust, too.” He paused. "David would have thought so." He paused again. "Ziggy would have thought so."

“Shame,” she said with a sincere smile that in some way expressed some finality. As she began to rise from the chair, Elvis jumped down. She left with Elvis prancing behind her. To a dog, life was good.

There weren't many days left for her--for them--but during the few they shared, Anna and Elvis were happy. Even when Anna was more sarcoma than she was Anna. No dog should outlive his master, Elvis kept gestalting in his limited dog brain way, without words. So when Anna finally left Elvis' world, he felt very un-dogly about himself. She had deserted him. She had been unfaithful to the law. To him. She had Bowied him in infidelity.

It was against the law.

There was a celebration of life at her house the evening of the funeral. Dr. Burgess was there. The pastor who presided over the burial was there, too. It wasn't important to Elvis that there was no one else present, because dogs do not keep score. They only count to two, and now he had an equation with no sum. He left the kitchen through the doggy door and walked into the backyard. The feral cat hissed at him, but he didn't care. He saw her on the fence, and she was stunned that he didn't care. His eyes didn't stop there. He continued to look up, and he reached a point where he could see twinkling, sparkly dots of light strewn across the sky. He listened to the music coming out of the house. It was Bowie. He knew the words by heart.

Oh no love! You're not alone

You're watching yourself but you're too unfair

You got your head all tangled up

But if I could only make you care

Oh no love! You're not alone

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Written by DrSemicolon in portal Simon & Schuster
Diamond Dog
It seemed that dying was not such a dreadful thing anymore, because David Bowie had died. She was not supposed to outlive Bowie. He was too important to her to go first. She claimed she had been to every live performance over five decades. She even claimed she had had sex with him in her groupie days. She had every one of his albums. Actually, she had two copies of each one, one to play, another shrink-wrapped virgin vinyl, unopened, she was keeping to pass on to her children and grandchildren. She didn't have any progeny, however. Being obsessed with Bowie meant that venturing into other social interactions was simply not on her list. She had recorded every TV performance, now collected on a shelf of VHS tapes she could only play on an obsolete machine she finally had found at Good Will.

Anna could see herself going out, fading away, with Bowie. It lent a romantic respite from the toxic melancholy that had tormented her since she had heard her diagnosis. A diagnosis like his. Coincidence? Their connection was strong. Among her phases of denial, anger, pleading, and acceptance, romance sneaked in right at the end, courtesy of her absentee man who had sold the world. Yes, I can go out with my David, she mused. When she ate, drank, slept, and breathed her disease and mortality every waking and sleeping moment since her bad news, it was easy, even comforting to imagine that the disappearance of Bowie had a fateful relationship with her own pending disappearance. Let the world do without the both of us, she thought. A small black Pug jumped onto her lap.

“I won’t leave you, though” she promised the small dog. “No, we’re a package deal, huh?” She continued her conversation with the Pug who barked his responses. “I should have named you Diamond, right, Elvis?” she said to Elvis, what she had really named him. “Or Major Tom, or even…Ziggy! Yes, Ziggy!” Elvis yipped in agreement to the happy chirpy sounds of her voice. “So, what do you think about all these ch-ch-changes to my health?" she asked, and laughed, and Elvis laughed with her. "Did you even know who David Bowie was? I guess not, sweetie.” She made exaggerated smooching noises all around his head as Elvis licked her face.

“I guess I should feel deserted,” she said to him. “My life is leaving me now but my David has left me first. He was unfaithful.” Elvis jammed his snout firmly into her belly and snorted and sniffed rapidly. He could smell her disease, her scary monster. He had smelled it long before any biopsies, scans, or even suspicions had hinted of it. “But you’re not leaving me. Not you. You would never do that, would you?”

She knew that to Elvis, she was his Bowie, his ultimate destination, his million points of light. She was his hopes and dreams, even when his time was to come, his own eternal rest, because dogs were not supposed to outlive their masters. He had never heard Bowie, even as often as it played throughout the house, because he never listened any further than Anna's voice. He had never even seen the stars because he had never looked any higher than her face. Just as Man had reached for the stars, Elvis had reached for her. His small canine brain saw himself as much a part of her as her own arms and legs and tumor. When she suffered, he suffered. When she would grab her lower abdomen and groan in pain, Elvis would slink toward her, his legs all double-jointed and his tail down. It did not matter to Elvis that Bowie was gone; it only mattered to him that Anna was still here. But as small as his mind was, it sensed her coming departure from his world.

She thought of it often, but she never spoke of it with him. She knew some things dogs understand without knowing any words except for treat, vet, bath or his name. Anna was fond of saying that dogs were a gift from God, and truly their dedication—total, loving, even ridiculous—could only have come from God.

She also had a cat that she seldom saw. It was an outside cat, living a cat people life that was interrupted only for a visit to the milk bowl on her step. She knew that the cat knew there were no more Bowie, but that it simply didn’t care. Cats knew almost everything, but cared about almost none of it. They were survivors and would do just fine dealing with the loss of Bowie or anything else. But she also knew a cat would have no clue of the rot inside her that doomed her and threatened the milk supply.

Elvis knew that no dog should outlive his master. It just wasn't allowed. It was just the way it was. A law. His small canine mind couldn’t use a vocabulary to put it into words, but somewhere among his simple synapses he could sense the train wreck coming and that his stars, his ultimate destination, and his million points of light would soon be gone. He knew, then, that he would be gone soon, too, and first, according to the law.

He cried at night, even if Anna didn’t know why. He cried for both of them, even if Anna didn't know how.

She labeled Elvis her comfort dog, insisting he accompany her to the grocery, to the mall, even to her doctor’s office. Old Dr. Burgess saw her in his office when she had kept her follow-up appointment. She sat in a chair and settled in, as he looked with disapproval of the dog on her lap. He raised an eyebrow.

“Don’t even start. He’s my comfort animal.”

“Comfort, hmmm…You shouldn’t have canceled your chemotherapy appointments or refused your radiation if you wanted comfort. In fact, you have refused to discuss further any remedy at all.”

“Remedy? Is that what those things are? They’re remedies? They will fix me?”

“Anna, you know what I mean. I agree that the survival rate—”

“My rate? I’m going to have a rate of survival?” Elvis picked up on the sarcasm and yipped a high-pitched bark that hurt Dr. Burgess’ ears. The doctor flinched.

“Enough to make you deaf!” he complained.

"Deaf-er, you mean."

“No reconsideration, Anna?” She sighed.

“No, not for me.”

“Why do you keep refusing?” he asked.

“Again, you ask me? Again, Dr. B., I ask you back, did you know that Bowie was gone?”

“Oh, that. Yes, I have. And again I ask, how does that figure into a decision to not do what’s best for you?”

“Dr. B., I've had radiation all my life. Cosmic rays, X-rays, gamma rays—all from the stars. And the day Bowie left us is the day you gave me my diagnosis. Advanced this or advanced that.”

“Advanced mixed muellerian carcinosarcoma.”

“If you say so.”

“Well, then,” he said with a mischievous smile, “maybe all that radiation kept your cancer away. More reason to consider it now since you’re on your own.”

“Funny, Doc, real funny,” she said. “A 10% survival rate with your man-made radiation?”

“Yea, I know.” He understood. She knew he understood. “You have to try,” he urged her, having to try.

“No, I really don’t. Look, all I know is that I came from dust and to dust I will return. With or without radiation.”

“You came from the dust of stars,” Dr. Burgess added. "Just like all the radiation you were talking about. And the the iron that sits in your hemoglobin, even though you're anemic; the oxygen you breathe, even though you're short of breath; the stuff that makes your bacteria—both the good and the bad, although in you the bad seem to be overpowering the good. The hydrogen, the nitrogen, the magnesium, the sodium, the potassium—all of these things came from the stars. You came from them."

“I stand corrected,” she said. "Not dust to dust. Stardust to stardust." She laughed to herself, but then suddenly became sad. "My dust—my dust is supposed to go back into the stars, but I guess that's impossible right now because it has to go into the Earth first, and it won't be back into the stars until the Earth falls into the stars. When will that happen, Dr. B.?"

"Not for another five billion years or so."

"Oh, I'll be long gone by then. But I guess I'll finally be home. But for now, my dust will be parked. It will be worthless. It will be wasted.”

"What about David Bowie's dust? Is that wasted?" he asked.

"Oh, Dr. B., that is good dust."

“Well, don’t throw away your dust just yet, Anna. It’s good dust, too.” He paused. "David would have thought so." He paused again. "Ziggy would have thought so."

“Shame,” she said with a sincere smile that in some way expressed some finality. As she began to rise from the chair, Elvis jumped down. She left with Elvis prancing behind her. To a dog, life was good.

There weren't many days left for her--for them--but during the few they shared, Anna and Elvis were happy. Even when Anna was more sarcoma than she was Anna. No dog should outlive his master, Elvis kept gestalting in his limited dog brain way, without words. So when Anna finally left Elvis' world, he felt very un-dogly about himself. She had deserted him. She had been unfaithful to the law. To him. She had Bowied him in infidelity.

It was against the law.

There was a celebration of life at her house the evening of the funeral. Dr. Burgess was there. The pastor who presided over the burial was there, too. It wasn't important to Elvis that there was no one else present, because dogs do not keep score. They only count to two, and now he had an equation with no sum. He left the kitchen through the doggy door and walked into the backyard. The feral cat hissed at him, but he didn't care. He saw her on the fence, and she was stunned that he didn't care. His eyes didn't stop there. He continued to look up, and he reached a point where he could see twinkling, sparkly dots of light strewn across the sky. He listened to the music coming out of the house. It was Bowie. He knew the words by heart.

Oh no love! You're not alone
You're watching yourself but you're too unfair
You got your head all tangled up
But if I could only make you care
Oh no love! You're not alone
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CotW #65: Write a story about infidelity. The most eloquent, elegant, entertaining entry, ascertained by Prose, earns $100 and stays atop the Spotlight shelf for six straight days. Feel free to invite friends, distant family, even strange acquaintances to play this challenge with you anonymously. Please use #ProseChallenge #itslit for sharing online.
Chapter 58 of The Peristalsis of Dr. Semicolon;
Written by DrSemicolon

Diamond Dog

It seemed that dying was not such a dreadful thing anymore, because Bowie had died. She was not supposed to outlive Bowie. He was too important to her to go first. She claimed she had been to every live performance over five decades. She even claimed she had had sex with him in her groupie days. She had every one of his albums. Actually, she had two copies of each one, one to play, another shrink-wrapped virgin vinyl, unopened, she was keeping to pass on to her children and grandchildren. She didn't have any progeny, hoever. Being obsessed with Bowie meant that venturing into other social interactions was simply not on her list. She had recorded every TV performance, now collected on a shelf of VHS tapes she could only play on an obsolete machine she finally had found at Good Will.

Anna could see herself going out, fading away, with Bowie. It lent a romantic respite from the toxic melancholy that had tormented her since she had heard her diagnosis. A diagnosis like his. Coincidence? Their connection was strong. Among her phases of denial, anger, pleading, and acceptance, romance sneaked in right at the end, courtesy of her absentee man who had sold the world. Yes, I can go out with my David, she mused. When she ate, drank, slept, and breathed her disease and mortality every waking and sleeping moment since her bad news, it was easy, even comforting to imagine that the disappearance of Bowie had a fateful relationship with her own pending disappearance. Let the world do without the both of us, she thought. A small black Pug jumped onto her lap.

“I won’t leave you, though” she promised the small dog. “No, we’re a package deal, huh?” She continued her conversation with the Pug who barked his responses. “I should have named you Diamond, right, Elvis?” she said to Elvis, what she had really named him. “Or Major Tom, or even…Ziggy! Yes, Ziggy!” Elvis yipped in agreement to the happy chirpy sounds of her voice. “So, what do you think about all these ch-ch-changes to my health?" she asked, and laughed, and Elvis laughed with her. "Did you even know who David Bowie was? I guess not, sweetie.” She made exaggerated smooching noises all around his head as Elvis licked her face.

“I guess I should feel deserted,” she said to him. “My life is leaving me now but my David has left me first. He was unfaithful.” Elvis jammed his snout firmly into her belly and snorted and sniffed rapidly. He could smell her disease, her scary monster. He had smelled it long before any biopsies, scans, or even suspicions had hinted of it. “But you’re not leaving me. Not you. You would never do that, would you?”

She knew that to Elvis, she was his Bowie, his ultimate destination, his million points of light. She was his hopes and dreams, even when his time was to come, his own eternal rest, because dogs were not supposed to outlive their masters. He had never heard Bowie, even as often as it played throughout the house, because he never listened any further than Anna's voice. He had never even seen the stars because he had never looked any higher than her face. Just as Man had reached for the stars, Elvis had reached for her. His small canine brain saw himself as much a part of her as her own arms and legs and tumor. When she suffered, he suffered. When she would grab her lower abdomen and groan in pain, Elvis would slink toward her, his legs all double-jointed and his tail down. It did not matter to Elvis that Bowie was gone; it only mattered to him that Anna was still here. But as small as his mind was, it sensed her coming departure from his world. 

She thought of it often, but she never spoke of it with him. She knew some things dogs understand without knowing any words except for treat, vet, bath or his name. Anna was fond of saying that dogs were a gift from God, and truly their dedication—total, loving, even ridiculous—could only have come from God.

She also had a cat that she seldom saw. It was an outside cat, living a cat people life that was interrupted only for a visit to the milk bowl on her step. She knew that the cat knew there were no more Bowie, but that it simply didn’t care. Cats knew almost everything, but cared about almost none of it. They were survivors and would do just fine dealing with the loss of Bowie or anything else. But she also knew a cat would have no clue of the rot inside her that doomed her and threatened the milk supply.

Elvis knew that no dog should outlive his master. It just wasn't allowed. It was just the way it was. A law. His small canine mind couldn’t use a vocabulary to put it into words, but somewhere among his simple synapses he could sense the train wreck coming and that his stars, his ultimate destination, and his million points of light would soon be gone. He knew, then, that he would be gone soon, too, and first, according to the law

He cried at night, even if Anna didn’t know why. He cried for both of them, even if Anna didn't know how.

She labeled Elvis her comfort dog, insisting he accompany her to the grocery, to the mall, even to her doctor’s office. Old Dr. Burgess saw her in his office when she had kept her follow-up appointment. She sat in a chair and settled in, as he looked with disapproval of the dog on her lap. He raised an eyebrow.

“Don’t even start. He’s my comfort animal.”

“Comfort, hmmm…You shouldn’t have canceled your chemotherapy appointments or refused your radiation if you wanted comfort. In fact, you have refused to discuss further any remedy at all.”

“Remedy? Is that what those things are? They’re remedies? They will fix me?”

“Anna, you know what I mean. I agree that the survival rate—”

“My rate? I’m going to have a rate of survival?” Elvis picked up on the sarcasm and yipped a high-pitched bark that hurt Dr. Burgess’ ears. The doctor flinched.

“Enough to make you deaf!” he complained. 

"Deaf-er, you mean."

“No reconsideration, Anna?” She sighed.

“No, not for me.”

“Why do you keep refusing?” he asked.

“Again, you ask me? Again, Dr. B., I ask you back, did you know that Bowie was gone?”

“Oh, that. Yes, I have. And again I ask, how does that figure into a decision to not do what’s best for you?”

“Dr. B., I've had radiation all my life. Cosmic rays, X-rays, gamma rays—all from the stars. And the day Bowie left us is the day you gave me my diagnosis. Advanced this or advanced that.”

“Advanced mixed muellerian carcinosarcoma.”

“If you say so.”

“Well, then,” he said with a mischievous smile, “maybe all that radiation kept your cancer away. More reason to consider it now since you’re on your own.”

“Funny, Doc, real funny,” she said. “A 10% survival rate with your man-made radiation?”

“Yea, I know.” He understood. She knew he understood. “You have to try,” he urged her, having to try.

“No, I really don’t. Look, all I know is that I came from dust and to dust I will return. With or without radiation.”

“You came from the dust of stars,” Dr. Burgess added. "Just like all the radiation you were talking about. And the the iron that sits in your hemoglobin, even though you're anemic; the oxygen you breathe, even though you're short of breath; the stuff that makes your bacteria—both the good and the bad, although in you the bad seem to be overpowering the good. The hydrogen, the nitrogen, the magnesium, the sodium, the potassium—all of these things came from the stars. You came from them."

“I stand corrected,” she said. "Not dust to dust. Stardust to stardust." She laughed to herself, but then suddenly became sad. "My dust—my dust is supposed to go back into the stars, but I guess that's impossible right now because it has to go into the Earth first, and it won't be back into the stars until the Earth falls into the stars. When will that happen, Dr. B.?"

"Not for another five billion years or so."

"Oh, I'll be long gone by then. But I guess I'll finally be home. But for now, my dust will be parked. It will be worthless. It will be wasted.”

"What about David Bowie's dust? Is that wasted?" he asked.

"Oh, Dr. B., that is good dust."

“Well, don’t throw away your dust just yet, Anna. It’s good dust.” He paused. "David would have thought so." He paused again. "Ziggy would have thought so."

“Shame,” she said with a sincere smile that in some way expressed some finality. As she began to rise from the chair, Elvis jumped down. She left with Elvis prancing behind her. To a dog, life was good.

There weren't many days left for her--for them--but during the few they shared, Anna and Elvis were happy. Even when Anna was more sarcoma than she was Anna. No dog should outlive his master, Elvis kept gestalting in his limited dog brain way, without words. So when Anna finally left Elvis' world, he felt very un-dogly about himself. She had deserted him. She had been unfaithful to the law. To him. She had Bowied him in infidelity. 

It was against the law.  

There was a celebration of life at her house the evening of the funeral. Dr. Burgess was there. The pastor who presided over the burial was there, too. It wasn't important to Elvis that there was no one else present, because dogs do not keep score. They only count to two, and now he had an equation with no sum. He left the kitchen through the doggy door and walked into the backyard. The feral cat hissed at him, but he didn't care. He saw her on the fence, and she was stunned that he didn't care. His eyes didn't stop there. He continued to look up, and he reached a point where he could see twinkling, sparkly dots of light strewn across the sky. He listened to the music coming out of the house. He knew the words by heart.

Oh no love! You're not alone

You're watching yourself but you're too unfair

You got your head all tangled up

But if I could only make you care

Oh no love! You're not alone

13
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CotW #65: Write a story about infidelity. The most eloquent, elegant, entertaining entry, ascertained by Prose, earns $100 and stays atop the Spotlight shelf for six straight days. Feel free to invite friends, distant family, even strange acquaintances to play this challenge with you anonymously. Please use #ProseChallenge #itslit for sharing online.
Chapter 58 of The Peristalsis of Dr. Semicolon;
Written by DrSemicolon
Diamond Dog
It seemed that dying was not such a dreadful thing anymore, because Bowie had died. She was not supposed to outlive Bowie. He was too important to her to go first. She claimed she had been to every live performance over five decades. She even claimed she had had sex with him in her groupie days. She had every one of his albums. Actually, she had two copies of each one, one to play, another shrink-wrapped virgin vinyl, unopened, she was keeping to pass on to her children and grandchildren. She didn't have any progeny, hoever. Being obsessed with Bowie meant that venturing into other social interactions was simply not on her list. She had recorded every TV performance, now collected on a shelf of VHS tapes she could only play on an obsolete machine she finally had found at Good Will.

Anna could see herself going out, fading away, with Bowie. It lent a romantic respite from the toxic melancholy that had tormented her since she had heard her diagnosis. A diagnosis like his. Coincidence? Their connection was strong. Among her phases of denial, anger, pleading, and acceptance, romance sneaked in right at the end, courtesy of her absentee man who had sold the world. Yes, I can go out with my David, she mused. When she ate, drank, slept, and breathed her disease and mortality every waking and sleeping moment since her bad news, it was easy, even comforting to imagine that the disappearance of Bowie had a fateful relationship with her own pending disappearance. Let the world do without the both of us, she thought. A small black Pug jumped onto her lap.

“I won’t leave you, though” she promised the small dog. “No, we’re a package deal, huh?” She continued her conversation with the Pug who barked his responses. “I should have named you Diamond, right, Elvis?” she said to Elvis, what she had really named him. “Or Major Tom, or even…Ziggy! Yes, Ziggy!” Elvis yipped in agreement to the happy chirpy sounds of her voice. “So, what do you think about all these ch-ch-changes to my health?" she asked, and laughed, and Elvis laughed with her. "Did you even know who David Bowie was? I guess not, sweetie.” She made exaggerated smooching noises all around his head as Elvis licked her face.

“I guess I should feel deserted,” she said to him. “My life is leaving me now but my David has left me first. He was unfaithful.” Elvis jammed his snout firmly into her belly and snorted and sniffed rapidly. He could smell her disease, her scary monster. He had smelled it long before any biopsies, scans, or even suspicions had hinted of it. “But you’re not leaving me. Not you. You would never do that, would you?”

She knew that to Elvis, she was his Bowie, his ultimate destination, his million points of light. She was his hopes and dreams, even when his time was to come, his own eternal rest, because dogs were not supposed to outlive their masters. He had never heard Bowie, even as often as it played throughout the house, because he never listened any further than Anna's voice. He had never even seen the stars because he had never looked any higher than her face. Just as Man had reached for the stars, Elvis had reached for her. His small canine brain saw himself as much a part of her as her own arms and legs and tumor. When she suffered, he suffered. When she would grab her lower abdomen and groan in pain, Elvis would slink toward her, his legs all double-jointed and his tail down. It did not matter to Elvis that Bowie was gone; it only mattered to him that Anna was still here. But as small as his mind was, it sensed her coming departure from his world. 

She thought of it often, but she never spoke of it with him. She knew some things dogs understand without knowing any words except for treat, vet, bath or his name. Anna was fond of saying that dogs were a gift from God, and truly their dedication—total, loving, even ridiculous—could only have come from God.

She also had a cat that she seldom saw. It was an outside cat, living a cat people life that was interrupted only for a visit to the milk bowl on her step. She knew that the cat knew there were no more Bowie, but that it simply didn’t care. Cats knew almost everything, but cared about almost none of it. They were survivors and would do just fine dealing with the loss of Bowie or anything else. But she also knew a cat would have no clue of the rot inside her that doomed her and threatened the milk supply.

Elvis knew that no dog should outlive his master. It just wasn't allowed. It was just the way it was. A law. His small canine mind couldn’t use a vocabulary to put it into words, but somewhere among his simple synapses he could sense the train wreck coming and that his stars, his ultimate destination, and his million points of light would soon be gone. He knew, then, that he would be gone soon, too, and first, according to the law

He cried at night, even if Anna didn’t know why. He cried for both of them, even if Anna didn't know how.

She labeled Elvis her comfort dog, insisting he accompany her to the grocery, to the mall, even to her doctor’s office. Old Dr. Burgess saw her in his office when she had kept her follow-up appointment. She sat in a chair and settled in, as he looked with disapproval of the dog on her lap. He raised an eyebrow.

“Don’t even start. He’s my comfort animal.”

“Comfort, hmmm…You shouldn’t have canceled your chemotherapy appointments or refused your radiation if you wanted comfort. In fact, you have refused to discuss further any remedy at all.”

“Remedy? Is that what those things are? They’re remedies? They will fix me?”

“Anna, you know what I mean. I agree that the survival rate—”

“My rate? I’m going to have a rate of survival?” Elvis picked up on the sarcasm and yipped a high-pitched bark that hurt Dr. Burgess’ ears. The doctor flinched.

“Enough to make you deaf!” he complained. 

"Deaf-er, you mean."

“No reconsideration, Anna?” She sighed.

“No, not for me.”

“Why do you keep refusing?” he asked.

“Again, you ask me? Again, Dr. B., I ask you back, did you know that Bowie was gone?”

“Oh, that. Yes, I have. And again I ask, how does that figure into a decision to not do what’s best for you?”

“Dr. B., I've had radiation all my life. Cosmic rays, X-rays, gamma rays—all from the stars. And the day Bowie left us is the day you gave me my diagnosis. Advanced this or advanced that.”

“Advanced mixed muellerian carcinosarcoma.”

“If you say so.”

“Well, then,” he said with a mischievous smile, “maybe all that radiation kept your cancer away. More reason to consider it now since you’re on your own.”

“Funny, Doc, real funny,” she said. “A 10% survival rate with your man-made radiation?”

“Yea, I know.” He understood. She knew he understood. “You have to try,” he urged her, having to try.

“No, I really don’t. Look, all I know is that I came from dust and to dust I will return. With or without radiation.”

“You came from the dust of stars,” Dr. Burgess added. "Just like all the radiation you were talking about. And the the iron that sits in your hemoglobin, even though you're anemic; the oxygen you breathe, even though you're short of breath; the stuff that makes your bacteria—both the good and the bad, although in you the bad seem to be overpowering the good. The hydrogen, the nitrogen, the magnesium, the sodium, the potassium—all of these things came from the stars. You came from them."

“I stand corrected,” she said. "Not dust to dust. Stardust to stardust." She laughed to herself, but then suddenly became sad. "My dust—my dust is supposed to go back into the stars, but I guess that's impossible right now because it has to go into the Earth first, and it won't be back into the stars until the Earth falls into the stars. When will that happen, Dr. B.?"

"Not for another five billion years or so."

"Oh, I'll be long gone by then. But I guess I'll finally be home. But for now, my dust will be parked. It will be worthless. It will be wasted.”

"What about David Bowie's dust? Is that wasted?" he asked.

"Oh, Dr. B., that is good dust."

“Well, don’t throw away your dust just yet, Anna. It’s good dust.” He paused. "David would have thought so." He paused again. "Ziggy would have thought so."

“Shame,” she said with a sincere smile that in some way expressed some finality. As she began to rise from the chair, Elvis jumped down. She left with Elvis prancing behind her. To a dog, life was good.

There weren't many days left for her--for them--but during the few they shared, Anna and Elvis were happy. Even when Anna was more sarcoma than she was Anna. No dog should outlive his master, Elvis kept gestalting in his limited dog brain way, without words. So when Anna finally left Elvis' world, he felt very un-dogly about himself. She had deserted him. She had been unfaithful to the law. To him. She had Bowied him in infidelity. 

It was against the law.  

There was a celebration of life at her house the evening of the funeral. Dr. Burgess was there. The pastor who presided over the burial was there, too. It wasn't important to Elvis that there was no one else present, because dogs do not keep score. They only count to two, and now he had an equation with no sum. He left the kitchen through the doggy door and walked into the backyard. The feral cat hissed at him, but he didn't care. He saw her on the fence, and she was stunned that he didn't care. His eyes didn't stop there. He continued to look up, and he reached a point where he could see twinkling, sparkly dots of light strewn across the sky. He listened to the music coming out of the house. He knew the words by heart.

Oh no love! You're not alone
You're watching yourself but you're too unfair
You got your head all tangled up
But if I could only make you care
Oh no love! You're not alone
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Chapter 57 of The Peristalsis of Dr. Semicolon;
Written by DrSemicolon in portal Poetry & Free Verse

The Chilling Afterglow of Apathy

We've let the fire go out and the burning epoch ends here

Our long incend'ry journey from caves succumbed this year.

Prometheus will keep his liver but Man will spill his bile

For the stars have flickered out and hope's gone out of style.

My true love is silent, her voice left with the stars

Our ties together have reversed, because effect now searches for cause.

Our unborn children will live in a world roofed in starless decay

They will never know a horoscope but live uncertain ev'ry day.

Our broken hearts are manifest as we feel so terribly alone

Our hollow souls have already left us, forced as we are to roam.

Our future's certain by now, there's nothing for us there

So there's nothing for us here, nothing left to dare.

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Chapter 57 of The Peristalsis of Dr. Semicolon;
Written by DrSemicolon in portal Poetry & Free Verse
The Chilling Afterglow of Apathy
We've let the fire go out and the burning epoch ends here
Our long incend'ry journey from caves succumbed this year.
Prometheus will keep his liver but Man will spill his bile
For the stars have flickered out and hope's gone out of style.

My true love is silent, her voice left with the stars
Our ties together have reversed, because effect now searches for cause.
Our unborn children will live in a world roofed in starless decay
They will never know a horoscope but live uncertain ev'ry day.

Our broken hearts are manifest as we feel so terribly alone
Our hollow souls have already left us, forced as we are to roam.
Our future's certain by now, there's nothing for us there
So there's nothing for us here, nothing left to dare.
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Juice
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CotW #64: Write about the most hilarious thing you have ever witnessed. The most eloquent, elegant, entertaining entry, ascertained by Prose, earns $100 and stays atop the Spotlight shelf for six straight days. Feel free to invite friends, distant family, even strange acquaintances to play this challenge with you anonymously. Please use #ProseChallenge #itslit for sharing online.
Chapter 49 of The Peristalsis of Dr. Semicolon;
Written by DrSemicolon

Love is Blind--a True Story

My son is blind. Very blind. He has been since birth. How could something like that ever be funny, much less hilarious?

He's a handsome man, but as a child was simply adorable, in a most Tiny Tim-heartbreaking way. When he would be out and about with me or his Mom, he would melt hearts just by his presence, being guided along with his long red-tipped white cane. In the supermarket, the bank, or church, it was the type of presentation that made people wax maudlin and run for their check books to contribute to the Lighthouse for the Blind.

We had regular office visits to his doctor's office, which housed a retinologist, glaucoma specialist, and general ophthalmologist. Because of the nature of the specialty, the waiting room was always filled with elderly patients on their journeys through cataract treatments, retinitis pigmentosa, and high eye pressures.

He was no older than seven, a living pick for heartstrings. We would enter and I would sign him in, but as we walked between rows of chairs of the waiting visually impaired, a wave of terminal empathy followed in our wake, and you could hear a hush of mute melancholy osmose through the room in the saddest of Brownian motions.

At one particular visit, he picked up on this. When I placed his hands on the counter where we were to sign him in, I saw it. A little innocent grin began and from experience I knew there was nothing innocent at all about to happen.

"And just how are you today, young man?" asked the receptionist, her sing-song soprano setting him up beautifully. By then the waiting room had resumed the usual soft din of shuffling feet, frequent coughs, geriatric eructations, and chair movements on the linoleum.

"I'm very sad, Miss," he told her. Another wave of heartbreak rolled in, and he picked up on that, too.

"Oh, bless your little heart, baby, what's the matter? How can we help?"Her soprano now morphed into a tenor of deep concern.

"Tell the doctor..." he began, making his voice break, "that the operation didn't work. I'm still blind." And then his alligator tears sealed the deal.

There began a sobbing to which only the women at Calvary could have aspired. His words straight out of a soap opera script, he had given a daytime Emmy performance. I was mortified. His hijinks had reached a new high. I couldn't face the room of mourners. I would see them, not him.

"C'mon," I told him sternly, "let's sit down." The disciplinary tone of my voice earned me significant stinkeye from those who could see whom we passed. At this point, he began swinging his cane around wildly--just more shenanigans for a mischievous seven-year-old who just happened to be blind. "Stop that!" I commanded. He kept swinging.

"Leave him alone," said an elderly woman wearing thick cataract glasses.

"Do you see what he's doing?" I whispered to her in alarm.

"Oh, you're a hard man," she told me. That's when I realized she probably couldn't see what he was doing. Not well, anyway. But she had heard him--the poor, little blind boy.

"Daddy," he asked, "why did God make me blind?" Now the room exploded with wails. His cane was spinning like a baton but at this point he could get away with anything.

"Stop that!" I said again, sternly. "You could put an eye out like that!"

There was a sudden silence that said it all. I kept leading him, but didn't pick seats for us, instead, pressing on toward the door.

"Sir?" the receptionist called out, "what about his appointment?"

"We'll reschedule," I called back, and guiding him successfully out of the door, I never looked back.

Now I do. Hilarious.

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CotW #64: Write about the most hilarious thing you have ever witnessed. The most eloquent, elegant, entertaining entry, ascertained by Prose, earns $100 and stays atop the Spotlight shelf for six straight days. Feel free to invite friends, distant family, even strange acquaintances to play this challenge with you anonymously. Please use #ProseChallenge #itslit for sharing online.
Chapter 49 of The Peristalsis of Dr. Semicolon;
Written by DrSemicolon
Love is Blind--a True Story
My son is blind. Very blind. He has been since birth. How could something like that ever be funny, much less hilarious?
He's a handsome man, but as a child was simply adorable, in a most Tiny Tim-heartbreaking way. When he would be out and about with me or his Mom, he would melt hearts just by his presence, being guided along with his long red-tipped white cane. In the supermarket, the bank, or church, it was the type of presentation that made people wax maudlin and run for their check books to contribute to the Lighthouse for the Blind.
We had regular office visits to his doctor's office, which housed a retinologist, glaucoma specialist, and general ophthalmologist. Because of the nature of the specialty, the waiting room was always filled with elderly patients on their journeys through cataract treatments, retinitis pigmentosa, and high eye pressures.
He was no older than seven, a living pick for heartstrings. We would enter and I would sign him in, but as we walked between rows of chairs of the waiting visually impaired, a wave of terminal empathy followed in our wake, and you could hear a hush of mute melancholy osmose through the room in the saddest of Brownian motions.
At one particular visit, he picked up on this. When I placed his hands on the counter where we were to sign him in, I saw it. A little innocent grin began and from experience I knew there was nothing innocent at all about to happen.
"And just how are you today, young man?" asked the receptionist, her sing-song soprano setting him up beautifully. By then the waiting room had resumed the usual soft din of shuffling feet, frequent coughs, geriatric eructations, and chair movements on the linoleum.
"I'm very sad, Miss," he told her. Another wave of heartbreak rolled in, and he picked up on that, too.
"Oh, bless your little heart, baby, what's the matter? How can we help?"Her soprano now morphed into a tenor of deep concern.
"Tell the doctor..." he began, making his voice break, "that the operation didn't work. I'm still blind." And then his alligator tears sealed the deal.
There began a sobbing to which only the women at Calvary could have aspired. His words straight out of a soap opera script, he had given a daytime Emmy performance. I was mortified. His hijinks had reached a new high. I couldn't face the room of mourners. I would see them, not him.
"C'mon," I told him sternly, "let's sit down." The disciplinary tone of my voice earned me significant stinkeye from those who could see whom we passed. At this point, he began swinging his cane around wildly--just more shenanigans for a mischievous seven-year-old who just happened to be blind. "Stop that!" I commanded. He kept swinging.
"Leave him alone," said an elderly woman wearing thick cataract glasses.
"Do you see what he's doing?" I whispered to her in alarm.
"Oh, you're a hard man," she told me. That's when I realized she probably couldn't see what he was doing. Not well, anyway. But she had heard him--the poor, little blind boy.
"Daddy," he asked, "why did God make me blind?" Now the room exploded with wails. His cane was spinning like a baton but at this point he could get away with anything.
"Stop that!" I said again, sternly. "You could put an eye out like that!"
There was a sudden silence that said it all. I kept leading him, but didn't pick seats for us, instead, pressing on toward the door.
"Sir?" the receptionist called out, "what about his appointment?"
"We'll reschedule," I called back, and guiding him successfully out of the door, I never looked back.
Now I do. Hilarious.
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0
Juice
56 reads
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