New York, Late August
Buildings under construction have signs
reading DO NOT OPEN
and I want these for my body.
Google how do I protect myself.
I can’t blame anyone else.
They weren’t there.
It was just me in my new jeans
and a black button-up half undone
and I should’ve known in the park
and I should’ve known on the bench,
and I should’ve known in his bed.
I don’t even know if I tried my best,
just that he didn’t listen.
I could’ve screamed.
I could’ve kicked him off of me,
but I didn’t. I let it happen
and happen and happen.
It satisfied him.
I remember my yellow bralette
and baby powder, saying
let’s keep my pants on,
let’s not do that,
let’s not, let’s not,
his tongue, his finger,
the doing and the leaving.
When he Facebook-friended me
four months later, I accepted,
but I still don’t forgive myself.
His life now: he has a girlfriend.
He buys her roses,
and she tags him in silly pictures,
and they seem happy.
I have a boyfriend.
I seem happy, too,
except now I worry about my body,
what I’ll let it do to me.
The good news:
my phone battery lasts longer
without your messages.
I’ve stopped cringing
when I meet someone else
who shares your name.
I am losing nothing over you.
Still, I find myself craving
our arguments over Teslas
and space and the economy
failing all of us.
So I speak to frogs.
The housefly. The TV’s static.
And this almost helps.
But then the sun sets
and I am left unsure
of how to pray.
But time goes, as it does,
and I start to like dog days--
how the heat suffocates
my thoughts and leaves me present.
Still, I find myself wanting
to tell you what I ate for dinner.
The Girl in the Mirror
I sit in class, stomach in knots, for no reason other than the fact that I am here. My fingers twist together in my lap but are much too sweaty to intertwine properly.
I shake my head. But the storm cloud still looms.
I walk to the teacher's desk, my footfalls echoing in the silent classroom. Too much, I tell myself, just too much attention.
My voice comes out a squeaky whisper as I ask to go to the restroom, heart thumping. As soon as I am excused, I rush out of the crowded room and into an empty hallway. I let the desolation seep into my skin and offer me a little comfort.
To my surprise, the bathroom is also unoccupied. I swallow a gulp of my own saliva as I face myself in the mirror. Not myself, though. Just a girl. The girl who stares back at me is not someone I recognize. There was a time, I could tell, that she used to be pretty. But now, years of constant pressure and unwanted stress made her shoulders and eyelids droop. My Chuck Taylor's squeak on the bathroom floor as I take a step closer to her. She looks panicked.
Her face is round, but her edges are hard. Her face is littered in faded summertime freckles and picked-at pimples. Her eyes, despite the fluorescent glow of the bathroom lights, lack radiance. Dark lines fall from the corners of her lips. She looks as drained as I feel.
My breath gets caught in my throat, stuck and scared. Panic sweeps through me as I realize that I no longer want to look at this stranger in the mirror. I no longer want to look at the void.
I reach down to the sink and let the cold water drip from the faucet. I splash it all over my face, and yet, the fear did not go away. My heart continues to drum in my chest. I lift my head once more and face the girl in the mirror.
Her cheeks are flushed and wet with cold sink water. But she still remains.
Humanity died fast when the list appeared.
First came the suicides. When you see yourself at the bottom of the list that supposedly represents all of humanity, it’s hard not to lose hope.
Then came the murders. Of the people who had discovered the list. The people who kept it running. Some decided that the list was fake, and that anyone who believed in it deserved death.
Eventually, we stopped. Killing and fighting and tearing each other apart. At least for a while.
I was born with a number on my hand. I don’t remember what it was. No one can tell me, because you can only see your own number. But right now, my number is 3,425,007. Out of the eight billion people on the earth.
That’s one of the better numbers. My mom told me once that her number had dropped to 6,331,909. I thought she was kidding until I heard the gunshots. One that took my sister. And one that took my mom.
I don’t know why my mom killed my three-year old sister. I don’t know why she killed herself. And I don’t know what the number on her corpse was. Because as far as I know, your number stays with you forever. Even when the only one who can see it is dead, it lives on.
I’d like to imagine my little sister was 1 on the list. Maybe 2, for that time she killed my fish by pouring too much food into its bowl. But other than that, she was perfect. I can’t understand why the cosmic power that decides where we stand would put her at anything less.
No one else understands, either. Everyone has their own idea of the list. I guess that before it showed up, people were content with their own views of right and wrong. But now that someone is deciding for us, we’ve gotten desperate.
A few streets from my house is a church. The sign outside says “God forgives all-Numbers are warnings, not punishments”. The church three blocks away is telling me to ignore the list entirely, that it’s a construct of the devil made to deceive us and turn us away from God. And the synagogue on Bailey Cove promises a way to move your number up the list, and a better understanding of why you were ranked where you were in the first place.
My mom and I went to a church back in our hometown that told us we had to be honest with our numbers and share them with the world. The next church we tried told us the list was a gift from god, to tell us when to repent. My mom loved that answer, but I wasn’t sure. I stopped going to church as soon as I could, and mom’s death didn’t do anything to persuade me to return.
I’ve always wondered who’s at the top of the list. You’d think they’d be on the news all the time, sharing their five-step plan to being a good human being. But only one person has ever claimed to have 1 embedded in their skin. Anton Icara, famous actor, TV personality, and philanthropist. When the first rape allegations came, the woman who had submitted them had been completely ostracized. After all, this man was the pinnacle of human decency. No accusations could ever stand up to that little number on his hand.
Security cameras don’t see your number, though. All they saw was Anton’s fifteenth murder. The same woman who had tried to tell the world what he was really like lay dead on the floor, a knife in her chest.
I wonder sometimes if he really was the best person on earth. If our own view of morality fell apart somewhere along the way, and he wasn’t lying when he told us that he was the only person who understood what perfection was. It seems plausible. When I was a kid, I wondered why the Bible banned so many things that sounded perfectly moral to me. Maybe the list works the same way. Maybe that’s why giving to charity didn’t move my number up the list, but watering my houseplants did. Anton Icara might have been right.
Then again, if he was lying, why did we all believe him?
I don’t know why the number on my hand is there. I don’t know what it means, what it wants from me. I don’t know who decides our numbers. And I don’t know what will happen when I die.
All I know is when this bullet goes through my head, I won’t be looking at the number on my hand.
fool’s gold (kinda nsfw warning?)
oh, like an ocean, you are, intricate and composed, standing tall with no worry in your world but where to anchor down, with not a worry in your world what you do to me--your flawlessness near fills me with disgust, sends strange searing signals through my head that travel to my hands and body and which lights my face up like fire, and hooks my eyes upon your form with no chance of being set free, ‘til the moment you look my way--only then do my eyes dare dart away, only then do my lungs catch a breath--and yet your gaze digs into me relentlessly, awakening a voice in my mind that despite my efforts, cannot be muffled, yearning for your arms, and your voice, and for you--and an invitation to your ‘home’ is far from something expected, an offer to guide me through was far from expected--nonetheless the fire in me burned brighter and my body found itself shrinking into itself, nonetheless the word that left me was a faint “please,” not doing well of hiding my feelings of the time, not doing well of hiding my inevitable excitement--yet you still took my hand and guided me, and that felt more than what my mind could handle, yet i followed--yet further on, those looks you give me--unable to look you in the eye, yet i can feel the gaze nonetheless; something heated, something knowing, driving me to frenzy--and you moved close to me and whispered an invitation, and my whole being burned as the only response mustered was a small whimper--oh, what you to do me, is it not clear to you?--is it not clear how at each touch, my mind numbs, how my back arches with each brush of a hand--each touch like electricity jetting through me, jolting me, eliciting mewls and gasps which are a struggle to stifle--“fool’s gold,” you mutter lowly, yet so sweetly--speaking such silent love as you take my breath away.
A Daily Luxury, Considered
My Irish forbears indentured themselves for land in newly-free America and then farmed for several generations. It was not an easy life. I cannot imagine they filled a warm basin frequently: too much water, too much heating over fire for a full-body soak. Even when they did, if they did, quickly using a cloth in a cooling tub cannot compare.
Hot water streams down onto me in near perpetuity, limited only by the capacity of a tank that rapidly reheats. Its design still follows the basic principles Edwin Ruud developed in 1889, after he left Norway to settle in Pittsburgh: the automatic, storage tank water heater. My great-great grandfather lived within 50 miles of the prototype. He probably died before using one.
Morning or night, 50 gallons await, a servant sitting beside a bell he hears when my hand turns the faucet, and then it streams down onto me. Weighted hair flips about as I scrub in shampoo. The nozzle’s pressure offers a light massage for my back, shoulders, chest. I focus on the droplets’ caresses as they trail through my hair and across my skin, finally dripping to the ceramic below me to swirl around my feet, carrying with them grime, dead skin, and cares. I am warm.
As a male, I have been conditioned to consider my body in terms of actions performed: this throws, this grips, this runs, this lifts. Females, I understand, have been conditioned to consider their bodies in terms of appearance. Showers encourage us all to consider how our bodies feel, to inhabit ourselves and connect to the physical instead of the mental for at least a few minutes. If, that is, we consider them.
Never overlook the miracle of hot, running water.
Harry Situation Reviews: Klaus
It's probably a little blasphamous of me to review a Christmas movie a day before Thanksgiving... but from all the good stuff I’ve been hearing about this one, I’ll make an exception.
Klaus is an animated film released on Netflix, and it’s a new take on the origins of Santa Claus. The story centers around a spoiled young man named Jesper (voiced by Jason Schwartzman), who is given a position as a postman in a small town. The only problem is that the town generally hates each other and is at constant war with on another. But Jesper befriends a reclusive craftsman named Klaus (voiced by J.K. Simmons), and finds that the man has a incredible gift of making toys and really wishes to give them away. So Jesper comes up with the idea that Klaus could give these toys to the townschildren, and in doing so, invents the legend that is Santa Claus.
First off, it’s nice to finally see a traditional, frame-by-frame, hand-drawn, 2-D animated film for once, in a world where 3-D animated films now dominate, that's already the film's first positive. Oh yeah. It may not look it, but it is all hand-drawn animation. This film was directed by Sergio Pablos, who is no stranger to animation. His resume consists of being a character designer for films like The Goofy Movie, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Tarzan, and Despicable Me.
This is a hella great looking film. The animation is truly breathtaking to watch. The character designs are very slick and vibrant and expressive, matching up with the voices that go along with them. Not to mention the lighting and textures are spectacular. They truly sent a whole new bar for animation.
I also really like these characters and the voice actors match them up nicely. Jesper is pompous and spoiled, but as the film progresses he develops a heart of gold. I've heard people compare him to Kuzco from The Emperor's New Grove, and yeah, I definitely see the comparison. Klaus is another fantastic character and probably one of the most original takes on Santa Claus, and I feel that J.K. Simmons fits him perfectly. Fun fact: I learned by watching an interview that at one point in his life J.K. Simmons had a job as a mall Santa. How cool is this guy?
It’s also a ton of fun watching this film reinvent the Santa Claus mythos. It adds everything. From the chimney, to the stockings, to even the lumps of coal. I won’t give away how it’s played out, but once you watch it, you’ll get some good chuckles. They even touch upon a Mrs. Klaus that’s very heartfelt. Again, I won’t spoil what’s up with that. You'll just have to see it for yourself and let your heartstrings get tugged.
But I really enjoy the underlining message this film sends, which is that spreading good will to others can encourage others to do the same. And this message is presented beautifully in this film. The main reason why the whole town hates each other is the result of some ancient feud between two head families, the Krums and the Ellingboes (whom the head of the families are voiced by Joan Cusack and Will Sasso). Think of them as like the Hatfields and McCoys or the Montagues and Capulets. Why do these families hate each other? Their explanation: that's just how it is. As simple and vague as it gets. Maybe they have forgotten the whole reason for fighting or maybe there is no reason. But as Jesper and Klaus start handing out these toys to each of the children it encourages them to do some nice things for the town. Gradually the adults start doing nice things for each other as well and suddenly these feuding folks are acting neighborly. It goes to show that kindess is indeed contagious, and that's a good thing.
I guess if there’s one thing to nitpick about this near perfect film is that there’s a little bit at the third act and it’s basically a liar revealed trope. You know, one of those scenarios in media where the protagonist has some selfish intention, and they get other people involved and unaware of their intentions. But then they get a spark of goodness and it all feels pitch perfect, until something comes along that reveals the truth, and the protagonist is all like, “no, wait, you don’t understand...”, but everyone turns on them regardless. It's such a trope that get sick of seeing in movies again and again.
This is the best animated film I’ve seen all year, to be honest. Probably one of the best animated films I’ve seen of all time. This film serves as the perfect reminder of what the holiday season truly is about. So often do we get so wrapped up--no pun intended--about the holidays about the overcommercialization and the chaotic gift getting that this season brings that it does put people in a sour mood. Even I get that feeling sometimes. Yeah, even I feel like a Scrooge around the holidays because of how in-your-face it gets. But in doing so, we overlook the happiness and smiles that come when we do give. That contagious joy that appears when we do one selfless act for another.
There’s been some talks about trying to get this film into the Oscars, and yeah, it should be nominated. I greatly enjoyed this film. It's another Christmas film that I'll make a tradition in watching over and over each year. Hopefully this will kickstart a trend to bring back classic 2D animation in theaters. Definitely put this film on your watch list and enjoy some early holiday cheer.
-Welcome back 2D animation
-Outstanding lighting and textures
-New Santa mythos
-Great joyous message
-One of the best of the year
-Liar revealed trope
Final Grade: A+
So those are my thoughts on Klaus. Have you seen it? What were your thoughts? Please be kind, leave a like and comment, and check out more reviews here on Prose!
And if you'd like to write up your own Santa Claus story, I created such a challenge for that. Follow this link here to get started: https://theprose.com/challenge/9325
Klaus: “A true, selfless act always sparks another.”
#harrysituaionreviews #film #opinion #Netflix #animation #family #SantaClaus #holiday #Christmas #AGrade
d e a t h,
p l e a s e
t u r n
t h e
= = =
l o c k
w h e n
y o u
Your words pass like wisps of smoke,
But full of scents that cannot be ignored.
Tear ducts slip unintended tears
Onto unprepared cheeks
As your tender meaning comes into view
Just beyond your words.
A sadness smile emerges
And flitters for a moment
Before composure returns
And, as one, we shake our heads
In wonderment and awe
At the beauty of
The shot rang out as the ring shot out of her grasp.
Luckily, I caught it as she fell.