CyberDecay

THE CHALLENGE: My friends gave me a subject, a line, a word or an idea and I agreed to write about it  for exactly one hour. Stream of consciousness. Unedited.

…And whether it is finished or not, I post it.


#3

Zach Lord

pic

Start: 12:45pm

Finish: 1:45pm

…It’s a slow day at work.


 

I couldn’t rationalize how we had suddenly become so rational.

Robotic.

There was a time when we were so entwined I couldn’t tell what was yours and –

So on…

I didn’t think you’d need convincing. That’d I’d be telling you the story of us the way I would paint exposition and justification for a stranger singing our song for the very first time. Clumsy. Unfamiliar. The notes in all the wrong places and running to catch the down beat.

You were the composer of the sonata my heart danced to for what easily could’ve been the rest of my life. It played on and on and on… I twirled and swung myself freely and unsuspectingly as I fell deeper and deeper in-

the darkness. I couldn’t see myself anymore in the murky water. Water that told me everything was fine. Water that sustained the buoyancy of fantasies, resisting my attempts to dive… bobbing, bobbing along the surface. Flat. Superficial. Bobbing up and down with the waves that tried to warn me of the approaching storm… but I kept my eyes focused on the endless sky; never mind there was no foundation beneath me. I didn’t even notice I couldn’t swim.

I’ve shamelessly poured over pictures of you. Refusing any refuge from the torture of missing you.  I want to romanticize this by creating an image of a girl, bed head and mascara-tinted tears, holding a Polaroid of us laughing together… but this, unfortunately, will not satiate my hungry nostalgia for the 1990s… no matter how comfortable I am sitting in my over-sized flannel and angst.

No, I poured ((clicked)) over pictures of you on an overly illuminated screen, hunched over in a perfect “C”, like The Thinker… calcifying into my torment.

I wasn’t allowed to hang on to any part of you. Even our memories were intangible.

Photos obstructed by the daily pile of the social media feed, conversations only accessible through Wi-Fi, declarations of admiration lived in code… numbers. 1s and 0s arranged to convey how indescribable, unbelievable, larger than life I felt when I was with you.

It was a matrix. It’s all formulaic, isn’t it? A pattern performed with each new coupling as we repeat the script:

*With feeling*

 “I’ve never felt this way before.”

“You mean so much to me.”

“There’s nowhere else I’d rather be.”

“I love you.”

It wasn’t malicious. We were lying to ourselves more than one another. Somewhere in between the definition of insanity ((doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results)) and the proverb for perseverance ((if at first you don’t succeed…)) lived The Lovers. Us. Once. We tried to navigate a path in the thicket of our addiction to companionship and the deep desire to validate self worth.

Identity. You are so sure of what that is and so brilliantly embodied in it.

…I still wonder who I am when you aren’t looking. I wonder what I’ll say when no one is listening.

There was no evidence of our time together. These moments when I felt the most high and alive, and the most dejected and worthless. This time that shook up my entire being, my humanity and made me question my perception. My favorite memories. My most-requested dream. Sure, a movie ticket stub here, a tee-shirt there… We didn’t think about the inevitable end. I didn’t know it was inevitable….

I “liked” your photo the other day. Did you notice my attempt to embrace you from the screen that now holds the attention I once bathed in abundance?

SENT

DELIEVERD

READ

Knowing that you know and never knowing why it’s still “no”, the conundrum teases me in another cyber-bender as I investigate how you could possibly be living undisturbed You were ever-present and now completely absent. I’m going through disturbing withdrawals and itching for just a taste of you.

 My skin becomes white, translucent. My heart atrophies. How long has it been since I’ve been in the sun? I’m nauseated, unmotivated, nearly-lifeless. Pathetic.

So we un-tag. Block. Delete. Unfriend. Remove from sight-lines and timelines.

  • But you’re still there. Going viral in my memories. Tagging yourself in my empty bed. Commenting on my dreams. Liking my sunny days. Placing a filter on my rainy ones. You post my loneliness. You liter my profile with heartache. You’re trending in my empty bed.

 

How did we go from one, singular unit to these separate entities? You were mine. You  ripped yourself from me so violently, I think I could still see pieces of my flesh hanging off of you. I’m raw. Exposed bone, muscle and sinew. I’m open sores and pulsating scabs.

Swipe your hard drive clean, and there is no trace of me left. I was your prized possession, your new, shiny, beautiful display and limitless possibility. Now, tossed away with the rest of the e-trash. Too big, bulky, awkward, irrelevant, slow, useless, aggravating, outdated…. collecting dust. I won’t even turn on anymore.

I can’t illuminate.

I become background scenery in a dirty city-scape. Unnoticed. I am unrecognizable in the ever growing pile; equally mundane and dull. My colors fade into an indifferent gray. Lifeless.

…until, one day, I become a nostalgic joke.

 

 

Dinner Theatre

THE CHALLENGE: My friends gave me a subject, a line, a word or an idea and I agreed to write about it  for exactly one hour. Stream of consciousness. Unedited.

…And whether it is finished or not, I post it.


#2- Silence

Oryan West

Start: 8:45 AM

End: 9:45 AM

Note: This was written at work, with frequent interruptions… I didn’t get as far as I would’ve liked.


I let my fork scrape at the apathetically flavored “catch of the day”, dragging swirling patterns into the beige cream it swam in. It was humid on the island today. A heavy, thick , salty sea breeze warned of an approaching storm threatening to halt our evening plans.

How long had we sat in this inferno of a patio since the waiter was last here? Hours? Days? I looked down at my watch.

…4 minutes.

I heard ice clink as it surrendered to the heat in my empty glass.

I looked up across the table at my travel companion. He sat, hunched over the table, shoveling refried beans into his mouth with a desperate ferocity of a pubescent boy. His dog tags chimed as they beat against his chiseled chest, outlined with delicate precision, like brushstrokes, by his thin white polo. The shirt hugged him close awhere his midsection created a perfect, concave slab.

He is beautiful. Tanned, Spanish skin absorbed and radiated the rays of the setting sun. Mocha eyes umbrellaed by thick dark eyebrows always slightly pinched in a furrowed brow, as if perpetually looking directly into sunlight.  A jaw line that could cut diamonds and shadowed with light stubble. His dark curls were skillfully moussed into what looked careless and fresh-out-of-bed with the precision of a celebrity stylist. Long on top. Short on the sides. He tempted me with his limitless self assurance. A body like Adonis. He smelled like a shopping mall. His smugness both infuriated and thrilled me.

Thin lines hinting at 30+ framed a plump pout freshly hydrated by a tube of chapstick (as it was multiple times a day). They parted slightly as the corners raised into only the slightest smile, tempting me with a memory of the tongue that lived behind them.

Oh…that skillful muscle glided easily in and out of three languages, each with a distinct accent: the march of a harsh and piercing Bronx percussion when speaking English. The rise and fall of a passionate Florentine aria when he was filled with red wine and brave enough to let Italian phrases declare their desire. And my favorite, the seductive dance of his native island slurred Español , slightly curving at the tip with every rolled R as he said my name.

I returned to my food design… sinking deeper into my fat rolls and fully aware of where my stomach defied and spilled over any waistband. My patchy skin pulsed with heat from the merciless scorn of the same island sun that unfairly doted on him. A shapeless university tee shirt, faded and torn from years of abuse and over washing, stretched beyond its means to cover my midsection. My bathing suit soaked through where the letters had nearly faded away. Cotton bleach-and-wall-paint-stained shorts fought with my thighs as they continued to crawl toward my hips, allowing my mass to expand without restraint. My hair expanded widely and wildly, refusing to surrender to a comb… there was no hint at “beach waves” here.

I echoed the inner thought of everyone who had seen us together at this resort: What are they doing together?

I began searching for some sort of meaning or answer in the pink-and-gray mass that lay on my plate. I was growing more impatient, and dragging of the utensil had now progressed into repetitive, short, staccato stabbings into the lump of meat. My breath became sharper and increased with the growing flame of anger and irritability building inside my chest. My heart pounded in defiance; silent screams going unnoticed. Could he hear this deafening rage boiling inside me?

He was looking off, at nothing in particular, eyes squinted and brow furrowed. Still silent. Was he aware of this blatant unhappiness writhing before him? He was unphased. Relaxed.

I continued stabbing the defenseless dinner before me deliberately as my left leg bounced up and down rapidly. The ice danced and chimed along to my irritated percussion.

Before reason could stop me, I chucked the fork violently at him, smearing beige mystery onto his formally crisp white shirt. His head swiveled. He touched the sauce with his hand and looked down upon it slowly, as if discovering a gunshot wound in a Tarantino epic.

“Would you fucking say something?!?!” I heard someone yell.

Me. I was yelling. Making a scene. It was too late, I had completely exposed myself and it was too late to cover up, everything had been seen.

I felt my blood rise and pulsate in my ears. My stupid Irish face gave me away as I turned bright red. I was panting. I felt like a little girl. I meant to sound tougher, like a fearless, lioness who was absolutely fed up with the situation, demanding answers and taking no prisoners. Commanding respect with a loud roar. I mean, I was fed up, but my demand sounded more like a childish whine, a dog-like whimper, as my voice broke upon the crescendo of “something”.

I blinked away warm, angry tears but held his eyes in mine. Daring him to move.

“Cuidado, Miss.” The impeccably timed waiter said, as he swiftly picked up the fork and disappeared into the swinging door. I wasn’t sure if he was warning me to keep control of my fork, or my temper… Should I be cautious of utensils, or my travel companion?

His eyes were fixed on mine, and he sat, motionless. I remembered this look from childhood. His eyes reflected my father’s: a haunting warning before the reprimanding slap across my cheek. I felt a nauseating combination of shame and justification. But my will was insatiable; I was thirsty for blood.

At least anger was something. Passion was something. Better than this silent nothing he reflected back toward my repeated attempts to connect.


There’s a story here. I wanna finish this one.

-S

 

 

 

 

 

Pumpkins

THE CHALLENGE: My friends gave me a subject, a line, a word or an idea and I agreed to write about it  for exactly one hour. Stream of consciousness. Unedited.

…And whether it is finished or not, I post it.


#1

Pumpkins- Kathryn Connors 

Start: 10:00 PM

End: (with lots of interruptions) 11:00 PM


My knees were beginning to ache against the hardwood floors.

I had been sitting for hours, legs folded under me, with a photo album in my lap. I wasn’t sure what I was searching for… furiously flipping through the yellowed and dusty pages for pieces of myself that I had never known. Old glossy, floppy Kodak memories reflected the ceiling fan light of my childhood bedroom.

She went to her deathbed still clinging onto secrets she felt I needed to be protected from. My mom, I mean.

My brother and I were clearing the house today. The landlord was itching at the opportunity to put the dilapidated structure back on the market.

“I can get two Mexican families in there for twice the rent”, he spat just days before. A sensitive and heart-felt remark of condolence at her wake…. just feet from the open casket. He had been our landlord for nearly 30 years. We had him over for Christmas dinner.

This was the house where I grew up. Hell, I was born in the living room.

My childhood was going to be signed away for a monthly fee.

I guess it didn’t matter, anyway. I hadn’t lived within 100 miles of home in almost a decade.

I had come into her bedroom, alone, trying to move the bed by myself (unsuccessfully), before collapsing onto the floor, breathless and confirming that I am completely out of shape. That’s when I saw it: A photo album under the bed.

It was red, and the binding was almost completely destroyed from use. The cover was holding on by mere threads. On the inside of the cover was a message written in faded marker:

The Lyons Family. 1991.


I found myself on the floor, what felt like hours later, stuck on the third page, entranced. There was only one image and an inscription. I traced the photo with my finger, feeling my way through the mystery. This whole album was from before I could form memories… and I had never seen it before. No one had ever mentioned it.

“October 31st, 1991. My sweet little pumpkins. E (left) and M (right).”

The caption was written on a lined-sticky note, blue ink, my mother’s sharp, thin cursive leaning slightly to the right. Precise; to scale. You could measure the script for accuracy and find no flaw. Reading her handwriting caused one to inadvertently raise an eyebrow and straighten their posture. Regardless of the subject at hand, the precision created an impression of confidence equivalent to a Stephen Hawking publication.

E, that was definitely me. Emily. I am Emily.

My mom always told me that all the photos of me before I was a year old were destroyed. A “baby-pulled-the undeveloped-film-out-of-the-camera” story. (Yes, there was a time, before the digital/internet age in which our memories were much more fragile… and an unsupervised baby could destroy all photographic evidence of a young family). And video? Well, somehow those were recorded over on our $200 VCR. They said either me or my brother did that… I don’t remember. It just became fact. I was content with the fact that I wouldn’t have a picture of me, fresh and slimy in my first moments of life or timeless moments captured of me learning to walk, crawl, talk-

But, I’m a summer baby. July. 1991. This is October.

That’s… 3 months.

In the picture, it’s the living room. This living room, I recognize it. The familiar blue couch looks new, before we got our dog, Stanley. Before I tried to paint my nails when I was 6. Before several years’ worth of “The floor is lava” completely deflated the cushioning of the arm rest. When the back cushions still maintained their square shape. When a cloth couch was acceptable to keep in a modern family’s living room.

There, in the corner, is my brother. He has to be… three years old? He’s dressed as Snoopy, clinging to my Mom and looking shyly at the camera from behind her long, thin legs. He’s jack-o-lantern plastic bucket lay at his side, hanging loosely and smiling mostly to our white carpet.

….I always thought that carpet was a light brown…

Mom looks happy, and thin. Sharp angles of her jaw and cheekbones made her the mold most models try to pour themselves into. She’s dressed in a red tee shirt, high waisted (awful and so late 80s) jeans, a blue blanket in her right arm, held to her cheek. Her long, straight blonde hair is pulled into a low ponytail. She is playfully biting her thumb and flirtatiously looking at the camera.

oh my god..

…is she a sexy Linus?  

Jesus, a family theme. A family Peanuts theme.

I cringed.

On the couch, just to the left of mom, were two babies, dressed as tiny pumpkins. They sat in their fat in the way that babies under 6 months do… you know, before they can really hold themselves up or do much of anything. They sort of leaned both on the back of the couch and on each other. The one on the left looked like it was seconds away from falling completely over onto the other.

They looked exactly alike. E, me, Emily… the dumb baby on the left about to fall over (typical). And on the right-

…who is this other baby?

Who is M?