Diamond’s Tuition

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The photographs looked nothing like her.

Snap!

The creeper photographer began snapping from lower angles.

She fixed her hair in one of several smudged mirrors surrounding the half-empty loft.

The photos looked nothing like her. Which was a good thing. She never gives photographers or agents her real name. To them, she’s Diamond. In case she ever ran for political office. In case she married a megachurch pastor. Everyone everywhere had a doppleganger somewhere in the world. Her’s was Diamond.

She straightened her back. “This good?”

The photographer lowered his camera towards her thighs.

“What now?” She asked.

“Nothing.” He Glared at her over the camera lens.

“Yes?” She snapped. “I’m getting tired.”

“Sorry.”

“Don’t be sorry, be faster please.”

The money he offered was going to pay off her tuition for the semester. And, though he was inches shorter than she was in flats, he was three times her size in girth. She needed to watch her tone.

The photographer approached her.

She forced a smile. “Done?”

“Yeah….” The photographer nodded. “Almost finished.”

The photographer’s wore an aromatic musk was something she expected from a tall, coco flavored Wall street hottie with muscles and a full head of hair. His aroma created conflict between her eyes and nose. A stout, balding man with a stretched out wife beater should smell the opposite.

The photographer reached for her vest.

She immediately pulled away. “Excuse me!”

“It’s classy…”

“You mean pornographic?”

“Nothing like that.”

Creep…

“These will all be tasteful shots.”

She left her stool. “Yeah… right.”

Slimeball.

“I didn’t mean to alarm you.” The photographer put his camera aside.

She scooped her clothes from the photographer’s unfolded futon and marched towards the door.

I’m an idiot.

She didn’t deserve a doctorate. Nobody in their right mind would agree to enter a strange man’s warehouse apartment to take semi-nude photographs for a blog she’d never heard of.

“Five thousand extra.” The photographer offered.

She turned to see two columns of dollar bills on his kitchenette counter

“Towards your college debt, Ms. Thompson.” The Photographer smiled.

The stack was tall. Thick. Greener than green.

“How many shots?” She asked.

“A dozen,” He replied.

“Too many.”

For too little…

“Only need three to publish.”

“The other nine?”

“I’ll delete.”

She returned to her stool.

“Panties remain.”  She opened her vest. “Hurry up.”

“Okay…” Photographer waved his hand. “Just need you to move your-”

She moved her arms to expose her breasts.

He snapped several photos. “That’s great.”

Doesn’t feel great. 

He lowered his camera.

She covered her chest. “What now?”

“One sec.” The photographer took off towards his room.

He could be back there gathering rope and electrical tape.

“I don’t have a sec,” She called.

The photographer returned. “Batteries died”

“Five minutes, I’m gone… I’m serious.”

“Got it.” He set his camera. “You ready?”

She exposed her breasts. “Yes, sir.”

“You’re doing wonderful.” Photographer inched closer.

She side-eyed the camera.

Wait… He called me Ms. Thompson… I never told him my name… 

The end

Fleeting Tale (Vol. 2… a.k.a. mandatory weekly update volume whatever).

Notebook

He found nothing about life funny. Or beautiful. Or remotely enjoyable.

He sank lower in his seat.

Well, there was his wife, and his many unpublished writings. That’s Beautiful. Enjoyable.

My writings suck. 

“Then you have negative fourteen to the…” His algebra professor droned while slowly fading out of existence.

Can’t be me anymore. Must be better. 

He slapped his nose.

It was a nasty habit. An indication that anxiety was about to overtake his already turbulent mind. Like a spider-sense but for obsessive compulsive writers who lack charisma and self-confidence.

He checked the time.

Forty minutes?!

He sank lower.

 

 

Mem-brain Theorem

Vortex_Sketch_thing

Reality’s collapsing around us. Just… us.

Volatile, inter-dimensional shifts bubbling throughout our home. We’re existing in the same space, breathing the same air. Or so it seems.

She enters our kitchen. Phases through me.

“Morning,” I say.

Silence. No reaction to me. She sips coffee. No slurps nor satisfied gasps.

Thick layers of brane… brain? Translucent fields inflaming and growing denser. Filtering my greetings. My regrets. My apologies.

I waved. “Hey”.

Marcey nodded.

“Good?”

“Great…”

Final hypothesis. 

We are occupying the same time and space. But never quite the same time. And. Or. Space.

Mission critical. Must. Reunite. Our. Realities.  

Too Early

spilled-coffee-eps10-vector-1072189

She’s more interested in war than peace. And by now… So. Am. I.

She’s in the living room. Morning exercise. Smirking like our disagreement is her improv skit.

Too early…

“Sure… you’re above it all.” I climb the stairs.

“Your tone,” She snipes.

Riiight. Play innocent.

I return. “Don’t dictate how I respond.”

She snickers. “Wow.”

“Laughter?”

“Wipe your mouth before you argue.”

I scrape my lip-corners. “Always agitating.”

“Nope…”

“Name-calling, shit-talking…”

“Wrong again.”

She judges. Points fingers. Ignites conflict like an emotional arsonist. Never concedes or compromises! Yet… my tone?!

“I’m done,” I ascend the stairs.

“Fine…”

“Perfection…”

Baby Tongue

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It scorched layers off his Lingual Papillae.

A mere thirty seconds for the microwave to bubble his mac and cheese into molten lava.

He gulped water.

Efforts… futile. Tongue screaming.

“You okay?” She smirked.

“Hot,” He replied.

“Seriously?”

“Yes….”

“Baby tongue.”

“Hush.”

“Want milk, baby tongue?”

“No…”

He had warm cranberry juice. No need for milk, ice, or her debilitating jabs.

He blew on his bowl before eating another forkful of her macaroni.

“Tasty?” She asked.

Nicely crusted…. perfectly seasoned parade of cheeses. Brilliance in a bowl.

Spectacular.

The best he’d ever tasted.

“Its okay,” He answered. “I’ve had better.”

 

 

 

 

Cold Dinner

 

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He vehemently stared at the screen.

Technopathy failed. Nothing creative or profound had materialized in his thoughts or Word Processor. His muse was an unsurprising no-show. Why waste inspiration on atrocious writers like him? Right?

“What’s up?” She asked.

“Suffering.” He typed a paragraph.

“Food’s getting cold.”

“Cool.” He deleted everything.

“Hurry… Eat.” She rested a full plate between them. “You’re probably hungry.”

“Probably am…”  He reached for the plate.

Stomach’s tight. Extremely lethargic.

He hadn’t eaten sinc-

Pap!

She slapped the biscuit out of his hand. “Food’s on the stove.”

Seriously?” He asked.

“Grab yourself a plate.”

Well, damn.

The Penalty for honesty… at work.

What’s the penalty for honesty at work? I wondered as I pretended to work.

I stared out the window for a moment.

My heart skipped a beat when my boss entered the room. I froze.

Gotta look busy. Look valuable. 

She quietly entered her office and shut the door.

What’s the penalty for my honesty? I pondered at I scrolled desperately through my social media feed for good news, a motivational post, or photographs of the nieces, nephews, and godchildren I never get to see.

There’s a seemingly immovable forty hour a week boulder in the middle of my existence. Unshakable. Immovable. Virtually unbreakable. Boulder.

I yawned. I stretched. I checked my text messages as I stretched.

I wondered. If I revealed to them… I’m overwhelmed. Can’t seem to get a foothold on the work. Can’t seem to get it together. Can’t tell whether its boredom or incompetence on my part. 

My stomach hurt. Terrible gas.

I skipped breakfast. Late for work again. So much to think about. So much to do. So little time. Vacation was nothing more than the space between misery. Like work release or yard time. I was being melodramatic.

What if I revealed to them that they need not smile in my direction. I know you don’t like me. I know you think I’m incompetent– when I make a mistake– and beneath you. I know you think I was hired to work under you and serve you– which I probably was. 

I stood. Stretch my legs.

What if I was honest with them about myself? What if I admitted to myself and to them that I was equally as fake? I don’t like you either. But I return your illusion with one of my own. Because I understand my role is to make them comfortable. And how crucial it is to the job, and my livelihood, 

I sat. Powered the scanner.

Error.

I restarted the machine.

Same results.

I softly pounded my fist on the desk.

I’m the only tool in the office not allowed to malfunction. And, the easiest to replace.

I slumped in my chair.

Can they tell I dig my nails into my forearms when they dress me down in front of my peers? Can they read in my eyes how much sleep I lose thinking about all the stuff I have to do the next day? Or the people I have to deal with. Or, how I can’t handle the amount of work they are tossing my way Probably not.

“Good Morning,” One of my smiley supervisors greeted.

“Good Morning,” I replied with a smile bright enough to overload a solar powered city.

“How’s everything going?” Smiley Supervisor asked.

“Excellent!” I replied as my face started to get sore from smiling. “Working on this and then I’ll head back and work on your stuff.”

“Okay, great!” Smiley Supervisor said, returning to her office.

Couldn’t afford to be honest. No matter how hard I crunched the numbers, I just couldn’t afford it.

Addicted to Headphones

headphone sketch

INT. HOUSE – DAY

MAN seated at TABLE.  Listening to HEADPHONES. Drinking COFFEE from MUG.

Sound bleeds from MAN’s headphones. Indecipherable talking. Sound effects from headphones. Screams. Lasers. Swords.

WOMAN seated across from MAN. Staring intently at LAPTOP. Drinking COFFEE from MUG which has BRIDE boldly inscribed on its face.

 

WOMAN

You’re addicted to headphones.

 

WOMAN looks up. Intensely stares at man. Awaiting an answer. Slightly irritated expression.

MAN looks up. Matches eyes with WOMAN. Removes headphones.

 

MAN

(puzzled look)

Huh?

 

WOMAN stares for a beat.

 

WOMAN

Never mind.

 

MAN

Cool.

 

MAN smiles at WOMAN. Returns headphones to ears. Increases VOLUME.

 

 

 

 

Applications are a drag. (Thank goodness the apocalypse is coming).

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He knew they made the application process mind-numbing-ly long and tedious on purpose. It was to scare away unqualified applicants and people who did not truly give a flying shit about working there. People like him. Unqualified. Not unqualified because they could not do the work. Unqualified because they didn’t give a shit about doing the work.

He squirmed in his seat.

It’d been an hour but it felt like longer.

Why the hell would they ask him to input his full job history and upload his resume. Seemed redundant to him considering everything they needed and asked for was included on his resume. What a drag, he thought.

“What?” Marcey asked him.

“Boring,” He replied. “And a waste of time.”

“Everything bores you.”

“Just this… this  worthless piece of shit process.”

“Well, its the process.”

He wondered why Marcey put up with his impatience. His immaturity. His stubbornness. His questionable attention span.

He completed his work history and saved his progress before moving onto the next section.

Training and Education. 

He took a deep breath.

Almost complete. Or so he believed. Or so he hoped.

He finished his wine.

If she could put up with him and his attitude for years then he could put up with filling out a single stupid application for a night. It was only fair. Though, the idea of sacrificing the few waking hours he had to himself to complete some stupid application for a job he didn’t want anyway filled him with dread. So much dread. Feelings threatened to cripple the application process.

“Shit.” He sank in his chair.

“Language,” Marcey warned.

“Browser froze.” He tried returning to the previous form. “Didn’t save nothing.”

“Oh man,” She replied. “Do it over.”

“Can’t,” He panicked. “Won’t let me.”

His blood started to boil

A whole hour of his life, potentially wasted. There was no way in hades he would waste another doing another application.

“No way,” He said. “I’ll wait til it thaws.”

“What?” Marcey asked.

“Thaws… Unfreezes,” He replied.

Marcey shook her head. “Strange man.”

He threw his head back against his chair.

“Could have been halfway done with a new one,” Marcey said.

Of course, Marcey was correct. He could have halfway completed another application in the time he was waiting for the window to unfreeze.

“Damn.” He closed the browser.

“That computer is trash,” Marcey said.

He restarted his trash portable laptop.

“So stupid,” He said to himself.

“Sorry, babe,” Marcey said.

“Didn’t want to start over.”

He was furious but kept how he felt to himself.

He restarted the browser.

None of that nine to five plantation bullcrap was going to matter soon anyway. He planned to be self employed. No more putting in stupid applications and begging people for work. He’d rather be homeless or die than to spend the little youth he had left than taking peoples orders. And those horrible commutes… If he wasn’t so afraid of Marcey, he’d pound his fist on the table in disgust.

He entered his username and password.  Logged into the job site. Returned to the application.

A newsfeed window popped up on the bottom corner of his screen. Something about a conflict. Threats of nuclear war.

Soon that nine to five torture wasn’t going to matter. The direction the world was heading, the apocalypse was going to wipe out everything anyway. And only people like him were going to survive. People who understood how fragile and volatile the illusion of living a responsible adult life really was. One nuke. One meteor collision. One caldera eruption. One viral or zombie outbreak away from total anarchy. From wiping away the illusion. Christ will return Oh… he thought in his best Yoruba accent. The thought of judgment day and the impending doom filled him with joy. After the application he’d search Amazon for early Black Friday deals on survival gear and a crossbow.

His application loaded. Everything he’d input…. was…. there.

No survival gear or crossbow shopping now, he thought. The apocalypse would have to wait until after his interview. Marcey tweaked his resume. He was confident there would be an interview in the coming weeks.

“Hey.” He scrolled through his application. “Looks like it saved.”

“Great,” Marcey said.

“Yeah,” He replied. “All there.”

Marcey blew him a kiss.

“Thanks,” He said.

He wondered why she put up with him. But knew why he was able to be an adult and put up with another job application…. For her. Marcey was all the reason he needed.