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They say that in your dreams you can be anything you want. You can travel to incredible places.

I can no longer even dream the world I want. My dreams now are too strange, inscrutable, and usually end with a group of people watching tv.

And in so many of them I see you across a room, near but too far.

Strike One

Have you ever noticed that when the flame on a match goes out, you can look at the head of the match and see that underneath the charred outer layer a glow remains for several seconds? Like the coals in a fire, red-hot under a coating of ash. It reminds me of a heart, the hidden thing that holds the key to life.

What are the matches trying to tell me?

The End (version 2)

The night you said you loved me, the stars fell into the lake. We sat on a hill watching them approach from the horizon. Pinpricks winked out and tails of flame extinguished themselves in the water. I wondered what would happen when the sky was empty.

You looked into my eyes and I said nothing, but thought if the world is ending, at least you’re holding my hand.

Strangest Things #8

Sometimes it is as if someone is whispering to me from another world. It comes from right next to me, no more than an inch away from my ear, only when I’m alone. If it only happened as I was falling asleep I would assume I imagined it, but it might be any time of the day. The only time I can ever make out a word is when it whispers my name. Maybe someone is trying to talk to me. But they never really succeed.

Another Life #33

Every morning I set off into the just-risen sun, trekking the twenty-five minutes from whatever comforts there are in my home to my workspace. About half the time I wake up and enjoy a cup or two of coffee before I go; the other half, I swoop through a coffee shop on the way, sometimes ordering two coffees to get me through the day.

I rent the basement of a three-story house by the lake. The three main floors are divided into office space for people doing whatever kind of work they do. I never see them. I just head to my subterranean lair through its private door, neatly avoiding any distracting contact with people (ten minutes of small talk can turn into an hour or two of internet surfing afterward…). Once I’ve disappeared, I start to pound and hack away.

Seeking Microfiction

Writing has been hard these days. I find that at any given time I either have nothing to say or too many things to say. It’s probably a stress thing. I should meditate more, and drink less coffee. Or more coffee.

Yes. It’s becoming clear to me that I’m not drinking nearly enough coffee. I should rectify that.

Then again, maybe I should drink less coffee after all…

I’m feeling indecisive. Can you tell?

I’ve been thinking that I want to start writing microfiction again. I was very into that style for a while, and it just dropped off suddenly for reasons I could not identify.

Flash fiction is something that has probably been around longer than we think, but has gained traction in the past few years. It does not seem to have a fixed definition. Some people will say under 1000 words, others will say under 1500 or 2000. Some people say anything that’s no more than a few pages is flash fiction.

Microfiction is sort of a subcategory of that, also without a firm word limit, but in my experience it defines works up to the 500-700 word mark. It can be as short as a sentence or two, or as long as a few paragraphs. In theory, the short piece contains an entire story, or enough of a story that the reader can fill in the missing details. Personally, I think there’s a danger of reading that criterion in a limited way. Yes, the intention is to try to fully communicate the piece in that rather small word count, but I don’t think that means packing a plot into that space. Many of my microfiction pieces are more along the lines of snapshots, moments in time, rather than trying to have a narrative. I think the form lends itself to that use and so I took full advantage of it.

I don’t know why I stopped writing them. I suppose I just stopped experiencing things that inspired me in that way. Or I got distracted by adult life and became separated from my imagination. Or both. So I tried to remember how I started writing them, and I remembered–of course, I started by reading.

One book I can go back to is Lydia Davis, Varieties of Disturbance. I would also like to find some microfiction I have not already read. Do you have any suggestions?

 

Feeding

This is either the beginning of a story, or just the first draft of a flash piece. I like it so far. Feel free to take this idea/theme and write your own version!

 

“Feed me,” said the heart.

 

“Feed me,” said the mind.

 

“Feed me,” said the soul.

 

We had forgotten how. We fed our stomachs instead, and feasted well. Risotto. Masala. Pierogi. We gorged on brie, persimmons, poached pears. Our heads swam with liquid chocolate, espresso, wine, whiskey, and we soaked it up with spongy pound cakes.

 

And in that gluttonous state, we starved.

 

I am the Queen of Bad Timing

As always I felt a sudden surging urge to write, in the middle of the afternoon, when I can’t because I have to do the work I am actually paid for. I often think, good, I’ll go home and write. But I never want to write when I get home. Only when I’m, say sitting on a bus, or at work, or in the middle of watching a movie or a play. Some people might say I’m just being lazy, but you could look at my infrequency of writing as a product of bad timing.

I feel like this phenomenon affects many aspects of my life. Trying to take the T–a train is just pulling out as I’m halfway down the stairs, and I have to wait another 10 minutes for the next train. Getting that item at the store that I need or want–Maybe someone just took the last one (like the last time I bought sushi at Whole Foods, and had to get tuna instead of salmon because there was NO SALMON ROLL left). Buying something right before the price is reduced.

Even relationships, that is, actually becoming friends (or more?), depend on timing. And it’s very strange to consider how easily things could have been different.

Nostalgia*: Little Italian Towns

For no reason at all, I started thinking about my 2008 trip to Italy the other day. It happened during my semester abroad, which I spend at University College Cork in Cork, Ireland. My mom and I headed off to one of the lands of our ancestors (we’re both mutts) during the long study period between the end of classes and the start of exams. We were there for nine days, eight nights, I believe.

What came to mind? What was the aspect of that long-desired journey that popped up unbidden by any conscious process?

Part of our trip was spent in the small Tuscan town of Montespertoli, about an hour or two outside of Florence. It was rather secluded and quite beautiful around our lodgings, the house of a friend, but that is not what I remembered either. I thought instead of the few minutes we spent in the town, picking up a freshly baked loaf of bread that we would dress with salt and olive oil, sitting on a bench in the piazza with a small cup of gelato (the flavor escapes me. Stracciatella? bacio? Perhaps it was something with cherries and dark chocolate). The memory flashes in my mind, such a fleeting snapshot that I could never really describe what it looked like. I remember it being small. Not many people there, very different from the time we spent in the cities.

Is the feeling you get in a small town in a foreign country due to the place itself, or is it because you’re in a new place, unfamiliar and quieter than what you’re used to?

What would it be like to live in a place like that? Would you know everyone in town? Would you meet an attractive stranger and share a bacio on a patch of grass (either the gelato, or in the other sense)?

All I can think now is how much more I’m sure I could have appreciated what was around me at the time.

 

 

*I was going to call it a “Throwback thursday” post, but “Nostalgia” just sounds so much better. It sounds like either a flowering vine or one of those nebulous diseases that are so hard to diagnose. You decide… In fact, vote! In the comments!

Five Things Friday: July 12, 2013

Is it really only the 12th?… but then, at the end of the month I will be thinking, where did July go?

 

One

Some condensation from my water glass drips onto my foot as I take a drink. The touch of the water droplet is surprisingly light.

Two

Behind my eyes is that sensation of sleepiness–the struggle to make them stay open, the strangely dull sting that persists until I finally give in and let my eyelids meet. A moment later they flutter apart again the the miniscule respite was enough to let me continue on for a little while longer.

Three

I sometimes leave books and other items on the sides of my bed rather than moving them. The edge of a hardcover Jane Austen pokes just a little bit into my thigh. It’s not uncomfortable, really.

Four

Throughout the day, one eyelash continues to point itself right into my eye. It’s doing so now. I poke at it to make it move, but it seems quite determined.

Five

There is no chill in the air, but the recent heat sort of makes it seem that way. I sit rather cool, wondering if I should retrieve a sweater, or just go to sleep, wrapping myself in a blanket cocoon until morning.