STUFF YOU WOULDN’T FIND ON NETFLIX

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They saw a movie last night. First they discussed which movie; he’s been downloading movies all week – stuff you wouldn’t find on Netflix. Then they talked about the movie for a while before switching everything off for the night. The building across the street: the same; so in the apartments below, above. They appreciate the dialogues of the movies they see, they find the plots credible, they spot holes and admire the cinematography. “Would they like mine?” His eyes go red, he twitches his little-white-rabbit nose, and on the roof he says, “Yes, I’m happy I started this pandemic!”

In response to: https://carrotranch.com/2020/03/19/march-19-flash-fiction-challenge-3/#comment-67117

SEPARATING

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I don’t have a mask. Should I have a mask? There are no masks left at the local pharmacy. A friend has posted a video explaining how to make your own mask, at home: parchment paper, two rubber bands, and scissors. She saw it on national TV. Then a journalist signed in live from a hospital in the north, stood right in front of the two sliding doors separating the virus ward from the rest of the hospital and said, “This is the line separating Life from Death.” Then folks from the more affected north tried to escape to the less affected center and south of the country, returning home, while a horde of outraged folks on social media poured their higher-than-god anathemas “Your mother is going to die because of you!” against them. And while the train is darting through the country, they hear the chants of bored home-forced revelers as if the hills are alive with the sound of sirens and orgiastic mourners, the loudspeakers blasting the death toll for the day gone by, with no explanation – only the sheer numbers.

THE LOCAL SUPERMARKET CONSPIRACY

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What we know, however, is uncertain. In relatively lower-income neighborhoods people talk to each other while standing in line (one meter apart) at the local supermarket; one cracks a joke and the conversations, like a dance, begin; in richer areas no one says a word, almost afraid to talk, the situation must feel odder to them, some of them have clearly never even been to the local supermarket. However, why do we have this? China! in the low, gray clouds in the sky this morning – they want to level the world’s economy!; the US, always interfering!; there’s France, Germany, and the never-old, although quite new historically, European Union. The immigrants because they weren’t getting sick (xenophobia); the Chinese with their restaurants and damaged products (sinophobia); the succession of historical plagues, 1720, 1820, 1920, 2020, the latter option having almost entertained me till the social-media poster was worried about our lives in 2120, like we will all survive for the great catastrophe and at that point, really, you, post-writer, world, all of us, either know too much or know nothing at all.

OVER THE HEDGE

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One thing I Know: I know what happens in the world, I don’t know what happens at the end of my street. Street level, on a hilly road that curves where my building is, a little garden right outside my door, a hedge that lines it on two sides out of three. I can stare at the top of the road, but I can’t see the bottom, and that’s where the buzz is (or might be), the big road intersecting the major thoroughfare further north, the big square, the restaurants (shut), the stores (shut), the bars (shut), the tobacconists (shut? – there was a debate as to whether cigarettes are essential needs in times of confinement, can you walk in the park?, can you walk to relax?, to walk off the tension of living 24/7 with… who had ever been with these folks all this time?) Those who are home alone are spinning monologues to their kitchen curtains, and I wonder if I should see to really know, or whether I really want to know.

DUMBFOUNDED DUPLICATION

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“It’s in that drawer.” He marched to it confidently. “Found it?” He opened the drawer but found various types of tools, of which, let’s see… pliers, a kind of screwdriver… this looks like a hammer with a double blade at one end, it has to have a name, and, hold on, two more. So one is a chisel, the other is not. They do look similar, though. Small chisel and big chisel? “I didn’t know which size you preferred.” She grabbed the small one. “You do know that’s not really a chisel?” “You mean the big one?” “Yes.” “Yes.”

In response to: https://carrotranch.com/2019/03/14/march-14-flash-fiction-challenge/

BACK TO THE COUNTRY – THE GOLDEN CITY

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Through the woods, at the end of a track that goes along a stream (mom swears she used to bathe in it as a child with her friends) there’s a mill and the modern-day idea of a quaint cluster of small farmhouses – a B&B proves the point, and so does an old shed, of mossy bricks and rotten beams, untouched by the renovating fury, showing a massive wooden plough, stuck in time and dust and cobwebs. In El Dorado somewhere in the Andes, ploughshares were made of silver, and this gripped the imagination of a farmer who might have heard of the legend. One morning, as he went about his day, he must have stopped and pondered whether it was worthwhile to send at least one of his nine children to check if that was true. (Mom says they would rest under that giant oak after bathing and then run back to the village before sunset, so no one knew where they’d been.)

I TURNED THE HEAT OFF

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I turned the heat off. For two days, in February. The weather’s deceived me, though. It’s gotten cold again. Now it’s one of those days when you’d love to be, or you’re reminded of, a house in the country surrounded by hills, a fire crackling in the big living room, rectangular windows to the outside world, biting cold, but cloudless light-blue, when you feel nature knows best, she wouldn’t be taken in by a few warm sun rays. At this latitude! We may have created the concept, but nature knows what it really means. So the heat goes back on, like winter in reverse, and it would be lovely to be carried around the old pipes in the walls, like warm water from the boiler to these white radiators far from the window, as the low cut of the winter sun reaches them, too. They are dusty!

In response to: https://fivedotoh.com/2019/02/25/fowc-with-fandango-reverse/

#FOWC

THE TOWNS ALONG THE COAST

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At the station early in the morning the first train gets in at 5. No one gets off. The train’s left the Central Station an hour before to reach the end of the coastal line so people can get on. Empty to full, passengers will then alight in the main town, or at some other stop,  to work in the factories along the coast. The line, a feat of engineering constantly monitored, gives its best at 4:35 and 4:40 and a little before 5 when dawn breaks the night and the red lights of the big power poles cease to flicker in the dark. The train driver is the lone custodian of these very early contrasts – because you need the empty 4am to have the full 5am train. The towns along the coast are not so big. There’s a saying, everybody knows it, when a thing or a person is like “the 4am train,” it means that you take this thing or person for granted.

In response to: https://fivedotoh.com/2018/11/29/fowc-with-fandango-contrast/

GREENER THAN GREEN

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She liked the smell of eggs in the morning, not their taste; so he had them and she was happy. The steaming cup of coffee was for her; he preferred tea. Looking out, she had to admit that the pomegranate tree was the most beautiful tree in the world, its green greener than green, and the shape of its leaves so delicate. She also prayed, without religion, that if routine ever crept in, then lightning could strike her – under her favorite tree! – although, wait, lying there on the grass, a branch of the magnolia would intrude un-aesthetically on the shade of the pomegranate, and she liked the magnolia but that branch was so irregular! She got up and made for the garden. “You’re not making much sense…” And she stopped, wondering if the voice she’d heard was his, or the sweet abstract buzz of those who have gone but can still communicate.

In response to: https://fivedotoh.com/2018/10/24/fowc-with-fandango-abstract/

#FOWC

BACK TO THE COUNTRY – PRECISION

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Grandma used to hang the laundry on those wires, and it would float in the breeze. She had a basket to put it in when dry and I guess I’d follow her up the sloping garden and onto the big expanse of green grass. Behind us, grandpa was picking peaches, apples and pears, orange apricots. Or he was busy inside, at other times, at his income tax – “he uses a calculator and then does it all again by hand to see if the calculator is right!” she’d say. Now their two sons balance his checkbook and he doesn’t seem to care, even laughs at their precision. And the laundry, seldom out to dry on the rusty poles and saggy wires, somebody else collects it. It’s the smell that takes you in – the smell has stayed the same. And the bees, fortunately, buzzing around the flowers. There, those have changed. There used to be so many more.