#11 Three Minute Fiction: Ripening

I initially wished to write a review on the winner of an NPR short story contest that I had entered a few months ago. Unfortunately, my attempts to find the winning piece failed miserably.

I was forced to abandon that ship but luckily, NPR had another equally attractive boat sailing right past my sinking vessel: 3 minute fiction.

I browsed through a few of the “favorites,” they were all quick blurbs and were each a treat to read. My personal favorite, however, had to be the beautifully written story called “Ripening” by Andrew Morris.

This quick glimpse of childhood fully embraced all a person could expect in a short story. There is an appropriate boyish voice in the responses to the seemingly oppressive demands of the father in the tale. Yet the boyish attitude was paired with but not stifled by an adult descriptive tongue. The voice is loud yet delicate.

The quick rising action pulled me in. Despite the slim-to-none background information, I felt the rush of running through mud and overgrown gardens to escape a scolding parent. I could just feel the summer breeze and brotherly bond the two boys shared in their base- their safe-haven in the bushes.

The odds are slim that I enjoyed this short glimpse of childhood simply because I can relate to sumer adventures spent outdoors. The brilliance of this fast fiction is owed to the accurate voice and propelled plot that only a truly gifted storyteller can embody.

A review of 3 minute fiction should certainly not exceed three minutes, so nice work Mr. Morris.

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#10 Hair = Identity

Razzi: your hair’s naturally red, right?
Me: yup. I love it 🙂
Razzi: so do i!! lmao
Me: hahaa
Razzi: i think it’s the perfect shade honestly
Razzi: i must sound like a creeper, but i totally notice things like that lol
Me: 😀 thanks!
Razzi: np
Me: No you don’t it actually makes me happy! It’s comforting to, I feel like so many people out here are blonde
Razzi: hahha yeah i’ve converted to one of those people
Me: I actually was really self-conscious about it when I got to LA or should I say LMU for the first time
Razzi: really? i’m sure people loved it, though right?
Me: Well I definitely wonder what i would look like with blond hair…
Razzi: i mean it won’t be too far off from your color now, but i definitely think red is more striking. definitely demands more attention.
Me: True, and I honestly do love it. It always made me feel different which I was all for my whole childhood.Ya, but I get like playful shit about it. I have never gotten any of that before haha. I get called ginger, gingersnap, gingervitas,
Razzi: hahahha
Razzi: yeah i like ginger lmao

Razzi: reminds me of harry potter hahhahh
Me: Hahahaa! A guy at some party told me I had no soul
Razzi: wtf
Me: because of the southpark episode about redheads ha
Me: He was dressed like a chicken
Razzi: hahhah i love south park
Me: I had never seen it lol so I was cussing him out and the night ended with my boyfriend holding my hair while I’m vomiting from too many jello shots and crying, literally, about how I was discriminated against ha!
Razzi: awww hahaha
Me: So silly
Razzi: but a funny story to tell 😉
Me: indeed, in college that’s kinda the deal right?
Me: So how did you get the idea for your blog?
Razzi: well because one day this girl with curly hair was teling me she could never get her curls to actually curl and i gave her some tips and product names that i use and when i saw her again she thanked me and was so excited lol
so i figured that i’m probably pretty knowledgeable on the subject of curls
Me: That’s awesome
Razzi: soo yeah lol
Razzi: yeah it made me feel pretty good lol
Razzi: but the truth is, i’ve only had my hair this way for about 2 years now. i used to aaaaalways straighten it
Me: Really?
Razzi: yeah. but my ex from 2 years back looooves curly hair and he encouraged me to leave it out. i felt so self conscious because my hair was shorter and would get huge lol
but he loved it and i started getting all these compliments so since then i just let it go naturally pretty much.
Me: Haha
Me: GOOD
Razzi: and i dyed it lighter because it gives the curls more dimension and just makes them look better than my natural super dark brown
Me: I feel like going straight is such a pressure for girls
Razzi: yeah me, too.
Me: like beautiful white women have straight hair ya know?
Razzi: yeah definitely
Me: Ant the beautiful ones with curly hair have secret tricks of making it look good
Razzi: it’s like if you straighten your hair, you’re automatically prettier or something

How beautiful.

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#9 So, it’s not our fault?

I went to see the speakers Robert McChesney and John Nichols, co-authors of “The Death and Life of American Journalism: The Media Revolution that Will Begin the World Again” last week.

The crises of where journalism is going and what are we going to do was, of course, addressed. More interestingly however, the two men addressed not what the death of journalism and old media means for those who work in that field, but what such a death means for individual voting Americans.

In their description of this, I came to an interesting revelation about what I once assumed must only be American stupidity: Our lack of understanding for important issues – issues like the war in Afghanistan – are not solely our fault.

For some reason, fashion news is as pertinent as political news. For some reason, America has made a dramatic switch from understanding the complexities of government to better understanding the complexities of brangelina.

I once was certain that the cause for American lack of political and significant comprehension was due to both changing interest and morphing intelligence emphasis.

Now however, I cannot find blame solely with we the people. The changes in journalism are frightening. According to John Nichols almost all of the original new media pulls its information from old media (something like 98%). Old media is producing nearly half (about 40ish%) of news they once did twenty years ago.

Do the math. The amount of news has declined all over. Thus, the quality of the news has declined as well. We aren’t getting the information we did 20 years ago.

Sure, the world is changing. We live in a fast paced society with the necessity for news to be fast and simple is needed now more than ever.

But can’t we do this? Can’t some journalist out there make the front page news when it asks it’s reader: “can you list the top five reasons your country is at war?” And can’t that same journalist give Americans the information that they need to know?

America is not deaf or blind or resistant to hard news. Rather, they are robbed of it in a communicable form.

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# 8 A whole new greek world

I found myself in the middle of noisey drunken blonds. The stench of stale boose on their breath and the smeared pink lipstick stained on the dress of the sister in front of me made me want to hurl onto the suit of the drunken fool that was dancing with her.

I smiled at the girl next to me, asking her if she’s having fun. She nodded and said “you too the dance!” She sloshed off with her date to vomit under a table. Typical.

I looked hypocritically down on this group I am apart of. I obviously felt compelled to participate in more activities to meet people but joining a sorority was definitely a bizarre choice for me. I was so out of my comfort zone. Out of my mind at this “formal” shitshow.

I tried to enjoy the party. I bought a stunning white mini dress and killer white heels. I even had an overpriced drink at the bar. My date was a perfect gentlemen and terribly good looking and yet, I couldn’t bring myself to get into the scene.

These women, my sisters, were laughing, slurring, freaking, and vomiting.

It was a terrifying yet humorous sight. I looked just like them. Yet, I was filled with intimidation and frustration, completely overwhelmed on this sweaty, humid dance floor.

I turned and looked to my date, hoping to hide in his eyes and forget my stuffy surroundings. He smiled, squeezed my love handles and said, “let’s go outside.”

My salvation. The brisk fresh air and the warm body wrapped around me made it all bearable.

The room grew quiet, my shoes grew comfortable, and a found a slice of peace.

The inhabitants of the bar disappeared.
empty dodger bar

Three days later, the chapter was told that because of our out-or-control actions, we accrued over ten thousand dollars of damage. The “we” was heavily emphasized.

My individuality was seized the minute I joined, and yet I proudly accepted the group punishment we were allotted.

I guess i’m a selective individual with the group of girls that were selective in accepting me.

Gag me with a spoon.

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#7 Air is own a Milo

We were in the car for 13 hours total when we ran into Milo. He rested on the side of the road, laying down on the dirty ridges of the pavement. I yelled at Andrew, demanding that he pull over immediately.

He was small. The furry thing most certainly had only been on this earth for half a year or so.

When I got out of the car, he wagged his tail and walked straight toward me. We locked eyes, and fell in love.

Andrew told me he knew the minute I got out of the car we wouldn’t leave without the dog.

After the move, I struggled a bit. I had trouble adjusting to the Arizona weather, missing the brusk air of Oregon. I had trouble adjusting to the southwestern food and hospitality. I even had trouble with the consistent sunshine, missing the empathetic watery and cloud masked skies.

But Milo made it easy. He was new to everything in life, being a young orphaned puppy, and he was unconditionally loving despite the unsettling change. I found myself being content with the awkward new world because my dog was. Milo was just grateful to have a family; I knew I should be happy too.

I never thought I was a dog person, but I never thought I was an Arizona person either. FInding Milo halfway between my old and new world, gave me reason to consolidate my worlds. To breathe. I took in the change gradually.

When my dad called me to check up on Andrew and I, he asked me how the air was down here. I laughed and said, “I dunno dad it’s different. The air is – oh Milo! ” Milo wagged his body in between my knees, taking me by surprise.

My dad grumbled and said, “I’m sorry sweetie I don’t think I heard what you said,” he had recently gotten hearing aids, “I’ll I heard was, the air is own a Milo?” Arizona Milo, that made me smile, “The air is great, Arizona is great because it brought me Milo. I think I’m really gonna like it here after all.”

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#6 I Met Eddie at Central Bar

The New York City bar scene is full of flashing lights, speeding taxis unforgiving restlessness and a scrambled, blended, interweaving mush of humanity.

There was bar dancing, shooters shooting, and flowing scotch and gingers.

It was entrapped in the chaos while I was relaxing after a journalism conference that I met Eddie, the Irish bartender with a secret and frustratingly common dream. His dark, blackish brown hair was pulled back into a short ponytail and his scruffily light beard somehow highlighted his blue eyes in the dimmed dark oak covered bar.

Drink one.
Eddie shrugged of my question of why he left Galway, Ireland for New York, USA. He said this is just something you do. His thick accent was polite but reserved.

Drink two.
I tried again. asking for sincerity. He responded a common but nevertheless passionate response, “I want to be an actor. I’m out there to do a thing that nobody thinks I can do.” Eddie was sure that his dream is more than a dream, it is a future possibility.

Drink three.
I asked why New York? Why not LA, or a smaller place where he could be a big fish. He shook his head and explained logically that he came to New York to get financially established and then to full out attack the world of red carpets and flashes. He playfully turned to face me after preparing my drink, looked me dead in the eyes and said with his back of the throat irish accent, “you can quote me on this, I’m going to be the next James Bond.”

Drink four.
“I have been here for five years today. My green card is comin’ in two weeks. I know i’m destined to be here though. I had to go home for shoulder surgery two years ago. Everyone said I wouldn’t get back [to America]. But I did. I got on that plane, answered all of their questions, and ended up here again, even though I shouldn’t be.” Eddie felt more than just a calling to become an actor, he felt destined for it.

Pay the tab. Tip thirty percent.

I found Eddie so interesting I declared to him and the entire bar that I would write an article about him.

My notes are scribbled on bar napkins. They still smell of scotch an ginger.

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#5 What Happened in Vegas

Booze, bitches and basketball.
Mmmmmm Vegas.

Parker doesn’t remember the full night. As cliché as that sounds, he happened to have a particularly unique experience in the city of flashing sin.

Parker and his seven basketball-fan companions checked into the Mirage the night of the second game.

Four guys. Three girls.

There was a significant amount of tension upon the arrival. This was probably due to the fact that the two queen beds and three cots they were sure someone booked turned out to be one king bed and some blankets which the three women claimed promptly.

Fuck it. Parker thought, I’m in Vegas and I’m gonna have a good time regardless of where I drop tonight.

He was right.

Basketball game? Victory.

Drunk? Certainly.

Female interaction? Surprisingly.

Parker doesn’t remember her name. She was beautiful but so was that statue of Poseidon he clung to for a photo sesh. They met, talked, drank, danced, and fell in love for a few hours.

He met her leaving the basketball game. Parker has a tendency to become easily distracted and somehow became fully separated from his group of tense sports fans. She found him yelling into the voicemails of his friends’ unanswered phones.

She asked him to walk her to her car. Parker was taken aback by the forward gesture, and was temporarily frightened that this mystery woman might wish to be paid for a “walk.”

They got a drink of something.

Went on a strip somewhere.

Ended up in a king sized bed in the Mirage somehow.

And found a youthful, temporary, amoral, yet divine love.

Parker woke up to an empty bed, an exhausted heart, an aching head, and a photo of his last-night’s-life.

Someone stuck a bright purple smiley face on top of her head. What happened in Vegas?

He wish it wouldn’t stay there.

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#5 Marissa’s Pepsi-Staff

Marissa consumed 12 cans of pepsi before midnight struck.

Three hours before 12am, the optimistic young woman in her early twenties had received a phone call from an unknown number. The low and rigid voice on the other line stuck in Marissa’s memory like gum under a grammar school desk.

The news she was forced to bare was too much for her to fully take in. She sat down, opened a package of Pepsi Throwback, and drank it. Marissa wasn’t one to drink booze on any occasion other than celebration; the taste of alcohol was too harsh on the young woman’s sweet palette. Instead, she drank an unhealthy amount of cane-sugar sweetened Pepsi, while staring at the wall opposite the couch.

She would drink one can in it’s entirety, sipping loudly but gently. Marissa took her time. upon finishing the third can, the young woman stood up. Her teeth ached and her tongue felt numb. She slowly walked to the counter where her cell phone rested and picked up the device.

She flipped open the out-of-date cellular, then pushed the send button and revisited the unknown number’s listing. She sighed and tapped down to select the number labeled “Mom,” and pushed the call button.

“Mom? The sergeant of Jason’s, um troupe called me–,” her voice began to shake and her mind suddenly absorbed the previous phone call, “my brother’s dead.”

Marissa dropped the phone and threw up.

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# 4 Herbert’s Fingernail

The fingernail was grotesque.

God, thought Herbert, it looks like an earthworm with a nude shell for a cap. His right pointer finger was the center of Herbert’s focus. The stubby bitten nail had a rough edge and tiny pieces of flesh sticking out on the lip of the cuticle.

“Herbert!” snapped Mr. Rigsbee, the man’s maddening boss. Rigsbee ripped poor Herbert from his trance only to bring him to face his boss’s blue suited body and oversized head, poking an unwanted face into Herbert’s claustrophobic cubicle.

“The activity report of all employees is due today at 4:30,” Rigsbee paused to sigh.

God, Herbert thought again, I really do hate him.

“You’ve had three weeks,” Rigsbee smiled.

He just smirked at me, the bastard!

“I look forward to reading about what you think you accomplish in an average workday.” With that loaded comment, the irritating boss left Herbert to wallow in frustration.

He flipped his head about mockingly, and cursed under his breath while turning in his chair to face the obnoxiously bright blue screen on his desktop computer.

I might as well do it now. He drummed is hand on the keyboard and squished his lips to one side of his mouth. Finally, he began to type.

On an average workday I –

He stopped there and tapped his finger on his mouth. The action inspired Herbert to begin to chew on his nails anxiously.

I hate writing.

He took a short break from nibbling only to look at his gross finger again and then used a mechanical pencil to scrape around the cuticle. A slice of dead skin fell on the faded green desk. Herbert smiled and continued his unfinished sentence.

On an average workday I pause to bite and pick at my nails about 53 times.

He glanced down to the discarded skin on the desk. As the man was about to pull his eyes away from the dead chunk of skin to delete his bogus sentence, he let out a surprised but suppressed gasp.

The piece of flesh, his piece of flesh, sprouted eight leg-like appendages and skittered across his desk underneath the mess of papers and file trays and then out of sight.

Did my skin just come to life! He paused, scatterbrained in thought. Hell, I might as well try it again. He picked off another piece of flesh, rolled it in between his pointer finger and thumb, and dropped it on the desk. The man squinted and stuck his head down towards the desk’s surface. He held his breath.

The damned thing did it again! Shit, another gasp? Herbert looked up to see Marla, his mousy-short-haired cubicle neighbor poking her long dangly neck over the stubby wall with a face of pure shock.

What now? Marla wondered, oh goodness why is Mr. Rigsbee so rude to Herbert? Sarcasm truly does no good in a conversation of civilized men, but Mr. Rigsbee is less than a civilized man. She giggled at that thought. I can be just terrible sometimes. Thank goodness I completed my activity report last week.

Poor Herbert seemed extra anxious this morning. He was biting his fingernails left and right on the elevator ride up. Oh but he is so attractive despite the nasty habit! One day the two of us would be sitting at the dinner table and I will playfully scold him for chewing on his fingers. Stop it Marla. She adjusted her glasses. I have a tendency to daydream fantastical things and I must repress such thoughts at work. Or at least wait until my lunch break. She giggled again.

Suddenly Marla heard a gasp from Herbert’s cubicle, should I check on him? Maybe he is ill.

She stood up from her healthy-posture office chair and stacked two full bulging binders on the floor so she could peek over the wall that Herbert and her share. He was staring at his desk intently. The woman immediately began to brainstorm witty jokes; this was an opportunity to grab his attention.

He began picking at a fingernail again.

Oh it really is unpleasant. Then he ripped off a piece of dead skin, almost triumphantly.

That’s strange, I’m sure he does that often enough that is shouldn’t really be exciting anymore. His forehead is creased intensely, that means he’s thinking. He’s staring at something, what is it I wonder?… Oh it was that a piece of his skin? It’s moving… growing…IT SPROUTED LEGS AND RAN ACROSS THE DESK!

Marla couldn’t contain her shock and inhaled loudly. Herbert looked up at her with the same expression of shock her own face revealed.

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#3 Today, Perhaps

The steel door was incorrigible. Peter typically yanked the door open with such force that his poor toes would often fall victim to the surprising momentum. He would tense his neck muscles and clench his fists to keep from yelping aloud and disturbing Ms. Brusselbee. That bitter peach of a woman threatened to evict anyone who caused too much ruckus – meaning talking too loud outside of the apartment complex entrance, one floor beneath her window. Peter had lost count of how many times Ms. Brusselbee tried to evict strangers that were noisily passing by the building.

Today, the 26-year-old man remembered to open the door slowly. Perhaps he had finally felt settled in the rustic, San Francisco apartment complex. After all, it had been only a little less than a year since he moved in, but he still hadn’t become close to any of his neighbors. All of the residents kept to themselves in a reserved and quiet manner. But today, perhaps, marks a change; Peter carefully pulled the door away from the magnetic jaws that held it in its resting place, and slipped, unharmed, into the hallway.

The man began triumphantly whistling a haphazard melody as he forcefully pushed the elevator call button. As the noise of the shaft clunked its way towards the first floor, Peter’s eyes were drawn to the door leading to the stairwell.

Why bother with automatic doors, he thought. He made his way to the stairs, and opened this door, again without mishap. He began his trek lightly, not wanting to tire himself out on his newly discovered path home. Peter began thinking about exploration and how, as a young boy, he once found adventure in simple things. He would spend days climbing a single willow tree, dodging the spiders that guarded it. Once, he snuck to the attic in his parents’ home, and for hours he pretended that he was a stowaway on a pirate ship.

Peter’s thoughts broke when the sound of his echoing footsteps were joined by another pair. Peter hadn’t heard a door open but he was happy to discover that he was not alone in his stairway ambitions. The footsteps were lighter and more gentle than his own. Peter imagined that going down the steps lightened your walk. He found his assumption irrelevant however, when he passed a small woman with chestnut skin and short hair in her late twenties swiftly gliding down the stairs on the fourth floor. The two smiled at one another, Peter took tremendous notice of her striking blue eyes, and each continued on their way. Her gentle steps sounding more and more distant by the second.

Peter wondered why he had never seen the lovely woman before; perhaps she was new. He nearly landed on the 9th floor, but as he reached for the door handle he heard a disruptive noise, breaking the footstep rhythm.

Silence.

He listened on, waiting for the gentle footsteps to continue, but he heard nothing. Curious, the man hurriedly clunked back down the stairs.
The woman’s body was crumpled in a lifeless position on the 4th floor platform, her head resting on the bottom stair.

Peter paused only to take a breath and then lifted the woman off the ground, gently but with urgency. She laid limp in his arms as he climbed relentlessly to the 9th floor and swung open the door with a speed and careful agility he had never before mastered. Not 30 seconds escaped before his apartment door was unlocked, and he was lightly placing the woman on the couch. He could feel her cool breath on his arm, a chilling but welcomed feeling; she was breathing.

Peter grabbed the phone blindly, not wanting to take his eyes off the mysterious woman as he dialed 9-1-1. When the operator picked up, the woman’s eyes opened. She immediately placed her hand on her head delicately, and then looked straight at the man who had taken her into his home.

Peter spoke into the phone “A woman here, my, ah, friend is–,” the man stopped. Their eyes locked into one another.

The woman shook her head at the man, willing him to hang up. Her eyes held a light of fairytale beauty.

“I’m sorry,” Peter said to the operator, “everything is alright now.” The two just stared for a moment.

“I’m Peter,” the man nervously introduced himself, “are you ok?”

The woman grew a friendly but bashful smile, “I’m Nareen, and I’m pleased to meet you.”

One day ago, the closed doors of the apartment complex mocked Peter’s solitude. But today, perhaps, marks a change.

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