some fall in love. i shatter.

Archive for March, 2012|Monthly archive page

Rusted Leaves (#4)

In Stories Volume 1 on March 26, 2012 at 8:49 am

Jonah held his hand over April’s mouth.  Her eyes pushed past their sockets.  Her nostrils flared, her body striving to pull in oxygen faster than the two small nasal passages would accommodate.  She didn’t fight Jonah though, she knew that his hand kept her from screaming.  Screaming would only bring attention; attention would only bring death.  Gruesome, painful, and slow.  She let Jonah take charge and hold her steady.

They lay behind a felled log that had accumulated banks of dead leaves on each side, all blown in on the terrible winds that carried deathly tidings and the fading cries of their friends, all slaughtered at the camp a jagged mile back.  When they had slid behind the log, Jonah immediately began burying them both underneath the leaves, starting at April’s feet and working upwards over both their bodies.  She was emitting tiny squeaks, the beginnings of full-on screams, when he clamped his hand over her lips and began covering them both with just one hand.

A twig snapped.  They froze, silent and still as the dead tree.  They waited to hear him, see him, see the axe blade wet with the blood of Terese, Mike, Tom, Terry, Hector, Quinn.  They waited to learn if fleeing had been in vain, waited for the glint of steel.  Nothing.  More nothing.

“Just the wind,” Jonah convinced himself, “just the wind.”  He paused to moderate his voice.  “April, I need my other hand to cover us before he comes.”  She understood and her breathing slowed.  He willed a jagged smile.  “Good.  It looks like there’s a small depression below this side of the log.  I’m going to try shuffling my body into there and I need you to roll on top of me.  Your shirt blends in more with the color of the leaves.”  He said it as an afterthought but needed to explain to her his logic as it left her more exposed.  Jonah planted his heels and twisted most of his body a few inches below the surface and partially under the log.  The unearthed dirt was warm and inviting.  April shuffled on top of him, splaying her limbs out to disperse her weight and mask the appearance of her body.

“Okay, good, great; you’re doing great.  Now, try to pull as many of the leaves onto your back as you can, cover up as much as you can.”  He looked into her eyes, through strands of hair dirty with soil and eyelashes littered with bits of dead leaves.  She was terrified, too much so to hide it, but he could see the commands, the pieces of a plan helping to calm her; they formed a way out of an endless maze even if that exit was still far away.  Her left arm was pinned against his and the log but her right skimmed over the ground, pulling in leaves and slowly covering their frames.

“Great job, April.  Now pull your arm in tight and I’ll cover that side of your torso.  You’re doing okay, yeah?”

“Yeah.”  Monosyllables are better than screams, he thought.

His left arm pulled decaying leaves with their sweet musk over the remaining parts of her body and then over her head until they were both as concealed in burial as they were going to be.  April had kept her head slightly elevated so that in the shade under the awning of dead foliage, their eyes were an inch or two apart and looking into one another.  April barely blinked she was riding so much adrenaline.  Jonah knew the timing couldn’t be worse but he had been trying to tell her something at the campsite all weekend and they were likely running out of time.  The slime of decomposing leaves seemed to be alive on his fingers.

“April,” he whispered, even more quietly than before, for below the leaves, even the slightest gust of wind sounded like the footsteps of the maniac that had been slaughtering his friends for the past two days.  “I know it isn’t the right time, but I don’t know that I’ll get another chance to tell you.”

A branch snapped.  Not a twig, not a leaf, not the breeze shuffling around the dread detritus of the forest floor.  A strong, solid branch snapped.  Jonah’s words dried on his tongue.  Sunlight breached their tiny shelter in rays that shot through gaps in the layers of dead ground cover.  They listened.  Another snap.  Closer.  April’s eyes closed and remained shut.  Her body grew more still and her breathing grew shallow as if she were entering hibernation.  Try as he might, Jonah could not close his eyes.  They were fixed on the largest gap in their shared cover.  A shadow passed over them.  He couldn’t help thinking they had dug their graves together.

“I love you,” Jonah whispered no louder than the sound of the air leaving his lungs.  April’s eyes opened for an instant.  The shadow hesitated.

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Love Is Like A Timebomb (#3)

In Stories Volume 1 on March 19, 2012 at 9:30 am

Annabelle’s auburn hair fell past her shoulders and tickled the bare skin between her shoulder blades.  Her slight tan picked up the subtle tones in those lustrous strands and curls, complimenting the cascade.  Each lock was a frame for the smooth constellations of freckles birthed upon too-frequently sunburnt shoulders.

White skin and black hair, Cheryl was Annabelle’s negative.  Cheryl had a practiced thinness while Annabelle’s body screamed of appetite, a body that lived and embraced what the world offered.  Cheryl was ogled by fetishists; Annabelle made many mouths drop.  Beyond appearances and beyond public views, they maintained their differences.  Cheryl almost always fell asleep following sex, on her stomach, her face turned to the side so that she wouldn’t suffocate.  Annabelle remained awake, thinking about the other things looming in her day, what clients she was meeting with, what deadlines approached, what designs needed completion, what shopping needed doing.

She looked at Cheryl, asleep, the white bed sheet pulled as high as her lower back.  Her face was turned the other way, toward the same clock that Annabelle looked at on the bedside table.  The small, black hands hovered near the 11 upon the ivory face.  Annabelle’s appointment with her new client wasn’t until noon.  She had already completed the prep work, had reviewed their desires for the room, studied the photos her assistant had taken during the walkthrough.  She always prepared various options for her customers.  Interior design could be such a personal thing.  They turned to her for her expertise but time and again they let indescribable and unreliable emotion block the way of the certified professional.

Her laptop and folders sat atop the olive wood dresser across the room and were reflected in the bureau mirror that also captured the nearly still image of the two women.  Annabelle had a soft spot for olive wood as a working material.  It wasn’t the sturdiest, it wouldn’t last the longest, but her great-grandfather had kept an olive grove in her ancestral Balkan home country.  The things in his home, those same things that had been handed down to her and various family members, were often made of olive wood.  Annabelle smiled every time she encountered the material no matter where it came across her path.

Cheryl coughed and stirred.

Annabelle had a lunch appointment with her husband at 1:30.  In the time between seeing Cheryl and seeing him, she could exist without wearing any masks.  So many illusions, she thought; even in this room that I’ve created for myself where I know all of the secrets, all of the flaws I try to hide or the good things I try to accentuate.

The olive wood that blatantly plays upon my emotions.

The wallpaper of glimmering gold and rich red, imparting a cozy warmth and homeyness by mimicking my own hair and flesh tones.

The thick stripes of the wallpaper that run in solid vertical lines from the floor to the ceiling and create a grandeur in a room no more ten feet tall.

The custom designed floorboards running in such a way to continue the lines of the walls and stretch everything out.

The mirrors that catch the windows and the longest parts of the room to make it all seem more expansive.

A sweeping and warm comfort that stretched on for miles around her, making her feel instantaneously at home in a place that she and her husband had bought only seven months earlier.

Everything was an illusion and it was becoming a part of her nature.  Her work was practically built upon a foundation of illusion and her home continued in the same way.  Particularly in the bedroom because of all the time that a new wife would spend with her new husband; because it was the most intimate and most important room in the house; because those who lay with her there included Barry, her husband, and Cheryl, her lover.  She loved neither one of them and had learned this too long after the fact.  She was an illusion to herself, she couldn’t understand her own emotions or motivations, otherwise she wouldn’t have found herself with a husband not two hours out the door and another woman inside her head and between her legs.

So maybe she loved neither one of them, at least not at the moment, but which one could she love more, which one would she rather spend her time with?  Either, neither?  The well-manicured walls were crumbling around her.  Cracks showed and let the sunlight through but it burned and blinded like she was a vampire.  It left her more confused and vulnerable than anything else.

Cheryl stretched and yawned – she was barely tucked away in the pocket of sleep and the nervous, crumbling energy that Annabelle was exuding must have been buffeting her.

Annabelle breathed heavier and in short, rapid bursts.  She could count on nothing.  Her work, education, love… it was all out of orientation, she had no bearings.  The hands of the clock moved in their gradual circle and she could feel a ticking inside, like a bomb.  How much time do I have, she wondered, as Cheryl opened her eyes.

Names of the Actors (#2)

In Stories Volume 1 on March 12, 2012 at 7:55 am

VINCENT PALAZZIO: Object of Janet Meyers’ affection; boyfriend of same for thirteen great months; investment banker; smoker; dog lover.

JANET MEYERS: Object of Vincent Palazzio’s affection; girlfriend of same for thirteen wonderful months; interior decorator; runner; dog lover.

MR. SHERBERT: Puggle adopted by couple five months earlier; three-years old; beloved by both owners.

VINCENT PALAZZIO: Unwavering; work-focused; driven; believer in goals and the achievement of same; owner of 15 blue shirts and 15 white shirts, 15 ties, 15 suits, 5 pairs of shoes; believer in order.

JANET MEYERS: Anxious; uncertain of her life-decisions; easily swayed by that which is different; believer in the grass being greener on the other side.

VINCENT PALAZZIO: Frequent assurer that Janet need not compare her focus to his; that it is good to have different types of people in a relationship; that he would not and does not want to date himself; that they would murder each other if it was all focus and no release, all business and no art.

JANET MEYERS: Frightened of the future; alternately frightened of disappointing her parents and pleasing them too much; worried that she doesn’t truly know who she is or should be; worried that Vincent will see through her facade, will need someone more focused than she can be.

JASON VANE: The man that Janet cheated on Vincent with eight months ago; downtown club manager; new apartment owner; client of Janet.

JANET MEYERS: Guilt-ridden girlfriend of Vincent Palazzio; impetuous; easily swayed by emotions; apparently susceptible to men that stand in contrast to her long-term boyfriend, to men that bear some sort of art in their souls.

VINCENT PALAZZIO: In the dark as to Jason Vane.

JASON VANE: In the dark as to Vincent Palazzo.

JANET MEYERS: In the dark as to what she wants.

JASON VANE: Trusting yet unable to contain his suspicions about Janet; works late hours; sleeps mid-morning to mid-afternoon; sees Janet in the late afternoons and early evenings, sometimes the early morning; apartment is near Janet’s office.

JANET MEYERS: Fluctuates between self-loathing and indignation at the situation she’s created ; sometimes thinks that it’s Vincent’s fault; if only he showed her a little more kindness, offered her compliments on her work.

VERONICA ALBAN: Secretary at Fleischmann and Cobb, the investment firm that employs Vincent; freshly graduated from university; first job; young; attractive; particularly friendly with all employees; believes in good impressions; believes that all business is personal; frequent rejector of advances made by those who misinterpret her kindness.

VINCENT PALAZZIO: Somewhat stricken by Veronica during a difficult stretch with Janet; invites her to lunch on numerous occasions; always pleased that she never refuses his offers; more so the day that he saw her pull an uneaten lunch from the refrigerator.

JANET MEYERS: Breaker of Jason’s heart; resolute in her recommitment to Vincent five months ago; rational in thinking that something needed to change to keep them together; irrational in thinking that Mr. Sherbert was both a dog and a solution.

ROBERT ALBAN: Veronica’s father; the man who arrived for a visit one day early; the man who found Vincent, a man twelve years Veronica’s senior, sleeping naked in his daughter’s bed.

VINCENT PALAZZIO: Unaccustomed to fighting; a man who received a black eye and was punched down a flight of stairs, half-naked; a man whose wounds were licked by his dog as he lay sprawled on the couch.

MR. SHERBERT: A frightfully concerned animal; rescued from a violent home, and now this happens to his new family; secretly prefers Veronica over Janet; secretly prefers Robert over Vincent; non-violent but admiring of strength.

JANET MEYERS: A frightfully concerned woman; then a frightfully angry woman; then a frighteningly sad woman; then a woman hurriedly looking for her telephone.

JASON VANE: Secretly in love with Janet; depressive since she left him; wishes she would call; shocked when she does.

VERONICA ALBAN: Apologetic; unsuccessful; alone; newest employee of First Trade Investments.

JANET MEYERS: Object of Jason Vane’s affection; new girlfriend of same for four months.

JASON VANE: Object of Janet Meyers’ affection; new boyfriend of same for four months.

MR. SHERBERT: Object of Vincent Palazzio’s affection.

VINCENT PALAZZIO: Alone.

The Sousaphone on the Floor (#1)

In Stories Volume 1 on March 5, 2012 at 11:20 am

“Can we not talk during this ride?”  He nodded in immediate acquiescence, pausing on Andi’s face looking straight over the steering wheel before focusing his own gaze out the windshield.  She revved the motor, pulling them away from the driveway and the sounds of the ocean breaking against the shore.  The humidity had broken, she had left all the windows down.  The unfinished smile of a half moon cast a glow over them and the unlit backroads before Andi’s headlights cascaded around each bend.  She could feel drying saltwater in the cracks of skin on her knuckles, could feel the pulling dryness as she moved her fingers around the steering wheel.  Andi focused on that physicality so that she wouldn’t break and begin speaking to John.  He felt the lingering sand between his toes while trying to hold at bay the emptiness threatening to consume the two of them inside that car.

He hadn’t done anything.  She knew it.  He knew it.  She hadn’t done anything either but they both knew it wasn’t about what either of them had done.  It was about who they were and who they had become and the expectations that they had of themselves, of each other, of the “union.”  John sensed that Andi was doing one of two things.  Half of her was imagining what it would be like, years later, when they would have been together long enough to forgo conversations during car rides.  The other half was preparing her for driving alone in the car; practicing the silence as preparation for the lack of the physical.  Such a realization kept his fingers away from the radio buttons and his ears blockaded against the rush of wind.  He wanted to hear the slightest utterance if it gave the smallest hint as to which way things fell.  She was silent.

They drove for an hour on backroads cutting between the coastline and the highway.  He didn’t know the area at all, couldn’t tell if she was lost or driving for the sake of driving and not speaking and keeping him at a distance; keeping the world outside the car at a distance.  No matter where they wound, the sounds of the ocean continued chasing down the car.  Even the wind that rushed past when they reached small straight-aways couldn’t drown out the water.  Their ears had become conch shells.

She kept driving, making loops that she understood and he didn’t.  He wasn’t from here, hadn’t grown up visiting friends here, hadn’t snuck out at night to parties that required passage through dark underbrush and along cliffs that jutted out over the sand and surf.  She knew every one of these curves – they represented a certainty that was out of reach in every other aspect of life, embodied by the man sitting silently next to her.  She was trying to be those things he thought she was.  She was trying to be so many things, not meaning to toy with him or string him along, no matter what he thought at that moment or in the future; unable to pull the trigger on committing to John or just pulling the trigger.  Her thoughts had become the curving roads that protected the homes and forests of this posh peninsula but instead of protecting anything, her thoughts just continued in loops and circles that only served to keep aspects of herself apart for a period of time.

Things had not gone the way Andi had expected.  Not in her relationship, not in her work, not in her life.  John couldn’t be blamed for all of that, at least not two-thirds of it, but he stood in front of her as a symbol.  But she could have a choice in what that symbol represented.  Would he be the strength that guided her toward a happy future, or was he the anchor that tied her to a failing past?

He remained silent, innocently awaiting judgement.

Welcome

In Uncategorized on March 1, 2012 at 1:22 pm

For longer than I’d like to admit, I was trying to come up with a way to introduce this website. I kept writing and cutting and rewriting until I had a realization. I realized that if you want to know what the 69 Love Stories Project is about, you can check out the ‘About’ page (and you really should because it all makes more sense then). After that, if you want to know how to contribute and become a participant in the project, check out the ‘Contribute’ page. Those things are important – especially the ‘Contribute’ page – but they’re not the heart and soul of the 69 Love Stories Project and that’s what I’m here to introduce today. After much preparation, it’s time to unleash this literary experiment upon the world. So here’s how it’s going to go.

Starting this Monday, March 5th, I’ll post a new story onto the site every Monday and it will (should) appear in the column furthest to the left on the main page – I recommend you click on it to read it as the formatting should be a bit better. If you contribute and give me whatever story information you have, I’ll do my best to get it into whatever story comes next (dependent upon time and any backlog of participants). If there are any non-story announcements (e.g., new contribution options, a change of schedule, etc.), they will appear in the same place.

That should do it, people. It’s meant to be simple, it’s meant to be about the writing and the participation and whatever future things we build from there, so there’s not much else to say now. Again, check out the ‘Contribute’ page and the ‘About’ page, where all due credit is given to the Magnetic Fields and the wonderful things they’ve done that have been the bulk of the inspiration for this. Oh, and there’re links at the bottom for more info on the Magnetic Fields, others who are doing creative work off their inspiration, other music/writing sites, and more. I’ll be adding more relevant sites as time goes by and I’ll always encourage you to check them out as they’ve all leant a hand in inspiring me in some way.

And to stave off any confusion, I’ll point out here that no contributions are necessary in order to read the work and the reading is the most important thing here. Read, share, comment on the work – seriously, leave comments and tell me if you loved it or hated it and why. You can email me and tell me to give it up, you can email me to tell me I’m genius and you know a guy who knows a lady who’ll make me rich. I want you all to be as involved with this project as you want to be. The contributions are wonderful but they’re in no way a requirement.

So here we go…