#1
"‘Bah, Rain!’ Is The Most Appropriately Named Arid Region In The World."

Six stories up listening to the drone of mechanical ascension and I was reflected in so many directions by faded steel walls, though I was incomplete. I looked at myself blurred and faceless, the colors of my shirt jagged and jutting out into the surroundings. Jared and Maggie leaned on the wall behind me, similarly altered but with hazy and exaggerated distance. We had become apparitions and I was afraid of losing myself. I staggered toward the wall, desperate for details, desperate to see the lines that wrapped like rivers around my eyes or the bags that formed like swamps beneath them. But they did not show up and for a few seconds there, I almost believed in an afterlife. I looked so perfect. Faceless, we all looked the same.
But there was a cessation of movement and a ding and we came back into focus as we walked out onto the sixth floor of the Hotel Sierra. It did not resemble any idea of heaven that I was raised on. It was haunted by the eerie interior light of vending machines and paintings of the sea posed as portholes on the inside of a ship. The carpet didn’t have the texture of clouds. Heaven was like any other sequel to me and I had no desire to see it.

After we left the elevator, I clutched at my sides to reshape myself, to put my bones in place. I walked on that way, glad that I was mostly just water that would eventually evaporate, glad that the ephemeral nature of my life gave it the capacity to hold meaning. When we found your room and knocked, we were greeted with a gust of Antarctic air and a weak smile. You and Jared shared an awkward embrace. Inside, the blinds were down and the dim, blue glow from your laptop was the only source of light.
“How much time do we have?” you asked.
“It starts at seven. So almost an hour,” Jared said.
“Ok, well there are drinks in the fridge. I’m going to go change.”
While we waited, I walked over to the window and peered through the blinds. The horizon was a necklace of red embers slowly being reduced to ashes while we stood shivering around cold marble surfaces. Cars passed like crepuscular insects and the lights in the parking lot acted as horrible imitations of trees, yet I was so comfortable on pavement, so comfortable with artificial and natural lights that mixed at dusk. You always were too, but you avoided them because tomorrow you would live in the desert of an island off the coast of Saudi Arabia, where the sun and the moon vie for complete control of the sky.
“Erich, do you want anything?” Maggie asked me from the refrigerator.
“What is there?”
“Ginger ale, milk, and leftover salad,” she said, scanning the plastic shelves.
“No thanks.”
“Well, I’m not waiting until after the movie, so I’m going to see if they have cereal or something.”
“Why do we have to go to a movie on her last night?” I asked, closing the blinds and walking over to where Maggie and Jared stood.
“She wanted to, and it gets her out of the hotel room. We‘ll go somewhere else after it.”
“Her mom said she hasn’t left since they got here.” Jared said.
“How long has that been?” I asked.
“They sold the house on Monday, so like four days.”
I thought of your house with the fence broken where I climbed over it to retrieve a soccer ball at your birthday party, with the unfinished paintings that replaced the walls in your room, and with the ice dispenser on your refrigerator that spewed frozen peas and shards of bread because you stored things too close to the blades.
“Well, I think she should move in with me.” Maggie said.
“She’s still a minor,” I said, “And your parents wouldn’t let you do that.”
“Well then her dad should get a new job. He can’t even tell his family what he actually does.”
I held my hand under the ice dispenser on the refrigerator and pressed the crushed ice button, I received crushed ice.
“What are you doing?” Maggie asked.
“Nothing,” I said and dropped the ice into the sink before drying off my hand.

You came back into the room having changed, bearing a messenger bag and some poster board as you finished talking to your mother unseen beyond the doorway.
“I have to be back by eleven,” you said.
“Ok, we can do that. Is that more art?” Jared said, pointing to the poster board.
“Yes, but I‘m not really done with it yet,” you said and handed it to him. Maggie and I huddled around it. You had painted a desert with several small huts scattered around and an enormous tree that stretched above the clouds in the center. The branches molded into skyscrapers at the top of the painting. Fruit hung from the tree and one piece of it had fallen to the sand, where it had shriveled up and turned brown.
“I love this,” Jared said.
“I love you,” Maggie said and hugged you.
You thanked them with a sad smile and told your parents you were leaving. We went back out into the gray hallways and down to the lobby, where the receptionist greeted us with no recognition of how much we had invested in that last outing.

I thought about that evening a month later as I sat on the floor of a local Borders and flipped through a copy of Haruki Murakami's Norwegian Wood. It had been raining all day and Jared and Maggie were getting coffee at the café section of the store. I thought about how we had driven around the area that night and found that the streetlights do little more than parody the stars, that the ponds only hint at clean ocean shoals, and that there’s really no way to tell the houses from homes. We existed at the point where suburbs blended into a city, where we were weighed down by our reflections, shadows, and all the footprints we‘d ever made, but were still entirely responsible for the people we became.
And, most clearly, I remembered that, when we left the hotel, we took the elevator back down, and when it stopped moving and we walked out into the lobby, our twisted reflections tried to follow but ended up somewhere else, and we were only ourselves.
#4
thanks both of you.

rushmore - I've been around for a few months, mostly only reading though. I could never work up the courage to post. I greatly appreciate your comment though, as I've been continually impressed with your writing.
Last edited by brokencoastline at Dec 7, 2009,
#5
Well, I'm glad that you have finally worked up the courage because if the rest is as good as this, you've got a lot of reasons to be posting.

And everyone loves rushy; he's like my personal jesus.
#6
This is subtle, soft, and fragile.

The thing about this is that you do not rush into anything, you slowly describe what's happening without overloading people with descriptions, descriptions and more descriptions. It's realistic, with real emotion that seeps through slowly as you start describing the weather, the surroundings etc. The dialogue was also nicely done.

Keep writing.
#7
. I thought about how we had driven around the area that night and found that the streetlights do little more than parody the stars, that the ponds only hint at clean ocean shoals, and that there’s really no way to tell the houses from homes. We existed at the point where suburbs blended into a city, where we were weighed down by our reflections, shadows, and all the footprints we‘d ever made, but were still entirely responsible for the people we became.
And, most clearly, I remembered that, when we left the hotel, we took the elevator back down, and when it stopped moving and we walked out into the lobby, our twisted reflections tried to follow but ended up somewhere else, and we were only ourselves.


well that was a trip (in the greatest sense). this was extremely enjoyable. There are some great ideas in here. For the most part, very fluid writing. A kind of melancholy tone gave the narrator a bit of a disengaged feeling from the other people. The relationships were a bit ambiguous. Maybe a little moreso than you intended. This was a very lovely piece. I was engaged the whole way through and am very impressed. Nice avatar.
Anatomy Anatomy
Whale Blue Review

Park that car
Drop that phone
Sleep on the floor
Dream about me