Monthly Archives: November 2017

Truth, Faith and Joy

Truth Goodkind was born with a superpower. She could see the truth around a person. To her, the truth followed people around and kept them honest. She had this ability all her life and it took her a while to realize that she was the only one who had it.

“There is no Santa Claus!” she insisted, once she was old enough to talk about it. “You’re going to put the presents out with Daddy! You’re not Santa Claus!”

It was why she never wanted to sit on Santa’s lap as a child, either.

Truth’s younger sister Faith was different.

If Faith ever had a superpower, it must have been that she believed in herself. And when she believed in herself, she could do anything.

Of course, it’s hard to know for sure how much Faith might have achieved, even as a child, because every step of the way, she had her older sister Truth looming over her shoulder behind her.

“Faith!” Truth bellowed when she found her sister on top of the house. “What are you doing? Get down from there!”

“I’m going to fly!” Faith called down to her.

“No, you’re not!” Truth yelled back without thinking. “There’s no such thing as flying, you’ll go splat like an egg or a kitchen plate!”

But even as Truth said this, something she knew to be true, she noticed Faith’s truth hovering around her. Faith’s truth confirmed her actions. As she said it, the truth was that Faith could fly. She would fly. And yet, once her sister Truth had spoken to her, the truth that followed her around changed.

Truth watched it change before her very eyes.

“Remember,” her parents always told her, “don’t ever tell your younger sisters about Santa Claus.”

The lie distressed her, but when she looked at her sisters, all of them, she saw the lie of Santa Claus become truth.

“Mommy,” Faith asked one day, “Tell me about God?”

Truth knew by now that her parents were atheists, so she listened intently. Her father watched her, too, which told her this was one of those times she should keep the truth quiet.

And as her mother told her little sister the theory of the existence of God, of what God represented in the Christian worldview and others, she saw that her mother’s truth never wavered, but Faith’s started to deepen, started to expand and include all other types of possibilities.

“But you lied to her!” Truth scolded her mother. “You don’t believe any of that God crap!”

“That doesn’t mean she’s not allowed to. I want Faith to make up her own mind on this issue, Truth. We don’t know. We don’t. We just believe.”

Of course, the price for the rest of them was that Faith became absolutely insufferable. She read the Bible cover to cover and treated it as though it were… well, the Bible.

“Rather than a poorly written piece of ancient literature,” Truth complained to her parents. “And now she’s harping on the littlest things, stupid things, and telling the rest of us that we’re going to hell!”

So the parents talked to Faith. “You know, sweetie,” their mother said, “not everyone believes in God. Or hell. Or sin. A lot of pepole think the Bible is just an ancient text.”

But Faith didn’t care about all of that. She knew what she knew and what she knew was what she believed. And what she believed was her truth.

Then there was Joy. Joy was the youngest of the Goodkind sisters. If Joy had a superpower, it was to always see the good in people and bring it out, no matter how long it took. There are those who say that this is the most important power of them all.

“Why do you keep correcting people?” she asked Truth one day while coloring.

“Because they’re wrong!

“But they’re happy,” Joy pointed out. “Don’t you want them to be happy?”

“No,” said Truth. “I want them to be right.”

“But what does it matter what they think?”

But it did matter. Maybe not for most people, but int he case of Faith Goodkind, it certainly did. Because Truth was starting to think (based on evidence carefully gathered and curated) that if Faith was left to believe in a Christian God, then given enough time—given enough faith—she might be able to make that God real.

“And why would that be a bad thing?”

“Because,” Truth rounded on her obstinate middle sister, “the Christian God has been responsible for some terrible atrocities. Can we start with the plagues? Or wait—maybe go back farther, all the way back to the Garden! Or the Flood? And don’t start with your ‘Oh, but that was before Jesus’ crap—I know for a fact that you’ve read Revelations! And just look at his followers! The Crusades? The Witch Trials? The Inquisition?”

Everything that Truth said to Faith was hurtful at that time. But Truth wasn’t the only one speaking to her.

“What is it that you actually like about God?” asked Joy.

Faith thought about that for a while and decided, “What I like most is the idea of forgiveness. People spend too much time obsessing about Sin, about the Fire and Brimstone of it all. What I like about God is His capacity to forgive. Not just the little things, but the big ones, too. Anything, literally anything, can be forgiven. And He teaches us how.”

“As long as you agree to worship him,” Truth muttered from the corner.

“Maybe,” Faith conceded. “But if there was such a God, one who was willing to forgive unconditionally… Wouldn’t you want to worship that?”

“Butterflies and Hurricanes”

I don’t know that I can say that Declan “thrived” (throve?) after Raven left, but I might say that he blossomed. I could even say “hatched”. He broke out of the cocoon he’d woven for himself with his girlfriend those first couple years in college.

“We should start a band,” he said to his friend Jeffrey. Jeffrey had been in a band in high school, too, overseas in Brussels, of all places. “Anus de Manus” was the band’s name and they were, as he put it after watching Declan’s videos, “even more terrible than your Fear-band.”

“Angst,” Declan corrected him.

“Angst is Dutch for fear,” Jeffrey pointed out. And now, building on that, he added, “I think maybe it’s time you moved past that Fear.”

Jeffrey had an “actual classical education” in guitar, whcih was an unexpectedly huge adjustment for Declan.

“Why are you holding your guitar like that?” Declan asked.

Jeffrey had it propped on his right leg, which looked super awkward and put the guitar at an almost vertical angle, more like a cello. “It’s so I can reach further,” Jeffrey explained. “Or at least, that’s what my instructor used to tell me when she jabbed my thumb with a pencil.”

“You’re supposed to have your thumb there, though.”

“Not where I’m from.”

It was a weird adjustment, too, when it came to sound. “I want to add some violin,” Jeffrey said out of the blue. They weren’t even recording yet. “Guitar is too… There are too many memories for me.”

When school started up again—their junior year in college—they actually picked up a couple of freshmen.

“Don’t you think we need a name now?” asked Martin J. Quindlen.

“Butterflies and Hurricanes,” said Talthybius Jones.

“Sounds more like a name for an album,” said Jeffrey.

The name they decided on, ultimately, was Gorgasm and the Astral Vices.

“Why?” asked almost every girl Declan found himself sleeping with that semester.

“Well, our lead singer, Rachel, has a beautiful voice, so it was gonna be Astral Voices, ‘cause we’re going for something really, like, cosmic and ethereal, but then we got into this thing, the rest of us, about Greek mythology, and went waitaminutewaitaminute, and I can’t remember how, but we went from ‘Gorgon’ to ‘Gorgasm’ and decided that ‘Vices’ was more appropriate than ‘Voices’ then. I don’t know. We’re kinda metal? We’re kinda weird?”

Jeffrey didn’t make it the whole year with them. He was majoring in Physics and it became too much of a time commitment, but he did help set them up with a guy who ended up being their agent: Magnus Murgatroyd.

“That’s the most ridiculous name I’ve ever heard,” said Talthybius Jones.

“I gotta say, guys,” said Magnus upon meeting them, “your stuff, I really found it quite uh… quite moving.”

“Thanks,” said Martin J. Quindlen. “We do practice a lot.” Then Tally hit him. “Ow?”

“You kids got plans for the summer?”

Who needed Acid Monsoon, anyway? Who needed established platform and fanbase?

“Now,” Magnus told them, told Declan personally, closer to crunch time, “there are one or two things…”

There needed to be something in Declan’s look, you see. “We gotta kinda rough you up, audiences expect something kinda, I don’t know, a little bit rougher, a little bit gruffer, you know what I’m saying?”

“No,” Declan said. “It seems to me the audience wants a voice. My voice—or at least, my lyrics, my songs, my playing. They’ll want to know who this person is who’s making this music. Not the plastic thing the agents and record companies mold.”

“Listen, kid—“ He tries to make it sound conspiratorial when he says it, but he’s still kind of a dick. His message here was how people want things, people are predictable, and he was the one with all the answers.

Is that who I want to be? he finds himself asking.

Then he gets a text from Raven.

It’s been a while. Raven doesn’t feel a whole lot of need to come back. Not like she has family here. Not really. Just Declan and he doesn’t count because they broke up.

Does he regret that? Of course he regrets it. You know he does, because theirs is the big love story, the epic showdown. They’re the ones here who bleed for each other. He loves her. He would be in love with her, too, if they hadn’t kicked each other out.

“Playing in Trinity,” she says. “You should come. I’ll comp you.”

Did she not know that he wasn’t going to be in Trin’s Field that week?”

“I’ll be in Alabama,” he texts back.


“Yeah, didn’t you know?” He explains his new situation.

“Oh, wow,” she texts back. Thirty seconds pass. “Congratulations!”


How could he not have told her? How could they be so out of touch?

The next summer, they end up at a festival together. “You should totally open for us!” she says, then catches herself. “Unless that would be weird?”

“I’m sure the guys’d be thrilled,” he says, wondering if he is.

He assumes that she’s sleeping with at least one of her bandmates.

Not that he hasn’t slept with Rachel a time or two… He wonders why that feels different, reminds himself that wondering isn’t going to make the feeling go away. He needs to just be okay with it. He takes a cold shower, forces himself to think about it, to normalize it. She’s moved on.

“Hey, man.”

By now, Declan is out of the shower and wrapped in a towel. He wasn’t expecting to see Caspar June right there, his ex’s boss and whatever else, but he shouldn’t be as bewildered as he is. It’s not as if they haven’t met before.

“Do you feel awkward around me?” Caspar asks, and of course Declan does—especially after that question. “Can I ask you—is it because of the fame thing, or is it because of Raven?”

Declan doesn’t even need to answer. He knows it. Caspar knows it.

“Listen, I like you,” Caspar says. “I like your music. I think you’ve come really far. I’d like to see you go further. But there’s something that you gotta understand about the Game.”

Somehow, thinking of marketing and imagery as a game with an opponent was not somethign that had ever occurred to Declan. It helped. It reminded him of the campaign he’d run back in high school to get into Raven’s good graces.

“You don’t have to be that person,” Caspar said, “You don’t have to war the mask or the hat 24/7, even out in public. But you gotta treat the camera like a stage, certain people, especially journalists and producers, but even your own agent, they aren’t people and they are not your friends. They are your audience. Your audience wants a character. And a character is the opposite of a person.”

That was the most useful information anyone had ever given him about being an artist.

Schrödinger’s AfterLife

Somewhere, there is a cat in a box
with a radioactive substance
to a vial of hydrocyanic acid.
Perhaps the substance has decayed
and the cat has died as a result.
Or perhaps not.

If the substance has decayed
and the hydrocyanic acid has been released,
then the cat is dead.
But there is no knowing whether or not that is the case.

As long as we do not know
how rapidly the substance has decayed,
as long as we don’t know
whether the acid has been released,
as long as we don’t know
whether or not the cat is dead,
the cat is both dead and alive.

So somewhere,
in some subset of possibility…

We don’t know what happens.
That’s what it amounts to.
That’s what it comes down to,
we don’t know what radioactive substances
might lie beyond the grave.
We’re the ones in the box, after all.

How can we,
the cat,
know that the rest of the world is still turning?
How do we know they’re not all dead?
How do we know what the hell is going on?

There are so many possibilities.
So many variations on this theme.
But as long as we’re still in the box,
as long as we still don’t know…

there is a cat in a box
who is about to die.
It does not know what will happen
There are so many possibilities.

It could go to the cold place,
the place that might or might not
be a code for oblivion.

It could go to a place of reward
or of punishment—it’s impossible
to know which,
what arbitrary criteria would apply.

It could come back,
either as a cat again,
or as a human,
or an insect,
or a whale,
or a tree,
or a rock,
or a song,
or a feeling of desperate uncertainty in the face of profound loss.

Or something else could happen to it entirely.

Until the moment has arrived,
there is no way of knowing
what AfterLife will bring.
But standing at the threshold,
every conceivable possibility,
every possible outcome,
every final destination,
exists all at once.

As he hovers on the brink of death,
spinning at the precipice,
everything that could ever happen to him
is happening, all at once.
He is infinite.

The Choice


MILES: You’re awake.

EMILY: How’d it go?

MILES: The news isn’t good.

EMILY: The baby?

MILES: We need to talk.

EMILY: Miles. Is the baby…

MILES: It’s alive.


MILES: He’s alive. But…

EMILY: Is he in danger?

MILES: You’re in danger.

EMILY: I can take care of myself.

MILES: You’ve been asleep for ten hours, Emily.

EMILY: I can take care of myself!

MILES: This is what we have doctors for. You need…

EMILY: What? No, go on, say it. Say it, Miles, go on. Tell me what I need.

MILES: This pregnancy will kill you.

EMILY: What are my chances, exactly?

MILES: Catastrophic.

EMILY: Oh, boo fucking hoo.

MILES: Emily—

EMILY: I’m not having an abortion.

MILES: Emily—

EMILY: Miles! I am not having an abortion. I will not kill this baby.

MILES: Then this baby will kill you.

EMILY: I cannot imagine a worthier adversary.

MILES: Emily, there are other options.

EMILY: Oh, like what? Adoption?

MILES: Not even that! We can try again! We can—

EMILY: You expect me to carry another child after killing this baby?

MILES: It’s not a baby yet.

EMILY: Yes, he is. Miles, you’ve seen him—

MILES: I saw a speck on a screen! You wanna talk about things I’ve seen? You wanna go there?

EMILY: It’s not your decision.

MILES: He could die, too. Emily, if you don’t do this—

EMILY: I’m strong.

MILES: Emily. You could die for nothing.

EMILY: Might be preferable.

MILES: Have you ever loved me? Did you? Ever? Do you even realize what you’re telling me? You’re telling me death is preferable to you, death would be a better prospect than… We can try again, Emily. It doesn’t have to be this way.

EMILY: Yes. It does. OK, let me tell you how this is going to go. I am going to have this baby. He is going to survive. And I’m not. And I’m okay with that, because you—listen to me! You are going to be an amazing father. You are going to be the best fucking father to our son that the world has ever seen. You’re going to find someone else—let’s be honest, it’ll probably be Ashley—

MILES: Oh, fuck you—

EMILY: And you’re going to be fine. You’re both going to be fine. You’re all going to be fine. Without me.

MILES: I don’t want to do any of that without you.

EMILY: You don’t have a choice.

“Parallel Universe”

I’m in trouble.

I fucked up this time.


Is that one word or two? I guess if it’s one word, it can be an adjective, but two? “Big time?”

Fuck me.

“Big time.”

I’m pregnant.

This wasn’t supposed to happen. I know that it’s not supposed to happen because I haven’t seen it. I haven’t seen anything like it. In fact, I’m pretty sure just with a cursory glance into the stuff that I know is going to happen to me in the next couple of years, that this completely contradicts everything I know about how my life’s supposed to be.

And I mean, come on, even beyond that, come on now, you know me. By now you must know who I am. Is this my story? Is this who I am? Who I…

I mean, I did… do this. I consented. I had sex. This wasn’t something that was done to me, it was a mistake I made, I was complicit. I had sex. With one of my best friends. We haven’t really talked since, not about… I don’t know if it was bad, if I… Maybe that’s…

Or maybe I was right about Trevor.

“I’m pregnant.”

I practice saying it in the mirror—a lot—before I finally work up the courage. It stops him dead in his tracks. He looks like he’s never going to smile again. Like there are too many other emotions he has to sort through first before he can get back to happiness.

“It’s okay,” I tell him, after I tell him. “You don’t have to do anything, I just—“

“How can you say that?”

“I’m taking care of it.”

He is genuinely confused and I realize too late there are too many ways that sentence can be read. Which way is he reading it? Which way does he want it to be read?

It doesn’t matter, I remind myself. He’s not the one who’s pregnant.

“Are you gay?” I ask him. Because maybe that’s a factor. I don’t know why it would be—no, that’s a lie. I can think up a million reasons, only half of them silly and a quarter more stupid, but that still doesn’t make the rest relevant. Not to me. Not here. Not now.

He looks at me and I can see him going through so much. I can see rejection, how he’s offended that I’d even think that—again/still—after what we’d done. But then underneath that, I can see… I don’t even know. It’s too complicated and I’m not a gay man—or any kind of man—myself. I can’t really fathom, psychic or not, what he’d be feeling now if he is gay. Or, for that matter, if he isn’t. But what I think I see is like a fear of what I’ll think of him and then underneath that, some sense of relief that he maybe just doesn’t have to hide it anymore.

“It’s okay,” I told him. “It’s okay if you are, and if you aren’t…”

He lunges forward. He kisses me.

It should be raining right now. Scenes like this belong in the rain.

I don’t even want to tell my mom. I mean, seriously, think about it. I’d be her third child to go through this. The hat trick. The fucking hat.

But Trevor doesn’t want me to have the abortion.

“You don’t have to come with me,” I tell him.

“Why did you have to tell me?” he asks. “I mean, if you knew that—that this was what…”

“Did it ever occur to you I needed someone to talk to? Who else is there? Lucy? Isabella? I only had you.”

But Trevor and I have very different ideas about how our life would be, how our kid’s life would be. To him, it’s so clear, it’s like a golden path, so shiny he doesn’t notice the mists at the edges. But I have seen the future. Almost a third of my life, I have lived there. It isn’t a path, it’s a maze and there are so many ways to get lost in it.

I’m not saying I wouldn’t want to have a child someday, to make all those mistakes, but I’m not ready. I’m not there. And I don’t think she is, either. I don’t know that it’s a she, of course. I can see her, like I said. It’s just easier to think of her, of the person she’d be, as me. Who would I be? How would my life go?

She could kill me. She’s not even a person yet, but already she’s a threat. They don’t teach you to think of reproduction as an extreme sport, but god fucking dammit. I know. I’ve seen it. I was in the fucking room and I’m not ready. I’m not ready for something that I can’t see.

He’s cold on the drive back. I think someday he might forgive me. I think so. Or get over it, at least. Or at least move on. I think. I hope. But I don’t know.

Was this supposed to happen? Was any of it supposed to happen? Did I make a mistake? Is everything… is everything going to change now?

Was any of it ever actually fucking real?

A Butterfly for the Mother

She gave me life and, yes, I love her still,
It knots up all the feelings in my gut
With meals she’s made, of which I’ve had my fill.
I want to give my thanks to her here, but…

I find it hard to write about my mother.
Why fumble with her sheer perfection?
Why scramble impressions like she was any other?
Try a pastry, or some other confection.

I cannot write about my mother’s ills,
I’ve suffered hardly any qualms from her.
What few there were have largely been my spills,
The ones that now to me occur.

For above and beyond she’s held me fast and tight
I shouldn’t do this, couldn’t do it right.

The Sublime and the Ridiculous

This Was a Bad Time to Laugh–If I laughed now, I could ruin it, and I really liked this girl, but she just couldn’t see what was going on behind her. We’d been talking religion (usually a bad idea for a first date, but I tend to get away with it–usually) and she was on a tangent about being on a religious retreat and seeing God in the shape of the curtains on the window.

You laugh, or roll your eyes, thinking it cheesy, but I actually like sentiment, thank you very much, and she had plenty. My problem wasn’t that she was being diabetically precious right now, it was the fact that there was a hotdog vendor out the window behind her, having an argument with a particularly precocious squirrel. This would have been entertaining enough in and of itself, but to make matters funnier, the squirrel had somehow managed to smear mustard in a streak across its furry scalp, so it now appeared to be wearing a bright yellow Mohawk, and it reminded me of the time I’d watched that punk pilfer the billfold off some suit bragging on the phone about his charitable businesses after conspicuously passing by a hooded homeless woman and her child without even a second glance, and how the punk had then given the cash to the needful and left the empty wallet under a tree.

The hotdog vendor was a jerk–I knew him–and deserved anything this squirrel would give him. But I couldn’t enjoy the Schadenfreude of seeing the hotdog vendor get his recompense while my utterly lovely date was seeing God in her memory of a blowing curtain. I knew the image she was talking about. I’d once seen Santa Claus through my open window as a child, and I remembered the Christmas morning anticipation, which must have something in common with the love of God, right? The promise of renewal, the rewards of virtue? I’m no great believer myself, but I appreciate the ability to snatch meaning from the jaws of apathy and spy the motives of the unseen.

So you see I couldn’t laugh, caught here quite thorougly between the sublime and the ridiculous, the unbearably romantic and the callous, uncaringly ironic.

“You’re smiling,” though, she finally noticed.

“Well… yeah. Why shouldn’t I be? I think it’s very sweet.”

“Sweet?” She seemed offended, but was still smiling.

“I didn’t mean it like that,” I said. “You just have a very out-there way of looking at the world.” Still not good. “I like it?”

“I don’t know,” she concluded. “It’s just how I think, I guess.”

And there’s nothing wrong with that! I wanted to scream at her. Well, not scream, maybe. I just wanted to shake her and throw my arms around her to reassure her, you’re not losing points! Be yourself! I love you!

Well, OK, that last part was a bit far, I suppose, for a first date, but really, it’s short-hand, at least, for “I love the way you find meaning in insignificant details”–dammit, that still sounds all snarky and cynical…

Just then, the squirrel appeared at the window, upside-down, looking right at me, head cocked to the side, and it was the cutest, most manically delightful thing I had ever seen, at least in contrast to the bliss of speaking to Her Hotness here with me. And it was so sudden and so striking, I just broke, I just couldn’t hold it anymore.

She frowned and finally looked behind her, but not in time. “What?” turning back.

I was forced to explain and apparently, it wasn’t as funny as I’d thought it was.

“It’s a squirrel? You’ve been watching the squirrel the whole time?”

I floundered. “Well, I mean… it’s the same thing, though, right? Seeing God in the movement of the curtain? Seeing God in a squirrel with a mohawk messing with a shifty hotdog vendor?”

She didn’t think they were the same.

This was a bad time to laugh.

“That’s not God,” she told me. “That’s something else. I thought you were different. I thought you understood. But you’re just like all the others, aren’t you? It’s all just a game to you…”

And she ditched me, walked out, left me behind. Left me feeling like a shallow jerk. Or no… Maybe I wasn’t the one who was shallow. Maybe she just couldn’t take the joke.

That’s what I keep telling myself, anyway…

Birth of Fury

Casey Swithin is a fucking nightmare.

By the time she was twenty-five, she’d had seven abortions. She said she enjoyed them. Sure, they were painful, but isn’t childbirth painful, too? And her reward was not getting a kid out of the bargain. Score! It wasn’t just that she loathed children (although she did—the pesky little runts). She considered it a political message. The Repugnican Party insisted on pushing the envelope, forcing the Democraps to make the conversation about “cases of rape” and still spectacularly lose. But abortions should be a fundamental human right. So she’d set herself up as the radical liberal answer. She treated it as a tradition, conceiving every year around Christmas as a present to herself and then having the procedure as close to the end of the first trimester as she could legally get away with.

When she fucked the fathers—and you had to be a special kind of asshole to be a father to one of her delicious mini-corpses—she always used a condom, because “Ew—diseases?” But she was always careful to make sure it was one of her condoms, with a series of pinprickholes right through the top. If any of them ever noticed, she’d say “Oops” and promise to take a pill after they left, but it’s not like any of them would ever know.

This time, the lucky bitch was a Skandinavian stock broker vacationing in Manhattan who called himself “Gus”. Seriously? Gus? With that suit? Whatever, dude. He was working on some kind of trade deal that had to do with oil or steel or some other fucking chemical destroying the world. And while he wasn’t wearing a ring on his finger, he also wasn’t exactly disguising the indent that showed it was there.

Did she think of him as a victim? Probably. Because Casey Swithin thought that she was in control.

Then she woke up tied to the bed.

Gus wasn’t just a businessman. He was Norway’s Donald Fucking Trump. But as fate would have it, he had never been able to conceive a child. Until he met Casey Swithin.

For the next nine months, she strained against her bonds and felt the parasite growing deep inside her. When she got too close to breaking free, there were guards to catch and restrain her and doctors to pump her full of drugs—

“But will they hurt the baby?” asked the man who was doing this to her, his voice full of concern for the source of her problems. And he received plenty of reassurance.

Finally, the day arrives. She’s the size of a house, which really, she is, right now, for a living, not-quite-yet-breathing entity and when the evil doctor tells her to push, she thinks she’s never been happier, she thinks finally this shit is going to be over and out of the way and she can pay for that goddamn hysterectomy if that’s what it takes, she’ll fucking abandon her political bullshit if that’s what it takes for this all to be fucking over.

But then she sees the kid.


The baby.

Fucking hormones making her go fucking apeshit over this bullshit little twerp she never wanted to have anything to do with, who’s responsible for the worst fucking year of her life. Fuck her traitor arms for wanting to hold this kid, her leaky fucking chest aching to feed it. Why can’t she just look the fuck away?

“You have a daughter,” they tell the shithead and for a minute there, this guy, this fucking worst guy in the world, looks fucking disappointed and he actually says “Well, it’s better than nothing, I suppose.”

“Well,” he tells her once it’s all over, “I suppose you’ve suffered enough.” And they toss her out of a van near the beach close to a hospital on Long Island. Long Fucking Island. And she knows she’ll never be able to track this asshole down, and even if she does, it wouldn’t do her any good. No matter what she does, that asshole’s still going to raise her daughter—and why the fuck does she even care?

Fucking maternal fucking instincts.

So instead of the hospital, she goes to a bar. They insist on calling an ambulance, but at least she gets herself a whiskey out of the deal. What a fucking nightmare.

Meanwhile, idiot drunk at the bar looks at her, all beat to shit, and actually licks his lips. She thinks really hard about how she’s gonna kill him.

The Synger Sisters

Once upon a time, there were twin sisters named Syndi and Abby Synger, each of them more terrifyingly beautiful than the other. Nary a boy (or even a man) could look upon either of them without losing his calm as his mind wandered into fantasy and desperation.

One day, the Synger sisters went to a fortune teller at a fair. They didn’t think much of it, really only went on a lark, but the fortune-teller told them “I see your path and it is a rocky one. Your beauty is an enemy to your love, for any man who falls in love with your beauty will suffer a terrible fate if you let him.”

At first, they merely thought the prophecy curious. Syndi mused “I thought fortune tellers were supposed to tell you what you want to hear?”

“She was probably just jealous,” Abby concluded. “Wanted to take us down a peg or two—well, we’ll show her!”

They weren’t—or didn’t think themselves—the type who would change their lives based on a prophecy. But it wasn’t just a prophecy they witnessed.

First it was Aaron Knoll.Syndi was out on an island in the bay, sunning, and he swam to her, but lost his breath and drowned when no one was looking.

“How do we know it was me he was swimming for?” she asked her sister, but Abby only looked at her until she realized of course he was.

Then it was Abby’s turn. Matt Golding stood outside her window in the rain, serenading her, and caught his death of cold. He had pneumonia, but still she visited him.

“Why did you do that?” asked Abby.

He could barely speak, let alone sing, but he managed to get out “You… are… so… beautiful… to me!” He died in agony three days later.

“That’s crazy!” Syndi insisted. “People don’t die of pneumonia—not anymore!”

“They’re not supposed to drown in the Bay, either,” countered Abby. “I’m telling you, this is the Curse!”

“The Curse?”

“Fine, then. The Prophecy. Whatever.”

“Well, we can’t just let that horrible old woman win!”

“You want to keep on killing guys who like you?”

But it wasn’t just liking them, and they both knew it. Syndi had been encouraging Aaron. Before she swam out to that rock herself, she sent him a come-hither glance that made him swoon, made him seek out his swim trunks. (Her glances weren’t quite powerful enough yet he’d follow her in his clothes.) It wasn’t enough that he loved her beauty, his love had to be requited. She loved that he loved her for it.

And Abby. She had truly loved Matt’s singing. She thought he was a wonderful person and she’d used her beauty to seduce his love.

“Never again,” Abby vowed. The red hair that was their pride and joy, she felled, sending it all down the drain to clog and salting the earth that grew it by continually bleaching it to hell. She wore make-up to hide her adorable freckles—not enough to stay pastily out of the sun. She covered herself in tattoos with rings through her nose, in her lip, in her cheek, not because she liked them, thought because she thought they looked good, but because she didn’t.

When she did take lovers, she did it through sheer force of will, overpowering them with her offputting frankness until they buckled under her sex. And the moment they sighed for her, the moment they said “It’s not the tattoos I love, it’s you,” it was over. They couldn’t come back.

But Syndi. She went the other way. “I’m not going to change who I am just because of some stupid witch,” she insisted when she saw what her sister was putting herself through. So she kept her beauty.

“You’re crazy,” Abby insisted. “You’re going to kill everyone. I swear to God, Syndi, every single guy you ever meet!”

But she didn’t. Not every one. They would fall in love with her, of course, just by looking—who wouldn’t? She was used to that. But she would never spare a second glance.

Once, she almost married a blind man. “You’re wasted on him,” her boss said to her after a meeting. “He could never really appreciate you.”

Which was why she let herself love him. Until one morning she was straddling him and he commented on the smoothness of her skin, on her scent and taste, on the sound of her voice.

That doesn’t count as beauty, does it?

Later that day, he was hit by a bus in the street and died instantly.

“You’re crazy,” Abby told her again after the funeral. “There’s no way you can live without love. It’s not physically possible!”

This angry challenge from her self-righteous sister was all Syndi really needed. She would not change who she was, she would only change what she wanted.

“You’re a cold-hearted bitch, you know that?” said man after shallow, ignorant man the last time she turned him down (and sometimes not even the last). Couldn’t they see, she had the warmest heart that ever beat. She expressed her love by sacrificing it to keep these men alive.

Every now and then, though, she found she couldn’t help herself. She’d notice something, or a girl-friend would whisper to her in confidence, and she would unleash. “You’ve been a bad boy,” she would whisper in the night, and he would die within twenty-four hours.

It gave her a reputation.

But that still didn’t stop suitors from lining up.

The Problem of Thor

There are those who do not watch, there are those who watch only casually, and then there are those who consume to the very depths of their souls.

But whether you make the distinction between geeks and nerds or nerds and dorks, that third category is divided into two types of superfans—and the difference between us what I call the Problem of Thor.

When the first Thor movie came out in 2011, there were two types of people who had problems with it.

Well, that’s not true. There were actually a lot of things about that movie that were, shall we say, problematic. But as far as stupid things, fan-based objections, there seem to be two distinct camps. And one of those camps seems to have only one member:


You see, a lot of the fans of the comics—no, I am being unfair. A lot of assholes who happen to identify as fans of the comics objected to the fact that Heimdall (played by his most excellency Idris Elba) is a Norse God, and Norsemen are explicitly and definitely not black.

I didn’t care about that, though. Partly, this is because I try my best not to be a racist asshole and, considering the Asgardians’ extraterrestrial origins, it’s kind of surprising they don’t have more diversity in their ranks; but mostly, I kept my eyes rolling on the subject of Heimdall because I had a more important issue to worry about: Sif.

Sif, in the Norse mythology, is described as Thor’s wife. She doesn’t seem to be portrayed as any kind of warrior, particularly, that I recall—although I suppose that could be a Christianization, I don’t know. But what disturbed me was her hair-color.

Sif, you see, is blonde.

“No, she’s not!” protest fans of the comics when I bring the matter up. “Just look how she’s drawn! Jamie Alexander is actually pretty much perfect as far as her looks.”

Guess what, though: Marvel did not invent these characters. Yet even people I know who are proficient in Mythologizing don’t seem to mind that those inattentive mud-breeders changed the color of Sif’s fucking hair.

Now, I know, I know, I’m being “difficult”, I’m “whining”, because “Who cares?” and if it stopped there, I would probably shut up and not even have to “grin and bear it”. But it doesn’t stop there, you see, because Sif is not just “a blonde”. Sif is the blonde.

The Goddess Sif is so feathermucking blonde that when Loki steals her hair one time, crops fail. And do you know why crops fail? Because that’s how feathermucking blonde Sif is. Her hair literally symbolizes wheat.

But apparently, I’m the only one dorky enough to care when Norse Myth is being fucked over, and not to care that Marvel’s carefully curated brand should be respected despite getting it wrong the first time.

This is, unfortunately, a lonely attitude to indulge it. As such, your prayers for an end to my suffering are welcome.