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Three Word Sentences. Ten Long Years.

Assignment for class. Principles of Performance. Several years ago. “Last ten years.” Three word sentences.

Decided to publish. (Second time around.) Hope you enjoy.

September the 11th. Moment of silence. Tim walks out. “It’s not fair. Terror is everywhere. Now the US. What’s the difference?”

Americans in Belgium. Wars are starting. Who’s to blame?

Drama at School. Play: No Exit. Crush is Estelle. Liked her once. (“Stop watching me!”) Sentenced to Hell. I’m the Devil. Revenge is sweet.

School Trip: Greece. In a mood. Like the scenery. Not my classmates. Friends not here. All in Tenerife. (Alternate school trip). First time drinking. Make-up, strip-tease, camera. Pictures at school. Teachers all smiling. “That’s not me! Don’t need alcohol!”

Prom after graduation. Then left Belgium. Scant hours later.

Got into University. Sarah Lawrence College. Co-ed since ’68. Still mostly girls. “We black-clad lesbians!” 40,000 a year. Need Financial Aid. Stupid Belgian Taxes! Too late applying. “My parents’ fault!”

Summer in Montreat. Family friends come. Bring their daughter. She likes me. Our parents approve. My first kiss. It’s wonderful, but… It’s all wrong. “She’s too young!” My mother: “And?” “She lives abroad. Paris is far. Won’t work out.” Her heart breaks. Mine does, too.

Minding the Gap-year. Getting a job. Cleaning hotel rooms. Then the Carmike. (A movie theatre.) Only till Christmas. My parents return. I’m for Houston.

Living with Vandi. My big sister. And her son. Craig is twelve. Also, her husband. (Not Craig’s dad.) I’m making bagels. Waking at four. Not having fun. Not saving money. Houston’s a bust. Left after March. Back to Brussels!

Via New York. Visiting Sarah Lawrence. “You’ll get money. You’re already in!”

Months in Brussels. Then back again. Summer in Montreat. No cleaning rooms. (Not Christian enough.) Back to Carmike. Waiting for money.

College won’t pay. Parents “too rich”. But… Belgian taxes?!? “Standard of living”. Fuck Sarah Lawrence! Bitches not worthy! Made Daddy-ji cry.

Went to UNCA. (Deferred acceptance there. Thank the heavens!)

Lauren likes me. John likes her. Sara likes girls. But also me? Orientation is bizarre.

Classes are easy. Also, Ballroom dancing. Dancing at Work. (The Waltzing Belgian!) Going to compete? Audition for theatre. “The Frankenstein Project”. Playing God “Eshu”. Need Thursdays off. For dancing, right? Doesn’t work out. Gave up dancing. Better on stage.

Working all summer. (Also taking classes.) Met Tadd working. I like fairies. Taught me astrology. Other stuff, too. Not saying more.

Car breaks down. I’m walking again. Five miles plus. Gotta make money.

Sophomore year starts. My siren appears. My delicate Ariel. She’s team Jacob. We were roommates. Sophomore slum hits. Then Hurricane Frances. Flood becomes drought. Water is infected. Classes are cancelled. Most students leave. Next week: Ivan. The Hurricane Hits. I’m still working. Trudging through rain. Still suffering terribly. Still punishing myself.

She’s so friendly. “Let’s be friends. Watch a play.” Jacob dumped her. Still doesn’t bite. Still sings, though. Wants me swimming. “Let’s be friends.” “I want you.” Not single now. “Still good friends?”

Vetoed this semester.

Montford Park Players. Conspiracy to recruit. (Ariel and Erinn.) Comedy of Errors. First Romantic Lead. Also, Henry V. Falling for someone… Nope, not interested. Then Sonia arrives.

She’s too young. “NC is weird. Laws are different.” (That’s a lie.) Her parents approved. Still awkward, though. High school girls. Not graduating, either.  Are you serious? Not going anywhere. Stopping this now.

No other prospects.

Play for KCACTF. Had a reading. Very last minute. During Exam Week. Reviews were mixed. Advisor hated it. (Didn’t read it? Could’ve prevented this!) Didn’t go anywhere.

Fragments of Sappho. Senior Project Play. An unparalleled disaster. “More girls,” they. But those girls? Not at auditions. Not finding them. People drop out. “April the 20th? Gotta get high. So terribly sorry!”

So what now? Got my degree. Couple of plays. Summer of Shakespeare. Romeo and Juliet. Henry the Sixth. Cyrano de Bergerac. (That’s honorary Shakespeare) And Much Ado. All Bad Guys. Guess that’s me. Roped into “Romance”. (David Mamet play. 2nd favorite part!) Staying till Christmas. Then Brussels bound. “Need Christmas Carol! Know any Directors?” “Got a degree.” “You want it?” “I write, too.” Loved my proposal. Conflicted with “Romance”. “Not this year.”

Back to Brussels. And Ericka returned. Winter Solstice, Kaiserslautern. She’s a lesbian? I’m oddly proud. “Still want you.” “Not right now”. (Who said which?)

A year, writing. Vyxen in Faeryland. Siren and Banshee. Couple Short Stories. Learned Spanish, pequeno. And some plays.

Christmas Carol 2008? “You haven’t directed?” “I have, some.” “Nothing full-length, though?” “Not as such.” Nothing to show.

Returned October 2008. Looking for jobs. “Haven’t been working?” “Been in Brussels. Wrote all year.” “Don’t need slackers.” Hired at Target. Ringing up products.

Cast in shows. Oedipus for Kids. Into the Woods. Amateur Film Project. (Featured my ex. Much older Sonia.) And Titus Andronicus.

Only scheduled evenings. Schedule conflicts suck. Not leaving shows. Cut back working. Still too stressful. Made a mistake… Quit day job. Really bad idea.

Trained at Block. Did some taxes. Taxes oddly fun. Kind of mathy. But only part-time.

Jobless by mid-April. Assistant Directing Cymbeline. Argh! Not talking…

Back to Brussels. Belgian Master’s Program? Easy to register! Just walk in! (Except foreign diplomas. Those take months.) No one knew? Smacked around some. Kicked off campus. (Hair too long? Coat too long?) “No student card.” Fucking Belgians, anyway!

Another year wasted. Wrote some screenplays. Went to Conferences. Learned to Pitch. Had a job. Managing a database. Didn’t kill me.

Fuck it: LA! Gotta go sometime! Got some cash. Do some pitching. Write some more. Maybe make it? Still no jobs. Still no prospects. Getting awfully lonely.

Accepted for Masters! Catholic University, Leuven! (The Dutch one). Call it Q-Lovin. (Left my car. Bitch-face crashed it. Blamed me, though. Whole other story.)

Western Lit Masters. Yeah, I rock. Did a play. Lanoye’s Mamma Medea. Acting in Dutch. After nine years. Made some friends. Fell in love? Maybe a little. Tried not to. I can’t stay. Brussels is home. But I need… I need this. Applied for more. Got into SCAD. Flew to LA. Retrieved the car.  Crossed the Country. Listening to Audiobooks. Singing out loud. Always moving forward.

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The Fall of Autumn

Autumn fell onto me out of nowhere.
She just tripped, I guess; she fell all over me.
It had been so hot out, I didn’t have a coat to give her.

I couldn’t give her my coat, so instead
I wrapped my arms around her.
There’s a comfort in being with Autumn.
She may not have the fire that I’ve had in the past,
But there’s a temperate beauty at work.
It gets dark when it’s supposed to
and she asks me to bed
and she doesn’t get upset when the roaster crows.

The earth outside is covered in a blanket of leaves.
The trees shed those clothes to feed the earth with mulch.
This is how the past gets buried.
Raking the leaves off the driveway every morning,
I peel back the layers of Autumn.
As she sheds her leaves, leaving herself naked before me,
I shiver.

I know what is coming.
One day, Autumn will leave me.
She knows that I won’t need her anymore.
I suppose, though, that this is only fair,
since she never really needed me.


“Wrong”

I actually think it’s kind of a miracle that it took until high school for Lucy to start dating. I don’t know whether it was a self-confidence thing or if she actually genuinely felt a close connection to every guy she ever met, but she could never stop talking about them.

Most embarrassingly, though, she just would not shut up about Jasper.

“He is so cool,” she told me once before leaning in and whispering, “Do you think he might have had sex already? I mean, he is in high school.” We were in eighth grade.

I knew that he had—I am who I am—but I still lied and said I didn’t.

Then of course Ellen Portnoy happened. And my niece. Lucy managed to be devastated and fascinated at the same time. So full of every emotion, as always. And then of course Ellen dropped out of the picture so suddenly and Lucy didn’t know what to do with herself.

“You think about sex sometimes, don’t you?”

Thought about it? I didn’t have to. I knew exactly what it was going to feel like, be like, how it was going to taste and smell and sound, I’d had visions of it for years. I didn’t knew for sure who it was going to be with. (I assumed Angus—at least I did back when I was certain that he was my mysterious redhead.) But I mean, I knew what it would be. “I guess,” I fudged to Lucy, but then realized my mistake.

“I’ve been thinking about it a lot. I mean, I always have, but… it’s like more and more, it’s almost like it’s becoming real. You know?”

A few months after Jasper went off to work at the steel mill, I had a vision that made it a little too real for me, too. It was another one of my awkward my-family-are-having-sex visions, only this time, it wasn’t limited to family.

“Hey,” Lucy asked me not long after, “can I come over and study at your place this weekend?”

I knew what she was trying to do. She knew Jasper had weekends off, that he spent them around the house with his kid. She was triying to insinuate herself into—

“Would that be so bad?” Trevor asked. “I mean, I know he’s your brother and all, but like, why do you care so much?”

I cared because much as I liked hanging out with Lucy, the thought of her becoming my sister left me slightly queasy. Or, I don’t know, maybe I didn’t want my niece getting too attached only to—

“Come on! What is the problem?”

“I don’t want you dating my brother!” I finally blurted.

“Who said anything about dating your brother?”

“You have. For years. For years you’ve been talkign about letting him take your V-card—“

“Oh, honey, that ship has sailed.”

Some psychic I am. Assuming she was telling the truth.

“I just want things… separate,” I finally managed to confess. “It’s hard for me when it’s all… muddy.”

But there was no stopping them. I knew it. It had been in my visions.

“She’s sixteen,” I reasoned with Jasper.

“So? I’m nineteen, and in the state of North Carolina—“

“Don’t give me that bullshit! She is a child!”

“Maybe that’s what I need right now!”

“Are you listening to yourself?”

“Look… I don’t know what to tell you. She makes me happy. And I… I think I make her happy, too.”

Wouldn’t it be ironic, I found myself thinking, if Jasper and fucking Lucy McDermott were the ones to live happily ever after?

But I knew I was just being jealous.


The Porn Identity

CARL: Hey, don’t I know you from somewhere?

SAMANTHA: No.

CARL: Are you sure? We haven’t met? You look so familiar.

SAMANTHA: Sorry.

CARL: You’ve never seen me before?

SAMANTHA: Nope.

CARL: That’s so weird–have you, like… Wait, have you ever been on TV?

SAMANTHA: On TV?

CARL: Yeah.

SAMANTHA: Can’t say that I have.

CARL: Really? Wait, but what about…

SAMANTHA: What?

CARL: Oh my God.

SAMANTHA: I’m… late for class–

CARL: Holy shit, it’s you!

SAMANTHA: I don’t know what you’re talking about.

CARL: You’re her, you’re… Hannah Havelock!

SAMANTHA: Never heard of her.

CARL: Hey, it may have taken me a while to recognize you with all your clothes on, but I never forget a face, especially, like… damn!

SAMANTHA: What do you want?

CARL: Fuck, I was right. Hey–

SAMANTHA: I don’t do that kind of stuff anymore. OK? My name is Samantha and I… I just want to go to college and… Please don’t tell anyone?

CARL: You’re a porn star.

SAMANTHA: Yes! OK, yes, I was a fucking porn star, can you keep your voice down?

CARL: Maybe…

SAMANTHA: I have a boyfriend.

CARL: Does he know about you? God damn! Did you really think just because you changed your hair-color, no one would recognize Hannah fucking Havelock?

SAMANTHA: Do not use that name!

CARL: Would you rather I called you Samantha? When I’m talking about your career in porn?

SAMANTHA: I’d rather you not talk about my career in porn at all.

CARL: Do you really have a boyfriend? Does he go here? Hey–one email blast, and I can tell everyone at this school who you really are. Is it so much to ask?

SAMANTHA: Is it so much to ask what?

CARL: You’re a porn star. You’ve fucked uglier guys than me. I know, ‘cause I’ve seen it. Is it ‘cause you expect me to pay you?

SAMANTHA: It’s because you’re a dick.

CARL: Never fucked one of those before?

SAMANTHA: What do you think porn is? What kind of stuff do you think we do there? You think the guys just get to go around doing whatever or whoever they want? Well, not anymore. Not the way we were doing it. When I worked in porn, I made sure that I met every single guy I ever worked with beforehand. That they respected me. I fucked them because I liked them, not because they goddamn blackmailed me. And I let them film it because it was my job. But it’s not anymore.

CARL: You don’t just stop being a star. Not without going nova.

SAMANTHA: You’re despicable.

CARL: You’re adorable. And I’m gonna tell your boyfriend if you don’t fuck me.


“Hey, Jude”

Kyle Niedermeyer went off to college when I got to seventh grade and by the time I was a junior, he came back as a teacher.

No one else could believe it. I mean, thsoe of us who had older siblings passed on the legend that was the Elk—to have one of their number in a position of authority? It was too much.

Except, of course, for me. Not only was I the only one not to gasp that first day when he revealed himself, I’d already brought along a nice shiny apple to give to him.

“Sucking up to the new teacher?” he asked me with a smile, careful to make sure everyone else was out of earshot.

“Do you remember me at all?” We’d only met once, which was enough for me, but his eyes narrowed. “Kassandra,” I helped him along. “My sister was in love with you?”

“Oh, shit,” he said, “Llywelyn?”

I don’t think of myself as much different through time. Physically, I suppose, with my hips and my breasts filling out, though very little in the face. It’s hard to really change when you know ahead of time pretty much exactly who you’ll be changing into, or so I still thought at the time.

“It’s great to have you back,” I said and he was gracious about the plattitude. “Does that mean you’ll be getting back together with Miss Kelly?”

There are only a handful of times when I’ve destroyed someone’s world with a revelation. I keep thinking I’ll cherish or even enjoy it, but the awkwardness makes that hard.

“I beg your pardon?” he asks.

“Don’t worry,” I tell him. “No one else knows. I’m kinda psychic?”

If I cared, I could prove that to him further, but there’s something more pressing. “Look, I know you’ve seen her wearing a ring, but she doesn’t love that guy. She still has feelings for you. And you still have feelings for her, which is why you came back. So you should… you know…” I looked down at my gift to him. “Give her an apple?”

He raised one eyebrow, then the other. As he reached for the apple, I bolted for the door.

There, I told my Psychicism. I did what you asked. What more do you want from me? What more could I possibly do? But there is always more to be done, isn’t there? Maybe I should just accept that.


Realitivity

“Reality” is a big word. I wouldn’t care to use it lightly. The feelings that we have are real. Our dreams are real, and our fears. Our suspicions are real, and our fantasies. I don’t know that I can say that everything is real. But I will say that anything can be.

This is why we in the multiple-worlds business like the word “actual”. An English-speaker might look at that word and think “That just means the same thing as ‘real’.” But when my American parents first got to Brussels, they got a map with supposedly English-language instructions that claimed to be an “actual map!”

“What?” said my father, “as opposed to an imaginary map?” It was some time before they put it together that the French word “actuel” (As well as the less frequent Dutch “actueel”) means something more like “current” or “up-to-date”.

Because of the connection between this word and the idea of relatively recent events, French and francophile ontologists, narratologists and (presumably) theoretical physicists have adopted the term to refer to events which “actually” happen in the continuity and diegesis the speaker occupies, as opposed to some subjunctive secondary or tertiary creation.

Where this gets messy is when we talk about worlds that are already “imaginary”: things that happen within the world of a story have to be things that “actually” happen there, too, else how could we distinguish between those events and others that are (only) imagined by the characters?

But again, just because something doesn’t actually happen in the actual world, that doesn’t make the event (or its impact on the human psyche) any less real.


The Foundations of Decadence, part 2

MICHELLE: Are you sure you’re okay?

JEFFREY: I am good.

MICHELLE: Can I get you some water or anything?

JEFFREY: I make it a habit to chase every drink with a glass of water. Keeps the hangovers to a minimum.

MICHELLE: Really?

JEFFREY: Hm. Dehydration. That’s the cause of most hangovers.

MICHELLE: I did not know that.

JEFFREY: Thank you.

MICHELLE: Are we gonna talk about it?

JEFFREY: You first.

MICHELLE: I think I’m in love with you.

JEFFREY: You’re right, I should’ve gone first. Look, Michelle–

MICHELLE: Look, no, I’m… I know that this is… I know that I’m the one who’s being naive here–

JEFFREY: You’re being idealistic. Romantic. That’s not the same thing.

MICHELLE: Kiss me?

JEFFREY: I’m sorry, I don’t know why I did that.

MICHELLE: I asked you to–

JEFFREY: I know, but I didn’t–

MICHELLE: Shhh. Do you like me?

JEFFREY: I do. But not in the way that you mean.

MICHELLE: Could’ve fooled me.

JEFFREY: Michelle, what are you doing?

MICHELLE: What does it feel like I’m doing?

JEFFREY: Please stop.

MICHELLE: Why?

JEFFREY: I just told you. Because I don’t want you that way.

MICHELLE: Feels like your body disagrees.

JEFFREY: My body isn’t in control. Or shouldn’t be—

MICHELLE: Then why don’t you stop me?

JEFFREY: I don’t know. Michelle, I’m drunk.

MICHELLE: You’re not that drunk.

JEFFREY: That shouldn’t matter. Why are you doing this?

MICHELLE: Because I want you to be my first.

JEFFREY: Why?

MICHELLE: Does there have to be a reason?

JEFFREY: I don’t love you.

MICHELLE: I know. But I trust you.

JEFFREY: Darryl loves you.

MICHELLE: Is that what this is about?

JEFFREY: Partly. You don’t love him. You don’t want him. I think you two would be perfect for each other, but then, it’s not up to me, is it?

MICHELLE: Don’t you want to have sex?

JEFFREY: No. Not right now.

MICHELLE: I think you do.

JEFFREY: Opinions are a dime a dozen.

MICHELLE: Are you seriously going to fight me on this?

JEFFREY: The way things are right now… I don’t know why, but I don’t seem to have much choice in the matter.

MICHELLE: Good.

JEFFREY: Normally, considering your virgin status, there are… certain steps I would take to try to make it more comfortable for you. But under the circumstances, the fact that I’m performing this service under duress…

MICHELLE: Just shut up and fuck me.