Madeline knew it was her last day alive. It had to be. When something as natural as breathing takes every effort to do, it’s only postponing the inevitable. She was surrounded by her family, and even though she loved them dearly, she could not help but feel envious when looking at her grandchildren and of all the things they will know that she could not even begin to imagine. The future was uncertain, that much is sure, but the unknown had always held a special kind of allure for her. And now she had finally arrived to the most mysterious unknown.
Life, she thought, was both the longest and shortest experience she ever had. It really did flash before your eyes before you die, and as she inhaled the last breath she would ever take, she finally ended the eighty-seven-year blink that was her life.…
To the Lot of You,
It has come to my attention that you desire that I explain, no, defend myself. I, the daughter of the multi-billion elite, found to be partying, sexing, drugging, and doing all manner of things many of you do without the same level of scrutiny. While normally I would tell you outright to go f*^! yourselves, an event occurred in my life yesterday that I deem worthy of international pop culture awareness. Hence my decision to post this publicly on your celebrity “news” website.
In high school, my parents hired a boy of 21 just beginning college to tutor me. In his presence, I did most of those things you accused me of then—I paraded around in my bath towel, played with the bits of hair that extended to his cheek, and attempted every manner of seduction. He was very kind in his refusals, but he refused nonetheless. Eventually, I grew tired of my own behavior, and I eventually let him do what he was there to do—tutor me. It was then I realized what my banality caused me to miss.…
We drove past each other weekday mornings out where the highway is two lanes. It took him a month to notice. The third time he saw me, he smiled and waved. I waved back. I remembered to smile the next day.
I talked to him as we passed. About work. About downsizing. I explained how, if the same thing happened to him, he could transcribe medical reports over the Internet to make a living. I justified money spent for online games, online movies, online sex, food deliveries, wine deliveries, toilet paper deliveries.
I don’t know where I was going the first time I saw him. His head was tilted to one side and long brown hair covered half his face. He looked at me and it felt like I knew him. Later that day and for two months after, I drove through the city, the county, the state, always looking for his red sedan with one missing hubcap. We passed each other again on the road where we first met. The next day, I drove the same route at the same time. So did he. I thought he was commuting.
When I saw him up-close, his sedan was halfway in a ditch, smashed into the side of a pickup truck.…
When I feel the telltale tickle in my throat, I want to cry. I thought this was over. All I ask is to make it through fifth-period calculus without causing any incident whatsoever. I’m sitting at my desk in the center of the classroom, surrounded (trapped) on all sides by my fellow classmates, who must surely be watching my every move. This is the worst possible thing that could happen. Instead of tossing and turning from dreams of showing up to class without pants on, I suffer from the absolute nightmare of coughing not once (which is bad enough), but twice during class. I’d rather implode from my un-coughed cough than face the humiliation.
To cough once is embarrassing. To cough twice is social suicide. I will be forever scarred by the traumatic memory of when I coughed for the first time five minutes ago. I’m sure everyone in class still remembers the very moment I opened my mouth and expelled a cough louder than a volcanic eruption, when I tried to cover my mouth with my elbow to muffle the sound, but it was no use, I could feel everyone’s gaze swivel to me for the briefest microsecond, the longest microsecond of my life.…
Naomi was holed up with Scooter and his beautiful baggie of Oxy in The Cutler Corner Motel—Room 13—when the tornado touched down and set the whole place to shaking. She had barely partaken of the powder when the walls of the motel room began to rumble like a train was passing just outside the window. Naomi gripped the threadbare comforter, wondering if a mine had collapsed or the world was ending.
“Oh shit! Oh shit!” yelled Scooter, trying to pull his jeans up over his greying underwear but kept getting tangled up until he tipped into the veneer dresser, knocking his stash onto the red shag carpeting.…