He Arrives

He Arrives

Dawn, with a faint shimmer of sunbeams peering through the cracks between the trees, while the grassy, unkempt lawn begins to warm, he arrives. Aware of her forthcoming arrival later in that day, he knows better than to cross paths at this time. They cannot, as it were, make green just yet. The stakes are too high; they are identities all too fragile. He grows weary of chasing her down in order to travel through space and time, constantly arriving at places unknown to them, only to find that they must travel yet again with no knowledge about the bigger picture. This time, he decides, things will be different. Of course, they’re always different, and yet, the sameness of their situation continues to follow, forever, endlessly in a loop they now feel trapped within. He remembers the words of the old man’s warning. There’s no way of knowing when or where happens before, there is only what he knows … without doubt. And the order of his remembering suggests that he must be here now.

He stands on the porch of the Listmaker. Whether or not he has arrived at the correct house, he cannot know, until he knows. Knock, knock, knock, upon the tattered and torn, half-screen door that stands between him and the front door. He waits for the semblance of movement within the house. It’s all too possible that the inhabitant still sleeps at this early hour, hence the stillness and quiet within the house. He knows, however, that if he has found the Listmaker, the Listmaker ought to be awake by now. He attempts to look through the windows that line the front of the house, but they are all closed up with thick curtains. Still, he waits another moment and looks out over the property. Birds chirp to welcome the morning. Light twinkles through the trees. A cool breeze blows over the lawn as the overgrown grasses sway. Knock, knock, knock, he tries again, only to be met with more silence. A small twinge gnaws at the palm of his left hand. Lifting the hand to his face to get a look, he sees that there’s a ladybug on him, scratching at the inside of his hand. He takes a closer look. The ladybug seems to be grooming itself, rolling around almost as if it’s itching it’s back and washing it’s face. He keeps watching.

Then, the ladybug seems satisfied and shakes itself off, looks around as if deciding to where to trot off next, but instead of choosing a direction, the ladybug looks up directly into his face. “Hey,” he states casually. The ladybug waves a little wave. Shocked, he’s taken aback a bit. What the? Curious, he tries again, “Hi, there. What’s going on?” It looks to him as if the ladybug shrugs and then sits. The ladybug looks around again, seemingly deciding on something. “Can you understand me?” he asks and then immediately feels stupid. Nodding, the ladybug walks up his palm toward his pointer finger and then walks to the tippy tip of his pointer finger. Once settled upon the tip of his finger, the ladybug nods again and then gestures with its face to sort of either look or move in that direction, which would lead him over his left shoulder, off the porch and onto the lawn. This is crazy, he laughs at himself, but he already decided that he’d listen to this creature, despite the impossibility of the situation.

He steps off the porch and walks in the general direction of the pointing ladybug. Once he reaches the lawn, however, the ladybug motions to take a right, which leads him down the side of the Listmaker’s house. He sees a beautiful patch of flowering plants and looks down at the ladybug, assuming that is where it wants to go. He stops for a moment, waits for further instruction. The ladybug turns around and faces out, facing his same general direction, then points to the garden. Ah ha, he thinks to himself, proud. He walks to the patch of flowering plants, and as he edges closer to the garden, the ladybug pulls on the tip of his finger with a little halting motion. He twists his hand around so that he can look the ladybug in the face. The ladybug nods and then makes funny gestures with its front legs as if picking things off his finger. “What?” he asks, slightly confused by the mime. The ladybug points down. He kneels down. The ladybug points at the orange nasturtiums, turns to face him again and then makes an “x” with its two front legs. He laughs out loud, “Ah hahaha, okay. I get ya.” Slowly, he walks around the tiny patch, presenting each different type of flower to the ladybug as the ladybug promptly nixes each option with the “x” symbol it makes with its front legs. He chuckles at every dismissal.

Finally, as he approaches a cluster of tiny white flowers, the ladybug shimmies a bit, as if excited. “Yea?” he laughs as he asks, “Is this gonna do it for ya?” The ladybug turns to look at him and nods in confirmed excitement and then waves him off with the right front leg/foot. As the ladybug turns to jump off his fingertip, he whispers, “She’ll be here later. Can you lead her here please?” The ladybug turns around and stares into his eyes for just a moment before it shakes its head and drops it low in a somber sort of way. “Why not?” he asks, peeved. The ladybug remains somber, not looking at him. He guesses that the ladybug cannot make such a guarantee, and he knows that the likelihood of her recognizing the ladybug is infinitely small. He sighs audibly and concedes, “Yes, I know what you mean. Can you at least promise to try?” The ladybug cheers up a bit and nods enthusiastically. “Okay, thank you,” he states as the ladybug nods and turns out, away from him, toward the cluster of tiny white flowers, ready to take a leap. “Alright,” he begins in farewell; “Later,” he again casually bids. The ladybug shimmies its backside and prepares to launch and just as it begins to jump off the tip of his finger, the sound of a snapping tree branch cuts through the air. Stunned, he jolts a bit and then quickly checks on the ladybug. “Goddammit,” he spits aloud in frustration. There, atop the cluster of tiny white flowers, the ladybug lies on its back, wings spread wide and broken, dead.

He treads out from within the patch of flowering plants and stands at its edge, looking back toward the tiny white flower cluster. He can barely make out the speck of the ladybug. Whatever, he self-soothes. Clouds form overhead and threaten rain. From the side of the house that he currently stands, he sees a porch extending out from the back of the house. As the patter of scattered raindrops ease into a dull roar, he runs to the back porch that is luckily partially covered by a torn awning. He looks through a sliding glass door and realizes that he can see into the house since whatever blinds or curtains hang on the inside remain open. From this location, he can see the kitchen and the living room area that opens into what looks to be a study. Dark, he cannot make out anything too specific within the study, but the disheveled nature of the area makes him think that the Listmaker might be uncharacteristically unorganized. But then he notices the kitchen and living room areas are immaculately ordered. Every little thing seems to have a place, except that there are two mugs sitting on the counter that separates the kitchen area from the living area. He also notices that there’s a carton of almond milk sitting out, which seems odd, but since he doesn’t drink almond milk himself, he decides he doesn’t know if that’s common practice. Nevertheless, the two mugs stand out to him. A visitor? he wonders. Did she arrive early? Fuck. What’s with all the early arrivals lately. She’s totally out of sync or something, he considers.

He gives the glass door a knock, Knock, knock, knock, knock, knock, and waits for a signal of movement. Maybe someone answered already, he thinks as he remembers, the fucking dead ladybug. Still raining, the droplets enlarge and turn into a straight-up downpour. He accepts that the awning will probably not keep him dry much longer, but to his delight, the falling water stops, almost all at once within just a minute. Parting ways, the clouds reveal the light of the sun and an uncomfortable warmth overcomes him. Knock, knock, knock, he tries again. He waits.

A sense of unease washes over him, and he can’t quite place the feeling despite the strong recognition. Breaking and entering into the house, he decides, however dubious, appeals to him greatly. Can he spare another moment, no matter, and wait a bit longer before enacting such drastic measures? Without a watch and with little to no sense of the relative time of when he currently exists, there’s no way of knowing exactly what time it is, he realizes. There’s also no knowing when she will arrive. All he knows is that he needs to speak with the Listmaker and be long gone before she appears. Pacing the back porch, he mulls the options. No matter how hard he tries to look forward, to catch a glimpse of any hint that may help him decide, he comes up blank. He seethes. Someone meddles with mesh and fabric, sewing in bits and pieces that help only the few, a self-serving individual who requires … something … something very specific, he concludes. Bound to the now that is now, he keeps pacing the full length of the porch, waiting, drumming his mind for the recollection of something … anything. The most recent words of the old man ring out in his mind, She will not be difficult to find because she does not know that she needs to remain hidden. And then a flash of understanding hits him between the eyes as he whispers, “Mox.” If Mox knows where she is, and the old man feels confident in finding her, then the old man can easily know what Mox knows. So where is Mox now? If I can find Mox, I can know what the old man knows, and then I’ll know what the old man wants. The unsettled feeling returns with full force and reminds him of a different time, a different life, lifetimes ago. He recalls the first time he encountered a Listmaker.

A long time ago, he awoke, thrown like what always happened during any other time after making green, into the middle of a life being lived. This, of course, was one of the earlier iterations when the sudden transference from one when into another thrusted his mind into a full-on spin, which caused a numbness starting from the crown of his head down through his entire body, lasting, most often times, around ten minutes. Unable to move or think during this time, he would simply stare out in a strange gaze, existing in the planes of nothingness. How to describe this process proves impossible, but nevertheless, he would, if he could, say something to the effect of, “If air could speak to the annoyance of constantly being pushed, shoved, and encroached upon.” Anyway, this one particular time, he was but a small boy child living in a village in the steep valley just below where the three peaks meet. There, within the village, a Listmaker lived, the first Listmaker he had met, not “first” as in the linear perception of time before a different meeting but rather, as first first within his existence. But that is all beside the point. As a small boy child in the village, he was an orphan (the kind whose parents left him for dead, as opposed to those whom Death takes, not that one is more or less tragic, the distinction is what’s important), running hither and thither, free to be wherever whenever he pleased. His appearance caught the peculiar attention of a specific person within the village, who, for all intents and purposes was this Listmaker.

This Listmaker lived on the upper-most outskirts, nearest the end of the official village ordinance, at the place where the river begins to flow through the village. Being well-known and seated among other peoples of prominence, this Listmaker became quite fond of him and he of this Listmaker. Most days, when this Listmaker had written the boy child into this Listmaker’s list, he would visit this Listmaker, sit and chat for hours at a time about nothing specific. He never really knew exactly what this Listmaker found so fascinating about him, but he found this Listmaker’s general nature fascinating. What he learned was how this Listmaker would write a list for each day to which this Listmaker would then adhere to, absolutely. Some days, at the boy child’s request, this Listmaker would sometimes make a list for him, and then the boy child would find that he, too, would be bound by the list for that day. He, of course, determined this strict process hilariously fun, a feature to his life that drew him ever closer to this Listmaker and this Listmaker’s precise skill. On other days, the boy child would arrive at this Listmaker’s house to find that this Listmaker already knew all of the questions he had planned to ask, and as each question rose to the surface of his mind, this Listmaker would simply answer each question before he uttered one word, essentially making the entire conversation quite one-sided. The scene of a young boy silently sitting in an armchair while this Listmaker spouted out seemingly random information must have looked serenely odd to any observer.

Some villagers enjoyed the eccentric nature of this Listmaker (although, unknown to them as a Listmaker), especially since, as a mostly garden-loving village, the villagers could always find a healthy ladybug population of which this Listmaker generously allowed the distribution. Many villagers, however, decided that this Listmaker and all of the surrounding hearsay made this Listmaker a person who ought to be generally avoided. Nevertheless, this Listmaker’s prominence within the village could not be ignored. Most failed to understand how this Listmaker grew to be a person within the upper echelon of intelligence within the community, and those who did understand this Listmaker refused to share the significance. This refusal to disseminate this Listmaker’s eminence confused the boy child greatly, so the boy child, as he grew, would try to convince the villagers of this Listmaker’s power. But whenever the boy child would visit this Listmaker, this Listmaker would kindly request that he cease his attempt to change the mind’s of the villagers. After the concise request, this Listmaker, without fail, would end each conversation about the boy’s need to convince others with these words, “Ignorance is not the fault of the ignorant. Ignorant people are fully necessary; they balance the intelligent. If everyone’s ‘intelligent’, statistically, there are still the ten percent who would be the intelligent, not including the distinction between the ten percent of the top ten percent, making everyone else, the remaining ninety, the ignorant, cycled forever, on a continuum with each new batch of intelligence birthing ignorance and filtering out the ten-percent that’s deemed intelligent.” And every time this Listmaker ended the small condemnation of his frustration at “stupid people,” the boy would roll his eyes, until one day, when the boy was no longer a boy, he looked at this Listmaker as a sorrowful revelation befell him and asked, “Why don’t you just write lists for everyone so that they can live better lives?”

With his question lingering in the air, this Listmaker consulted the day’s list, and then answered him with a question, “Would you want to write a list for every person who came asking for one?” “Yes,” he answered without hesitation; “If I could educate every person who came my way, I would, without another thought.” “Yes, exactly,” this Listmaker pointed out; “I, too, would educate every person who came my way.” And then that sorrowful feeling slapped him in the face again. He understood what this Listmaker said. He understood the truth this Listmaker explained. He understood the Listmaker.

Seated now on the edge of the porch, he sits and fondly remembers his first encounter with a Listmaker. Then, he remembers why he is sitting on the porch of a Listmaker now. He takes a deep breath and ultimately decides that he must break into the house. This meeting cannot be wasted. Thus, he stands himself up and walks to the sliding glass door. First, obviously, he tests the door handle. The door slides open easily to the sound of the frame’s sealant resisting the detachment. You have to be fucking kidding me, he laughs to himself. Slowly, he slides the door open just wide enough to enter through the threshold. Right hand on the glass door’s handle, the left braced upon the door frame, he pokes his head into the house, “Hello? Hello? Is anyone home?” He waits. Silence greets him. He waits a bit longer. A noise from the kitchen. He jumps ever so slightly. The refrigerator kicks on. “I’m coming in now,” he shouts out to whoever may be hiding. One foot at a time with a brief pause in between, he quietly enters and then slides the door shut behind him. “Hello?” he again shouts aloud.

Bright, straight and serious, the kitchen space beams in modernity almost to the point of futurity. Similarly, the living area looks so strict that it almost seems as if nobody could possibly ever sit on that sofa. To the mugs on the counter area that differentiates the kitchen space from the living area he walks since the pairing of the mugs stands out to him. Everything about the kitchen sits immaculately clean and ordered, yet the two mugs sit, still half-filled with cold coffee, dried droplets of coffee stain the countertop near the mugs. A bowl of sugar sits, exposed, the lid of which abandons the sugar to the elements. Warm, a carton of almond milk accompanies the setup. He examines the carton and reads: REFRIGERATE ONCE OPENED. He sets the carton down and looks around some more, but there’s really nothing else to look at within the kitchen. Scrubbed clean and shining white, the sink sits empty along with the dishrack. Figuring that there is probably not much else to be learned in the kitchen, he scans the living area. Again, the space is clean and ordered, not a speck of dust or creased cushion/pillow to be seen anywhere. Even the plants stand tall at attention, perfectly balanced as if rotated regularly. He moves on through the living area into what looks like a study.

In heavy contrast, dark, rounded and overly ornate, the study features a heavy wooden desk facing out through the window. A full floor-to-ceiling bookcase, also of dark wood and crammed to the brim with books, line the entire right wall of the space upon entrance from the living area. A wooden step stool sits in front of the wall of books, while a wooden, chartreuse-cushioned armchair sits in the small corner made of the small piece of wall shared with the living area on the left, when facing the corner, and the wall shared by the stairs to the right, the corner directly behind the chair, assumedly being centered with the countertop in the space beyond the wall that separates the kitchen space from the living area. A person wishing to walk from the living area into, what seems to be, the entryway must walk through this space and if in a hurry, might bump into the aforementioned armchair. As he examines said armchair, he notices that perhaps it sits a bit askew since the rug upon which the front left leg of the chair, if sitting in it, rests is curled up under the leg and a tiny scuff mark suggests that his assumption holds true. The other chair in the room tucks under the heavy wooden desk and greatly resembles the desk as if, undoubtedly, part of a set. Of the rolling variety, the chair lacks cushions but provides arm rests, and the chair itself rocks forward and back on some sort of spring attached to the spoked-style legs set upon a wheels and castors system. He pulls open the drapes. Not a single speck of dust relieves itself from the fabric. Sun shines through the room to reveal the extent of its disarray. On edge, he peers out through the window and eyes the property. He sees no one. Nevertheless, he remembers the backdoor and jogs through the house to lock it. Returning to the study, the room seems dramatically worse in the light of day.

A seriously chaotic mess, the room, strewn with slips of paper, full sheets of paper, pages of books, whole books, writing utensils and other stationery-related products, suggests some sort of malfeasance, especially when considering the general atmosphere of the other two rooms. Hanging on one of the walls, a clock reads ten minutes past seven. Unsure about the exact time but not knowing any better at this exact moment, he reads the time as being logical, given that his arrival had to have been sometime around half-past six that same morning. He rummages through the slips of paper. “Lists,” he whispers to himself. Sheet after sheet after sheet of list after list after list cover every inch of the desk and carpet much of the floor. At random, he picks a slip off the floor and peruses line by line. The paper upon which this list was written feels smooth, old, only slightly wrinkled. Taken as a whole, the slip curves on itself a bit as if it has been rolled up. Of course, he is fully aware of the Listmaker’s proclivities to make lists, and so, the nature of the elements within the room do not surprise him at all. What is surprising, however, is that the room seems devastatingly disheveled.

Where is he? he thinks to himself, remembering that he must speak with the Listmaker. He does not really have the time to figure out what happened here, unless, he realizes, whatever happened here was not intentional, and hence, the reason behind the Listmaker’s absence. He mulls a few options while scanning the room for any further clues. Imperatively, he decides that he will search the rest of the house, if only quickly to see if any other information about the Listmaker’s whereabouts jumps out at him.

Onward through the study, he stands in the entryway, behind the front door. He looks through the small round window out to the lawn once again, still, no one. A hallway lines the right side of the staircase and ends at a door with no knob but rather, has a horizontal, rectangular metal panel where one ought to push in order to make one’s way through the door that he assumes leads into the kitchen. Through the entryway to the other side of the house, another sitting/living area opens out into a dining room. Both rooms match the sleek, sterile modernity of the kitchen space and other living areas. He pokes a head into each room, but nothing seems out of place. Testing to see how clean the space actually is, he runs a finger over half a dozen, seemingly random surfaces and each surface affirms nothing but sheer, obsessive cleanliness. He sighs a deep sigh, the sort of sigh one sighs when things do not add up, no matter how hard one tries. Back to the entryway and up the stairs he goes.

Half-way up the stairs he comes to a landing and then the stairs take a one-eighty and continue upwards. The second floor opens out into one large room that covers the area of the second sitting/living area and the study below. Lined fully with floor-to-ceiling windows, the wall that looks out onto the front of the property houses French doors that open out onto a porch the length and depth of the front porch below. Around and to the right, once scaling the staircase, the room continues to open out into a futuristic office full of variously aged technology. To the left, a wall with a set of double-doors. A queasy sensation hits him in the gut. He does not want to go into the room, but he knows that he must. The fear of finding someone unsavory almost deters him. Stubborn is the most common word other people use to describe him, and while his stubbornness may sometimes be confused for bravery, he would not describe himself as a brave person. Nevertheless, he summons the stubborn and reminds himself that he must find the Listmaker as soon as possible.

Knock, knock, knock, he gently taps on the door. Silence. Knock, knock, knock, knock, a little louder this time, and then he waits. Silence. Indecisive, he considers the most beneficial/safest door to open if an intruder hides within the room. Inconclusive, he opts for the right door so that he can easily punch with his free left hand. Cautiously, he creaks the door open. Dim but not dark, the room smells of a fresh breeze. Immediately, he notices the lumpiness of the bed and then sees the face of a man at its head. Startled at the figure of a human being lying in the bed, he jumps and then whips his head around to furiously scan the room for an attacker. Through an ajar door at the far end of the room he can see the fixtures of a bathroom. Another set of double doors remain closed at the foot of the bed. Quietly, he jogs to the bathroom, and at the ready, he jumps into the tiled space. Empty. A quick look around exposes nothing. He jogs back into the bedroom and swings the double doors open wide. Prepared, he soon realizes that the enormous walk-in closet sits nearly empty. Of course he is relieved that no threatening person jumped out to disable him, but he also feels a little disappointed at his cowardice. Nevertheless, with his safety procured, he rushes to the person in the bed.

Lightly, he presses two fingers to the carotid artery in the man’s neck. A pulse. Closely now, he looks at the face of the man in the bed. “The Listmaker,” he whispers aloud. He does not know whether or not he should call an emergency service. He decides that he really cannot do such a thing, since, in all actuality, he should not even be here. She’ll be here soon anyway, he thinks to himself with the understanding that for her to have “found” the Listmaker in this condition will be safer for the both of them. He searches the area surrounding the bed. A little unnerved, he peeks under the bedspread to see that the Listmaker is fully clothed. “Hmmm,” he sort of murmurs to himself. Sitting now at the edge of the foot of the bed, he wonders about what could possibly be going on. There exists little about the world in general that he does not or cannot understand, but situations of this nature are of the variety that he rarely comes across. Presumptively, probably no “normal” person would come across such a situation. His mind clouds with skepticism, uncertainty and worst of all, suspicion. “Fucking old man,” he scowls under his breath. More words of the old man press upon his mind. Know this, the voice of the old man surfaces, by the time you realize you should have heard my message, I will be unable to cooperate, for the answers to the questions will have been discovered.

“Fuck,” he spits aloud, and then looks over to the Listmaker to see if he had aroused him. Frustrated he rests his face in his hands. And then he sees it, something small and round under the bedside table. Frantically, he rushes over to the bedside table and gets on all fours. With his face pressed on the ground, he sees that he can easily reach the thing. Retrieved, he holds a spool of, what seems to be, thermal receipt paper. The same stuff from downstairs, he recalls. The top portion has been ripped off with the first line partially reading:

1811           what the stran               wants

Just above the last entry the lines read:

1800 – 1801 Consult the day’s list

1801 – 1810 Complete tomorrow’s to-do list

1810 – 1811 Answer the door to see who knocks

and account for the earlier part of the day in its entirety. “Yesterday,” he whispers to himself as he reads the date at the top of the list, and then he notices another list beginning at the top of “yesterday’s” list with the latest hour nearest the bottom as the spool unrolls. As he unspools the list, merely looking for an end to the present list, he reaches a timestamp at roughly 0758 hours where the list ceases to outline the beginning of the day, “Today,” he quickly realizes. The first timestamp on “today” or the last line item the Listmaker wrote “yesterday” reads:

0758 – 0805 Water open-air garden

With the list’s end being before the day began, he begins to wonder why the Listmaker failed to write in the first part of the day. He looks over the list for “yesterday.” The day begins at 0630 with these two items being the first on the list:

0637 – 0638 Get out of bed

0630 – 0635 Wake

“‘Today’ lacks a wake time,” he audibly contemplates. Then he examines the list closely, reading each item, until a very specific happening captures all of his attention. “Shit,” he speaks aloud.

He reads the lines over and over again, and this is what it reads:

1206 – 1207 She will arrive

1207 – 1210 Walk out and greet her at the edge of dirt drive

1210 – 1211 Invite her in for lunch

1211 – 1215 Make her feel comfortable, offer water

1215 – 1235 Make sandwiches, attempt small talk

1235 – 1255 Eat lunch and discuss why she is here

1255 – 1256 Ask her directly what she wants

1256 – 1257 Ask her again

1257 – 1258 Reiterate that she must

1258 – 1311 Listen

1311 – 1312 Agree to her request and convey the urgency of the situation

1312 – 1313 Walk to desk and find a free sheet of paper

1313 – 1314 Prepare her list

For an unknowable amount of time he stares at the list, until suddenly, he grasps the gravity of the event listed that he now reads. “What fucking time is it?” he asks himself as he searches the room for a clock. His eyes rest on an analog clock on the wall that reads a time he does not understand. “Seven-ten?” he mutters; “Still?” And then his entire body grows cold. Quickly, he checks the pulse of the Listmaker. “Okay, good. Hang in there, please,” he begs the Listmaker. Running out of the room and down the stairs, he has to figure out what time it is. Through the front door he burst into the front lawn, out in the sunlight. Overhead the sun still sits fairly low, just over the tops of the trees. Okay, motherfucker, okay, I have a little time, he determines. Back in the house now, he furiously digs and searches through the stacks and piles of lists. What he looks for, he cannot be too sure, but he is sure that he’ll know it when he sees it. 

The Listmaker

The Listmaker

The Listmaker feels the pull of the list urging him to take a look. Unwilling to reveal his list to the stranger, he ignores the pull. Picking up on some new discomfort within the Listmaker, “Something wrong?” Cinoa asks. “Oh, no, I’m fine,” the Listmaker lies. “So, say, where did you used to live before?” Cinoa cordially prods for the sake of consistency. The Listmaker no longer enjoys the small talk with the stranger and attempts to shrug off the stranger’s cordiality, “Oh, you know, here and there.” “I see,” Cinoa responds as he takes a sip of his coffee while maintaining fixed eyes on the Listmaker. Unwilling to look rude in front of the stranger, the Listmaker feigns a trip to the pantry in order to get a feel for his wristwatch, “Would you like something to eat?” Cinoa keeps sharp tabs on the Listmaker, “No, I’m fine.” “Sure? I’m famished,” the Listmaker pretends and continues to the pantry whereupon opening, he steals a quick feel of his wristwatch. Of the analog variety, the watch lacks a glass covering so that the Listmaker may feel the hands of the face without looking at the thing, thereby allowing the Listmaker the option to know the time, when necessary, without having to remove his eyes from his list. The attentive person, however, can witness this action and deduce that the Listmaker wishes to know the time, which ultimately, in the Listmaker’s mind, makes him seem impatient, rude, otherwise engaged. Thus, with both arms in the pantry now, the Listmaker gets a good feel of his wristwatch while his head remains visible, beyond the pantry door, as he looks to the stranger and offers, “I have crackers or cookies, if you’d like.” Almost vertical, relatively speaking, while the other peers down and a little to the left, the long and short hands of the watch, respectively, reveal that the time is very near 1900.

Knowing that the clock in his study will soon chime out, giving him an excuse to check on something, the Listmaker returns to the eating counter where the stranger sits, “Do you enjoy being a stranger to so many people?” “What do you mean?” Cinoa asks, entertained, chuckling. “Your line of work seems to force you into the lives of strangers,” the Listmaker extrapolates. “Oh yea, I see what you mean,” Cinoa admits; “It’s not so bad. I actually like getting to know new people.” “What is it that you do exactly?” the Listmaker asks. Cinoa glances away from the Listmaker as he responds, “Oh, yea, so I make sure that people know that they are entitled to a new roof whenever something happens to a roof that damages it. The tricky part is that most people have to file a claim with their insurance within a certain amount of time after the damage happens or else they lose out.” Familiar with this particular set of circumstances, the Listmaker nods, “Sure, I see. People can be really stupid.” Cinoa begins to look uncomfortable. The Listmaker watches the stranger fidget within himself a bit until Cinoa eventually breaks and reaches for the sheets of paper within the back pocket of his jeans. Looking even more concerned, Cinoa strokes his hair with his right hand. “Everything alright?” the Listmaker inquires. “Oh yea, I’m …” Cinoa begins to respond when the clock in the study chimes out. “Sorry, excuse me for one minute,” the Listmaker apologizes as he walks by the still-standing stranger through the living room, into his study adjacent to the living room.

The Listmaker furiously scrolls through the receipt roll to find what’s listed there within the day’s list, accounting for 1900 on through to at least 1930.

1900 – 1901 Don’t let the stranger see the list

1901 – 1906 Evade the stranger

1906 – ____ Run

Heart pounding now, the Listmaker feels trapped, and just as he turns over his shoulder to shout out another lie to the stranger about how he needs to check on something outside, Cinoa grabs the Listmaker’s shoulder. “Say,” Cinoa impedes; “Are you alright? You look tense. I was having a nice time, but you look awful. Why don’t we just sit back down and relax?” “Were we sitting? Oh sure. No it’s nothing,” the Listmaker almost shouts aloud in an attempt to seem calm, and then he continues, “But actually, you know, it’s getting late, and really, I should get back to my work.” With a hand still on the Listmaker’s shoulder, Cinoa feigns complicity, “Yes, yes, right. I’ve overstayed my welcome, haven’t I?” Feeling bullied, the Listmaker remains calm, revealing as little emotion as possible. Stepping away from the Listmaker a bit, giving him some space, the Listmaker takes a slow, steady breath. “Say, what is it that you do? I’m sorry I never asked before. That seems so rude now,” Cinoa jovially states, ignoring the tension. “Oh, you know, a little bit of this and a little bit of that,” the Listmaker evades. Cinoa, feeling frustrated and understands the evasive tactics of the Listmaker, changes his tone, “Now look here, kid. I can see through these little games you play.” Kid? the Listmaker thinks to himself, and then aloud asks, “Who you calling a kid?” Lost in the confusion of being called a kid, the Listmaker forgets to evade the stranger, or did I? But it was more of an emotional evasion as opposed to the physical that now seems more relevant, although the distinction was not detailed on his list. Stern and angry, Cinoa becomes impatient and quickly lurches and grabs the Listmaker by the throat, “Give me your list!”

The tiniest of tiny little buzzes buzz by. 

Gasping for air with only toes left on the ground, the Listmaker wriggles and grabs at the stranger’s hands that wring his neck. Unable to speak, the Listmaker has no choice but to focus on staying alive, somehow. Cinoa, however, outsizes the Listmaker in height and weight. With no hope in sight, the Listmaker does his best to make a gesture of some sort that he desperately hopes the stranger reads as a concession. “What?” Cinoa mocks; “What? I can’t hear you.” the Listmaker blinks hard, moves his mouth as if trying to speak. “Say, are you trying to tell me something?” Cinoa continues on in his mockery. Batting at the stranger’s hand now, the Listmaker attempts to nod. “Oh, very well,” Cinoa feigns as he drops the Listmaker from the grip. Something moves beyond one of the windows that catches Cinoa’s eye.

“Careful!” Ladybug whisper-shouts upon its return to the Lingerer waiting outside.

Coughing and writhing on the ground, the Listmaker feels lost, but then suddenly remembers his list. Knowingly, the Listmaker rolls over so that his body hides his list from the stranger. He clutches his side as if in agony and wraps a hand over the list in an attempt to either fling the thing or conceal it in a pocket. “Say, you were trying to tell me something, kid!” Cinoa yells through the Listmaker’s wheezing and violent coughs. Fuzzy, dry, the Listmaker chokes out a raspy, “Khi ont no-owe hat khour kalking ah-bhowe-hut.” Frustrated, Cinoa begins to pace the floor back and forth in front of the incapacitated Listmaker. At this moment, the Listmaker feels a bit of strength return and decides that the time has come, according to his list, for him to run. Nimbleness is essential, and so, the Listmaker gathers himself in his mind and in one dynamic action, he clambers to his feet in an attempt to take off for the front door. Unknown to the Listmaker a small unrolled portion of his list sticks out from beyond his grip of the receipt roll. Cinoa catches the smallest glimpse of what must be part of the Listmaker’s list. And so, being bigger and faster, the stranger lurches forward and reaches for the slip of paper sticking out from the Listmaker’s hand. As the Listmaker plants a strong foot on the ground, ready to take off into a full sprint, the stranger grabs the slip of paper, forcing the top edge of it to tear from the rest of itself.

The Listmaker, aware of the lost portion of list, immediately wonders at what time does his now-torn day’s to-do list end; how much time does he have left? With that thought, the Listmaker’s world grows cold and damp, and with the remainder of his consciousness, the reality of the situation weighs heavy upon him, since, having been distracted earlier in the day, the Listmaker knows that he will not wake, as per the usual, already written, command of the next day’s list remains unwritten. All he can do, his consciousness consoles, is stay calm and rest within the lost, dark hinterlands until, as he remembers, per the next day’s list, she arrives. And as the Listmaker cools to a chill, a small buzz buzzes by, “She’s coming. Hang on. She’s coming.” A soft, wet nose gently nibbles on the underside of his face at the soft flesh where the jaw becomes earlobe. 

Lists of Lists

Lists of Lists

He writes a list for the day. Adamant, every single task that must be accomplished he outlines within a doable amount of time and writes each item on a roll of receipt paper. To transpose a day’s list here would be impractical and purposeless. Nevertheless, an example of the day’s first hour:

0630 – 0635 Wake

0637 – 0638 Get out of bed

0638 – 0639 Walk to bathroom

0639 – 0645 Relieve the pee

0645 – 0646 Wash hands, rinse mouth with water

0646 – 0647 Dry hands on brown and blue towel

0647 – 0649 Exit bathroom, return to bedroom

0649 – 0650 Put on robe

0650 – 0651 Walk to kitchen, turn on coffee maker

0651 – 0652 Pick a bowl from the cupboard and a spoon from the drawer, set both on eating counter

0652 – 0653 Grab coffee mug from drying rack and turn upright onto the counter in front of coffee maker

0653 – 0654 Choose an oatmeal from fridge and grab almond milk, place on eating counter next to bowl and spoon and counter in front of coffee maker, respectively

0654 – 0655 Pour oatmeal into bowl and almond milk into mug, return both to fridge

0655 – 0656 Stir oatmeal with spoon and wait to reach room temperature

0656 – 0659 Sit at eating counter, wait for coffee to finish

0659 – 0702 Open blinds

0702 – 0705 Pour coffee into mug, sit at eating counter, sip coffee as oatmeal warms

0705 – 0710 Eat oatmeal, drink coffee

0710 – 0713 Wash bowl and spoon, set in drying rack

0713 – 0714 Refill coffee mug with almond milk and coffee, turn off coffee maker

0714 – 0716 Grab newspaper from front porch, breathe in thirty-seconds of fresh air

0716 – 0717 Walk to desk, set coffee on desk, sit with newspaper

0717 – 0730 Read newspaper

At some point during the day, “Write tomorrow’s to-do list” is the next thing on the day’s to-do list to do. The circumstance of listing the task of writing the next day’s to-do list creates an irregular sensation to write another list listing what ought to be listed in the next day’s to-do list, and so, a new list forms, which ultimately returns him to the day’s list that needs to be finished, but the completion of the day’s list rests upon the listing of the next day’s listed listings. 

Eventually, night falls, and the room grows dark. He consults the day’s list but soon realizes he does not know the time, and just as the thought hits his conscious mind, the clock begins to chime. Eighteen hundred, he thinks to himself. He consults the day’s list once more and reads:

1800 – 1801 Consult the day’s list

He consults the day’s list for one minute, and then he reads:

1801 – 1810 Complete tomorrow’s to-do list

He begins to complete the next day’s to-do list, always in reverse order by writing what must be done last first, when the doorbell rings and interrupts him with the first hour of his day left bare. Unsure again of the time, he looks at the clock, the time reads 1810. He consults the day’s list.

1810 – 1811 Answer the door to see who knocks

Obedient, he walks to the front door and opens the door—a stranger. Cautious, he keeps his foot behind the door. “Good evening, sir. I hope I’m not interrupting,” the stranger begins; “My name is Cinoa. How are you today?” “One moment please,” he responds as he shuts the door. He consults the day’s list.

1811 – 1814 Find out what the stranger at the door wants

Noting the three-minute allotment for this particular interaction, he decides to consult the next few line items.

1814   – ____ Do as you’re told

____ – ____ Return home

He agrees and walks back to the front door. As he opens the door, the stranger, Cinoa, speaks up before he can get a word out, “Please, sir, I just need one moment of your time.” “Okay, yea, sure. How can I help you?” he responds.

Cinoa, stuttering, nervous, “Jus, just, uh, one, uh, moment.” Wringing a few sheets of paper between his hands, Cinoa looks down at the sheets and mumbles slightly as he reads. “Right, yes, oh right, yes,” Cinoa whispers to himself. “Are you the owner of this house?” Cinoa finally asks. “Yes,” the homeowner states. “Great. Then please, sir, come out here with me, if you don’t mind. I’d like to show you something,” Cinoa reads from his sheets of paper. “Very well,” the homeowner obliges. The two walk around to the side of the home, an aged, cumbersome house of natural wood. Cinoa points to a corner of roofing, “See that there?” “Sure, yes,” the homeowner acknowledges. “That’s a good sign that you’re in need of a new roof,” Cinoa explains as he consults his sheets of paper again, and then he continues, “Do you mind if I get on the roof to check for any other problem areas?” “Sure, that’s no problem,” the homeowner again obliges. Cinoa looks at the homeowner, then back at the sheet one more time, “No.” “No, what?” the homeowner asks. “You were supposed to say, ‘No,’” Cinoa clarifies. “Oh,” the homeowner states. Feeling a little shocked, the homeowner apologizes, “I’m sorry, just one moment, please.” Cinoa nods and stands, “I’ll just wait here.” The homeowner walks sideways for a bit as he dismisses himself from Cinoa’s presence and returns to his house to consult the day’s to-do list.

1823 – 1825 Walk back inside house to consult the day’s to-do list

1825 – 1828 Return to stranger and refuse the offer and be adamant that it’s all a sham

1828 – 1830 Argue with the stranger and escort him off the property

1830 – 1831 Return home

Running now, the homeowner rushes around the house to speak with Cinoa, “I’m sorry, you were right. No, I’m not interested in whatever you’re trying to do here. It’s all a sham of some sort or something, I’m sure.” “Okay, sir. There’s no need to get angry. I was simply trying to provide you a necessary service,” Cinoa responds. “Aren’t you supposed to insist?” the homeowner asks. “No, I’m to respond politely and respect your wishes,” Cinoa states. “I think you’re supposed to try to convince me that you really ought to look at my roof. I mean, look at the thing; it’s nearly falling apart!” the homeowner insists. “It’s not up to me to convince you,” Cinoa explains. “Then what are we to argue about?” the homeowner states at the same time he realizes that they are indeed already arguing now. “Ah, yes,” the two respond simultaneously, satisfied. “Great,” the homeowner smiles as he motions with an arm to lead Cinoa off his property. “Perfect,” Cinoa states while collecting himself and acknowledging the homeowner’s gesture to remove him from the property.

They two walk together amicably along the side of the house and across the front yard to a small dirt driveway. “Have you lived here long?” Cinoa chats. The homeowner simply looks at Cinoa. “I get it,” Cinoa responds; “No small talk, eh?” “Not today, apparently,” the homeowner concedes. “Sure, sure,” Cinoa mutters to fill the silence. Once Cinoa reaches the dirt drive, the homeowner turns on his heels and heads back to his house. “Alright, bye! Thanks again,” Cinoa shouts out. The homeowner ignores the farewell, does not wave a hand and quickly hops up the steps to the front porch, never looking back.

1831 – 1833 Through the front door window, verify that the stranger left.

He walks back to the front door and stares out over the front porch and front yard, through the window. Cinoa still stands on the dirt drive; he waves at the homeowner whom he can see through the front door. The two stare at each other over the distance that separates them. He stands for the allotted two minutes, but Cinoa does not leave. Anxious, he consults the day’s list.

1833 – 1834 Invite the stranger in for coffee

He walks back to the front door, opens it and stands upon the front porch. Waving at Cinoa now, he shouts loudly, “Do you want to come in for some coffee?” “Sure,” Cinoa gladly accepts; “I thought you’d never ask.” Cinoa makes his way to the house while the homeowner leaves the front door open, makes his way back to his desk, and consults his list.

1834 – 1835 Make coffee, take list with you, keep in pocket

1835 – 1836 Ask the stranger how he likes his coffee

1836 – 1837 Prepare two mugs

1837 – 1900 Make small talk

Hearing Cinoa’s feet hit the wood floors of the foyer, the homeowner shouts, “I’m back here, in the kitchen. Keep walking straight past the stairs and down the hall. How do you take your coffee?” “Black’s fine or with one sugar cube, if you have sugar cubes,” Cinoa admits as he reaches the kitchen. The kitchen opens out to the left after the hallway. Cinoa appears in the doorway between the fridge and a full-length, cupboard-type pantry. “Come on in,” the homeowner invites as he busies himself preparing the two mugs; “You can sit at the eating counter over there.” Comfortable, Cinoa makes his way through the kitchen, past the kitchen’s middling island countertop area, behind the eating counter to the stools that face back into the kitchen. “I’ll stand,” Cinoa decides. “If you must,” the homeowner jovially comments.

Cinoa has a look around. The kitchen opens into a living-room area that’s carpeted, unlike the hardwood of the foyer and hallway, also unlike the kitchen which is floored in some sort of blue tile. One large, blue couch sits on the farthest wall from the kitchen, an even larger window sits behind it. The wall that extends out from the left side of the couch, back toward the kitchen is littered with small windows all of various shapes and sizes. Each window has accompanying blinds that fit exactly within each respective window’s shape and size. “I like those windows,” Cinoa admits. “Yes, they are nice,” the homeowner agrees. “How long have you lived here?” Cinoa asks. The homeowner looks at him, as if studying Cinoa’s intent. “Not long,” the homeowner lies. “Really?” Cinoa questions; “That seems odd.” “How so?” the homeowner humors. “Well, it’s just that the clean, modern interior of this house definitely doesn’t match the almost rotting exterior of the thing,” Cinoa explains. “What does that have to do with how long I’ve lived here?” the homeowner asks, confused. “Oh, nothing, I suppose,” Cinoa mutters.

The coffee maker gurgles and puffs a short spout of steam to signify its completion of its task. “I don’t have any sugar cubes, but I do have sugar,” the homeowner offers. “Oh, no sugar then,” Cinoa responds; “Black’s fine.” “Sure,” the homeowner obliges as he pours the coffee from its pot. “Say, you have any family?” Cinoa, feeling nosey, asks. “Yes,” the homeowner lies again. He places the strangers coffee in front of him on the eating counter while he remains standing within the bounds of the kitchen, “Please, have a seat.” “I’ll stand,” Cinoa states, almost defiantly and then prods, “And?” “And what?” requests the homeowner. “Your family,” Cinoa clarifies. “Yes, I have family,” the homeowner reiterates. “Of what sort?” Cinoa prys. “Of all sorts,” the homeowner retorts. “Very well,” Cinoa concedes with a small chuckle; “I just thought we were gonna get to know each other a little. I mean, you’re the one who invited me in.” The two sip coffee for a moment, quietly slurping, silently standing. 

‘Be a good little girl.’

‘Be a good little girl.’

Patiently waiting, Attila stands by the only door in the room while the students slowly make their way toward her so that they may all walk together to the banquet. As the last set joins the group, Attila easily reaches down for her duffel bag with her right hand as she pushes down upon the door handle to push the door open. In an unnoticeable instant to the students who follow behind, Attila gasps as she attempts to grasp the door handle, under the realization that the door needed to be pulled open. A wave of grief, suspense, the cold chill of horror washes over her and presses deep into the top of her right shoulder creating a trigger point that shoots electric pain through the upper right trapezius of her back and down through her right arm. She drops the duffel.

In slow motion now, the room begins to tear into thin strips as if the reality around her were made of paper. As each strip releases itself from the larger whole, the strip itself pops into confetti-sized shards that wisp away like ash from a campfire. With body tied to the pace of the disintegrating room, Attila’s eyes are free to roam about at full speed. The students tear in half and away they float. Once time catches up to the setting, Attila finds herself walking through a threshold, into a large, open, airy, dark, sparkling space. Looking behind her now, subtly, over her left shoulder, she notices the revolving door through which she must have just arrived.  A sharp, beautiful, tall couple swirl around the door and into the space. Dressed in the fanfare of fanciful festivities, Attila feels as though she must be underdressed. To her surprise but not really, she looks down to see that she is indeed dressed appropriately. In a perfectly floor-length, emerald gown, adorned over in black lace, she pokes a toe out from under the thing to see the rounded toe-box of a simple, black patent-leather, stiletto. Of a white with a metallic sheen, the sort of raw metallicity of platinum, she also wears gloves. Unknown to her at the moment for without a mirror, how could she know, Attila wears platinum earrings that are shaped like small wings with the inside of the wing portion that lines the outer edge of her face encrusted in spinels of black and a green that matches her gown that slowly disperse into the naked metal. Conscientiously, she touches her hair, some sort of waved, curled, loose updo.

Slightly perplexed but no longer surprised, Attila takes in the room as she continues to stand in, what could essentially be considered, the middle of the space, although, since the space acts as more of a foyer than a room in and of itself, the space in which she currently stands sort of lacks a center. No matter, she stands and looks about the place. Curved, the wall with the revolving door continues around behind her for a bit and then reaches around the left side of her, and then, it seems as if the wall comes to a point with the right wall that reaches away from the revolving door to the right, only to curve as well around the right of her, meeting up with the left side of the wall somewhere far away, down a hallway, the hallway that also curves slightly to the right and disappears, the hallway through which she would eventually walk if she walked exactly straight for fifty meters or so. Before she would reach that hallway, however, a wide staircase would tempt her to ascend toward the upper floors. The stairs, as they rise upward through the space narrow. The half-way landing serves as a small balcony that looks out through that left wall, made solely of glass that extends back into that hallway and up to the ceiling of the fourth or fifth floor. Turning on itself, the stairs continue to climb until reaching the second floor. She counts. Four balconies lookout and down into the foyer area in which she currently still stands, causing the airy atmosphere. In her immediate space, a tall, silvery tree stands, decorating that left wall. From the outside, the place must glow wildly in the night. Perched atop the silver tree, a red bell twinkles ever so often.

Attila decides to examine the tree more closely, since, as the awkwardness of her standing there dawns on her, she realizes that she must look quite awkward. Slowly, she gracefully glides over to the tree. As she gets closer, she realizes that the tree is not a tree at all. Instead, individually potted, white poinsettias sit inside a frame to make the shape of a tree. Dusted in a silvery glitter, the whole thing ignites into a blaze of light as the glitter on the leaves reflects and refracts the strands of white light wrapped around the metal frame that holds each potted plant. Curious, Attila reaches out a hand to touch a leaf. Just as she does so, the arms of a small child reach out toward her. She screams and drops the glass of champagne. The champagne spills all over her dress before it shatters all over the floor. When did I get that glass? she wonders, quickly. The giggles of small children emanate from within the tree. “Why you fucking little. Get out here right now!” Attila whisper-shouts. More giggles and laughter. Embarrassed, she looks around to see if anyone has noticed. Of course, everyone on the first and second floors notices and every eye in the place looks directly at her. A server makes his way to her with napkins while another server fetches something with which to clean up the mess. “So sorry,” Attila sings with a nervous giggle. The people return to their own business. As the server with the napkins approaches her, Attila looks down at her gown to assess the damage. Looking up to the server who rushed to her aide, she notices that the server does not have a napkin, but instead, he stands there with a tray of champagne glasses filled with champagne.

“Ma’am,” a server begins, “would you like a glass of champagne this evening?” Attila looks around the room, and at its center, she still stands. “Uh,” she stammers; “Yes, thank you.” The server gives her a courteous nod and excuses himself from her presence. Then, Attila sees a shadow of herself walking toward the tree. Once seen, the shadow disappears. Remembering the faint recollection of the earlier happenings, Attila walks, determined, toward the silver tree. Knowing what she knows, she stands just far enough to hinder the trigger of the mischievous children hidden within. Looking around the room as if unaware of the tree, Attila quickly approaches the tree, grabs for the poinsettia from which the arms emerged, removes it from the frame creating the shape of a tree, and throws the champagne into the unsuspecting face of the child sitting within. A child screams out in disgust. The sound of maybe two other children laughing satisfies her greatly. “Crazy bitch,” the champagne-covered child spits and mutters barely audible. “That’s it,” Attila remarks as she begins to tear potted poinsettia after potted poinsettia from the tree-shaped frame, revealing the hidden children inside. Gasps of horror and sheer societal disbelief roars throughout the festive space. A few of the servers and staff rush over to help quell the disaster. “Get out here right now!” Attila yells; “Where the fuck are your parents!” A distinguished-looking gentleman runs, well, walks quickly, as a gentleman in the presence of his societal peers never runs, toward Attila and subdues her by grabbing her by the waist with his right hand and by the left arm with his left hand. “Attila,” the distinguished gentleman whispers as he continues to hold her tightly and walk her away from judging eyes; “Darling, please don’t embarrass me and your mother like this.”

Walking down that hallway now, Attila thrashes herself free from the distinguished gentleman. She looks at his face and a name rises into her mind, Nigel … dad … fuck. “What the fucking shit, Nigel? Those fucking little brats need to be punished,” Attila fits in a storm of rage. “What kids? Those kids under the tree? Oh, shit, Attila. Don’t tell me you’re forgetting again,” Nigel responds. Forgetting? Again? The rage subsides as a new emotion takes control. Fuck. Orphans … the party is for the fucking orphans. “And I just fucking … goddammit,” Attila speaks aloud after the remembrance catches up with her. “I swear to god, Attila,” Nigel fumes; “Your mother knew this would not be a good idea. So, for jesus-fucking-christ’s sake, get your shit together or get the fuck out of here, now!” Nigel backs away from her a bit and drops his head, looking defeated, “I have to go deal with this shit storm now.” “I’m sorry,” Attila says, emotionless with eyes that dare her father to say more. “Just … just leave,” Nigel states as he begins to walk away. “Wait, Dad,” Attila attempts with a voice of childlike innocence. Nigel stops walking for a moment but does not turn to face her. He sighs, “What?” “What day is it? Like the date. What’s today’s date?” Attila asks. Nigel turns and faces her now with a look of utter disgust, “Attila, I cannot do this with you again.” “But,” Attila tries again. “No!” Nigel yells with the slice of his right hand; “Shut up! Just shut the fuck up and get the hell out of here! Now!” Stepping back a step from the sheer force of her father’s violence, Attila feels a small twinge of trigger-point pain shooting through the back of her right shoulder and down her right arm. Nigel breathes out a deep breath and continues to walk away, toward the festive festivities. Alone in the swooping corridor where the two walls, through which the revolving door allows entrance into this god-forsaken place, seemingly come to a point, Attila turns her back on her father as well and begins to walk deeper into the curving hallway.

Double doors approach on the right as Attila walks. Of the sort that signify a kitchen must reside beyond them, each door swings from outer hinges, never fully making contact at the center. Two large, circular windows allow a viewer, either looking in or peering out, a view. Attila stands on the perceived outside, and therefore, looks into the room, a large, industrial-like space, unlike the kitchen in which she taught her cooking class earlier … today? Attila suddenly wonders. Clinks of pots and roars of fans vibrate through the doors into Attila’s ears. Maybe not, she decides and continues to walk on, down the curving hall. One of the doors opens behind her, and a voice speaks out, “Attila!” Attila turns to see the person who yells. A name surfaces, Wen. Wen continues, “There you are. Your mother asked about you, but I didn’t know where you were.” Attila looks at Wen blankly and then looks down at the floor again. The carpet has an interesting pattern of wreaths or something, Attila notices as she cocks her head to make sense of the design. Where have I …? Concerned, Wen interrupts the thought and asks, “Are you alright? You don’t look so good.” Attila looks up at Wen’s face once again and cants forward a bit to get a better sense of Who is this person? “Attila?” Wen asks not for confirmation but rather, to focus Attila’s attention. “Yes,” Attila responds. “Why don’t you come in the kitchen, and I’ll get you something to eat,” Wen offers, again very concerned. Attila searches for an answer, Goddammit. “Are you hungry?” Wen asks. No. “Sure,” Attila responds and walks toward the double doors that swing. “Alright,” Wen states, satisfied, and then continues with what seems to be a bit of personal knowledge, “You can hang out in here for a while. I know how much you love these things.” Do I? Attila wonders to herself, and then forces out a small chuckle to normalize the situation.

And then, as Attila approaches Wen, Wen grabs Attila’s left arm and forcibly pulls Attila through the one open door of the double doors and shuts it behind her. Thrown, Attila lands on her knees and elbows on a warm rug atop a hard, wooden floor. Quickly, she scrambles around to see the door through which Wen threw her. A single wood door swings in at a small, rapid pace the way that doors of this kind do just before they come to a stop, centered within their frames. Motherfucker. Seated upon the floor, she gets a good look at the place. Nothing stands out as knowable. The room is a sort of sitting area that she assumes connects to a living or dining room through the swinging wooden door. Behind her and to the right, the room has a large, open archway that leads to some foyer-type passageway. Directly behind her, large windows open outward, bay window comes to mind. She’s always sort of liked windows in which a person can sit. Behind and to the left, an over-sized plant that’s beginning to be scrunched by the ceiling, forced to bend forward, climbing the ceiling now. On her left, a soft, white sofa. Ugh. She can see, what looks to be, the front door, also wooden, with a stained-glass window embellishing the upper-half of the door. With a deep sigh, she lies down on the rug and stares. Clouds, painted in a realism unmatched by anything she’s seen before, the clouds begin to move, in a natural pattern of an actual skyscape. Interesting, but nice, floats through her mind as she relaxes ever so slightly.

A searing tension strikes her through the trigger point in the back of her right shoulder before she even hears the words of the people not yet in the room with her, she feels them. A young man and young woman appear behind her. The woman holds a pair of massive, all-metal, silver bladed, solid-silver scissors. “Why are you sitting on the floor?” the woman asks. Attila takes in the two. The man holds a duffel bag, Is that? “Yes,” the man answers. “What are you doing here?” the woman prods further. “I,” Attila starts; “You wanted me to drop by sometime, so here I am.” Of course, Attila just shoots in the dark, until she realizes a small, perhaps significant realization. Slowly, she peels herself off the floor and takes a knowingly unwelcome seat upon the white couch. “Please don’t sit on the couch,” the woman sighs. Attila quickly stands up, “Oh, sorry.” The three stand, the man and woman stare at Attila while she stares back, splitting her attention between them. For an unknowable amount of time, they stare, and eventually recognize the impasse.

Finally, the woman speaks aloud, “Tell us what you know.” “There’s nothing to tell,” Attila admits, knowing full well that there must be something she can say, but what that thing is remains lost on her. “It’s been a strange day,” the woman consoles; “Let’s just keep it civil.” “Sorry?” Attila asks; “What do you mean by ‘civil’?” The woman looks down at the scissors, adroit, then turns them within her hand. “May I at least have my bag?” Attila gently pleads. “This is not yours,” the man explains. “Of course it is. I lost it at some point,” today?, Attila states with a little defiance. The young man and young woman laugh aloud, albeit softly. “Oh my, oh my,” the woman mocks, and then continues, “I guess this will have to be done another way.” The woman begins to walk toward Attila. Attila evades the young woman, but the man blocks the front door. The man gestures as if compliant and steps out of the way. A straight shot to the stained-glass door. Attila makes a move to exit, and the woman throws a glass vase onto the exposed wooden floor where the rug on which they currently stand comes to an end. The distance to the long, narrow rug that assumedly runs the length of a hallway unseen from this perspective is too vast for Attila to jump safely. Why am I barefoot? “You’re almost naked,” the woman clarifies. Attila looks down, she is indeed almost naked, dressed in nothing but some underwear and a t-shirt. What the fuck? 

She decides to make a run for it and jumps only to land on a few shards of glass. Sharp, the pain from the glass stuck in her right foot makes her hurriedly step down upon her left foot only to pierce her left foot with more glass. She launches herself to the rug in front of the front door. Gently, she reaches down to examine her feet closely. The young man and young woman look amused, and then they look at each other. Precisely, slowly, determined, the woman walks toward Attila and merely walks over the shards of glass as the pieces crinkle and crunch under foot. Attila, almost crying now, crawls toward the front door. Lifting the enormous scissors on high, the woman means to stab Attila through the back. Just as Attila grabs for the door to pull it open, the door falls away from her, and just as she falls through the doorway the scissors make contact with her flesh.

She screams out in pain as she collapses on the floor while a heaping mound of coats, shoes, umbrellas and the like pour out from the closet behind her. “Attila!” yells a voice. Mom? “What did I tell you about playing in that closet?” her mother continues. Weeping, heaving on the ground in unbelievable pain, Attila shouts out, “Mom! I’m going to die!” “What the hell are you talking about? Get up!” her mother berates. “Mom! My feet, my back, I’ve been tortured and stabbed!” Attila continues, convinced. “What? There’s not a thing wrong with you. Get up, now!” her mother shouts even angrier this time as she grabs Attila’s arm to bring her to a stand. What the? Attila gets a look at her feet. Nothing. She pauses for a moment, no pain. She grapples at her back, nothing. And then something even stranger reveals itself to her; she looks at her hands. Why are my hands so small? Why is my mother so … tall? What the fucking hell is … “Go to your room right now! I do not have the time for these games yet again, today, Attila. March!” her mother yells while pointing up a set of stairs. Lost, confused, Attila looks at her mother in disbelief. Her mother’s face softens, “Attila, darling, today’s not a good day. Please, just do as we talked about and play quietly in your room. There are very important people coming over tonight. I need you to be a good little girl, alright?” As her mother spoke, her mother slowly bent down to make eye-to-eye contact as she gently placed one hand on each of Attila’s shoulders, and then almost begs, “Can you please do that for me?” A sharp pain sears through Attila’s mind. She flinches. Her mother watches, “We can talk about whatever’s going on with you tomorrow, okay?” Silent, Attila turns and walks up the stairs. She has no idea where to go, but continues to walk in whatever direction feels right.

A door is cracked open. She walks toward it to find what looks to be a room for a small female child. A sigh. I don’t know. Sitting in the far corner of the room, a full-length mirror looks all too appealing. Attila approaches the mirror, and as she gets a full look at the situation she glimpsed downstairs, a new reality befalls her. She grabs her face, the face of a small child, dressed in a small dress, shod in small, black, patent-leather shoes.

>…<

continued on weekends, until The End^^

…also, on Medium @amateurtattletale

Cookies, Cake and Pie

Cookies, Cake and Pie

The screams of delighted children fill the air. She sits up with the thought, Why am I sleeping in here? Seated upon a bed, to her right, a wall, the bed tucks away into a corner as she faces the one door in the room, and oddly enough, the door is made of glass with no curtain shielding her with privacy while she sleeps. The room, a mess, cluttered, clothes strewn about along with creepy little knick knacks she does not recognize, feels too large to be a bedroom. Wild sounds of many children playing, somewhere, penetrate her mind. Conscious now, she turns in the bed to search through the only window in the space. She’s not sure if “window” is the right word, since the “window” seems to be more like a glass portion of wall, from floor to ceiling, only slightly wider than the width of the bed. There, through the window, as she’ll remain to consider it for the time being, children play but not outside. Housed within a room with which her room presumably shares the wall that supports the window through which she looks into the adjacent room is filled with children, running, screaming, playing a sort of chase and freeze game. Kneeling now upon the bed, hands clutching the top of the headboard as she peers, confused, through the window at the playing children, one child spots her and runs toward the window. She sees and hears an adult’s muffled yell for the child. Rebellious, the child continues toward the window. Just as the child reaches a distance close enough to reach out and touch the glass, the child kicks the glass instead, laughs as she jumps a bit, and then bolts away toward the adult who called for the child only a moment earlier. She watches the children for an unknowable amount of time.

A person enters the room and breaks her transfixed state. The voice of the person registers immediately within her mind. No. She almost refuses to turn but to no avail, her mother moves to stand beside the bed, within her peripheral vision, she cannot refuse to see her mother standing there. “Attila,” the mother repeats; “Darling, you must return to your classes today. No one wants to cover your duties any longer. You’re putting undue tension upon the situation here.” Attila sits and faces her mother, head tilted down so as not to make eye contact. Confused still, Attila looks back toward the window that reveals the small children at play. The glass is but solid wall now. No longer feeling the feelings of confusion, Attila looks at her mother and states calmly, “Yes, mother.” The mother silently leaves. Immediately aware of this fold in reality that she’s experiencing, Attila rushes to get her bags packed.

Unsure of what items truly belong to her, she simply piles in a few of the things she believes she will need. As she stuffs piece after piece of clothing into a large duffel-type bag, another woman appears at the door. Friend or foe? The woman knocks on the door while glancing directly at Attila through the glass. She does not wish to open the door and so continues to gather some things. Helping herself into the room, the woman at the door cracks the door open, “Hey, Attila. I’m Ney Teacher. I was told to summon you for your cooking class with the attendant adults.” Attila bolts over her right shoulder to get a look at Ney. “What?” Ney begins to repeat herself, “You teach a cooking class that begins in a few minutes. I was told to fetch you.” “By whom?” “I’m sorry?” Ney asks, confused. “Who told you to get me?” Attila clarifies. “Manager Teacher,” Ney decidedly responds in truth. “Dammit,” Attila spits under her breath, and then speaks, “I’ll be right there.” “Okay, great. Thanks,” Ney confirms as the door closes. I cannot stay here, she thinks to herself, but she cannot imagine a way out. How did I even get here in the first place? One cannot travel without the other, and the probability that She ended up here is too small. How did this even happen? She decides that there’s nothing much else that she can do for the moment except to go along with however this goddamn day unfolds. But then she feels a sickening pain in the pit of her stomach. She begins to understand much about something she cannot quite understand. Uneasy, she grabs the bag she packed and resolves to go to the cooking classroom located somewhere she does not know. Fuck it, she thinks as she pushes the door to the room.

Her right hand crosses her body as she reaches for the handle of the door with that same right hand. As she opens the door, the door swings wide sweeping outwards and away from her through space as it creates a semi-circular motion allowing her to enter the new space. Immediately, she realizes that the door itself opens into some sort of industrial-type kitchen, large, rectangular, with three solid walls, the longest of which houses the door into the space through which Attila just walked, and its, the longest wall’s, parallel showcases a pattern of tall, slender windows broken by solid pillars that stretch the entire length of the wall. The wall of windows looks almost like the keys of a piano. Ah, this again, she perceives. She takes a deep breath, drops the bag to the left of the door as she enters so that it, the bag, may be easily grabbed upon her exit. Hands free now, she assesses the room filled with people she does not know, or maybe she does. The knowing eludes her at the moment. With only one thing pressing hard upon her mind, she knows that this time must pass quickly, as quickly as possible. She scans the faces for a superficial analysis, three women, who look like they’re related, tall, slender, blonde, and three ordinary-looking men, of various heights and widths. Couples? she wonders to herself.

Thus, she skips any sort of introductions, and begins, “What are we all learning today? Do any of you know, or was this class sold to you as a surprise?” The shortest of the three males is pale but attractive enough. He raises his hand but begins speaking before Attila acknowledges him, “We’re all under the impression that this is a class about how to make chocolate cake or some kind of dessert.” What the hell is this? she considers once more and not for the last time within only a moment.

“Very good,” Attila pretends while she searches for a clue. She manages to notice that she stands behind, what seems to be, an instructor’s setup and concludes that she must be standing in the right place. “Shall we begin?” she musters, and continues to scan the countertop, “Ah, yes, here are copies of the recipe we will be executing today.” Walking around the kitchen/classroom now, she hands each “student” a sheet with the recipe for, Who the hell knows, she mulls in her mind. One of the women raises her hand, “Ma’am. Aren’t you going to introduce yourself?” “It doesn’t matter,” Attila responds and then adds, “Call me whatever you’d like.” At this command, the widest of the three men pipes in, “This recipe’s called ‘Attila’s Fudge Fountain.’ Are you Attila?” “Like I said, it doesn’t matter, but if it makes you feel better to know who I am, then sure, consider me Attila,” Attila sighs as she makes her way back to the front of the kitchen-classroom. “Alright,” Attila begins; “let’s get started. Go ahead and read the ingredients aloud and make sure you recognize everything.” “Ma’am?” a different woman this time meekly asks. “Yes?” Attila attends. “Our recipe is not for cake. It’s some sort of pie?” “Oh,” Attila recognizes a twinge of some remembrance; “Yes, you are all making some different sort of dessert. So, go ahead and read the ingredients list, and then, if you know what everything is, go ahead and collect all of your necessary ingredients. Everything should be here within the kitchen. If you can’t find something, let me know. Ask a fellow classmate first, however. Begin.” The students, paired off into sets each including one male and one female, meander throughout the kitchen collecting everything they need to make whatever it is that’s named at the top of their recipe sheet.

Attila, uncertain and anxious, sits for a moment on the stool provided behind her instructor’s workstation. She feels the pull of herself against the air of time within the room. Slowly, the room begins to shift from its rectangular shape into a spherical dome. The students continue their task. Unknowing, Attila can hear the murmurs of the older woman but cannot hear what she says. Thus, she focuses her mind to see if she can read the older woman instead. Nothing. She is angry, Attila confesses. There’s someone else there now, too, but Attila cannot recognize the person. Harder now, Attila concentrates on the other presence, It couldn’t be. That would be impossible. And then the reality of her situation hits her again cold, Yes, of course, but then again, here I am. So then, what does the old man want now? Attila focuses in with all her might. Within the normalcy of the kitchen-classroom, Attila attends to the whims of the students.

After all of the students have their respective desserts in the oven for the allotted amount of time, they mingle amongst themselves, some even leave the room for a break. Eventually, Attila returns to the instructor’s counter and sits herself down upon the stool. After a short to medium amount of time ranging from a few minutes to more than a few minutes, Attila falls off the stool onto the ground. The two taller males rush toward her and try to wake her. Finally, Attila hears the words, The three have travelled together, but the one who remains arrived of his own volition. The old man, Attila immediately realizes, but then immediately remembers that this must be a fabrication for, I cannot know what she knows while she knows it. She wakes. Rectangular again, the room stretches itself back into its known state. Two males stand over her. “Are you alright, ma’am?” the taller of the two, although, really, they are basically the same height. “Yes,” Attila responds as she sits up; “I’m fine, thank you.” Refusing the help of the two males, she stands, repositions the stool, sits down upon the stool and returns her attention to the trite task at hand. “So, have you all gathered and collected your ingredients?” she asks as if nothing happened. “Are you sure you’re alright?” one of the women asks. “Yes,” Attila responds with a feigned smile; “I’m fine.” “Well, ma’am,” the same woman explains, “We’re all finished with making our desserts. Don’t you remember helping us? We’re just waiting for them to bake.” Attila takes this revelation in for a minute. “Ah, yes. Sorry,” Attila admits; “I must’ve bumped my head a little. Of course I remember. How much longer do your delicacies have left to bake?” The one woman who hasn’t spoken yet states, “Ours had the longest bake time, and we have about twenty minutes left.” “Great,” Attila states with an air that matches that of eye rolling. Once she hears the word leave her mouth, Attila clears her throat and attempts to mask her distractedness with a joyful tone, “Where are these delightful concoctions headed once they’re finished?” The students look at each other as if this lady’s crazy. Then, the woman who speaks the most answers, “Ma’am, we’re taking them all to the student banquet right after this class. Remember?” Frustrated and a little pissed, Attila rolls her lips into her mouth and gently bites down, “Yes, right, silly me.”

The first of the egg timers rings loudly and almost bounces off the respective students’ countertop. Attila feels the pull of her duties as the instructor and walks over to the oven belonging to the first set of students. “Ah, those look great,” Attila musters through a cheerful voice; “Gently remove them from the pan with a spatula and let them cool on the baking rack.” A few minutes later, the next egg timer rings loudly and almost bounces off the respective students’ countertop. The pang of repetition nauseates Attila. Nauseated, she takes a subtle, deep breath, walks toward the next oven. “Go ahead, open the oven. Grab a toothpick,” Attila instructs. The female of the couple grabs a toothpick. “Now,” Attila advises; “stick the toothpick into the center of the cake. If the toothpick comes out clean, it’s done.” The female nods and enacts the instruction, “Clean,” the female states, excitedly and shows the toothpick to both Attila and the male. “Looks good, indeed. Grab the pan then and place it on the cooling rack,” Attila continues. “Once it’s cooled, you can pop it out of its pan and then place the cake itself on the cooling rack and glaze it with the ganache. You made the ganache, right?” Attila asks while looking around their countertop area for the proof. “Yes, it’s right here,” the male points out. “Excellent. You’ll probably have to wait another twenty minutes or so for everything to cool,” turning now to address all of the students, “You will all have to wait for everything to cool.” Attila points at the first couple, “You should be about ready now to frost those cookies,” and then she turns back to the cake couple, “You can set another timer or just wait.” Everyone nods in acknowledgement.

The third and final egg timer rings out. Attila’s stomach turns over. She almost hurls all over the second couple’s finished product. “Ma’am? Are you alright,” the same woman asks yet again. Attila waves a hand to abate the woman. Waiting patiently, the last couple stands, waits for Attila to instruct them. “Wait one more minute,” Attila instructs; “It’s an old baker’s secret. Do you have the melted butter ready?” The male and female who made the dessert both nod in unison, “Yes, ma’am.” A minute later, “Okay. Pull it out now, gently. Golden brown?” “I’d say so,” the male of the set confirms. “Perfect. Set the pan on the counter and then place just the pie pan on the cooling rack,” Attila instructs. The couple complies. “Excellent,” Attila congratulates; “Now, with the pastry brush, while it’s still hot, brush some melted butter on the edge of the crust.” Again, the couple follows the instructions enthusiastically. Once the couple finishes slathering their dessert in even more butter, all of the students wait and impatiently look at their delicacies for the final instruction. “Okay, now you all need to find an appropriate serving dish or platter for your respective desserts, and then I guess we’ll all just walk to wherever the banquet’s happening together,” Attila states aloud to the entire class. The students murmur back and to each other as they figure out the best way to transport their goods.

Liminal Illumination II

Liminal Illumination II

“Welcome back, ladies and gentlemen, to the GBC’s season opener! I’m Burke Doris here with Climpt Timothson in Big City, State, watching the Homes put on a show with the Aways. It’s a tied game, folks. So, it’s no surprise that the starters are back in it for this fourth and final quarter of this thrilling basketball game. Niece, Whitele, Gora, Brateck and Tacit are on the floor with Funne, Swind, Hopper, Phael and Chime. The arena is truly electric tonight, don’t you think, Climpt?”

“Why yes indeed, Burke, with these two great teams opening the season for us, it’s always great to watch such a close game.”

“Who do you think’s going to win it? Oh! And Niece easily throws one down for three. Swind takes it back down the court, and oh my goodness, it’s a lob to Phael! Oh, no good.”

“I think that either team has a good chance tonight, Burke. At this point, it’s anyone’s game. But, if I’m being really honest, the Homes seem to have a bit more energy as we enter this final twelve.”

“Yes, I couldn’t agree more. And Hopper’s posting up, but Gora is just too slippery. He lays it in. Even though the game has changed leads about every two minutes so far, it’s clearly the Homes who are dominating now.”

“Yes, sir. This is where the stamina matters a lot. Do you think the bench will get much more time or will the coaches not take the risk?”

“It’s tough to say, Climpt. If I were coaching, it’d be one tough decision. And there goes Swind again, running the length of the court. Will he dunk? Yes! And he throws it down hard.”

“You hate to be the guy under Swind when he jumps it up for a jam.”

“You sure do. You sure do. Now Niece sets up Whitele for another three … and … it’s good!”

“Wow, everyone really is playing like it’s the Finals.”

“Yea, it’s surprising to see this much energy on the first night, but boy, is it exciting.”

“Maybe it’s a sign for a nitty-gritty season.”

“Oh, look here, with the Homes up five points, Niece is coming out for a rest.”

“Interesting. Well, it seems like it’ll be alright for the moment. Funne for the Aways just missed his two free throws.”

“At two and twelve for the night, it might be time to sit Funne out for good. It’s not a good time for an off night, but his defensive skills can’t be ignored.”

“That’s for sure, and yes, absolutely.”

“Alright, well stick around, we’ll return after a word from our sponsors.”

. . .

“The Big Year, GBC season opener is sponsored in part by: Big Name Electronics, serving you and all your game-day needs, Big Name Sporting, gearing up all the greats, including you, and by Big Name Car, taking you the distance.”

“Don’t just watch the game, be part of it. With Big Name Electronics the Big Name TV of your dreams will come true. Watch all your favorite superstars from Davis Whitele to Marshall Funne. No matter who you’re cheering for, we’re cheering for you. Big Name Electronics, serving you and all your game-day needs.”

. . .

“We’re back at the Big City Arena! I’m Burke Doris, here with Climpt Timothson, and an odd little thing happened during the break.”

“It sure did, Burke. The officials had to consult the replay center on the foul committed by Davis Whitele on Marshall Funne. They are notorious rivals who played for the two Big College teams last year, who faced each other in the championship for the big win.”

“Yes, it was a tough time for them when they were drafted into the GBC, but everyone sort of thought they’d let the past die down now that they’re both in the big leagues, Climpt.”

“Well, no player ever forgets a big loss, but it would’ve been nice to see them work it out before the season began.”

“As competitors, though, I’ll say they make for some good basketball, am I right?”

“You sure are, Burke.”

“Getting an update now from the refs, and it looks like they’re saying Funne was actually fouled before the shot, but Funne missed those free throws anyway. They’ll just have to redact the foul against Whitele.”

“Can we just get back to the game? At seventy-five to seventy, the Homes are up by five with a healthy amount of game left to play. Do you think both teams can keep up this severe defensive strategy for the rest of the game?”

“Who knows. It’s possible, right? Anything really is with eight minutes left to play, but it seems like the Homes are getting into the Aways heads a little bit. I mean with Funne not shooting anything really, he’s taking a backseat to Swind’s shooting and the sheer power of Phael. If anything, Funne needs to keep supporting the team and making plays. You know, let the other guys finish.”

“Ha, yea, that would seem like the best thing to do.”

“Speaking of sheer power, Phael dunks it down again hard. Oh but an offensive foul. Whitele will take the ball down. Looks like they’re slowing the pace of the game down.”

“That’s what you want to do when you’re up.”

“But the question remains: Will the Aways push the pace? And Chime with the steal; he throws it ahead to Phael, but it’s knocked loose. Hopper’s on it. No, he throws it away.”

“Man, you gotta just lay that in when you’re under the basket.”

“I guess that answers my question. Doesn’t look like the Aways want to push the pace. Whitele again with the ball; oh my goodness! What a spin move with a hard pass to Niece with the reverse lay up.”

“Yeup. That’s how you finish. Doesn’t matter who’s got the ball. If you can’t finish, you can’t win against these guys.”

“That does seem like what the pre-season showed us. And a timeout by the Aways. Looks like no rest for the weary. But for us, we’re gonna take a break. Stay tuned! We’ll be back after this quick word from our sponsors.”

. . .

“The Big Year, GBC season opener is sponsored in part by: Big Name Electronics, serving you and all your game-day needs, Big Name Sporting, gearing up all the greats, including you, and by Big Name Car, taking you the distance.”

“Hey, aren’t you Jace Phael?”

“Sure am, kid. Who are you?”

“Uh, I’m …”

“Hey you don’t gotta be nervous. I’m just a regular guy. See look, we got the same Big Name kicks on, and I’ll bet you what…”

“What!”

“I bet we got ‘em at the same place.”

“Really? You shop at Big Name Sporting?”

“Yea, little man. Where else would I get these Big Name shoes? Nowhere else but at Big Name Sporting.”

“Wow!”

“So, see, be cool, kid.”

“Thanks, Jace.”

“Even the greatest athletes buy their Big Name shoes at Big Name Sporting. Big Name Sporting, gearing up all the greats, including you.”

. . .

“Here we are for the first night of regular-season basketball in Big City Arena. I’m Burke Doris, here with Climpt Timothson. Climpt, I think it’s probably safe to say that this game’s coming to a quick close.”

“Yea, Burke Doris, with the Homes pulling away with one hundred two points, it doesn’t look like the Aways are going to make up those fifteen points in the last two minutes, but who knows. They’re fighters.”

“Well it was a quiet night for the Homes’ big man, Kimber Tacit, so he’s still in while Davis Whitele and Solomon Niece take a quick rest. Marshall Funne and Jace Phael are still hitting the floor pretty hard, while Russell Hopper and Porter Chime sit out for an, assumedly short rest.”

“I guess, the safe question to ask is: What happened to the Aways? It was such a close game until these last few moments.”

“Well, all coaches know that the psychological aspect of the game is just as demanding as the physical. Maybe the Aways simply being on the road wore them out to the ferocity of the Homes. And Brateck easily lays one in. Swind slowly brings the ball down, passes to Funne, interception by Tav Gora whom we haven’t seen much of tonight except as a stealer. Apparently, though, that’s a serious contribution. Gora passes to Tacit who gently jumps that one in from under the rim.”

“It looks like the Aways have all but given it up to the Homes. What a shame.”

“Well, that’s all from all of us here at Big City Arena where the Homes lock up the first victory of this GBC season. We will see you all in two nights from now in the Next City Arena for, what should be an epic matchup between the Them’s and Us’s! Thanks to all our sponsors at Big Name Electronics, Big Name Sporting, and Big Name Cars. Good night!”

. . .

“This has been a presentation of GBC, brought to you by Big Name Cars.”

“Big Name Cars, taking you the distance.”

“What does it take to go the distance as a GBC player? Well, I’m Davis Whitele, and when I get in my Big Name Car, I’m full of confidence that it will take me where I need to go. Where do I want to go? All the way. To win it, you gotta go the distance.”

“Big Name Cars, taking you the distance.”

[continued here and on Medium most weekends]

Liminial Illumination

Liminial Illumination

“Hello, everybody! I thought that I would just check in with you all today with this video here to share my meditations on beauty and my daily regimen of the ‘Four Hs’ for sanity. I know that the world is a busy place that becomes busier with each passing day, and I also know how important it is to feel your best, to be your best self, and for me that always includes looking my best. If I don’t look good, I definitely don’t feel good. So, this is what I’ve done for all you beauties who want to succeed every day at life.

“First off, I’ve compiled a checklist of the ‘Four Hs’ that you must complete by the end of each day in order to find the balance that I have finally found after all these years of building my expertise on beauty and what that means. They are so important that not only have I outlined what each ‘H’ stands for along with its essence, I’ve also researched the best products that you can use in order to see the quickest results. The important thing to remember is that beauty belongs to you. Whatever you define beauty as is what beauty means to you. So, feel free to use this video as a guide to finding what you consider beautiful. Let’s get started shall we?”

“Hey, man, thanks so much for being here,” the host begins. “Oh yea, of course, it’s my pleasure,” guest one responds gratefully. “So, let’s just get started, shall we?” The guest nods in approval, “Yea, of course, why not!” “Great! So, I hear you have a concern that you’d like to share with all of us,” the host inquires. “Yea, you know how I’m sort of a big deal,” the guest sarcastically suggests as the audience laughs and cheers on cue. “Well, yes, I suppose you wouldn’t be here on my show if you weren’t,” the host complies. “Right. So, yea, I have this concern that has something to do with the color of your couches,” the guest continues. “Oh. I see, and what is it about the color of my couches that is of such great concern?” the host humors. “Yea, see look. I mean, your show is the only show I do watch on late-night television, and the thing I’ve sort of noticed is that a lot of your male guests wears suits that are very close to the color of your sofas, which sort of suggests that maybe the color of the sofas weren’t a great choice. I mean, it’s sort of distracting when a guest almost matches the couches. It makes the guest either look cheap, like, ‘Why does this guy own a suit the same color of sofas on a soundstage?,’ you know?” the guest explains. “Ah ha! I see what you mean. Yes, you, too, have fallen prey to the matchy-ness tonight,” the host jests. “No,” the guest clarifies, “I don’t lie, I watch your show, and look, my suit exactly matches the color of these couches. I even had my manager call your people to find out exactly what color these couches are so that I could buy a suit in exactly the same color. See, it’s like I’m part of your set,” the guest laughs forcibly. “Okay, okay. So, then what color are these couches?” the host asks curiously; “I genuinely don’t know.” “It’s cerulean!” the guest exuberantly states while cheering for himself. “Ah, I see. Well, I suppose there’s not much I can personally do about it, but I’ll be sure to bring it up at the next staff meeting,” the host concedes, and continues, “I’ve gotta say, you are the first person to mention this seemingly outrageous problem to our attention.” The guest feigns ignorance, “Am I really? Wow, that’s sort of incredible. Well, you know, I always just like to do what I can.” “That you do,” the host agrees, and directs, “Well, we have to take a quick break now, but maybe you can hang out with us a bit more and share more discrete observances. And then we’ll talk about why you’re really here. We’ll be right back, folks!”

“Later this year, if you don’t know it already, you know it now … the greatest movie of all time, featuring the greatest actors of all time, depicting the greatest moment of all time hits every big screen across and around the globe. Pay money to see it, or don’t see it at all! The Greatest Movie, Ever! Coming soon to a screen near you.”

“I always start my day around six-thirty in the morning. I usually wake up feeling relaxed and rejuvenated through the last step of each night, which will be the last step of this video. So, what I’m saying is that even though I wake up feeling so rested from my nightly routine, I don’t necessarily feel fresh and lively. Therefore, the most important part of my morning is the first ‘H’ — HYDRATION. Now, let me be clear, hydration is key throughout the entirety of your day, but hydrating fully, first thing in the morning, will change your life. I soooo totally promise. Since I’m such an avid supporter of keeping one’s self hydrated and well-lubricated to take on the day, I first sip water out of this Brand Name water bottle that sits on my nightstand after I fill it with fresh, filtered water the night before. When I wake up, I sit up in my bed and just drink as much water as I can. Sometimes I drink a little too much and then have a funny feeling stomach after my first cup of coffee, but that’s okay. I always feel much better after some breakfast.

“The next ‘H’ stands for HOLISTIC. When I think of holistics, I think wholeness, you know? Like I think of a full-body experience, and that experience comes in the form of a cleanliness. My favorite products come in a Brand Name set that includes cleansers and moisturizers for everything from my face all the way down to my toes. Obviously, the cleansing step needs to be gentlest on the face and strongest on the feet. So, this Brand Name set makes the whole, haha, get it, whole process really easy, which I think makes the system very holistic. There are six bottles included within the set, two for each area of the body. They’re color coded too, so the two face bottles are this gorgeous light blue, the body bottles are this incredible blue blue, and the foot bottles are this, almost like majestic, deep sea blue. Take the face bottles and just cleanse and then moisturize the face. Do the same on your body and your feet, and there you have it! A holistic cleansing system to start off your day while showering and maintaining a holistic sense of cleanliness.

“Now, as your day progresses, different sorts of challenges will come your way, and it’s important to set aside time to HEAL, the third ‘H,’ like right?, to my ‘Four Hs’ for beauty. You know, like how some days are just filled with toxic people or toxic situations? I mean, some days are just totally awesome, but still it’s good to heal from the constant giving of yourself throughout the day. No matter who you are, you give give give, all the time, usually without giving it much thought, you know? So, I think it’s really important to find time throughout your day to heal, and my favorite way to heal is to wash my hands. I love how washing your hands is like a metaphor for washing your sins or washing off the grime from your day. So, that is absolutely why I love Brand Name hand cleanser. I mean, just look at this perfect, purse-sized packaging. It’s just perfect and beautiful. So, I just keep this in my purse so that whenever I need a little moment of healing, I’ll find a washroom where I can wash my hands. Then, the best part is that I then use Brand Name lotion to really set in the rejuvenation. When I return to the world after washing and moisturizing my hands with Brand Name hand cleanser, I always feel healed, ready to take on whatever more the day throws at me. I totally know that it will help you too!”

“Welcome back to My Late-Night Spectacle. We’re here with one of the greatest actors of all time! He will be seen later this year in, The Great Movie, Ever. We have a clip from the movie to show all of you,” the host opens; “Is there anything you’d like to say before we roll it? Do you want to set it up somehow?” “No, not really,” the guest admits. “Alright, then. Here it is for your viewing pleasure,” the host introduces.”

“Later this year, if you don’t know it already, you know it now … the greatest movie of all time, featuring the greatest actors of all time, depicting the greatest moment of all time hits every big screen across and around the globe. Pay money to see it, or don’t see it at all! The Greatest Movie, Ever! Coming soon to a screen near you.”

“Wow!” the host congratulates; “That really looks great.” “Well, thank you, sir,” the host accepts. “I heard that this particular movie only came to be after a huge battle over something. Can you speak to that something at all?” the host asks. “No, not really,” the guest sternly states; “There are matters that ought not be shared in public. I will say this, though, the presumption was that this movie would be the greatest of all time, and so when the producers gave the task to the director to make sure that the movie would be the greatest ever, more than a few battles ensued, if you know what I mean,” the guest alludes. “Well, no we don’t know what you mean, but whatever. We’ve got to get to our musical guest for the night. Thank you so much for being here, man,” the host graciously excuses; “We’re gonna take a quick break, but stick around! When we return, So-And-So performs her new hit single, ‘Such-And-Such’!”

“Music makes the world go ‘round. Music is what makes life special. Access your favorite tunes from the hippest artists anywhere at any time with no fees, no suggests, and no commercials. STAUNCH provides everything you’d ever want to hear, even those songs you never thought you would ever love. Through the range of your device, STAUNCH brings every perfect harmony directly to you at no cost. Simply open your device to the STAUNCH service, and we’ll take care of all your data forever. No payments, no hassle, thank music! STAUNCH, we’re here to give you what you want.”

“Finally, the most important time of my day begins around ten at night when I cut myself off from the world as a small HIATUS. I think it’s important to not be so connected all day, so I usually take a bath, alone, with no distracting elements so that I can enjoy a nice little hiatus away from everything. The product I absolutely adore is Brand Name bath time soaps and suds. I just drop the Brand Name, wonderful smelling, bauble into the tub, and it transports me away from the ugliness in the world, into my own little sanctuary where I can feel beautiful and be beautiful. I mean, that’s the whole point of all of this anyway, right? I want to be as beautiful as I feel, and the Brand Name baubles do it for me every time I need a little escape.

So, there you have it, my ‘Four Hs’ to healthy living! Follow my regimen, and I know that you will find your beauty, too. You can have exactly this same luxurious day if you follow the links on my page where you can buy all of these Brand Name items for yourself. My ‘Four Hs’ for beauty have led me to where I am today. Without them, I don’t know what I’d do. I know you’ll love it too! Alright, well that’s all for this video. I hope you all have a great, beauty-filled day! Muah!”

“And now, please welcome the most popular single of the day on STAUNCH, ‘Such-And-Such,’ performed by the highest-rated artist on STAUNCH, ‘So-And-So,’ here to perform her most popular single.”

If you want to hold tight

Lovers in the moonlight

Givers from the highest height

Reach for something

Reach for anything

If you want to hold tight

Lovers in the moonlight

Reach for everything

[chorus]

Sometimes people never know

Sometimes people never know

What you say

What you say

What you say

You mentioned me out there

Over you my heart tears

Go beyond to face fears

Search for something

Search for anything

You mentioned me out there

Over you my heart tears

Search for everything

[chorus]

Sometimes people never know

Sometimes people never know

What you say

What you say

What you say

All I wanna do is make a move

All I wanna do is see the proof

To feel and share the love of all the world

All the world

All the world

[chorus]

Sometimes people never know

Sometimes people never know

What you say

What you say

What you say

If you want to hold tight

Lovers in the moonlight

Givers from the highest height

Reach for something

Reach for anything

If you want to hold tight

Lovers in the moonlight

Reach for everything

[chorus]

Sometimes people never know

Sometimes people never know

What you say

What you say

What you say

“‘So-And-So,’ ladies and gentlemen! You can access the single on Staunch! Have a great night! See you tomorrow, here in the same place at the same time! Good night!”