A Blank Page

Yuriko sat in front of her typewriter, staring at the blank page.

The page called to Yuriko, asking for something. Anything. A sentence, a word, even a single letter.

Yuriko had nothing.

It was not for lack of ideas. Yuriko was filled with ideas, carrying a pocket-sized pad of paper to jot them down in, maintaining another list on her phone, and a third list that comprised a stack of napkins and placemats she had collected over time.

But sitting now, in front of the typewriter, all those ideas came welling up to knock Yuriko down. She could not start amid the flurry of thought.

Trying to tame the mind was no good. She had attempted yoga, meditation, playing video games, coffee, reading, everything. But still, sitting in from the of the page left Yuriko struggling for control.

Knowing there was only one way around this, Yuriko lifted her hand. She reached forward, and held her index finger over the “A”. She hesitated. She looked at the A. Then what? she thought. A what?

Lowering her hand, Yuriko left the A untyped. She stood and walked to the kitchen and put the kettle on. A cup of tea, she thought to herself, might help.

The page remained clear.

Art Cream

Misty stared at her ice cream as it dripped down the side of the cone.

She did not buy her ice cream to eat. It had too many calories, and really wasn’t very good ice cream overall. But as an art project, it was pure beauty.

It began as something solid, an ecru colour that held its mounded shape atop the conical wafer. But over time, with the gradual warming effect of the air, the ice cream began to sweat, and then to melt. It certainly tried to resist, first developing frost crystals, but those could not stand up to the forces of its environment.

Misty watched the first drip, then the second, begin to form on the lip of the cone, and now, as they were joined by a third, spill over. The drip crept toward her hand, her thin fingers ready for their cool no-longer-cold.

As the ice cream continued to melt, Misty lifted her camera to take pictures. It was a slow process, this piece of art, but it would be glorious and dramatic, and not a little bit brilliant.

The ice cream continued to melt.

Sauntering Down the Street

Erwin never walked; he only sauntered.

When people saw Erwin coming, they would say to each other, “Here comes ol’ Erwin, sauntering down the street,” or “Mommy, why does that man walk so funny?” “He’s not walking, dear, he’s sauntering.”

It was not unconsciously that Erwin sauntered. He had made a choice, early in life – around three years of age – to not just walk like a normie, but to really draw attention with how he moved. His parents thought he was adorable, until he kept doing it. His siblings were embarrassed. His friends were only of a very particular type.

But as Erwin continued to saunter into adulthood, it served him well. Everyone needs to be set apart, and Erwin was the one who was always remembered in job interviews, on dates, everywhere.

The only time he stopped was when he broke his leg. In a cast, on crutches, one can’t exactly saunter. So, for the briefest of times, Erwin sashayed around on three legs. He didn’t stick with it after the cast was removed, though, as it just didn’t feel comfortable.

Company Picnic

The picnic began, as all picnics do, with a hunt for a place to sit.

At the company picnic, however, everyone was looking for a place to sit, so they continuously ran in to each other. It being a company of headstrong, stubborn individuals, it meant few ever made way for the others. It was, therefore, an hour and a half before everyone was seated and comfortable.

No one was allowed to begin eating before Jules gave a speech, and concluded with the company mantra. Following that, he announced, “And now, we begin the company games! Winner gets a bite of everyone’s spread!”

The winner, of course, was Jules. Everyone remembered the lessons – either real or myth – of ten years’ previous, when everyone who came ahead of Jules was fired.

So Jules took the prize, doing slightly better than the previous year, as he had done for the past nine years. Everyone offered him a bite – or more – of their lunch. Everyone sat nervously as Jules made jokes at which they laughed, asked questions which they answered cautiously, and suggested lifestyle changes which were only feasible by people making the excessive salary Jules earned.

As the picnic began to wound down, Jules demanded people stay. Those who had already left, everyone knew, were now on a list. The HR team prepared themselves for the coming round of hires.

The company picnic was deemed a great success, and everyone, the memo informed them, was looking forward to next year’s.

Father’s Day

The day after Father’s Day was bittersweet for Dion.

His kids loved him. They told him so once per year; twice, if you counted Christmas, though Renata was an atheist now and Jayme was off in South Korea, and hadn’t been home in a couple of years.

But the day after Father’s Day, when he was again alone in his apartment with his television and his thoughts, he felt sad and happy at the same time.

They were there, if he wanted to call. They loved him every other day, though they didn’t really say so. Didn’t feel the need to. Which, Dion would concede, was his own doing, living as he did like a man. All stoicism and strength and refusing to admit to any feelings or emotions or any of that nonsense. Just good, quality manhood. Manliness. Masculinity, for the first twenty years of their lives, and by then it was just too late to do anything else.

But after Father’s Day, Dion wanted to sit and have a bit of a cry, and maybe even talk about things.

Instead he opened another beer, and turned the movie back on.

Tok Tok Tok

A lobster sat in the water, staring out of his tank.

The people walked by, some stopping to look in. The lobster looked back, though they could hardly tell.

Some chatted, others looked disturbed. But some raised a finger, pulled it back, and tapped.

The “tok tok tok” they made reverberated through the water. The lobster’s mind thrummed each time, making him crazy. Several times per day, people did this.

In normal circumstances, it would have been fine. But with this his only interaction with anything, the tapping, and beating on his brain, made the lobster deeply unwell. If any fingers had been able to get in, he would have pinched them clean off in just one little clamp of his claw.

As the people kept tapping, the lobster became more and more crazed. But there was little he could do, until he figured out how to tap back.

Bright Flags

Joanie’s flag was bright, multi-coloured, and altogether terrible for hiding.

It’s not that she often needed to hide with it. But in the midst of a game of capture of the flag, where everyone was trying to steal everyone else’s flags – some 23 flags total – she needed something to keep it in disguise.

The rules were simple: no burying it, no altering it, and no traps around it. The flag had to fly at hand level, and be easily removable. The person who collected the most flags would win, regardless of whether theirs was still theirs or not. And you could only carry one flag at a time – the rest had to be stored in a container at your base, which could be hidden.

Joanie had collected six flags, but with hers drawing others in, she knew it was only a matter of time before her container was found. She tagged people out of her territory as much as possible, maintaining a distance from her container to throw them off, but still, she worried.

As Ada came running in, barreling to the left of Joanie’s position, Joanie knew she would be undone. She ran for the intruder, but just as she reached Ada, Curt came in from the other side to nab her container. Joanie tried, but Ada slipped away. Joanie turned, and made for Curt, but it was too late. He had already emptied her container – the one time a person was allowed to carry more than one flag – and was making his way out of her territory. She could see him splitting the loot to share with Ada.

Joanie frowned, unaware that such alliances were allowed. She looked around, and saw LeShawn looking bereft, his own cache having just been raided. The met eyes. LeShawn nodded. Joanie nodded back. The two jogged toward each other to begin planning their heists.

My Retainer

At this point, I feel like plaque is the only thing holding my retainer together.

It’s an older retainer. Obviously. Not one of those ancient ones that you have to affix to your head, with pieces going around the back and screwing into the skull, or whatever it was they did. But a large hunk of plastic with metal bands attached, that fits over the teeth and is exceptionally obvious if you ever smile while it’s in, which of course, coupled with the braces as precursor, meant a two and a half year period of my life where all my pictures have a dopey closed-mouth smile.

I never wear my retainer while dating. Or that’s not true. I wore it while dating, but not on the nights I spent with her. Only the nights apart, which for were few and far between for the three or so months we were together. I couldn’t afford to look like a dork, because she was very attractive. The fact that she was dating me was a credit to my very occasional charm, and her heavy marijuana use.

I have a face, as they say, for radio.

I think it was after the break-up that I stopped wearing my retainer. Because if I went on another date, they would eventually have to see me with it, and that didn’t end well the first time.

It took a few months after the break-up before I put it in again. My poor teeth, by that point, were so out of alignment, moving a few nanometers a day, that it was an effort to force it in there. I had to keep wearing it every day for four months just to get it to fit in comfortably, properly, again.

It didn’t help that I never washed it, either. I would take it out and toss it in its little plastic holder until the next night, when it was dry again and I’d pop it back in. So over time, the pink plastic of the upper piece and the clear plastic of the lower piece gradually took on a uniform pale yellow colour, like Easter at a smoker’s convention.

I tried to clean it once. Just once. I put it in some denture solution, then after twenty minutes in the effervescence I took it out, pasted up my toothbrush, and scrubbed. A half hour of continued abrasion meant a few chunks came away, but a bit of plastic, a millimeter square, came too.

I knew if I did any more, it would come to pieces. The retainer was maintained only by the plaque from my poorly brushed teeth, and I needed it to keep those teeth in line.

I was relieved when the exposed pink plaqued over again. The plastic was firmly encased.

The plaque continues to build, of course. I can’t get rid of the new stuff. For want of a cleaning, disintegration, or whatever the saying is. I think it’s slowly pushing my teeth further and further out. If I still had wisdom teeth, there might eventually be room for them. As it is, I’m becoming a mandibular Rachmaninoff. I wish there were a way to use that. Does anyone need someone with an excessively large bite?

I like to picture future historians examining my retainer. Perhaps they’ll think it’s the calcified remains of some mutant homo sapiens sapiens. Clearly an herbivore, due to the lack of canines. Just one plate for mashing on things.

These future archaeologists will search in vain for the rest of the skeleton. Meanwhile, future fundamentalists will point to my retainer as evidence that evolution is complete bupkiss, what with the missing skeleton. I’ll just be another re-interpretation in the next evolution of creationist museums.

In any case, the retainer remains my nightly necessity. Until I gather the courage to abandon it, or find the funds to get a new one, I’ll keep putting this mixed-medium piece of orthodontic art in my mouth until I can consume the world.