Jeremy Suffocates In The Garage

technologies“I wonder if I need to change the oil,” Jeremy thought to himself as he held his car keys in his hand, gathering the courage to put them in the ignition.

Jeremy Tanner, 37, had been unemployed for several months now, and was unable to obtain unemployment benefits. His wife had taken off to LA for a few weeks to work on a project, and now was the only time he’d have to do this. He thought back to when he and his father spent a lot of time in the garage, working on his fathers motorcycle or a go kart or using his fathers wood working skills to make something for scouts. Jeremy smiled, thinking of how much time he’d spent in the garage over the course of his life.

But, with his father dead and his mother living elsewhere now, Jeremy couldn’t get into his childhood garage any longer, as she’d sold the house when she moved. Jeremy sighed and thought back to that garage; he could recall every square inch crystal clearly, the shelving system he and his brother had installed when they were teenagers, and the lighting their father had put in one year. It was so nice. Jeremy could remember all the time he’d spent as a teenager with his friends, laughing, watching TV and listening to music. The door lead directly into the kitchen, and they could often hear his mother cooking or his parents talking.

But this garage? His garage? No personality whatsoever. So bland, so plain, so blah. Jeremy sighed, stuck his keys in the ignition and started the car as he glanced down at the hose that was leading back into the car from the tailpipe, pumping the exhaust into the car with the windows mostly rolled up. He sighed and leaned back in the drivers seat, shutting his eyes. His father would understand, he knew he would, he’d have to. After all, his father had done the same thing only 10 years prior, on this very same day. He knew if anyone would understand, it’d be his dad. Jeremy thought back to the last time he saw his father, which was, coincidentally, in the garage.

His father was putting something together, sitting at his little workshop desk, while Jeremy paced behind him, talking about having just gotten married. He remembered telling his father he was terrified of letting Lana down, about never being good enough for her, and worrying he’d never be as good a dad as his own had. His dad had chuckled, turned around and said, “You don’t have to be a good dad like me, just be a good dad like you.” Jeremy never forgot that, but unfortunately the advice never came into play, as Lana had a miscarriage a few weeks later, and they’d been unable to get pregnant since. That’s part of why she’d gone to LA, was to see a specialist. But now, here he was, ready to end his life, and all because he couldn’t handle the financial burden that was now upon them, and he was worried he’d just take his wife down with him, and felt she deserved better than that. And with that thought, Jeremy drifted off into the long quiet.

When Jeremy opened his eyes, he was laying on a couch. He looked around, his eyesight blurry at first, when he noticed his neighbor, an older man named Robert, coming in from another room, handing him a glass of water.

“Jesus Jeremy, you alright?” he asked.

“What happened?” Jeremy asked, and Robert shrugged.

“Near as I can tell, it looked like you almost suffocated. I opened your garage to find you passed out. I…I was bringing your lawnmower back, and, I was really scared for a bit that you weren’t going to be okay, but Lorraine, she said you’d be fine. Guess that’s what I get for being married to a nurse all these years,” Robert said, as Jeremy took the glass of water and chugged it.

“…you were returning my lawnmower?” Jeremy asked, “…I guess I forgot you borrowed it.”

“You okay?” Robert asked.

“…not particularly,” Jeremy said, sitting up and rubbing his eyes on his shirt sleeve, “…everything is fucked, Rob.”

“You’re alright, everything’s alright. Here, come with me,” Robert said, helping Jeremy up. He lead Jeremy into the kitchen and opened a door that lead into a large garage, in which from the ceiling were hanging what appeared to be at least a hundred or more birdhouses. Robert was grinning, hands on his hips, clearly so pleased with himself. Jeremy was surprised, his eyes wide as they stepped inside.

“The hell is all this?” Jeremy asked.

“This is what I do now,” Robert said, “Felt like I wasn’t worth anything since I retired, felt useless, so I figured I’d do something with my time, something that actually made a difference to somebody that matters.”

“These are incredible,” Jeremy said, “You made all of these yourself?”

“Yeah, well, yeah, I mean, Lorraine paints ’em, but yeah I built ’em,” Robert said, “…she’s not here at the moment, you wanna paint one for me?”

Jeremy smiled, feeling ever so lucky this old man had found him. So Jeremy stayed in Roberts garage that afternoon, and had dinner with him and Lorraine that night. He returned the following day, and the day after that and the day after that and so on. Eventually, he and Robert had made a collection of their own birdhouses and started a beautification project, putting them up in the neighborhood, at the park and selling them at crafts fairs in town.

Sometimes, all it takes is the comfort of a garage to save a life.

I’m Maggie. If you like this thing I made, you might like some other things I make, like my depressing webcomic “In Space, No One Can Hear You Cry”, the satirical online newspaper of “Nowhere, US”, my podcast “Coping With Tonal Shifts In Reality” or my writing over at Medium. You can also find some published work for sale over at my Payhip.

Wanna donate to me directly? You can do that via PayPal! Wanna support me ongoing month to month and get content early? You can do that via Patreon! Wanna support me but can’t do it continuously? You can do that via Buy Me A Coffee! Thanks for whatever you can spare, I really appreciate it!


Bird Watching For Beginners


Buy this story at Payhip!

So one of the things I’ve decided to do throughout the year is release a short story every month over on my Payhip, for a dollar fifty each. The fifty cents is essentially to cover the service fees, so really, you’ll be paying me a dollar per story. Anyway, each story will generally run between 5k and 10k and they will rotate out every month. What this means is that the story for February will only be available until March, at which point it’ll be replaced by March’s story, and then be unavailable to read. So, if anyone is interested in helping a damn near poverty stricken lesbian continue her disgusting art habit, maybe you could do me a solid and go buy a story? I also will be releasing some more stuff on Payhip later this month too, so keep checking back for more content!

This months story is “Bird Watching For Beginners”, which is about Krystal Cummings, a woman who has lost her sister and now spends her winters watching birds at her family’s cabin. She’s enjoying herself when a hunter, Jared, shows up and the two get to talking, learning they have much more in common than they ever would’ve expected. A story about siblings and birds, ringing in at 20 pages and almost 5k words, it’s a quick little read for anyone interested.

So yeah, I’d be super appreciative of any sales and any help! Thanks and I hope you enjoy the content I bring you!

I’m Maggie. If you like this thing I made, you might like some other things I make, like my depressing webcomic “In Space, No One Can Hear You Cry”, the satirical online newspaper of “Nowhere, US”, my podcast “Coping With Tonal Shifts In Reality” or my writing over at Medium. You can also find some published work for sale over at my Payhip.

Wanna donate to me directly? You can do that via PayPal! Wanna support me ongoing month to month and get content early? You can do that via Patreon! Wanna support me but can’t do it continuously? You can do that via Buy Me A Coffee! Thanks for whatever you can spare, I really appreciate it!



Life Is A Series Of Junk

“What the fuck is it?” Sandy asked, chewing her nails as she and Derek stood over a table at the same flea market they hit every other weekend. Her free hand on her hip, her baseball cap shielding her eyes from the sun, she still couldn’t make out exactly what she was looking at. Derek was playing with the sleeves hanging from the flannel over shirt she’d tied around her waist.

“I think it’s what we in the industry refer to as…’crap’,” he finally said, making her chuckle.

“It’s a loom,” the older woman coming out of the camper behind the table said, as she opened her lawn chair and took a seat, “It’s used to weave thread, make blankets, clothes, that kind of shit.”

“Oh, that’s cool,” Sandy said as she moved down the table, continuing to look at things while Derek stood over the loom, looking down, until he heard a lighter flick a few times and noticed the older woman trying to light her cigarette. She was maybe in her late 40s, and had curly blonde hair and oval glasses. She crossed her legs as she lifted the cigarette to her lips and took a long drag.

“So, what, you’re some sort of seamstress?” Derek asked and the woman laughed, shaking her head.

“Hand making clothes in this day and age? What’re you, stupid? No, this is just an amalgamation of my moms and grandmothers crap. You know how it is, you try and work for a number of years but that isn’t enough so now you try and sell the things you never wanted to sell because of the emotional attachment you’ve got to them since the people they belonged to are gone now, simply to make enough money to buy a frozen dinner because nothing in this country is cheap anymore,” the woman said and Derek nodded.

“I do indeed know how it is,” he said, “It’s ridiculous that people older than me have to live the same way that I do, or worse. At that age you should be at least semi well off enough to be able to take care of yourself and not worry, but no. It’s sick.”

“Is it hard?” Sandy asked, coming back and holding a ceramic pug in her hands, “Also how much is this?”

“That’s 2 bucks and the loom is 35,” the woman said, shrugging, “Can’t charge too much or you’re just as exorbitant as the people you’re badmouthing. You just can’t fuckin win anymore.”

“Is it hard? Ya know, to…to make clothes?” Sandy asked, “I teach ballet, and I’d like to maybe make some costumes by hand for some productions in the fall. Is it hard? Does it come with, like, an instruction manual or something?”

“Uh, ya know what, there might be actually, lemme go check,” the woman said, rising from her seat and heading back into the camper. Derek slid his hands into his pockets and rocked back and forth on his feet, glancing at the ceramic pug in Sandys hands.

“The fuck is that ugly thing?” he asked.

“Don’t talk that way about Maurice,” Sandy said, gently petting it, “He’s my child and I love him.”

“Here we go!” the woman said, hauling a small accordion container out of the camper, “I knew there were some instructions with it! God bless packrat grandmothers, am I right? Now I have tons of crap to haul around and sell only just enough of it at a price low enough to just break even on gas money.”

Derek watched Sandy pull out her wallet and start to pay the woman. Her teaching gig was paying pretty well these days, and Derek wasn’t doing too terribly himself, but their funds weren’t anything to be wowed by just yet, not even close. The woman, Pam, said she’d help them carry the loom to their car, since they had no other way to get it there and Sandy was already holding the ceramic pug. As Pam lifted the loom and the three of them headed off through the crowd of people, for the first time in a long time, things felt pretty okay.

“So, you two come here often?” Pam asked.

“Try to every other weekend,” Derek said, “We’re bleeding hearts for piles of junk.”

“It’s why we’re dating,” Sandy said, making Pam smile, “But yeah, we try to buy things on the cheap and even though you’re right, it’s not fair the markdown you have to give your own belongings just to try and survive, it’s still cheaper than a department store. Plus, I don’t know where the fuck I’m gonna find a loom without getting into a time machine and traveling back to Salem.”

Derek stopped, trying to remember if they were in fact going in the right direction to reach the car. Just then as they waited, Sandy felt a tug at her pants leg and turned to see a little girl, maybe seven years old in overalls with braided hair looking up at her. Derek and Pam continued to discuss the direction while Sandy knelt down to the girls eye level.

“Are you okay, sweetheart?” Sandy asked.

“I need help,” the girl said, “You’re a girl, so I can trust you. I don’t know where my parents are.”

“Okay, uh…just hold on right here for a second, alright?” Sandy asked, standing back up and tapping Derek on the shoulder, then thumbed over her shoulder at the girl. Pam and Derek craned their necks over her shoulders and saw the little girl, both realizing what they were getting into. Finally, after a few moments of discussion, Sandy turned back around and knelt back down to the girl.

“Okay, I want you to take my hand and we’re going to walk around and see if we can find them, alright? Do you remember where you saw them last?” she asked, and the little girl nodded, smiling, making Sandy feel all the more maternal, “Alright then, take my hand and grip it firmly. We’ll find your parents, I promise.”

The four of them continued walking, now with a different goal besides the car in mind.

“There were lots of lamps,” the girl said, “They were looking at lamps, and there was an old guy with a hat, but it was wide, like my grandpa wears when he’s fishing.”

“Okay, that just about describes every single guy here,” Derek said, making Pam chuckle as she finally tossed her cigarette to the ground and stomped it out with her boot.

Sandy sighed and looked down at the girl. She looked remarkably like herself as a child, and it bothered her, but she wasn’t sure why. See, Sandy’s mother wouldn’t have ever let her out of her sight. Her mother was like a hawk, never letting Sandy do anything on her own, always planning her entire life to a tee; her outfits, her playdates, her meals. For a split second, Sandy wanted to take this girl and save her from this life, but then she quickly remembered that this girl wasn’t her.

Suddenly, in the midst of this crowd, Sandy realized she’d lost Derek and Pam, and she and the girl were alone in the middle of this entire flea market between everyone else. The girl was looking around, but Sandy’s eyes were glued to this girl. Sandy looked around for a moment, trying to see if she could see hide or hair of Derek or Pam, and when she looked back, she found herself staring this girl in the eyes, and the girl had her childhood face.

Sandy start to breath faster and faster. Her chest tightened, her fingers wrapped around the ceramic pug started to twinge. She was having an anxiety attack and Derek was nowhere to be found. Sandy fell to her knees, unable to look back up, unsure if she was scaring this little girl now, and then suddenly, she felt the girls little hand on her head. Sandy looked up and the girl was standing there, her face normal again.

“You seem scared,” she said, “I was scared, but you helped me, so I’m helping you. Don’t be scared, okay?”

And then Sandy felt a hand on her shoulder. She looked up and saw a man in a suit looking down at her, trying to help her up. As she wobbled to her knees, the man held her by her shoulders and looked in her eyes firmly.

“Are you okay?” he asked, “Ma’am?”

“I…think so…yeah,” Sandy managed to whimper. She watched a woman approach the little girl and scoop her up, squeezing her tightly as the man smiled at Sandy.

“Thank goodness. We saw you with our daughter from across the crowd because you were on your knees and people were starting to stare. Are you sure you’re okay?” he asked again.

“I’m fine, yes,” Sandy said, “Are you-”

“Yeah, we’re Anna’s parents,” the man said, “I’m Arthur. Thank you so much for staying with her, I couldn’t imagine if somebody much worse had-”

“Sandy!” Derek said, finally reaching her and hugging her, kissing her cheeks, “Are you alright? What happened? I turned around and you were gone!”

“I’m okay…” Sandy said, “Can we just go please?”

“Yeah, yeah Pam helped me find the car, everything’s all loaded and everything,” Derek said. As he took her hand and started to leave, Sandy felt the man slip something into her hand. As she walked away with Derek, she looked back at Anna as she smiled and waved, being carried off in the opposite direction by her mother, and then her eyes wandered down to what Arthur had pushed into her hand. It was a business card. Arthur Portis, Psychologist. Once they’d said goodbye to Pam and paid her, Derek and Sandy got into their car and started on their way home. Halfway there, it began to rain. As Sandy rested her face against the window, watching the raindrops race one another down the glass, stroking the ceramic pug with her hands, she couldn’t get the girls face out of her mind, her own mothers voice running through her head.

“Sandy, do you wanna stop and get dinner on the way home?” Derek asked, “Oh, also, I texted Brittney and she said she has a ton of extra cloth and stuff for you, so…Sandy?”

Sandy was far away, remembering the afternoon she’d gone outside in her ballet slippers for only a split second to pet their neighbors dog, a pug, and before she knew it, her mothers hand was gripped around her wrist like shark teeth, her nails digging into Sandy’s soft skin, screaming at her for getting dirt and mud on her ballet slippers before recital. Because of this, she didn’t let Sandy go to practice recital, and instead Sandy sat upstairs in her bedroom, staring at her slippers hanging from the wall, caked with dirt, tears in her eyes and swore she’d one day succeed at dancing, simply so she could spite her mother, proving that no matter what she did to her, she’d never take dance away from her.

Sandy fell asleep before they got home. When she awoke, she found Derek had carried her inside, made her some tea and put her in bed. She was still hugging the ceramic pug to her chest. She cried, but only for a few minutes, and then she fell back asleep.

Sandy Price was in recovery, and it was slow and it was hard, but she knew in the end it’d be worth it, no matter what it took to get there.

I’m Maggie. If you like this thing I made, you might like some other things I make, like my depressing webcomic “In Space, No One Can Hear You Cry”, the satirical online newspaper of “Nowhere, US”, my podcast “Coping With Tonal Shifts In Reality” or my writing over at Medium.

Wanna donate to me directly? You can do that via PayPal! Wanna support me ongoing month to month and get content early? You can do that via Patreon! Wanna support me but can’t do it continuously? You can do that via Buy Me A Coffee! Thanks for whatever you can spare, I really appreciate it!


Jessica Throws Herself Down A Well

technologiesJessica Thrush stretched her arm out over its pitch black opening, only barely lit by the dim flashlight she had shaking in her other hand, and opened her clenched fist to allow the pebbles to fall into the well.

After a few minutes, she heard them hit the ground, faintly, and smiled to herself. She put the flashlight on the edge of the well, and took her brown leather jacket off, tossing it on the ground. She then began to pace back and forth as she started to put her hair up in a ponytail, mumbling to herself. She finally stopped, looked at the well and approached it again, leaning over, looking back down the hole. She walked farther away, flashlight in hand, and then beamed it back at the dilapidated house, the shingles sliding off the roof, the paint peeling, the windows somewhat broken. She felt herself get choked up, and quickly shut it down. Jessica started to head towards the house, and pushed on the door, but it wouldn’t budge. She put all her strength into her right shoulder and pushed her way through, realizing that some boards from the second floor had fallen down and wedged themselves between the floor and the door, causing it to be stuck.

As Jessica looked around at the house that used to be hers, recognizing that nobody else had been here in years. She let her flashlights faded beam dance across the rotting wallpaper, landing on the fireplace mantel, where it finally settled on a box sitting on the mantel. Jessica walked over to it and cautiously removed it from the mantel, then made her way to the middle of the living room, sitting down in the middle of the floor, cross legged, and put the end of the flashlight in her mouth. She slowly opened the old box, and inside was a twirling ballerina. The old music she’d left here was still here, and still functional. She wiped the tears from her eyes, her mascara rubbing off on the sides of her hand, and stood up, heading upstairs now.

This was where it’d all been. The only good memories she’d had of her life. Not because of the people she was with here, but because of the place itself. Because of how good the place had made her feel. In the open fields at night, looking at the stars, and in the open fields in the day, looking for birds. Sitting in the upstairs bedroom with her sister, reading or doing puzzles. Sitting with their parents at the breakfast table, laughing and happy. But that was then, and this was now, and now the house was gone, her family was gone, and her will was gone.

When she opened the door to her old bedroom, she half expected to see her sister sitting inside, still reading magazines or listening to records on their grandpas old record player, but no. It was just as empty and run down as every other part of the house. On the old desk they’d left behind, she ran her fingertips across a phrase they’d etched into the wood the night before they left. “Home again, home again, jiggity jig.” She let a smirk skip across her lips as she read it, and then looked at where their old bed was. The place they sat, discussing their first kisses, her sisters first time, and were read stories by their mom at night. But once again, it wasn’t so much the people involved, as much as it was the bed itself. The room. This place had once held so much light, and now it was black as the depths of space itself. After a few moments of running her palm across the decaying wallpaper with the carousel horses on it, she finally let herself head back downstairs.

As Jessica exited the house, she put the music box on the edge of the well and took a long, deep breath. Why wouldn’t she be buried with her family? Why wouldn’t she want to be with them, if she’d loved them so much? Because Jessica wanted to be here. She wanted her final resting place to be the place she’d been happiest. This, to her, was where her life had began, and where she wanted it to end. Jessica walked back to the well, looked into the hole again and sighed. Home isn’t just a place, it’s a feeling, and no place had given her that feeling like this one had. This was her home. This was her casket. Besides, if you believed in the afterlife, she didn’t have to be buried with her family anyway, she’d see them no matter where her physical body landed.

“Home again, home again, jiggity jig,” she muttered under her breath as she shut her eyes, clenched her fists and let herself lean forward, falling headfirst into the well to her death.

This is the first piece in a series I’m doing called “Irrational Attachment To Places”, mostly inspired by this Medium article I wrote recently. These will continue sporadically here and on Medium. If you liked this, you could also check out my webcomic, “In Space, No One Can Hear You Cry”, or my communal site “Sad Party”, where I encourage others to share their sadness so others don’t feel alone.


So She Made Planets

She can create planets on a whim.

She’s had this ability for as long as she can remember. She can recall the first time she made a star, while playing outside one soft summer afternoon, at her daycare, waiting for her mother to come and pick her up. Everyone acts like it’s something special, but it isn’t, not once you’ve done a hundred thousand times, it becomes just as mundane as any other talent or skill. She can remember sitting with some other kids during lunchtime in elementary school, wowing them with her abilities to be able to create meteors from thin air. She became a magic trick; something kids asked for at their birthday parties, something adults used when out of town family members dropped in and wanted an experience. But she didn’t mind, she liked the attention, and she liked showing off her abilities.

There’s no life on her planets. They’re barren and cold, desolate, uninhabitable. All of these things are small, no bigger than a softball, but still, they’re hers, and she loves them. She spent a lot of her teenage girls in her bedroom, record player on repeat, laying on her back on the floor, just reaching up into the air above her face and creating entire galaxies. A black hole here, a milky way there, a star system, an asteroid field, you name it and she’d make it. She could entertain herself for hours with this. As with all novelties though, it faded with time. Life overtakes hobbies. The things that make you happiest fall by the wayside, even if they’re magical and not mundane in the slightest. She had to study. She had to date. She had to graduate, get into college and get a job. Not because she wanted any of this, but because everyone told her to.

“Making stars isn’t going to guarantee you a future,” they’d tell her, “People want real work skills.”

Resume after resume, essay after essay, lecture after lecture…spending countless, sleepless nights in the school library, trying to finish that paper due the following morning and instead finding herself blipping whole new worlds into creation in the palm of her hand, with the flip of her wrist. It got to the point where it didn’t bring her happiness, because it wasn’t what was “supposed” to bring her happiness. Marriage. A family. A career. Those were what happiness was to be reserved for. Not making stars. Not making planets. After a while, she’d spend all day long at work, come home and go to sleep. Go out with friends. Go out on dates. Soon she never made stars at all.

And then one day, she found she just didn’t want to, and this upset her even more. How could something so special, something so many people had, at one point in time, fawned over her for and told her was unique, was a gift, become so…so boring and unwanted? Even to the person who controlled said gift? Nothing lasted. People came and went. Jobs began and ended. Now she just sits on her bedside, in the dark, in her pajamas, repeatedly making planets and stars and meteors for the sake of doing something, anything at all, and not feeling totally and completely useless.

And then one night, she made a planet, and it was inhabited. This had never happened before. The people on it, they appreciated their existence, they thanked her graciously, they’d needed her to be. She was useful. Important. They enjoyed what she’d given them. They enjoyed her. She was loved. She created another and another and another, filling her bedroom over the following weeks with tiny, inhabited planets, and finally accepting this was who she was. She wasn’t like all the other people. She could do things they couldn’t do. She could make planets.

So she made planets.

And she was fine with that.


Let Myself Be Eaten By Coyotes

Maybe if I just lay here long enough, stay quiet enough, I could just let myself be eaten by coyotes,” Nina thought, laying on the dirt in the middle of the field. She’d driven out here with no real reason in mind, and now didn’t know if she wanted to even go back. She wasn’t even sure she could find her way back in this darkness, given the lack of signage way out here. Nina dug her fingers deep into the dirt, feeling the cool night breeze wafting over her, gently blowing her bangs across her eyes.

Maybe they’ll eat me, and they’ll be starving, and the meal they get from me could save them, finally rendering me useful in some grand fashion,” she thought, “And then some day someone will come out here and find my bones, or I’ll just be buried under the dirt forever and nobody will ever know what happened to me.

Nina felt a bug crawling on her unsleeved arm, and looked over to see a large beetle stopped on her arm, looking around. She sat up and held her arm in front of her, staring at this beetle intensely. After a few minutes, she picked it up with her other hand and put him back down on the dirt and watched him quickly scurry off into the darkness. She felt herself shiver and she grabbed her jacket off the hood of her car, pulling it over her tanktop. She stood up and walked to her car door, pulling it open and getting inside, searching for a radio station but getting nothing; just static. She exhaled loudly and brushed her bangs out of the way, then reached into her backpack and pulled out a tape recorder. She got back out of the car, sighed, cleared her throat and clicked ‘record’, pacing back and forth.

“My name is Nina Turan,” she said clearly, “I’m 35, and I’m a Pisces. I’m recording this on the unlikelihood that someone finds it and cares enough, or knows how, to press ‘play’ on something this fucking antiquated. I’m…going out of my mind with frustration, of every kind. General frustration, employment frustration, physical frustration, sexual frustration. You name it, and I’m frustrated by it. But that’s not why I’m doing this. Frustration can easily be overcome with the right mixture of techniques. I’m going to blow myself up in my car, and not because of frustration but because of sheer boredom.”

She pressed ‘stop’ and took a long, deep breath, wiped her forehead on her jacket sleeve and then resumed recording.

“Not boredom like ‘I just have nothing to do tonight’ sort of boredom but more like…I’ve experienced everything I’d care to at this point in life and now it’s like 50 years of this same shit day in and day out and that’s just not for me. And I’m not gonna become a cliche, like some YA novel, and just take off on a road trip, as if a few thousand miles in a jacked up Volvo with an 80s mixtape could easily solve all of my angst. See, up to a point in life, everything is a brand new experience, everything is exciting and a first. Your first car, first kiss, first sexual experience, first apartment, first job, all of that shit. Then, you hit this peak where it’s nothing but repeats. It’s like your life was canceled and sent into late night syndication on a channel that barely comes in anyway.”

She pressed ‘stop’ again and sat on the hood of her car, surveying the empty field before continuing on.

“Then there’s everyone around you who acts like they want what’s best for you, but only because they want it for themselves. Parents are a great example, saying things like ‘you don’t want to die, what about have children? a family?’ but not because they think you’ll actually enjoy it, but more because they want grandchildren. They want to be a part of society, the grandparent portion of life, and they couldn’t give less than two shits how having children affected your life. I can’t take care of children. I can barely take care of myself. Sorry mom, too bad. Life, society, has far more expectations for me than I have ever had for myself. That’s fucked up.”

She pressed ‘stop’ again and looked around, running her hands through her dark curly brown hair, unsure of how to finish this note to…no one in particular, really. She had also just seen a flaw in her plan, which was where the fuck was she going to leave this? Just in the dirt, next to a burning pile of metal and human remains? Jesus. She could never do anything right it seemed, not even kill herself. There was always something to fuck up. She pressed ‘record’ once more.

“Anyway, I guess that about sums it up. If anyone actually ever finds and listens to this, let it be known that once again my name is, was, Nina Turan. I was 35, with brown curly hair, I liked alternative music and I fucking hated Russel Crowe with a burning passion that could only be likened to that which Americans hate religious tolerance of any religion that isn’t their own. Thanks for listening. Goodbye.”

She pressed ‘stop’ once again and slid off the hood of her car. She took her jacket off, wrapped the tape record in it and put it on the dirt, gently patting it before getting back up and walking to the tailpipe of her car. She pulled out a bottle of alcohol, a rag and a lighter, lit the rag and stuffed it into the bottle of alcohol a certain length so it’d eventually explode when the two finally touched. Nina then shoved the bottle into her tailpipe, then got into her car and put her forehead on the steering wheel. She knew it’d only take a few minutes, and she raced through everything in her life that had ever happened. Every memory she had, good or bad, and knew she was making the right choice.

She heard a howl and looked up, seeing a coyote standing outside in front of the car. Their eyes appeared to lock with hers, and she slowly got out of the car and waved her arms at it, trying to shoo it away, but it wasn’t moving. She finally picked up a rock and tossed it at it.

“Get out of here you stupid fucking mutant dog!” she shouted, and after a moment the coyote finally turned tail and ran. She sighed, rubbed her forehead and then heard the explosion of the car behind her. She turned to see the car engulfed in flames, and completely destroyed.

“God dammit,” she mumbled, before picking up her jacket and the tape recorder and starting to walk down the road, “Now I’m gonna be late for work tomorrow.”


Now Is Not The Best Time

Sandy Price was laying in the bed, hands folded on her chest, breathing slowly, eyes glued to the stucco ceiling overhead. She could remember it clearly. She could remember everything clearly. She rolled over and looked at Derek, asleep, and grimaced. She got out of bed and walked softly to the kitchen, where she took a glass out from the cupboard, walked to the sink, looked at it for a moment and then instead reached under the sink for the gin. She poured herself a glass and walked to the large window at the end of the living room of their studio apartment, glancing out at the city. Sandy had always liked the city at night. She’d always liked night, in general, but especially the city. How it lit up, looked so vibrant and welcoming and warm. She now knew it wasn’t, but as a little girl, it comforted her to think that there was this place that was so safe and cozy.

She sipped her gin and heard a groan behind her. She turned to see Derek standing in the door frame between the living room and the bedroom. She sighed as he rubbed his eyes and approached her.

“Are you ok? Why’re you up?” he asked, and she shrugged.

“Why not,” she replied, “What’s the point of sleeping. Doesn’t make me feel any better. All my dreams are terrible. Might as well be awake at a time when I actually enjoy looking at the shithole we live in,” she said, motioning her hand with the drink in it towards the cityscape.

“Is this about Rufus?” Derek asked, hushed, like he was afraid of what would come next. As if saying this name would spawn forth from the depths of hell a million demons hellbent on the destruction of the earth, and often when regarding Sandy’s anger, that wasn’t a far off analogy. Sandy slowly turned back to the window and swirled the gin in her glass.

“Rufus has nothing to do with any of this,” she said coldly, “Besides, how could he be involved in anything when he’s a thousand miles away…when did I get so cold? When did we get so cold, and not just you and but the proverbial ‘we’. Nobody asks how another persons day was anymore, and nobody seems to provide simple acts of human kindness like holding doors open for old people. This isn’t a rant about the death of humanity, god knows that’s been overdone to death by bleeding heart liberals writing for websites with cutesy names like ‘Boodles’ or something. I’m a liberal too, but I’m not the kind who thinks simple technological advances like smart phones are going to cause the death of conversation.”

Derek sat down on the arm of a chair and rubbed his shoulder, sighing.

“What is this about then? Just how distant you feel about everything?” he asked, and she rolled her eyes and snorted.

“Yeah, distant, let’s go with that. Everyone wants personal space in a city that thrives on community. There’s nothing wrong with privacy, everyone is entitled to it, it’s their right to want to have their own time and their own space, but engagement, even on a level as simple as saying ‘nice day, isn’t it?’ is so crucial to simply keeping the lines of communication between our own fucking species going. We cannot allow ourselves to become this cut off from another. Those girls I teach…”

Sandy sat down on the window sill and looked at her nails, exhaling loudly.

“…they don’t judge one another,” she continued, “They help one another figure out their moves if they’re having trouble, and they rally around one another as a team to support eachother and the team as a whole. People say evil is taught. That’s debatable. But what I can tell you is actually taught is cynicism. Bitterness. Coldness. It happens when you’ve been hurt one too many times, when you want to withdraw because you feel you can no longer trust anyone; including yourself, because you keep making the poor decision to open up to just one more person, always knowing the end result is the same.”

“Sandy,” Derek said, “…did I hurt you? I know we’ve had our problems, but we’ve always worked it out one way or another. I know Rufus hurt you. I’m sorry. But how can you stand there and honestly claim that the end result is the same when you live with someone who cares about you tremendously and only has your best interests at heart?”

“…you’ll leave too,” Sandy said softly, letting her hair cover her face so she could hide, “You will. Someone can only put up with negativity for so long before ‘love’ turns to ‘tolerate’. I try so hard to be who you think I am, who you would love for me to be, but it’s not me. I’m an angry, upset young lady. Is that really who you love? Or do you just love the idea you have of me?”

Derek stood up and walked over to the window sill, sitting in it with her, looking out the window at the city lights.

“Remember a few years ago when we went with my folks to that ski resort? We spent a lot of the time inside, just sitting by that giant fire pit, sipping cocoa and reading and just…enjoying something for once without worrying about the financial ramifications? You looked really pretty with that fire light flickering on your eyes, curled up in that chair, just sucked into your literature.”

“What’s with the nostalgia kick?” Sandy asked, swirling her index fingertip inside her empty glass, “You think this is how we fix our problems?”

“I’m just trying to get you to remember something nice, that’s all. If we could go on vacations like that as often as our parents could at our age, I would love it. You want to dance, you want to teach girls to dance, but then you go to work and you seem so miserable and you only seem happy when you’re alone. When you have no responsibilities.”

“So you’re saying my argument is hypocritical?” Sandy asked, sniffling.

“Well, who isn’t hypocritical?” Derek asked, grinning, “But no, what I’m saying is that a lot of people can’t do both. You can. You do. A lot of people are so…dead inside or something that they just shut off their humanity and do what they must to survive, even if it means only caring about themselves or their family and nobody else. But you can do both, and, hell that’s admirable. You’re mad because you don’t know why everyone else can’t do what you do. That’s what I’m saying. You want to grab them and shake them and scream ‘Why is this so goddamn difficult for you?!’ but that’s the thing, it just is goddamn difficult for them. I agree with you, it’s sad, but…it’s for them to deal with. You keep doing the good that you’re doing, and you’ll feel better I think.”

Sandy pushed her hair out of her face and smiled slightly at Derek, her eyes remarkably pale blue, her skin so pale in the moonlight. She looked out the window again and shook her head.

“Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night and I want to just climb out this window and throw myself to the sidewalk. Just let it all end,” Sandy said, “But then I realize that suicide, at least for me, only seems like a viable option because I am surviving. The others who generally seem to kill themselves really do feel like it’s their only option, or it is their only option, as they’re perpetually unemployed or sick or homeless or something. But I have a place, here, and I have you and I have a job and I…I’m surviving. That’s why it’s an option, and not a necessity.”

“I’m glad you see it that way, because-“

“I miss my mom,” Sandy said, choking up, tears starting to roll down her cheeks, “I called her to talk about my first recital with the girls you saw and…and she wasn’t even in the least bit interested. She called it a ‘hobby’ the entire time. I want to please her so bad and yet I hate her so much. You have your family. Do you know what it’s like to not have family? To be that alone? I have your parents, and you, and the girls at the dance hall but…to not have family. A place you came from, a home…it’s exhausting trying to figure out where you’re supposed to be or even if you’re supposed to be. To not have a place of origin, a backstory, a prologue…is your story even worth reading?”

“You’re worth reading,” Derek said, “You’re the one who pays the majority of the rent on this place, that car is yours, you’re the one with meaningful employment. You’re worth reading. Each chapter it gets better and better, and we can make sure there’s a happy ending.”

“I don’t want to be distant.”

“I don’t want you to be.”

Some dogs barked in the distance, and a few cars drove by underneath them.

“Hey,” Sandy said.

“Yeah?” Derek replied.

“Promise me that if I do ever kill myself, you’ll write my sequel.”