Category Archives: Fiction


      Francisca 204B

—Which, frankly, is bullshit considering how blind we—not just you; I’m including myself in this—are to the failures of those we love. There’s no way you can just say that. You can’t. You can’t just absolve him of all blame because he buys you things and makes it clear that you’re his in public. You can’t let him get away with shit like this. But first you’ve gotta acknowledge that it’s there. He’s not being fair. Every time he sneaks behind your back and goes out with her, he’s not being fair. Every time he
—He doesn’t sneak. He tells me and I say sure.
—But don’t you see how fucked that is? He asks you. He looks you in the eyes and asks for the slow dissolution of your relationship. And, right now, you’re saying yes. You’re letting him go, and it’s not completely his fault. Until you say something, this one’s on you. And you’ve gotta say something. You can’t just let him get away with shit like this.

            Nicholi 213A

— I think it’s over…I don’t know.
— Do you think she knows that?
— …I think she knows something’s up. I’ve been hanging out with Bethany a lot this past week. We kissed. I don’t feel bad about it.
— Why do you think that is?
— Why I don’t feel bad? Shit, I don’t know. Because I don’t care anymore? I want to, but I just can’t make myself feel bad about the death of something that should have died months ago.
— How many times have you kissed?
— Who? Bethany? Maybe 4. It’s been pretty innocent.
— Do you think Francisca would say that?
— Are you serious? No.
— Well, what would she say then?
— I don’t know….she might want to end it. But I’m not sure she could bring herself to do that. I don’t know…

The counselor inched her way through Francisca and Nicholi as she made her exit down the stairs. Who was that, she said. —A friend. Oh, so you’ve got two now, she said. He asked her what she was getting at. (He thought of the bar, which was closing in an hour.) I think we need to talk, she said. A man, her friend, came out of 204B and made eyes with Francisca. The couple dissolved as he passed through. Nicholi smiled, all teeth. —Looks like I’m not the only one with friends. Will you stop, she asked. We need to talk. Now. Nicholi looked at his watch. 55 minutes. —Yeah, that’s fine. But let’s make it quick.


Robert’s Memoirs

I try to smile when I meet someone new. I believe that it’s good form.

In the past week, I, Robert, have met seven new people. Mary, Alice, Sarah, Nick, Ryan, Mark, Rob. This means I have smiled at least seven times. Each smile was genuine. I am happy to meet new people. For the first few weeks, they are usually exciting.

My wife’s name is Sarah. We have been married for 12 years. She is from Los Angeles and is a ball of energy. She works in retail, and is frequently complimented for her fashion. She lives for those compliments.

I have worked in construction for 15 years. (Here’s a story for you: Sarah and I met when I was renovating her home. She brought me and the boys lemonade everyday, and eventually started inviting just me to stay for dinner. We went on many dates and did not have sex until we are married in 1997. I am strong in my Christian faith.) I love my job, and frequently work unpaid overtime. I have had to go to the hospital four times for job related injuries; each time made me feel like a fallen angel, a laborer for the divine, a convict being nailed to my cross. My work is Holy because I want it to be. I breathe Holiness into existence.

For the first few years, my marriage was exciting. Then it got hard. I poured myself into being a good husband, determined to be nothing like my father. All in all, I’d say me efforts paid dividends. My wife and I have never separated, though on two distinct occasions we came pretty close. People look to us as examples. I enjoy breakfast twice a week with two young fathers who cling to my every word. It is a humbling ritual.

I worked hard in school and had many friends. At graduation, I was nominated Collegiate of the Year, and accepted it with a speech that had everyone in tears. I took pictures with each of my teachers afterwards, and have stayed in touch with all of them (except Dr. Margaret, who is dead. [I spoke at her funeral, and made everyone cry again]). I was scouted out by a large pharmaceutical company right after college, offered a six figure salary. I declined; we didn’t share the same moral vision.

Yesterday, I was hit by a car. I died.[1]

1Despite our pleas, Robert has refused to finish the recording of his memoirs. He was not hit by a car and is not dead; he is just a philosopher. We are told that in a conversation he had with his agent, he said, “Who cares about my life? Why should they? There’s more to be said in what’s left unsaid. The number one thing I want people to learn from me is that life is short and we need to hold it loosely. I can’t just say that. I need to show it. If those damn publishers don’t like it, they don’t have to publish. I don’t care how frustrated the reader is. That’s the problem with readers; they read for redemption. They want happy endings, a digestible Whole. But that’s not how life works. It is complicated, and frustrating, and rarely makes sense (unless you’re a fundamentalist, but then you’re just an ass). If the reader gets annoyed with my ending, then I’ve accomplished my goal. If I get piles of hate mail, I will frame every one. Tell them that!”  His agent told us that, and we decided to publish. We at Farrar, Straus and Giroux hope you understand what Robert is trying to do here, and that you are not too frustrated. (Ed.’s Note)

What Happened in 2015?

"History is written by the victors"- Winston Churchill

Excerpts From A Brief History of The United States: Volume 2 (2000-2999) [1]

The Death of Authority- A Look At The March Revolution of 2015 (Ch. 36, Sec. 2, Pt. A)

…..but in November 2014, Obama found himself face-to-face with the first of many angry students, beneficiaries of the same higher education plan he had instated on March 23rd of that year…..these students, a handful of undergrads from colleges in the Boston (present-day Sector 10) area, were the small beginnings of the Student Resistance….

….Paul was shot and killed in Washington D.C (the capital of the USA until 2058) on September 13, 2015, effectively putting to rest the remnants of the Resistance…..

…..President Obama refused to comment on the Harvard fire, until his infamous outburst near the end of his final term……

….The attitude of the Resistance, one of bitter, educated opposition, was new to the American people. Never before had they witnessed the coupling of intellect and brawn, the progression of ideology through the medium of thoughtful rebellion….

……12 killed in San Fran……

…..On March 1st, 2015 the Revolution began when hundreds of students gathered in Kenmore Park. The meeting was a response to a conference that had been given at Harvard University in late January by radical leaders, including Noam Chomsky and Slavoj Zizek. The conference called for an alignment of thought and deed, a call that, ironically, led to the rejection of the speakers themselves (in accordance with the ideological rejection of all authority, which was now, finally, being put to practice)…..

……”We are practicing what you preach!” shouted an angry student at Dr. Benhabib, professor of philosophy at Yale University.….

….[the] erosion of authority was believed to have begun with the rise of modernity in the 15th century. However, the practical consequences of said erosion did not take hold until the mid 21st century. The March Revolution of 2015 is cited as one of the first major practical consequences of Second-Wave erosion, which was brought in by post-modernity in the late 1990’s…..

………Paul Kennedy, a major leader of the Revolution, was raised in the suburbs of New York, by his mother, who worked at……

……..The Revolution remained rooted in the East Coast, but quickly spread across the nation. By March 10th, there were 423 participating institutions, each committed to doing destruction to the intellectual and physical authorities of their region………

……..A swarm of Molotov Cocktails were lobbied through the window of the School of Comparative Zoology, which, within hours, led to the total destruction of Harvard’s School and Engineering and Applied Sciences. Over the subsequent days, many schools followed suit.……

…….Revolution of 2015 is known by students today as, effectively, the Death of Authority. As citizens of the reformed communitarian anarchistic States, we owe much to the brave intellectuals of 2015……

……hypothesize that the Harvard conference had sparked the revolution not for any reason specific to it; rather, the conference had been the straw that broke the camel’s back, the result of culminated angst amongst the Millennial Generation. Two years prior to the March Revolution, a nationwide sit-in (the “Occupy” movement) had given social scientists a picture of the civil Geist, revealing the frustration that was latent in the average civilian’s mind…..

……Police released smoke and rubber bullets, to no avail….

…….In mid April, 2015, the last of the institutions of higher learning, Kenyon College, were sent to ashes. Thus ended the era of intellectual authority; tilling the soil for the Anarchist Rise of 2058…..

…..1.3 million reported dea……

…..(Socio)(psycho)(anthropo)logists have been struck by the secular v. religious reactions to the March Revolution. Somewhat counterintuitively, it was the religiously-based centers of higher ed. that faced the strongest destructive blows. The predominate theory is that the ideological tension that was preexistent in the religions of these students had caused severe angst among various sub-groups in the student body. The Harvard Fire thus served as secular inspiration for the relieving of religious tension……

……”It spread like wildfire”- Mother of……


1 This volume was a classic in the C.A.S., until its demise in 3207. Citizens of the C.A.S. treasured it as a valuable spring for information on their national roots, primarily because of the detailed picture it painted of life in the U.S.A. Unfortunately, there remains no fully intact copy of the work; we have collected here what remains intelligible. (Ed.’s Note)

, since we know not the hour.

SENT: Monday, February 8, 2010 3:32PM


I think there might be a ringworm in my chest! :O Do you know where we keep the card that has all the emergency numbers? I’m gonna try to get it checked out.

Love ya,
SENT: Monday, February 8, 2010 5:09PM


Are you serious? It’s on top of the fridge. Please let me know what Dr. Criswold says ASAP.


Does Mom know?
SENT: Tuesday, February 9, 2010 9:52AM

No she doesn’t. And yeah, it’s pretty gross. There are two red circular bumps in between my pecs. They’ve been there for a while but I didn’t think anything of it until today. I have an appointment at 10:30 tomorrow, so I’ll let you know what he says then.
SENT: Tuesday, February 9, 2010 10:12AM

Sounds good bud.
SENT: Tuesday, February 9, 2010 2:16PM
SUBJECT: Interesting video

Thought you’d like this:

Hope your day is great!

SENT: Wednesday, February 10, 2010 5:42PM
SUBJECT: Not a ringworm…..


He said it’s not a ringworm, but he’s worried it could be something worse. He wants me back for tests tomorrow, but I had plans already. Are you around this weekend, or do you think I’d be able to meet with him then? I really don’t want to have to do any blood samples or anything :/

SENT: Wednesday, February 10, 2010 8:01PM
SUBJECT: RE: Not a ringworm…..

You should go, bud. You don’t want to put this stuff off.

I’ll be around this weekend, so we can do something then. Would you be interested in going to see The Book of Eli again? I haven’t seen it yet, and I’d enjoy seeing it with you if you think it’s worth seeing a second time.
SENT: Thursday, February 11, 2010 11:32AM
SUBJECT: RE: RE: Not a ringworm…..

Ok. Yeah, I’d see it again. I’m free Saturday after 9.
SENT: Wednesday, February 17, 2010 9:50AM
SUBJECT: Any word?

Hey bud,

Just checking to see if you’ve gotten the test results back. Does Dr. Criswold have any idea what it is? Let me know.

I’m so proud of you.

SENT: Friday, February 19, 2010 2:44PM
SUBJECT: RE: Any word?

Sorry for not responding sooner—he just got the results today. Apparently it looks like Lyme’s disease, but they’re hesitant to say for sure. You can call him if you want more of the specifics. His number is: (XXX) XXX-XXXX.
SENT: Friday, February 19, 2010 6:25PM
SUBJECT: RE: RE: Any word?

David, that’s really not good. Were you playing outside? Did you notice any tics at all? How long ago did you say you saw this?

Also, does Mom know? What did she say?

SENT: Friday, February 19, 2010 6:31PM
SUBJECT: RE: RE: RE: Any word?

I haven’t been outside much at all, and I didn’t notice any tics. It started about 5 months ago, but I never really paid much attention to it. It didn’t seem like that big a deal. He’s got some antibiotics that he said should fix it up, so I’m not really that worried. We’ll see.

Just got around to watching the video you sent me a while back. It’s so funny! I’ve seen it before though. Check out this remix:
SENT: Friday, February 26, 2010 4:09PM
SUBJECT: Post-treatment?


Dr. Criswold says I’m post-treatment (PTLDS) and that they need to do more tests. He’s worried that there may be more than one problem also (he mentioned melanoma). I spent a while this afternoon looking around the internet and found some information on it. I’m doing everything people say I should, but these websites are saying that it’s really out of my hands. I’m getting pretty worried.

I’ll see you tonight.

SENT: Wednesday, March 3, 2010 1:56PM
SUBJECT: I have melanoma AND lyme

I went to the emergency room today and they said I have melanoma and Lyme’s Disease. Both of them are in the late stage, so they’re booking me for the next few days to do a bunch of tests. I’ll probably have to stay at the hospital for a while after, because they said it’s probable that things will get much worse. Mom’s gonna call you about it later, but I wanted to give you a heads up. Please pray. I love you.

SENT: Friday, July 23, 2010 6:31PM
SUBJECT: Bring a book?

My phone died, so sorry for any missed calls. Could you bring my copy of William Gass’ Omensetter’s Luck when you come tomorrow? I finished up The Recognitions today (it was incredible!) and am really bored. They moved me to a new wing today and it’s a lot quieter.

DRAFT: Tuesday, October 19, 2010 11:52PM

Dear Dad,

Our talk today meant so much to me. Thanks for being
RECEIVED: Thursday, December 30, 2010 4:10AM
SUBJECT: Delivery failed

Delivery has failed to these recipients or groups:
The e-mail address you entered couldn’t be found. Please check the recipient’s e-mail address and try to resend the message. If the problem continues, please contact your helpdesk.

Writer’s Block (Excerpt)

The following is an excerpt from my first attempt at a short story, which I hope to be finished soon. I would really value any comments or feedback you have on this, as it sets the stage for the rest of the piece. Do you want to read more? Too verbose in some places? Let me know! -Dave

          My first session was pretty smooth, I thought, but life is complicated and I’m a bit complicated too and so I never went again. She, Andi, the counselor, thought I was depressed. You’ll be O.K. in due time, just push on for now, She said. I said I’d try, but its been four months since and I don’t feel any better. And that, the not feeling better, has consequently made me feel worse. Last night I figured I didn’t have much to lose and that I might as well try writing it all down for strangers like you to read. I called Andi to ask her about this[1] and she said It couldn’t hurt. So: The following are my memoirs regarding the events between December 10, 2010 and November 28th of the subsequent year, presented to you as both an attempt at catharsis and in hopes of developing your understanding of the human condition. Thanks again for the encouragement, Andi.

                                                                Writer’s Block

          His eyes revealed The Plot Line. It’s emergence was unintentional, as I’m told is the case with most masterpieces. This augured well for my novel’s future. For years my novel had existed vicariously through a profusion of lists[2], and I’d always had a good idea about the general plot structure. It was to be about relationships and their hidden complexities; an attempt to grasp at the intangible and package it neatly for the world to digest. It would begin with a relationship between a father and a son, which would then develop into a closeness between the father and one of his son’s friends that became questionable in its moral tenability over time, given that the friend would be in his early teens and the father would be somewhere in his mid-to-late 40’s. There was to be a lot in the local news about molestation and castration and other sick things that no good parent would want their child to be convenient for, close relationships between grown men and pubescent children being high on the list of things too easily morphed into this disturbing realm of possibility, and so the relationships would be cut off by the domestic authorities. The story would be driven by intricate plot lines, which would admittedly be convoluted, but I was confident that the reader would press on once they had been captivated by my opening line:

MAN VIOLATES AND MURDERS TWO CHILDREN, HIDES BODIES IN RIVER the headlines shouted to Linda, who couldn’t stop thinking about her son Nick’s safety at the Grinhold’s home.

All of this was my collection of novel-related thoughts in its entirety, representing 38 years of sparse imaginings.


          When Ryan came in, late, complaining about the bus driver’s ineptitude, I was not thinking about the novel. I was thinking about whether or not I should bother going out and buying a Christmas gift for my mother-in-law, Sarah’s mom, who was then being eaten alive by dementia and wouldn’t remember the gesture anyway[3]. No decision was come to, though, because Ryan sat down and asked me about calculus.


He was walking around the kitchen making a snack, mixing business and pleasure. “Yeah, calculus. How much do you know about calculus?”

I know a lot about calculus, and Ryan knew this. I’d shared with him the stories before. When I was in 5th grade, my family moved to Allendale, IL. I went to a small school that was pretty subpar over all, the students were dumb and the building was crumbling, but somehow the district had scored themselves a great math teacher. During 11th grade I had my first class with him, AP Calculus, and fell in love with the subject. Later, when I was at Barnard, I was friends with a math major who would occasionally come to me with his questions (though I was a psych major and stale numerically). I would make jokes about it: Oh yeah, I remember Reimann and Cauchy. How they doin’? Oh, you’re struggling to find the continuity, differentiability and integrability of a power sum function? Well aren’t you in for a treat, because it just so happens that I’m the King of Calc!

I’m good at calculus, I said. I know a lot about calculus.

“Then can you help me on this homework? We’re doing stuff with limits and my teacher didn’t explain how to find them very clearly.”

Limits have always been pretty easy for me to understand, so I asked Ryan for his worksheet, and began to teach. I taught him about how a function will increase or decrease toward a certain number, exponentially in some cases, and how it will begin to slow down as it reaches the limit. I explained that though the function may sometimes be able to reach the limit, such a case is very rare and it is more likely that the function will continue on forever. This led to an inquiry about the nature of infinity[4], which I aptly shirked. We then returned to talking about limits.

“So the function can approach the limit, but never touch it?”


“And the function will keep getting closer and closer, forever?”

“Exactly.” I was proud of myself.

“So for number six part b the limit is 4.25 because the function will never reach 4.25. It can get all the way to 4.249999, but it will never be able to hit the limit.”

“You’ve got it.”

He smiled as his eyes, as though rewarding me for my erudition, revealed to me The Plot Line. It rolled Itself before me like a brand new red carpet, presenting to me a world of intriguing characters, captivating scenes, and gut-wrenching dialogue. It beheld names and settings, captured emotions and subtle hints of inter-character backstories. Before me, in the eternal black pupil of my only son, was my bestseller.


1I do not count the phone call as a second session. We talked only briefly, 5 minutes and 24 seconds, and she did not ask nearly as many questions as she did the first (and only) time. If you don’t agree with me, if you believe this 5.4 minute conversation makes the cut as a second Session, then we’re really not starting off on a very great foot and it may be best for you to put this down now. Trust is essential for what’s to come.
2“Things To Do Before I Die” (1972), “Top 10 Things To Have Finished By The Time I’m 20” (1979), “Best Novels Ever Written (2002)” (1983), “My Biggest Dreams” (1992), plus some others that are somewhere up in the attic.
3This is just a small example of the thoughts that I don’t share with Sarah. Since my only meeting with Andi, though, she, Sarah, has been intentionally more open about listening to whatever I have to say, sick as it may be. I find this to be wonderful overall, though it can be tempting to exploit. This temptation is just another one in the barrel amongst those that have gathered since Nov. 28 and, frankly, I would be better off without it.
4You know, God and stuff.

Ashes to Ashes

"To spare oneself from grief at all cost can be achieved only at the price of total detachment"- Erich Fromm


The kitchen was strewn with momentarily deserted pans and decaying pottery. A swift inhale welcomed the scent of warm apple pie, calmly baking in the oven on the opposing side of the room. No reason to clean up the mess in its entirety; the dishes to be used today would be used again the next, and the next, and the, and. The record-player in the bedroom spun hypnotically, projecting the voice of Eric Bloom through empty space.

All our times have come
Here, but now there, gone
Seasons don’t fear the reaper

The kitchen’s cool silence echoed back in response, fed by the phone’s telling of dark, distant truths. A staunch voice, foreign but familiar, traversed the maze of human emotion, slowly reciting a careful script. The pie crust caught fire. Streams of gray smoke leaked from the edges of the inscrutable oven, filling the room with toxins.[1]

Come on baby
(Don’t fear the reaper)
Baby take my hand

Pottery ruptured and pans vibrated as thermal thresholds were scaled by sharp bursts of inanimate energy. The grenade in the oven exploded, spraying sweet cinnamon juice onto impermeable walls. The phone disassociated with the ear. Sweat and grime, dirt and steel, air and waste engulfed the room from the top-down as smoke, thick and brainless as the love of God, descended upon the human shell. Blank eyes saw orange and red silhouettes Danse Macabra around the room, moving faster and faster as the tempo escalated. A Consummating Omnipresence. The brain understood like an infant at the opera.

La, la la, la la
La, la la, la la

Appliances melted and walls caved. The cinnamon evaporated. Dimensions contracted. Two seconds left, reality snapped back and a pain-drenched scream was ripped forth as the shell shattered, carnivorously bearing pure, unadulterated emotion with unholy honesty.

And the savage world laughed as, together, they returned to dust.

1 Butane, propane, ethyldichloroarsine, cyclosarin.
2 The Holy Qu’ran. Trans. M.H. Shakir. New York: Tahrike Tarsile Qur’an, Inc, 1982. Print. 40:67.

Welcome Back

Welcome back. Doesn’t time fly? Think: You were at the pool just last week; reclining supine, eating dollar dogs, loading on the ketchup. But you knew it would end soon. You knew that in a week you’d be back in this place, taking whatever seat was available. You’re not picky. But Rick, who’s sitting in front of you and reeks of oatmeal, is. You know that Rick took pains to pick the perfect seat, nearest the perfect girl, so he could show off his new backpack with the perfectly ironic juxtaposition of popular figure and phrase. Now Rick’s unhappy with his choice, and he’s being kind of an asshole. But you don’t mind because he was like that last year. Nothing’s new. No one’s changed. Peter still talks to himself, Sarah’s still stuffing her bra. You found out that one day after gym class, but she didn’t (doesn’t?) know you saw. She thought no one was there. Most people think that w/r/t you. They don’t think you’re there. But you are; you see things, and you don’t say a word. You wouldn’t dream of it. You just lean against the bus window, occasionally repositioning yourself to ease the soreness from the obtrusive spring that’s lightly prodding your keister, and get ready for round 8.

They say eighth’s the best. Things aren’t serious: It’s middle school. The other kids have yet to get the memo. Steve likes Sue, but Sue has the hots for Ryan, who’s best friends with Steve (but clearly not, since he flirts with Sue behind Ryan’s back and invited her to the mall just last weekend), and Ryan isn’t really interested in anyone right now[1], especially not Sue, who just can’t take it anymore and was contemplating looting her mother’s pill cabinet last night and putting an end to the whole cruel ordeal once and for all. Things aren’t serious. You hover above your peers like a luxury jet over the Third World. You’re cool. You’re perceptive. You see dying people and flash them an encouraging smile. They don’t get it.

Open your eyes: You’re here. The doors are open and the students are mobilizing. Take your time, there’s no rush. Pack up your iPod; rub that cool red window impression off your soft white cheek; zip your backpack. You’ve got 13 minutes, no worries. Nothing’s new. No one’s changed. You’re not gonna miss a thing. Rick’s still an asshole, Sue’s still thinking about it, Mark’s head is still shot off by his father’s money. Remember when you were thinking of telling them everything you thought last year, when that thing just about set you off? It’s probably good you didn’t. It’s never wise to tear away the veil. Remove it slowly, once you have the proper tools. Learn to write and speak clearly. Keep studying. It’s frustrating to see things and not know how to relate them, I know. One day you’ll be allowed. One day your gates will slowly open, and people will be floored. But for now just keeping doing your thing. You’ve got this.

Welcome back. Your teachers missed you. They have fun plans for this year: You’re gonna read The Kite Runner and talk about it in small groups and everyone will have pleasant things to say. Make sure you participate to get those points. Make some friends. Quote some TV shows. Flirt with a boy. Hell, flirt with a few! Get in there and have some fun.

I know, I know. Keep your chin up.


1As it turns out, Ryan’s gay. That’ll come out* later
*no pun intended