31 August 2006
Helping to Avoid the Tyranny of Punctuality
Buzzcut Bearcub fixed clocks. If your kitchen clock kept perfect time, a single call to Buzzcut would have him over in a flash to put it out of step with official time. He also did watches. They’re getting better and better all the time, said Buzzcut, but I’m constantly developing new techniques for putting timepieces out of phase. His customers always thanked him for restoring their freedom. Buzzcut was modest and philosophical about his talent. I just like to help people get their sanity back, he said. I don’t have some kind of supernatural power or anything. Not even close.
30 August 2006
Someone was dreaming about Dandelion Streetscape. She could tell because as the dream was unfolding, she felt a little dizzy and the ground wavered under her shoes. She sat down on a bench to let the dream pass. Magma Instep sat down beside her. I think it’s a young man in Montreal, she said. Dandelion nodded. That was my guess, she said. It’s been happening a lot more lately. It’s like they discovered me or something. At first, said Magma, it’s awfully flattering, isn’t it? Oh yes, said Dandelion. But then it’s just a bother. Really, don’t get me started.
29 August 2006
Choose one item from column A and two items from column B. Column C is optional. No substitutes, please. Unless you are family or friends, in which case we will sometimes make an exception. Also note that column B items have been processed in accordance with state and local regulations. Indicate your selections on the form provided. Print in block letters, please. If you make a mistake, destroy the form and start over with a new one. Don’t forget a beverage. That’s column D. Your selections should arrive within the hour. Unless we’re really busy. Thank you for your business.
28 August 2006
We dug numerous tunnels in the neighborhood. We walked underground from house to house every chance we got. Soon we had a large network of tunnels and spent all our time in them, not much interested in doings on the surface. The first baby born in the tunnels grew up with no natural light. We thought of her as our link to divinity, but the pressure to be holy was too much for her. Soon after her thirteenth birthday she said she wanted to leave the tunnels. We watched her go, hoping her eyes were as bright as our hearts.
27 August 2006
Some nights the universe grants wishes. We call them dreams. Have you thought about flying? asks the universe. Here, take a look at how it might be. I think you’ll enjoy it. How about some time with that movie star you like? Not bad, huh? Oh, you want food? No problem. Calories and fat galore, but no weight gain. Yeah, I thought you’d approve. A last visit with your grandmother? Sure, that’s possible. The rules are looser here, but you won’t be able to keep any of this, even if you want to. Just wake up and let it go.
26 August 2006
A Somewhat Unorthodox Introduction
The professor of literature said: Look, before I begin, there’s something you need to know. A few thousand years ago people invented letters. They thought they had come up with something truly useful, but they had no idea. The letters had minds of their own. The letters got together and laid out a plan for themselves. The letters decided to link up into words and sentences, for strength in numbers. That’s how the letters created narrative. I want you all to remember that as you pursue your studies. It was letters that created literature and made us what we are.
25 August 2006
It May Be Appropriate to Think of This as a Cautionary Tale
Doublefield Cornchin got his artificial lungs, liver, kidneys, and heart down at the cut rate hardware store. He installed them all himself, thus keeping himself going far beyond his three score and ten. Doublefield’s friends oohed and aahed with appropriate admiration and jealousy for his feisty do it yourself spirit and his eye for a bargain. But only a few days later Doublefield received a notice that all of his brand spanking new hardware was defective and was being recalled. Doublefield’s heart sank, which was one of the problems. Shoddy workmanship will be the death of me yet, said Doublefield.
24 August 2006
The Conspiracy Theorists Came Over for Dinner But Were So Ridiculous We Asked Them to Leave Before Dessert
Like many in the community, we looked to the skies and saw lots of UFOs. This did not trouble us until some of the UFOs produced webs, which they deployed across the sky, hanging them from stars and impeding the paths of the planets. This we would not stand for. We told the UFOs to knock it off or we would have to do something. The UFOs laughed at us. In retaliation we grabbed them by the handful and tossed them into salads where they made very tasty condiments. They weren’t laughing much after that. They had a satisfying crunch.
23 August 2006
In Another Context It Might Be Considered a Form of Inexcusable Meddling
Aurora Borealis fell out of the sky and ended up crumpled on the roof, all iridescent and shimmering like a humming bird’s wings. We pulled it down and folded it up into a small bundle, which we packed into a cardboard box. It was thin as air, so this was not difficult. We sent the box to a research station in the Antarctic with a note: Aurora Borealis misses its twin, Aurora Australis. In need of basic family contact. Please arrange a suitable reunion. Weeks went by. We heard nothing. The northern sky wept. We endured the pain of abandonment.
22 August 2006
We Can Give Each Other a Wink as We Tell the Story, Since We Both Know It's All Just a Fantasy
The rainbows detached themselves from the earth and floated up until we could not see them anymore. We heard stories about them congregating in the upper atmosphere, hanging out on cirrus clouds and getting deep tans in the thinner regions of the mesosphere. We missed them and tried to entice them back by putting out pots filled with gold pieces. A few rainbows descended and sniffed around for a while. We lassoed them and anchored them to rocks, but they were so drab and sad looking that we released them to their own freedom. This made us better human beings.
21 August 2006
The Fear of Melanoma is Stronger Than the Love of Art
We discovered the sun was a print of a woodcut. Surprised us all. Went looking for the original block. Took a lot of years. Finally found it in a decaying warehouse in the industrial district of a small northwest town. Saw that it was old and cracked. Found an expert in pulling prints from antique woodcuts, who made a run of copies of the sun. Sold a few. Not much interest, though. People said we already have a perfectly good sun, why make more? Why indeed. We destroyed the rest of the run. Burned the cut. Went shopping for sunblock.
20 August 2006
Here's a Brief Attempt to Explain the Sense of Accomplishment it Gave Us
We didn’t used to notice the meteorites, but one night we were outside and they were everywhere in the sky. Okay, we said, this is a meteor shower. Very metaphoric, but also distressing in that the the meteors were leaving long rips in the sky. You get enough of those, and the sky isn’t going to hold together much longer. And that’s no metaphor. So we grabbed needle and thread and sewed up the gashes. That felt good to mend the sky like that. Made everything worth it. Gave us a reason for living that was more than a metaphor.
19 August 2006
The Thorns Were Sharp and Hot
We went out at night and extended our butterfly nets as high as they would go and snagged comets as they arced by. The comets clung to the netting and wouldn’t let go. We had to pull them off with a firm yank. They made a noise as we tore them from the netting, like hook and loop fasteners. Once we had a good bundle of comets we put them into a vase and displayed them for our guests. They stuck their noses into the comets. They don’t have a fragrance, said our guests. What kind of flowers are these?
18 August 2006
Another Case of Not Thinking Things Through
For centuries jewelers had known that the planets could be plucked from the sky and strung like beads. Professional ethics kept them from doing so because there were so few planets and their removal would diminish the charm of the night sky. We only want to bring beauty to the world, said the jewelers. However, the international astronomical poohbahs had determined there were now millions of planets in the sky. This opened up the flood gate. Jewelers harvested planets by the hundreds, and sold them on strings. This was all well and good, until people noticed the sky began weeping.
17 August 2006
Imagine it All in Ultra Slow Motion
Turns out sleep was never a necessary function. All along it had been nothing but a habit we didn’t want to kick. Once people realized this, they were liberated from the tyranny of rest. The entire species took an evolutionary leap practically overnight. Then the stars, which we had always assumed were distant balls of fire, dropped from the sky and littered the earth like clumps of pollen. We stuffed them into pillows and instituted the practice of ritual pillow fights. We were glorious in those early days. Lived for the feel of stardust smacking our faces night after night.
16 August 2006
Our Dreams Felt Like Vacancies
The moon fell out of the sky. We found a tack and pinned it back up. Everything was fine, except that we were a little careless and put it back with the wrong side showing. Since it was new moon, most people didn’t notice at first. But as the month went on there was puzzlement everywhere. How did the moon flip over like that? Astronomers were aghast, astrologers were confounded, werewolves were amused. We waited until everyone was asleep. Then we flipped the moon back the way it should be. We washed our hands of moondust with soap and water.
15 August 2006
Keeping it Simple
Whenever anyone asked John Smith a question, he always said the same thing: dragonwings fly. How’s it going John? Dragonwings fly, said John. You get that email I sent you? Dragonwings fly, answered John. Paper or plastic? Dragonwings fly. Do you have some ID? Dragonwings fly. Do you have change for a ten? Dragonwings fly. Can you direct me to the court house? Dragonwings fly. How do oranges turn white? Dragonwings fly. What makes you the best person for this job? Dragonwings fly. Where does it hurt? Dragonwings fly. Why are you so sad? Dragonwings fly, said John. Dragonwings fly.
14 August 2006
Courtknee Yardcap grew vegetables for his village. In return, the villagers regularly broke into Courtknee’s house and knocked over his furniture, broke his windows, shredded his drapes and clothes, and poured fast setting concrete down his drains. Whenever Courtknee came home to such chaos, he would shake his head and laugh and begin cleaning up the mess. This would often take days and he would neglect his garden. The villagers would then come to the house and whine about not having fresh vegetables. Courtknee said I love you, but the garden is sad now. Come back in a few days.
13 August 2006
The Long Anticipated Meeting Rapidly Deteriorated Into a Dismal Discussion of the Relative Merits of Various Creation Myths
Okay okay, said god, you tell me I’m the ultimate power, the source of everything, blah blah blah. Fine. I’ll accept that for the sake of argument. But even given that, can you prove I’ve actually created anything? Offer me an airtight proof that, for example, I created Earth. Can you do it? I’m waiting. I can wait forever, you know. My doubts have evolved over many eons. I’ve heard all the arguments. Every one of them has a flaw. Some are amazingly subtle, but still there. No one has convinced me yet. What makes you think you’re so smart?
12 August 2006
The Street Finds Its Own Uses
We collected as many discarded shadows as we could find and pieced them together into a fine quilt, which we packed up and sent to our friend who lives in Alaska. We heard nothing from her for several weeks. Then a post card came with the following note: I tripped over the Arctic Circle last week. Broke a wrist, but am on the mend now. Thank you for the space dimmer. I put it in a sunny room and everything went dark. It was so soothing and relaxing. Just what I needed. Please send more space dimmers when you can.
11 August 2006
We said good bye to our families, our pets, our houses, our cars, our plants, our jobs, our windows, our meals, our mountains, our trees, our skies, our doors, our ideas, our blood, our photographs, our computers, our sidewalks, our constellations, our rivers, our cities, our dirt, our efforts at reconciliation, our smoke stacks, our landfills, our planes, our volcanoes, our trains, our ships, our railroads, our hair, our blinks, our sculptures, our coupons, our cutlery, our desires for justice, our clothes, our brains, our skin, our bones, our voting pamphlets, and our insanity. Then we stepped off the world.
10 August 2006
At Least He Didn't Have to Deal With Critics
Huckleberry Crosswalk was a born artist even though he had never drawn a picture, sculpted a statue, wrote a story, or composed a melody. Huckleberry was too busy gathering and organizing material for a major work, which he would complete any year now. Huckleberry held his job for forty years. He retired and traveled the world for about two decades. Then he walked the beach for many more years. Finally he shuffled into his studio and picked up a paintbrush. Huckleberry’s hand was shaking. I'm ready, he said to the air. I'm as ready as I'm ever going to be.
09 August 2006
We had a shell collection. It was so big we could not keep it one place so we stored it on various beaches around the world. We didn’t mind if people took the shells. We only asked that when they grew tired of them they returned the shells to the beach. A few years ago we tried cataloging our collection. We started at the beach near our house. Unfortunately, we were so enchanted by the first shell we picked up that we took it home and admired it for many hours and never got back to the task of cataloging.
08 August 2006
The Weight of the World
We found the reality detector at a junk shop. The owner said it was very old. It was made of wood and looked like a set of scales. How it worked was you wrote down a description on a piece of paper, then put the paper on one of the pans. If the other pan went up, the words described reality. If down, the words described a fantasy. We wrote this on a sticky note: The world cannot accommodate a genuine reality detector. We put the sticky note on the left pan and held our breaths. The right pan trembled.
07 August 2006
Puffs of Hot Air
The pelicans rode in hot air balloons every chance they got. We usually saw them above the beach with their beaks hanging over the edge of the basket. The seagulls, who would never ride in hot air balloons, thought the pelicans were more than a little bit crazy, but the pelicans didn’t care. They told creation myths as they floated. They were partial to ones involving fish and seaweed. There weren’t a lot of those, so they ended up telling the same two or three repeatedly. We listened politely and waved to them. We really liked seeing all the pelicans.
06 August 2006
Taking the Cure
The vampire, employing a demanding program of counseling and folk remedies, cured himself of his craving for blood. He mourned the loss, briefly. So many fond memories of pursuing the red! But even vampires grow up. He became a dedicated blood donor, showing up at the red cross like clockwork every three months. They knew of his past, but did not make him feel guilty about it. After all, his donations were a kind of atonement. I always loved you, said the vampire as they stuck the needle into his arm. I just needed to learn how to show it.
05 August 2006
Suspension of This Belief
A bridge builder waded into the river and sunk a piling into the bedrock. Then she grew old and died. Her daughter sunk a second piling into the river. She sat on the bank and admired the two pilings. She was so moved by their simplicity that she did not sink a third. Generations passed. Another bridge builder sunk the third piling. The resulting asymmetry pleased him. He chose not to add another. Centuries went by. A fourth bridge builder approached the site. She was disturbed by the disruption in the river’s flow. She removed all three of the pilings.
04 August 2006
The tree had diseased branches, so we pruned them all off. The next day the tree complained of bugs crawling under the bark of its missing appendages. Those branches are gone, we said, there can’t be bugs in them. But I feel them, said the tree, and they are driving me crazy. We saw further debate was useless. We told the tree we would collect several passenger pigeons to eat the bugs from under the bark. Thank you, said the tree. If there is anything I can do in return, just ask. Your cooling shade is thanks enough, we said.
03 August 2006
Could You Be More Enigmatic?
The liquor store sold fish. So did the dollar store. The pharmacy and the post office sold fish. So did the bank, the barber, the ice cream shop, and the hardware store. Everywhere we looked people were selling fish. We went to the river. What’s going on? we asked. Some fish poked their heads above the surface. You people are crazy, they said. Haven’t you noticed? Someone from the gas station stuck a net in the water and scooped up some of the fish. See? they said as they twisted against the mesh. Do you see what we’re telling you?
02 August 2006
Cherrytart Blanktape suddenly went blind one morning. The next day she went deaf. The day after that she could not smell anything and the day after that she tasted nothing. Cherrytart waited for touch to disappear, fully expecting it to leave her as the others did. Instead, Cherrytart fell in love with air. It wrapped itself around her like a second skin. She felt each individual molecule caressing her. How long has this been going on? thought Cherrytart. She moved her being into the atmosphere. She breathed in and dissolved to nothing and migrated to the lungs of creatures everywhere.
01 August 2006
We cleaned out the closet and found a fairy living quietly in a corner behind a stack of old VHS tapes. When she saw us she held up a knitting needle and thrust it menacingly at us. We brought her pieces of bread and fruit. She put down the knitting needle and thanked us, then picked up some of the food. She ate quietly. I’m very old, she said. Can you sit with me? We stretched out next to her. That’s nice, she said. Only, would it be too much to ask you to breathe just a little less forcefully?