Lali 3

She shakes away her thoughts, and suddenly stands up. This is a catalyst. Lali Sanchez is going to fall in love now, very soon, so just be patient.

She edges herself along the non-fiction section. Lali is quiet, letting her fingers trail through the notches of every book’s spine. She already knows this shelf, just like she knows every shelf in her section. There are over a thousand books in her section, ninety books on a shelf, and approximately thirty per row. Each row is two footsteps apart, and five footsteps long. Lali likes counting things like this. She finds it reassuring. Considering she has been placed in an area of little humanity, she doesn’t have to worry about people’s drum roll heartbeats, or the glitzy electro pop of their lungs.

Lali lives in silence. She learns to appreciate the books. Being cripplingly introverted is surprisingly helpful—a really effective reading incentive, it would seem. She loves textbooks madly, and devours them like inky candy. Lali has funny tastes. She learns to savor the moment when she can hear the subtle creak of a book cart, or the hushed voices of library patrons. No one ever goes to her area of nonfiction reference. Lali imagines people think the books are so very boring, so useless, they’re not even worth examining. Or maybe they just think that about her.

Lali pauses at one of the books, her hand suddenly compelled to stop. The spine reads “The End of The American Dream.” Lali Sanchez doesn’t know, but this is the tipping point. This is the explosion. If she had not paused at this exact moment, she would have never heard the music drifting towards her. She never would have turned around and saw him. She will see him, though, because right about now her hand will move exactly three centimeters to the right, and linger there for five milliseconds. He will be there in twenty-nine seconds.

Lali 2

She’s doesn’t know this, of course, but that doesn’t make it any less true. Lali will fall in love today, in this very library. Only she can’t quite tell yet.

Lali straightens up, chewing on a sickly sweet candy mint, lolling it about with her tongue. She fixes her skirt into a straight line. The skirt is satiny, and uncomfortably transparent. Its pattern is fixed with constellations of little daisies, flower nebulas that span out past her knees. She feels anxious. Lali is counting the titles on the bookshelves, and cataloguing them in her mind. It is her job to monitor the non-fiction section. She feels weird about this, like she’s some sort of looming gargoyle of literature. It was the only thing left for her. Lali cannot deal with people. She cannot hand over books nicely, or concisely explain the library’s return policy. Lali is strange. She is unable to concentrate when someone’s in front of her, unable to hear past their shuddering organs. A single person is deafening for her.

Oh, it is worthy to note that Lali can hear the sounds bodies make. Their pulsating organs and cells sound like a symphony to her. That’s pretty important to her story, really. Make a point of remembering.

Lali is in total exile now. There is no real reason to fire her, and the older librarians are far too charitable to do away with such a nice girl. Everyone says she has potential. Everyone is waiting for Lali to expand, to flood the world with her brilliant thoughts. She looks like an enigma, anyway. Lali is not what you would call plain, but she is too strange to be attractive. Her eyes are dark. She has sharp collarbones that jut from her thin shirt, like pressed fingers. She seems bottled up. Everything compressed, slipped into a meat membrane, and packaged into skin. Everyone is anxious for Lali to be expand. No one, however, is more anxious than Lali herself.

Lali Sanchez 1

This is how it will start.

There will be a quiet hum, a sort of pleasant buzzing. The sound whines on like a happy reassurance. Only soon, it stops. The blood rushes to her head. Lali will feel all the neurons in her brain slow down, heavy, her synapses lagging lazily like her cells have been coated in honey. Everything’s slow and sticky. The buzz will start to morph, to mutate. She gets goosebumps. The sound is amplified, crystallized, and the beat starts. Waves of sound smash against her. Organs pulsate, their shudders resonating shimmering pop. She’s trying to hang on to that familiarity, trying to make it stop. The beat pounds in.

Massive wallops crunch against Lali’s head, crippling her. The beat is interlaced with all sorts of whinnies, electronic whirs and beeps, cells reproducing and splitting. Underneath it, that beat pounds on. It’s what drives the whole thing. Lali will feel herself giving into it, all her motions synchronized with its impeding boom. It controls everything. She will not try to escape it, or drown out the noises. It will push itself against her muscles, licking across bones. It will make her sick. It will make her alive.

It is, Lali Sanchez will think, like a pulse.

 

***

A girl presses down her hair to look presentable. Her thick black locks flop down, clouding her vision with curls. She doesn’t deserve this. She’s bought hair strengtheners, and let her aunt slick back her head with noxious amounts of chemicals. Her scalp has endured such pain, such torture, that she is simply entitled to looking pretty at work. She never wanted this. On this day, of all days, it is so unfortunate. She needs to be beautiful today. That’s the only way this will work out right, the only way all the pieces will slid into place. This is the day Lali Sanchez will fall in love.

12 Killed in Attack on Paris Newspaper

In recent days France has been on high alert as multiple terrorist threats have apparently been thwarted.

European security officials have grown increasingly weary of security threats as young citizens return from Iraq and Syria where they engaged in Jihad.

The newspaper, that was attacked, had received multiple threats for its satirical writings where it “lampoons Islam).

What Happened: Two loan wolf attackers gained access to the building and those who could ran onto the roof, although they knew of victims nearby they could do nothing due to their fear of explosive booby traps or a third attacker. They reportedly shouted “allahu akbar” which means god is great.

The intruders were described as professionals, the shots were precise not just a spray of bullets.

12 shot: A building worker (a door man who was too slow to open the door), two police officers(hired to protect) , a guest, and eight journalists.

The rise of terrorism is on the rise do to these loan wolf assailants, people who may not necessarily connected to a terrorist group directly but have been influenced by one. They just act on their own decision without any direct influence from a group, which creates a large potential for dangerous individuals to act on what they believe.

Due to the influx of people returning from Syria and Iraq, after fighting for a variety of terrorist groups, the United States is rumored to be contemplating elevating the threat level to high-especially after what happened in paris. The authorities are being constantly updated on any potentional threats, the real worry now is on these loan wolf attacks and less on large groups attacking directly.

Mourning in Binary Part 1

Marina Campbell’s suicide was unexpected.

She had been so lively. Her Twitter feed was an endless stream, an emanation of all her immediate thoughts and wishes. Really, she just had a dentist appointment? The stingy dentist had fondled her arm in a most suggestive way? That couldn’t be tolerated. Her legions of followers adored her with passion, voicing their many opinions by commenting. It was unsettling when Marina’s tweets suddenly stopped. Her devotees were plugged in, plastic chords and wires canceling out real-world sounds and emotions. They only felt what she felt. They only believed what she said. When Marina’s electronic dictation ended, a virtual riot began.

Her Facebook account was the first to go. Her profile picture was from that time she went to Maui—sun-kissed and wild, her eyes shone with nebular sheen. Her rosy lips looked lovely against such pale skin, ossified fingers folded in her lap. Marina’s jeans squeezed her thighs like cellophane. She had a freckled constellation (like Orion, they wrote) at the bridge of her nose, a miniscule birthmark a little left to that. Her fans knew losing that picture would be a travesty. Unfortunately, Marina’s Facebook feed was shut down in January. The DailyBooth account was next to disappear, those precious moments erased forever. This lead to her MySpace evaporation. It seemed inevitable but still, they tried to stop it. Marina’s followers knew what was coming and swarmed her Twitter page, begging her to stop the inevitable, but it was too late. On January 14th Marina Campbell ceased to exist.

The Sound of Silence 5

The cashier had cleared his throat. He was did it in that impatient way, a way which meant they needed to get out. Isaac ignored him, but Violet broke away and briskly walked up to the door. Isaac seemed hurt. She flit outside and let the icy air bite at her cheeks. It felt good, slicing across her, putting sense into that muddled brain. The wind whipped away Isaac’s fingerprints. It was atonement.

Isaac fallowed her, speaking in a bitter voice. He said he felt rejected. Violet told him that was ridiculous. He began getting upset, yelling about how she always ran away. Violet wouldn’t listen. She couldn’t listen. She shut him out in the tidiest of ways, refusing to let her ears detect the vibrations, refusing to let her temporal lobe sort them out into anything distinguishable. It wasn’t her fault. It truly wasn’t. She just had insomnia, haphephobia, nyctomania, photophobia , automania, eremophobia, and crippling philophobia. Nothing was ever her fault.

Isaac left, breaking the transparent string that bound them. The words unspoken seemed to lace into Violet’s bloodstream, clotting arteries and making each cardiac pulsation a painful experience. She wanted to chase him. She wanted to snake her arms around Isaac’s torso and hold him tightly, feeling his human warmth. Curiously, she didn’t move.

I love you.

The words stuck in her throat, trying desperately to crawl out. Violet wanted to say it, really, she did. The only issue was that she had logophobia. Very unfortunate indeed. In the darkness, amidst a frigid parking lot, Violet felt her wings of wax melt away to nothing.

The Sound of Silence 4

That was only seventy-one words. It was actually sixty-one words, really, if she removed the word “Violet” from each line. The declarations were neat. It pleased her that she could squeeze her life into a list like play dough into a mold. No confusion, no wonder. Just cold facts.

***

Violet remembers the night Isaac broke up with her. They were at a 24 hour truck stop, a romantic scene for two sleepless lovers. Isaac had bought her a Slurpee and was busy writing his poems on a napkin, watching her with each stanza. Violet was his inspiration. She liked knowing this. His green eyes shone electric at this time of night, new energy pulsing through arteries, as he wrote his labyrinthine notions at an alarming rate. They were hallucinogenic and phantasmagoric.

Violet recalls how Isaac kissed her. He was always so careful, mossy looks cautious as his mouth edged closer. Car horns blared. Sneakers squeaked. Isaac just whispered his poetry under those florescent lights, drowning out the 2 AM noises. His words seemed to seep into her ears like noxious chlorine, a murky sort of high that made Violet’s legs rubbery.

When Isaac was there, she didn’t think analytically. Things got messy. Violet’s mind whirled into uncharted galaxies as his hands marked her cheeks in elegant calligraphy, fingerprints webbing across skin. It scared her. It was petrifying when he stopped speaking. When his hands relaxed around her waist and he just watched her, his eyes warm with emotions that unsettled Violet. The unspoken words seemed to weave between the couple, a sticky threading that bound them tightly. Violet was overcome with the impulse to run. Why did relationships evoke her fight-or-flight response? What was wrong with her?

Sound of Silence Part 3

Hello. My name is Patricia/Patrick. How are you doing today?

“Badly,” Violet confessed, “I haven’t slept in two days and I can’t get Schrödinger’s paradox out of my head. That poor cat…”

You may answer ‘Good, thank you, how about you?’

“Good, thank you, how about you?” Violet parroted.

I am fine, thanks for asking.

Violet knew her victory was deplorable, but she couldn’t stop the swell of pride sweeping over her. She imagined herself as Icarus—a shining hero soaring to the blazing sun, buoyed by her social capabilities. Even though the conversations were predetermined she felt so special, so important, just because the silky-voiced woman spoke directly to her. She applied her knowledge when talking with Isaac. He seemed to humor her.

From then on, their relationship spiraled on naturally. They only saw each other at the meetings, but there was a sort of kinship in that. They both had similar views about insomnia. Violet had never been able to sleep because her brain was always calculating, always trying to conduct scientific studies and decipher indie rock lyrics. Isaac related to that sense of restlessness. There was a large difference between their conditions, though Isaac did not know this. He, of course, wanted to cure his insomnia. Violet did not.

She embraced her disorders with vigor, counting them on her fingers like a child. She loved anything relating to science. It was nice to chart up her weight, her flesh, her brain, her soul. Violet collected knowledge about from an unbiased view. It made it easier somehow, not thinking from one’s own perspective. She made a list of everything she knew about herself.

  1. Violet has insomnia. She does not want to be normal.
  2. Violet is a bibliomaniac and internet addict.
  3. Violet has O negative blood.
  4. Violet has many social anxieties.
  5. Violet aspires to be a psychologist.
  6. Violet likes things that are black and white.
  7. Violet is an atheist.
  8. Violet has no family.
  9. Violet is in love with her boyfriend.
  10. Violet’s boyfriend doesn’t love her.

The Sound of Silence Part 2

People said she was charismatic. Violet considers the fact that her small talk could have been used up—her fabricated laughter evaporated into storm clouds. She confides with her laptop. Violet’s a hypochondriac, a bibliophile, a nyctomaniac. These definitions are comforting. It’s so lovely that she can catalogue herself like that, putting her mind into tidy little file folders.

***

Violet used to know a boy named Isaac. She once tried to put him in file folders, and maybe that’s why he left. He got so mad. Maybe he just couldn’t stand a mess of a girl, one who relished psychological disorders like candy. Violet met Isaac at an insomniac support group, one of those little things her therapist made her go to. He was so eccentric. His eyes were always shifting, always incredulous at the world he saw. He seemed so pleased with mundane events. In one of the sessions Isaac spoke of his insomnia.

“My mind will just spin off,” he breathed, “the noises of the world turning around me, the music from my radio. Night just seems so addictive. The sounds are perfect, you know?”

Violet didn’t know. She could only think of how hearing was only vibrations are detected by the ear, nerve impulses perceived by the brain’s temporal lobe. She tried to relate. Violet listened to tapes that claimed to help improve social dexterity. They came in faded covers at her library, people with 80’s hair grinning on the CD cases. She would go to her parent’s basement and slip them into her CD player, sliding on headphones. She loved the crackle of sound when she hit play.

The Sound of Silence Part 1

At 4 AM, Violet is insatiable.

She is a raging insomniac, a girl with a sharp nose and a tendency to chew her nails. Violet stays up all night ingesting words, poetry, internet binary. She goes to Wikipedia’s page and hits random. Violet reads of Icarus, of Velvet Underground, of Davy Rothbart and Red-breasted Pygmy Parrots. She cries sometimes at night. She doesn’t know why. Maybe it’s the beauty of the world, the thrill of her pulsing computer screen and yellowing book pages. Maybe it’s the snaking knowledge, the messages slithering into her system and resonating in a series of brain synapses (which she has read all about.) Violet tells herself she’s hormonal, but even this is a lie. She eats free-trade chocolate and listens to “Neutral Milk Hotel”, sometimes taking breaks to groom her budding novel. She has resolved to only write at 4 AM, designating that sacred hour each morning. Her novel is strange. It’s hallucinogenic, phantasmagoric and labyrinthine (her three favorite words which she often uses out of context.)

Violet is afraid of light. Google has told her she’s “photophobic.” Violet has many other incapacitating social phobias, but chooses not to dwell on them. She does, however, mull over her aversion to the bright quite a bit. She considers childhood drama that could have caused this event (as she is taking an online psychology course) but cannot think of anything. Her parents were flawless. Her mother baked pies bloated with cherries, her father milled about cubicles. She went to charity balls with mother, to office bashes with father.

Fingerprints Part 9

I never saw you, not entirely.

Everything was blurred, tucked away, folded into complete obscurity. I tried so hard to discover you in that papery mess. Fading away, you always wanted to scrub yourself out of history, to neatly erase your own existence. You didn’t actually want to matter. You wanted to slink back into the forgotten, into the unwanted. You can’t vanish that easily.

Your fingerprints are still fresh, layered on my skin. They chart out an invisible map of all the times we pretended to be in love.

Don’t think you’ve destroyed me so easily. I know someday, there will be another. They will be accessible, honest, and tangible in a way you never were. They won’t try to delete herself out of human memory. They won’t scrub themselves out of history. Someday, there will be someone else. And you know what?

They will matter more than you ever could.

***

Analysis:

In writing “Fingerprints”, I really hoped to capture the bittersweet, lingering emotions behind relationships and the duality experienced within a break up. When relationships fail, there’s a strange dichotomy–of wanting to hate the other person, but still hopelessly wanting them despite obvious logic. I felt my character exhibited this. She knew the relationship was unrealistic and felt that the entire time. Inadequacy sunk along their every interaction and polluted the thing before it could ever become stable. It would have never worked out had the other not cheated, but the cheating was merely used as an excuse to cut ties more bluntly. This story works to show how power imbalances can be abused in more subtle ways than physical assault, and how age can be used as influence.

Fingerprints Part 8

You took me out on a date one day, in the middle of august. The entire park was pleasantly warm, heat warbling across roads, casting a beautiful haze. I felt so happy I could die. Now if you don’t remember much of our relationship, I can hardly blame you. Surely, though, you will have to remember this.

How could you forget breaking up with me?

It was brief and unceremonious. We didn’t have enough in common, our maturity levels weren’t aligned, and you were really starting a new phase in your life. The excuses tumbled from your tongue. You were monotone, and clearly rehearsed. Quickly shifting away from the softened truth, you decided to rattle me. There was also someone else. A few others, in fact, and you didn’t want things to become too messy. I understood, didn’t I? We weren’t together for the sake of love. We were together because of the electricity that sparked between our skin, the arch of my shoulder blades, and the willingness of my mouth.

I still adored you. As you walked away, I loved the familiar swing of your hips. You were so beautiful. It was the sort of piercing beauty that stabs into a person, hollowing them out, filling their body with obsession. I refused to accept that you had done this with other girls, whispering your secrets into the eagar ears of naïve teenagers. Did you kiss them in the movie theaters too, pressing your saltine tongue against theirs? Did you make them feel so dizzy and lovesick it hurt?

Fingerprints Part 7

We continued with the crumpled origami, and I had dozens of malformed cranes. These were sacred items to me, relics of your devotion. I hung them from my ceiling like a mutilated mobile. You helped because you were taller, and I was sugar-rush giddy as you climbed atop my bed to reach the highest edge. It was dizzying, seeing you inside my world. I tried to convince you to stay longer.

“Can’t,” you said, “I’m meeting a friend for lunch.”

I probably should have known then. But how could I not trust you, with your fresh eyes? You were my perfection. I didn’t want you to go so soon and my face clearly gave this away. You suddenly laughed, hopping off my bed.

“We’ll go out later, okay? I hope you’re not getting all codependent,” you teased.

You kissed me, quick, as a placating gesture. You tasted strangely spicy and raw, and your lips only grazed mine. It wasn’t all-consuming like usual. We weren’t molding together, but rather, we were coming apart.

You smiled.

Then you were gone.

***

I began having dreams about that origami. I would see your face, grinning, refracted into millions of paper angles. You were like a huge organism, shuddering within the confines of thinly pressed pulp. Your fiber limbs expanded out, whirling, a manic show of Japanese patterns. Kaleidoscope colors engulfed your eyes, saturating those irises with vivid cherry blossoms. I tried to see you clearly. I tried to make sense of the dreams. Your face always hides itself, submerged within those papery layers, always tilted slightly and never directly forward.

Fingerprints Part 6

“Great,” you grinned, “I’ll meet up with you after class, and then we can get out of here. This place really is awful.”

I laughed with you, so nervous and excited. I felt like I had somehow won you over, convinced you to notice me. You were older. You were sophisticated, intelligent, all the things I could never be. My fingertips were trembling against the canvas, and you flashed me a knowing smile as you walked away. Your hips swung elegantly with each step. I tried to steady my hands.

You had me ensnared.

***

We never called it a date, but it clearly was. You took me to a trendy coffee shop, we sipped on lattes, and tried to impress each other with artist blather. It was all a pretense, but it was the loveliest illusion I had ever experienced. You asked questions about my vision, my process, and I tried to fake the right answers. You seemed to accept the wrong ones anyway. I loved that.

We slipped into a relationship easily, falling into each other with no discretion. You told me everything. You so were afraid of stifling obscurity, of being scrubbed out of history, and never remembered. I told you about my opinions on the bird girls. You laughed, and said: “exactly.”It felt so good, like we were raging against something huge, something bigger than both of us. I felt like a revolutionist.

***

One day you showed me how to make a paper crane.

“It’s simple,” you said, guiding my fingers across the folds.

I was so clumsy. You always had that grace, that unfair ability to mold material to your will. The world seemed to melt under your touch. Everything was malleable under your fingertips: paint, paper, and people. Why did I let you control me? When we painted together you always told me to construct my own reality, to manipulate my medium. I never knew I was your medium.