The rock where my sister died dominated the landscape like a giant defrocked mushroom.
My parents were standing beside me, waiting for my response as I looked up at the seaweed and the striations. I wasn't sure what they wanted me to feel.
"It's cold," I said.
"We were just up on that ledge," said mom. "The tide was coming in, but the sun was setting and we wanted to watch it."
"Thought we'd just wade back to shore afterwards," added dad.
"But I lost my balance and slipped. Pregnancy does that to you sometimes, messes with your inner ear....
The disco ball was turning. The lights were spinning, flashing, pulsing. The speakers were pumping noise into the atmosphere, waves of vibration that shook the air, slammed into the walls, broke back in upon each other, collided and crashed.
Outside in the street, I stood and gazed at the stars, what few of them I could see through the neon glare, the fluorescent pollution.
On one of those faint white specks in the inky, bleary sky, I was sure, another mind gazed back at me, and wondered, "Do they have problems like mine?"
What were their struggles? What did they...
"Of all the songs ever written, his favourite is Lola? You can't be serious."
"Wow. That's a guy who really needs a friend."
"I know. So will you do it?"
"Why on earth would I?"
"Out of the goodness of your heart?"
"There's goodness in my heart?"
"You might be surprised what you'd find if you went looking."
"Calling all spelunkers! Is there anyone out there daring enough to embark on the most dangerous of quests, the search for goodness in the depths of my heart? Finders keepers, down there!"
"Very funny. So you're not...
Bobby had lived in his imagination as a child. Within the universe of his mind, he was an action hero, an iron-willed daredevil. He could meet any challenge, snatch victory from the jaws of any defeat, bravely pull off any stunt.
Now that he was older, he was learning more and more that he would probably never trade tracer bullets with South American guerillas, or infiltrate the secret Appalachian hideout of a band of communist child kidnappers, or balance on the hood of a car, guns blazing, while pursuing Somalian bank thief pirates across a perilous frozen lake.
"I'm a monster," said my son, dangling my old Nikon camera behind his back.
"I can see that," I said. "What's your special monster power?"
"Scary faces!" he said. "I can make a scary face that makes you make a scaredy face!"
I instantly put on a poker face. "I'd like to see you try."
He puckered his face for a few seconds, then went, "Graaahh," and screwed up his eyes and stuck out his tongue.
"Eeeeeeee!!" I cried, opening my eyes and mouth as wide as I could.
As smoothly as a three-year-old can, he pulled out the camera...
An aura surrounded her.
He couldn't describe it, couldn't explain it, couldn't put it into words. It was beauty.
She raised her hands, opened her mouth, flexed her diaphragm, and completely, irrevocably drew him into herself.
Her song permeated him, and the light that bounced off of her transformed his eyes into bodiless, empty receptors: everything else faded, his body, his chair, his table. There was only the Vision.
Then the song ended, and he was left floating in the smooth, absent, come-down buzz of the empty amplifiers.
The dapper man picked up a penny.
Then he picked up a dime.
"Which of these is worth more?" he asked the children arrayed in three neat rows on the floor in front of him.
"The dime!" they chimed in chorus.
"Very good!" said the dapper man. "And why is it worth more?"
"It's more specialer!"
"I've got three of 'em in my pocket!"
"Great answers, children!" said the dapper man. "But actually, a dime is worth more because it's so much easier to use a dime for Rhyme Time!"
The children cheered and began to...
There was blood on my pillow.
My nose was dry. I hadn't bit my cheek. I hadn't somehow lost a tooth. A quick examination of my skull told me that it remained intact.
Oh, duh, I have DNA-Vision. I forget sometimes.
I scanned the blood on my pillow. It wasn't mine.
So where had it come from?
"Ah ha! It was me!" yelled someone from the foot of my bed.
It was my arch-nemesis, The Hemophiliac. Of course!
"What have you done?!" I roared.
"I snuck into your bedroom last night and bled on your pillow! But don't worry; I...
Until now, she'd never thought of herself as pretty.
Sure, there were lots of positive adjectives she would have included in a description of herself. Clever, athletic, determined, sensitive, ambitious, caring, discerning, admirable.
Ok, maybe "admirable" was stretching things a bit.
But pretty? That was a word for the popular girl in high school, with the childish voice and the two-expression face: desirous and desirable; I want THAT and you want ME!
Pretty was the compliment of an unimaginative father, the manipulative tool of a mother living vicariously.
It wasn't something she had ever felt the need to apply to...
It wasn't mine. It wasn't his. I'm not sure it was anyone's, really.
I think it considered itself its own fault, kind of a Frank Sinatra "I did it my way," "I'm my own man" sort of thing. No one was going to tell it what to do or when it was allowed to slip, and how much. If it wanted to let off little 3.5s every couple of months, it would, and if it decided to store up for a 9.9, that was its own business!
And I figured it wasn't really my business to interfere. I would've...