Subete wa mechakucha.

Sonme ga shite vem.

Nele, shisha no balsa gue mono no ji a partir antana terra vida ga mortos. Ney e tarifa shiharawa reru ser pago, antan ga tempo que genkan kuchi entrada para made ni, anata ga melhor kuso sore feito ita. Se antana sa rete desperinai, anata wa sozidearu.

O no tsugi no sonme wa, hanarete para longe. Balsa wa, anata ga carrga hisu ney shinakattashi, aishite inai percisa ama. A verdade da beira wa anata ga, sono-mar e que ni tobu koto pode vaor vida ya tenko ni pelas sa nuven rete tempro e flutuar fujo shi, desperofu ney seiksoken fora para e kotodearu.

Anata ga voltar, anata wa minogashite ita perdeu anata ga kimasen.

Shitsumotao wa uma caiza preta, e garasu de aco. Watashi wa como caiza de nodarou ka.

Antana ga coisas demo, kansen di himitsu mesmo quando no, completamenta secreta koto ga dekir koto wa, koto de anata ga espalhado em todo hairu ni imediaketto nir hirogeta. Uchi toki y fora frita-se, nandida mono tonouw ourta coisa. Soshite com esta selo, esta shiru, esta saigo no miru — anata wa vida matamata. Vida Aratameta.

Vem, sai shiko shite novasai. Wareware ga vamos no balsa ni sobre mimashou.

Sore wa setido que hatsunetsu ney shireporta.

Hiccup

So. In creating this writing project, I had not expected the following:

I began to loath the project itself. In six days, it managed to completely crush all of the writerly spirit out of me. It pushed me from lackadaisical straight through to vial hatred. If you’ve ever tried to sustain a craft, you know what’s on the other side of this.

Productivity.
Well, okay. At least for me.

Then, I started actually working on my extended projects yet again. Whether this is purely out of a desire to avoid said project, or whether the actual project did the trick – who knows? But, the point is that I have spent the last two days doing significant work versus shitting around – and that’s all the different.

Or enough of it. So, project on hold. Possibly, done. It didn’t take long.

It never does for me.
Far shorter than I ever think. This thread that runs straight through me is easy enough to pull. Easy enough to tighten back up. I just need to find my grip.

Grip found. For now.

Six

A change to the project, as it was going stale. The following is a character study instead of any sort of plot-based short. —
Three people at a table talking in muted tones.

One is small-framed in a wine colored sweater. Reddish-brown hair, something like the heart of dried cedar. A darker, more purple windbreaker is thrown over the back of the chair. It’ll be swung over shoulders as soon as this party departs.

Another wears a faded ocean green canvas hat. Underneath this billed cap is completely grey hair poking out in fluffy tufts all along the back. A hunter green sweater with the collar popped up keeps their neck warm.

The third wears a bright yellow polo. Long hair, pulled back in a pony-tail, frames a heavily bearded face. Hair just as silver as the latter members, but less tame. There may, also, still be a black hair or two in there. It’s of no consequence, really.

They came for lunch, ate, and stayed through the hour. Their conversations are muted against all the background noise,which post-lunch is significantly low. They lean in together whenever someone speaks. They lean back when sentences are over, thoughts complete.

They all three sit triangulated around the their table of choice.

When the three get up to leave, a red and black checkered sweater that goes down to the knees is slipped over that yellow shirt, subsuming them in its wool woven immensity. The sweater dwarfs even the width of their beard. It is impressively thick. It must keep the rain off quite well.

They leave altogether through the back upstairs door of the shop. They will, most likely, get in separate cars and go to their various places of residence, job, or recreation.
No way to know now. They have departed and I am, yet again, alone.

Five

Maple and Fin meet here every Monday for lunch. This, in fact, is how and where they met. The location is the corner cafe. They always sit in the same position – like they did the first time. If that table along the left wall, overlooking the street, is full -they’ll wait. Both have Mondays off, so it’s never been a problem. Sometimes, the best fun they have is during the long waits.

Today, the table is open and the pair take food to the table and sit. Maple brushes salt and pepper curls out of the way, over a shoulder, in preparation of this Monday delight. Fin sits down, squirms, gets back up.

“I have to pee,” and the departure is swift.

There is this brief consideration of waiting. It lasts about thirteen seconds before Maple shrugs and bites full-force into a veggie sandwich. Thin slivers of carrots spill out as the sammy compresses far flatter than it ought to. Maple chews while picking up carrots and stuffing them back into the edges of the sammy. A brown booted foot tucks up under the other leg. A sign that Maple is really enjoying this. A chip tossed in between grinning lips crunches.

Maple is half done by the time Fin comes back from the bathroom. Fin takes one look and nods, slipping into the black rain slicker that wasn’t really necessary for today.

“All done? I’ll take mine to go.”

At which brown eyes pout up at Fin. “I’m sorry,” mouth still full of half a bite of lettuce and tempe.

“No, it’s fine. Let’s go.”

Maple starts at this, fingers awkwardly reaching up to twirl a necklace. What Maple is thinking: let’s go? What does that mean. This is a terminal experience. They’ve never departed together. That would spoil something, wouldn’t it?

The expression on Fin’s face seems to be thinking the same thing. As if the words came out of their own accord.

“Sorry, I-” Fin tries to backpedal.

Maple is happy to assist. “No, it’s fine. I…” but there’s not much to say, is there? This is uncomfortable.

“This is uncomfortable,” Fin goes ahead and admits with a nervous laugh.

Maple readjusts the color of the wool sweater that it’s way too warm out to be wearing. All manner of polite, genial things go through Maple’s head. Ways of smoothing this over, being suave, recovering. Instead, all that leaks out is an abrupt. “Yep.” Honest is the best policy, right?

Fin coughs a nice fake throat-clearing deal here. “We can sit again, if you want.”

“No, no,” and Maple is all head shakes here, tousling about those salt and pepper curls, sending them dancing across shoulders.

Fin is about to say something clever here, about to come up with some really honest, straight to the point recovery, when it’s all blindsighted by someone else calling: “Maple, is that really you?”

And Maple turns from Fin and this awkward uncertain situation to a world of knowns and security. There’s no thought, no registering of this switch-over. It just comes naturally, easily, fluidly. The smile on Maple’s thin lips is so instantaneous.

“Hal!” and a quick flash of a look to Fin. “Look, I’ll be right back.”

And with that, Fin is left beside the table with an empty box ready to be filled with these left-overs. A dreary sigh as Maple’s voice drifts across the small cafe. Things like “oh, god, I’ve missed you.” and “such a wonderful time”. Things like “get together again” and “can’t wait”.

Time on the clock melts away. The food is cold by the time Maple taps Fin on the shoulder. “Hey, sorry. I have to make it to the bank before it closes.”

Fin stands automatically, without thought. It comes so naturally. “Of course, of course. I’m taking this to go, anyway.”

“Yeah, good. Okay. Well, have a good one.”

“Next week?” and this is a real pathetic stretch here.

“Um,” that deadly hesitation that says just what you don’t want it to, “sure. Yeah.” All positives, all smiles, all plastic and see through celophane.

“Great, I’ll text you,” and Fin is really not planning on this.

Maple doesn’t even notice, just tucks the two edges of that wool sweater together like its bracing cold out. “Okay, next time,” arms all tight across the chest, all uncomfortable and strange.

Fin nods. “You bet.”

Four

-Still a day behind-

So, this grey half-damp weather is what the Pacific Northwest is all about, Culpepper thought, pressing down on an empty coffee pump pot. Gio had said it would feel just like home. Culpepper hadn’t believed that – mostly out of spite. But, it was true and the thin checkered button down paired with a wool scarf weren’t exactly cutting it. Another cup of hot coffee might help.

Culpepper came up the stairs to find someone sitting in the opposite arm chair. Just a second ago, it had been empty. Now, it was full of this bright eyed smiler, just woken up for the day. Wet hair and everything. They appear to have some business to do because a computer is instantly in their lap.

There were a couple of options here. One: ignore the new-comer, sit down, and continue reading as if you noticed nothing. Two: make some kind of comment and hope it doesn’t spring into some kind of conversation so you can get back to your reading. Three: be clever and interesting and strike up a conversation on purpose.

In the five seconds it took to get from the stairwell to the armchair, Culpepper analyzed the situation: judged the attractiveness of said new-comer on a scale of 1-10, gave them a 6: middling but not bad, and settled on:

“I just got this awesome new book. Don’t want to get coffee all over it,” in careful full accent. Then, Culpepper flashes the book cover for half a second, shifts, and moves it completely out of view. It goes onto the chair, where it can be safely tucked behind thigh and cushion.

This of course is a purposeful tactic. Because Culpepper is going to sit in that chair for approximately ten more minutes reading some local tabloid, get up, leave the book in full view on the seat, and wait.

Meanwhile, Culpepper is drifting through the wank goods in the upstairs of the little local grocery store. Something about this place reminds Culpepper of a bargain slash kitchen shop where everything is overpriced and under-impressive. Point in case, this gorilla food chopper. Culpepper spins it around, sets it back down. Maybe there will be something of intrigue down below.

Down the stairs as the coffee back at the chair gets cold. Give it five, six more minutes. The chocolate aisle has some interest. Culpupper peruses it. Nothing really jumps out, so it’s going to be the closest one. A fair-trade chocolate bar with almonds. That’ll do.

The line is unusually long. This might be fumbling the plan back upstairs. Culpepper sighs, shifting weight from one foot to the other. Really should have returned these boots. They are too tight around the bridge of the foot – just not made well, all pointy in the toes. Not to mention, the heel is low enough that it allows the backs of the trousers to drag across the ground. In a rainy area, really?

Finally, the front of the register. Culpepper slides the singular chocolate bar across to the cashier, pays, smiles. Back up to that coffee and the plot. Culpepper slides easily back into the armchair, pointedly ignoring any form of eye contact with the neighboring sitter. This is where the excitement comes. Just say somthing about how you got this chocolate – would you care for a bit, goes great with this coffee we both have…

But no. Just as Culpepper is working up the nerve to end this brilliant little plot in a chance to hit on one of these American college kids – someone is waving something bright yellow, and saying- “‘Scuse me, ‘scuse me.”

Culpepper looks up, bright blue eyes flashing. “Hm?”

“Sorry,” the massive beard in front of the armchair says, hardly a face at all here. “But the cashier told me to give this to you. We’d usually put it on single items,” and offering the sticker that reads: SOLD.

“Oh,” is about all Culpepper can formulate. It’s not necessarily annoyance here – just confusion.

“Yeah, we just, y’know. No need to put it on now, but…” and the beard tapers off here, just sort of stands waiting, sticker out.

Culpepper takes it, the tacky surface sticking to fingers. “Yep, you bet. Better be safe,” in a real positive manner, sticking the sticker in the only place it makes any sense to put it – on the chocolate bar. It makes sense, sure.

And with that, the plot pans out anyway. Smiles across the way in armchair number two looks up, makes eye contact, laughs one of those shared-experience laughs, and is so close to saying something that it hurts.

But then, looks away, sips awkwardly on coffee, and back to work.

Damn. So close.

Three

This is a day late – and complete drivel.
Oh well.

The night was warm for early March in the Northwest. Ty hadn’t even bothered with a coat on the short walk from the apartment to work. But then, that was when the sun was up. The night would prove colder than the thin cotton-polyester shirt Ty had chosen.

The place is slow for a Saturday night, Ty thinks as the cigarette in hand dwindles itself down to nothing more than a butt. The pubs down the street in this small town are packed full – standing room only, if at all. Why? Trends, Bill says. Most likely, it’s the fact that the other places have the image. It’s the European thing. It’s out.

A tingle on Ty’s finger says the cigarette is done now. Pity, didn’t even take a single puff. But then, Ty doesn’t actually smoke. The cigarette was more of an excuse to get some fresh Saturday night air. Bored as hell, standing behind the bar watching the two kids in the corner drinking sodas while Mae, Ty’s manager, bitched to anyone who had an ear on their head about yesterday’s order, just waiting for the next customer to walk in had gotten rather thin. Hence the cig pinched off Gin, the fry-cook. Gin was the pub’s resident chain smoker dead-set on cultivating a fellow addictee.

Tossing the butt to the ground, Ty decided it was time to get back inside. Enough of this fake smoking. Besides, those kids might need another soda.

The doors to the back were janky, hung on two fully rusted hinges. Tonight, Ty had to give them extra muscle in order to gain access to the back of the kitchen from the alley. Ty pressed shoulder to door and shoved. A cry and crash sounded from the other side. Peeking round, Ty was being stared down by a befuddled Mae.

“Oh, Mae. I’m so sorry. What were you-”

“You just broke out last bottle of Lavender!” screamed at a very unreasonably high pitch.

Ty tried to back away. “Oh god, I’m-”

Mae stayed glaring, brown curls shaping her round cheeks and angular chin. “That’s coming out of your paycheck.”

“I’m sorry?” thrown here. Mae could be unreasonable, but really?

“You should be,” dusting off the front of a red suit jacket. “Get back to the floor. What are you doing back here anyway?”

“Smoke break,” like this was acceptable. For Gin, it was. It should be for Ty. Right?

“Did you take your fifteen? Do you get another break? I don’t think so. Move your ass.”

“Great.”

Two

Two people sit at a table in the upstairs of the local grocery store. They both have close-cropped silver hair, though one’s is slightly longer – an inch or two, only vaguely noticeable. This is because it naturally grows that much quicker than the other’s. Both wear black plastic rimmed square-shaped glasses. Both are dressed to the hilt here, full suit attire, no corners cut. One suit is charcoal black; the other slate grey. Both compliment the wearer’s hair in style and monochromaticity.

One person wears a silver broach on the coat pocket; the other a colorful glass bracelet. The one small open testament of difference between them. A difference of personality both can celebrate.

They are drinking tea from a shared pot. Orange blossom ceylon – one of their favorites. Back when they were working, this would have been their lunch break. Ten minutes to get there, fifty minutes to chat and sip or eat a small bite, ten minutes to get back. Today, they have just come from a mid-Friday service.

Here over tea, they discuss life, family, summer vacations in vibrant, less than obnoxious tones. One leans an arm over the railing, comfortable in this space. The other holds a tea cup close to the chest, warming their hands against the not-quite-Spring outside.

This meeting is nothing out of the norm for them. Jana and Maer have been friends since middle school. At this late stage in life, it’s no surprise they have become somewhat alike. Most people who have met them think they must be siblings. They are, but of a different sort. A sort that was, perhaps, not common to other members of their cultural experience.

They are spirit-siblings. Bound together by a singular guide through life. A grey seagull winging over the northern coast of Oregon ties them together more than blood ever could. This is how it happened:

Maer had just turned twelve years old. The new school year was about to start off. The days were getting ever-so slightly shorter. There was two and a half weeks before the school bell would ring all the children back into desks, homework, and packed lunches. So soon now, it’d be time to start picking out that first-day outfit.

But first – Maer was twelve now. Momma & Poppi had promised a camping trip to celebrate the newly acquired age. Of course Jana was invited, no questions asked. The two kids sat together on Maer’s shaggy orange carpet, imagining it was sand through their fingers, as they talked in hushed tones about all the magical things that would happen on the edge of the world where the sea was.

Jana was a fantastic dreamer and spent hours talking all about pixies and wizards, about how they’d meet some magical elf who would lead them to some secret lair where a sea dragon lay sleeping. The elf would, of course, cast a spell on the dragon to make sure it remained nice. When it woke, it’d ask Maer to make a birthday wish and anything could happen then.

Eventually, it was Momma who came in and told both of them it was time to lay down. They all had to get up early in the morning to make the drive. From the neighborhood, it was two hours to the coast. Poppi wanted to try and make the sunrise so Maer would watch the new day begin. They had to leave in the dark, but don’t worry – no goblins could come along because Jana had charmed their sleeping bags with fairy-wing dust. It always protects you.

Neither Jana nor Maer remember being stirred and ushered into the mini van. Neither recall the drive through dark twisting roads. Neither recall the roadside stop-off for bagels and hot chocolates (coffee for the adults, of course). Neither knew how the tent got set up.

But both recall vividly the seagull, grey and striated with flashes of white and brown. It winged across the burning orange ball of the sun as it tipped the edge of the ocean. The edge of the world to two twelve-year-olds. It looked directly at them; both would be certain. It’s voice hummed, calling out over the glistening water in perfectly understood English:

“Now, you watch over each other. You hear?”

A subtle nod shook both little brown-haired heads. Neither one dared move. A wave crashed and foam tickled both sets of exposed toes. It was brisk and both kids giggled at the sensation. Then, a look chanced between them.

“Did you-” Maer began, and Jana was already talking.
“Yes,” and took Maer’s hand firmly, lacing their fingers together. “We’ll stick together forever.”

Poppi came by with a plate of freshly fried eggs and grilled toast. That meal was eaten like it was the agreement itself: in silent reverie as this moment sank in, never to be abandoned.

Years later, both Jana and Maer would both grow to accept the fantastic nature of this childhood perception. And yet, something had drawn them, pressed them together, and glued them there. If it was as simple as a winging seagull, so be it. If not, that one bird was still the symbol – would always remain the symbol – of an intention to honor a commitment between two friends.