OLD SIGHTS OF NEW VEGAS: Through the Eyes of an Amateur Photographer
I’ve been playing Fallout: New Vegas on my laptop for a while now and I’ve been taking screen shots as well. What I have been noticing is that every time I take screen shots I’m framing it as if I were looking through my camera. So that gave me an idea to post a screenshot or more a day and naming my little series Old Sights of New Vegas: Through the Eyes of an Amateur Photographer. Hope you like it. :)
What better way to come back to Tumblr than with some random thoughts. :D While I was talking to my boyfriend today about Pokemon, it hit me: Pokemon can totally be seen as a story of enslavement. It’s kind of funny but sad. Lol. He was saying he was gonna catch me with a pokeball and so that’s when I said that he wanted to capture and trap me in this tiny ass ball so that when he feels like it I can come out and fight for him. The few times I would come out of the pokeball (this is considering that he wants to be a pokemon master and so he’s gonna collect all the pokemon) would be to force me to prove my worth to him in battle or whatever else he may want to do with his pokemon, because if I don’t I’m gonna be placed in some box with the rest of the rejected pokemon that weren’t good enough for him.
Lol. It’s a tale of hardship and sorrow and enslavement masked by cute pokemon that can’t really communicate with humans. This is where the beauty of the enslavement rests: the lack of understanding between pokemon and humans is what allows this enslavement. You think that because a pokemon is repeatedly saying “pika pika” it means they’re happy? No, they could be crying in pain and trying to tell others to help it or for the next victims to escape before the human catches them.
And don’t get me started on those pokeballs: they’re red, the color of blood and anger, set against white, the color of peace and tranquility. It’s a ploy to make you believe the white is welcoming the pokemon into a wonderful little world inside that pokeball, when in reality it’s the red that dominates. Lol.
I love my boyfriend, of course, so this is not to bash him or has some weird underlying meaning other than what I stated, so don’t worry Luis! <3 I just found this hilarious because of the connections I made over a simple conversation. And I love pokemon too so sorry pokemon! No hard feelings! I love you too!
I just started playing Final Fantasy XII like a week ago after having it stored in my video game cabinet for so many years. My boyfriend made me try it again and I fell in love with this game! I remember not playing it back then because I didn’t like the battle system but I absolutely love it now and I regret not playing this game sooner! But the main point of this post is this wonderful song. As soon as I entered Lowtown while in Rabanastre I fell in love with this song! It’s so relaxing and catchy. I even do a little dance in my chair when I’m listening to it and I always dread leaving Lowtown because I won’t be able to hear the song anymore. Luckily my lovely boyfriend, Luis, downloaded it for me and now I can listen to it anytime I want to. Just thought I’d share this because I’m sure there are many others who love this song as well. :)
I didn’t win the Connor Award but that doesn’t mean I won’t apply next year. It’s an award for art students in which they submit their work, whether it’s photographs, paintings, drawings, sculptures, or other things of the sort, and only a couple get chosen as winners. Depending on what the judges feel is a better cohesive submission (or so I think) they decide if you get between $200 and $1000. I want to submit better work next time around. I know I can do so much better and I can come up with great photographs, which is why I’m going to be taking lots of pictures this break. I may even try portraits again. *o*
It doesn’t have a title yet and I can definitely add more to it in the future, but this is what I came up with for class. I just handed it in today. Let’s hope I get a good grade. :)
I look out the window at the orange leaves fluttering in the cold air. The massive generic tree in our front yard looms over our house, the many branches and leaves casting a shadow that envelopes most of the house. This entire neighborhood looks like it was taken from a 1950s home and gardening magazine: the houses are exact copies of one another, with a tree or two in different spots. The only other thing that slightly distinguishes them is the color they are painted, which looks like a futile attempt by these families to separate their house from the rest. I see the same clean-cut grass with a mailbox jutting out neatly from the ground. The gray cement path leading to the front door is always swept clean and if you crane your neck to get a look at the back yard you can see the same roses, daisies, sunflowers, and array of common flowers settled neatly into a small square plot of soil. The housewives, with their straight hair and knee-length dresses, like to brag about how wonderful their house is, but all I see is the same two-story wooden box with the black or grey shingled roof and the Mary-Sue’s and Little Billy’s walking in and out of the house every day.
I spot my father‘s tall, lean figure by the tree trunk as he walks towards the house. He’s wearing his most expensive suit, the navy blue one that hugs every part of his body in the right spots; the one he wore the day Mom fell in love with him. He was probably with his secretary at a “meeting.” Plenty of times I’ve walked past his study at night and heard him whispering what he’s going to do to her the next day on his desk after everybody has gone home. And of course Mom believes him when he says he has a sudden meeting with a possible client or that he’s going to be late because of all the “work” he has to do.
His short, golden brown hair sways in the wind to the rhythm of the trees. I shiver a little as the autumn air seeps in through the cheap window and wraps its icy arms around my thin body. I close the purple floral curtain as I stand up from the chair. He’s home early today.
I change into a pair of jeans and a plain white t-shirt. There’s a knock at the door.
“Come in,” I say.
The chipped white door opens, and there stands Mom in her usual attire—a plain dress that falls just below the knee, with one of the many floral aprons she owns over it. Today she has decided to wear a cream-colored dress that has tiny frills around the hem. Her apron has orange and yellow flowers that look like they’re sprouting up from the bottom. She’s wearing brown flats and her soft hair is neatly combed. I see this every damn day and every day I tell her the same thing.
“No, mom. I will not help you in the kitchen. He’s even home early today. Why can’t he ever help you? All he does is sit on his lazy ass and watch TV as you break your back making dinner for this family every day.”
“But sweetie, you can’t be this way. He works all day and the least I can do is have his food ready and do what he asks. He even wore my favorite suit today.” She smiles as she says this, the creases around her eyes and mouth becoming more pronounced. Just as I’m opening my mouth to speak, I hear my father’s booming voice from their room down the hall.
“Anna, get over here!”
“Sweetie, we’ll discuss this in more detail later.” She pauses and her gentle eyes scan my body. “You should wear a dress once in a while. I know you’d look so beautiful in one.
As Mom quickly shuts the door behind her a small chip of white paint breaks off and lands on the lavender carpet. She’s so naïve and blind! Why does she let him treat her this way? It’s despicable! I fall back on my bed and put my arms behind my head. I shift a bit as I try to adjust to the lumpy mattress. It’s falling apart, just like the rest of this house. From the outside it may look like any other house on this block but inside it is slowly decaying. My room is no exception. The walls are a bright shade of purple but that brightness doesn’t translate to the rest of this room. The ceiling is beginning to crack and the sliding closet door is jammed so all I see when I get up in the morning are my ripped denim jeans and cramped in a corner are the dresses Mom has given me over the years. It doesn’t help that all of my furniture is painted a dull white to cover the stains and imperfections they have obtained over the years. The furniture creates such a stark contrast with the walls that it almost seems as if they’re too big for this room.
My eyes begin to get heavier, as if someone’s pulling my eyelids down. I would never let a man treat me this way. If I was her I would’ve put some laxatives in his food. That’d show him. I slowly begin to drift off, all the while complaining about my father, until I finally fall asleep.
I’m woken up by the banging on my door. “Wake up, Sis! It’s time to eat!” Says the slightly high-pitched voice.
“Shut up and stop banging on my door, you idiot!”
“Whatever! Just come downstairs!”
I sit up and look at the clock on the bedside table. It’s 6 o’clock. I slept for three hours? I leave my room and walk down the small, dimly lit corridor to the stairs. I take my time going down the rickety stairs. I dread dinner. Usually I have to listen to my father talking about his stupid job and how great he thinks he is or some dumb story he heard from one of his stuck up friends. There’s never a silent moment when he’s around, whether it’s at the dinner table or while watching TV. I get to the foot of the stairs, take a deep breath, and slide into the kitchen.
My plate is already on the counter when I enter. The spaghetti is still steaming, the thick noodles tangled in a web of sauce and peppers, as I scoop some up and onto my plate. The strong smell of Ragu sauce creeps into my nostrils as the steam from the spaghetti brushes over my face. The meatballs are next to the spaghetti, drowning in the bubbling, thick sauce that’s coating the burned exterior. I stab the fork into the one that looks most appetizing, if that’s even possible, and repeat the process until I have three charred, but decent meatballs on my plate. That’s strange though; Mom never burns the meatballs, or anything, for that matter.
I quickly walk past the slightly open dishwasher into the cramped dining room. The maroon walls and laminated wood flooring don’t do much for this drab room. It just makes it seem more depressing to me, especially with the lack of proper lighting. Mom likes to call it “relaxing lighting.” I don’t know how she can be relaxed in this room when it seems like it’s closing in on you as you sit in the cheap wooden chairs. You feel like you’re too tiny for this room, with the walls towering over you and the low ceiling threatening to crush you. The rubber plants Mom tried to stuff into the corners of this room look like they’re going to come alive in the middle of dinner and wrap their stiff leaves and stem around you, and pull you back into the miserable darkness of this room.
I sit down in the chair right next to my brother’s. I can hear the clanking of the forks on the white china plates, my father slurping the spaghetti, and even my Mom’s usually barely-audible sipping. It’s too quiet.
“What’s going on here? I can actually hear your chewing and everybody knows you chew like a cow,” I say to my brother.
“I don’t know,” he says, bits of burnt meat and red sauce shooting out from his mouth onto the Oakwood table. That table is about the only thing that’s worth any money in this entire house. We couldn’t even afford to get the corresponding chairs for it so while the gorgeous Oakwood table sits in the middle of this room its beauty is overshadowed by the ugly, cheap, white, wooden chairs that hug its sides. I can definitely see why Mom takes special care of this table and watches it like a hawk waiting for its prey. This is why I found it very strange when I didn’t hear Mom’s familiar, soft voice scolding Tom.
Tom usually half listens while stuffing more food into his large mouth. It’s as if the only thing he cares about is the food in front of him and his stupid computer upstairs. I’m surprised he isn’t 500 pounds by now, but that’s probably because my father has been forcing him to work out. It’s hilarious seeing Tom struggle, his billowing folds of fat bouncing as he attempts to do jumping jacks. And you don’t want to see his shirt after he’s done working out. It’s completely drenched, to the point where you can squeeze it and sweat will gush out of it. His eyes are just like Mom’s and you can almost get past his selfish and greedy tendencies because of those gentle eyes. But you soon find out that they don’t resemble Mom’s in any way. His eyes are the same hazel color as Mom’s, but there’s no life in them. They’re as dull as he is and aren’t helped much by his other features. His nose is too small for his round, pudgy face which accentuates his wide, thin lips and makes them seem as if they’re going to open up and swallow you whole.
I look around and notice that Mom is not eating. Her fine brown hair is disheveled, as if she was pulling at it and then tried to comb through the tangled mess with her slender fingers. Her fork is jammed into the meatball and starts to shake as her knuckles turn white. Her beautiful hazel eyes are bloodshot and her full lips are trembling.
Before I can say anything, my father speaks up and says, “Kids, I’m leaving your mother.”
“WHAT?” I yell. A half-eaten meatball flies out of Tom’s mouth complete with saliva and a piece of a red pepper. Some of it lands in my water while the rest is littered all over Tom’s plate. That’s the first time he’s ever spit anything out.
“You heard me. I’m leaving your mother. I just don’t love her like I used to and I’m not gonna sit here and be miserable for the rest of my life. I don’t want your mother to be miserable either. So, you see, I’ll be moving out tomorrow. You kids will be staying with your mother.”
I watch him closely as he says this. His thick, perfectly curved eyebrows barely move while his green eyes work their way around the table. Even in this gloom his impressive bone structure and attractive face can still amaze anybody. He probably thinks because he’s so damn good looking that he can just leave my mother and get with any other woman. And as much as I want to deny that, he probably can and will.
My father, Walter Jones, has always been a flirt and never takes anything seriously. Because of his good looks, he’s relied on those to get him by and they haven’t let him down yet. From as far back as I can remember in my 17 years, my mother has always tended to his every need, whether it’s getting the remote on the table to placing his slippers and cigar by his armchair every single night. And he has not thanked her once. He’s one of those men that feel the need to showcase his masculinity to just about everybody, even his own family. He always wants to have the last word and if you go against him he won’t even listen. Of course, my mother is the typical soft-spoken housewife that wouldn’t ever dare to go against her husband no matter how many times I’ve told her to stand up to him. Even when you catch him in a lie all he does is tap his middle finger on the table or armchair or any surface around, and tries to come up with some excuse. It usually works since one of his many helpful qualities is smooth-talking.
But I never expected him to leave my mother. I don’t know why. His personality definitely points to it. I guess it’s because even with the way he treats Mom I thought maybe deep down inside his selfish little heart he appreciated or at least acknowledged all she did for him. I thought that maybe since he had a family that was more or less normal and hasn’t given him many problems he’d be grateful for that. I guess the little hope I had in him is gone now. I tried to love him and appreciate the fact that he’s the one paying for the roof over our heads, but I’ve never even called him Dad and I honestly would never be able to get past the way he treats Mom.
Mom bursts into tears, her sobbing getting increasingly louder by the second. Her hands are balled up into tight little fists as she cries into them, her tears streaming down her arms and onto the Oakwood table. Her fragile body heaves uncontrollably and shakes every now and then.
“Lucy, why are you crying? I told you not to cry in front of the kids. Jesus, how much more awkward can you make it?”
“How do you expect her not to cry, you asshole!? You’re leaving her after all she’s done and sacrificed for you! She’s basically your slave, for chrissakes! You know you never loved her! You just got married to her because that’s the ‘American dream’ and all you wanted to do was please your parents. But now there’s some whore, right? Some whore that convinced you enough to leave Mom by shaking her tits and ass in front you for a couple of bucks! Don’t think that we don’t all know that you’ve always been cheating on Mom! You think you’re so smooth and perfect! Just wait ‘til that fucking whore takes all your money! Then you’re gonna know what real hardship and pain is like! Leave! Nobody needs you here!” I yell. My heart is knocking against my chest and my head is throbbing.
“What the hell are you talking about, Amanda!? Where did you get that garbage from? And who told you this, huh? So I can give ‘em a good taste of this fist. I already told you the reason I’m leaving your mother. So stop making up stuff before I have to resort to other methods to discipline you.” He taps his middle finger against the table, getting faster and faster.
“What? You’re gonna hit me!? You wanna show what a macho man you are, right? Well go ahead! You’re a despicable human being that only cares about himself. I don’t know how Mom ever fell in love with you! You’re a disgrace to this family, as a husband and as a father!”
In a split second I’m on the floor, my cheek throbbing. It takes me a couple of seconds to realize that this bastard just hit me. I try to get up but my legs feel like they’re being held down by 65 pound weights. The insatiable rage that is rising within me at this moment is slowly taking over, moving up my body, as the heat clouds my heart, my eyes, and my judgment.
“STOP!” Mom cries. All the anger dissipates as soon as I hear Mom’s voice next to my ear. As I blink I see Mom holding my arm and my eyes travel down my pale arm to my fingers, which are holding the knife we left on the table the night before. My father is cowering on the floor with his hands stretched out, as if that would’ve saved him from my attack. His green eyes are wide open, glued to the knife. He’s barely blinking.
“Please stop, Amanda. You’re right. He has made me suffer but at least I have two wonderful children. Put down the knife, sweetie,” Mom says as she slowly pries the knife from my hands.
“Are you okay?” Tom says, as my knees buckle and I plop down on the floor. His big ass pushes the chair back as he struggles to kneel down next to me.
“You need to leave, now. I don’t even want to look at you. If I was a different woman I would’ve attacked you myself for hitting your own daughter. You’re despicable. Go get your bags and run off with that…that whore!” Mom says, trying to stifle the tears long enough to finish the sentence. “GO NOW!” She starts sobbing again, her wails echoing around the room and reverberating in my ear drums. It’s a sound so sad and depressing that it’s as if the sorrow coming from it is going to suffocate us all. All I remember after this is hearing the scuffling of feet on the laminated wooden floors and the front door slamming shut.
I also wrote these poems for my creative writing class a while back but forgot to post them. My teacher suggested that I submit them to the literary journal in my school, along with Salvation. I did submit them but only Salvation was chosen. I don’t mind though. It was enough that one thing was chosen to get published. That’s enough for me. I’m really happy I took the chance to send my work in even knowing that they might get rejected. I’ll keep writing and improving and putting my stuff out there. Btw, the pantoum is supposed to be centered but apparently I can’t do that on here. So, just keep in mind that the way it is intended be read and viewed is with the orientation centered.
My grandfather gave me a beautiful alpine goat with smooth grey hair, and a black and white stripe running down its dish-face. I decide to walk the goat; strap a leash around its neck and step out of the rusty truck. On the cracked sidewalk now, my old apartment building towers over me. I climb the thick cement steps with the goat, zigzagging as it walks, from one end to the other, as if drunk with longing, looking for answers in the dirty ground. There’s a large air conditioner ahead of us spewing water, beckoning to my beautiful alpine goat. It gracefully makes its way there, its thin white legs tak tak takking on the aged concrete beneath us. As it steps under the air conditioner, it melts…instantaneously. I gently yank the leash in an effort to save it but now all that remains is a white puddle. To my right is the spot where the water from the air conditioner is splashing onto the stiff ground. It’s not a puddle of clear water I see on the ground, not the kind you can see your reflection and your desires in. It’s a green, murky liquid, bubbling, brewing, leading me to believe that it was not water but acid that killed my goat.
The light is centered on a small enclosed space in the middle of the stage, representing the elevator. Everything around it is dark so that the focus is only on the elevator.
At rise: MARGARET is on the right corner of the elevator cradling her pregnant belly and JIM is on the left corner fidgeting nervously.
(In between heavy breaths) What floor are you going to?
(SHE presses a button on the side) Oh man. I hope we get up there quick. I don’t think little Daisy can take much more of this. (Rubs belly)
(There’s a loud screeching sound and hard clunk, as the elevator shakes a bit. MARGARET and JIM try to steady themselves.)
Not again! It’s happened three times this week already! If I have my baby in this elevator I’m going to strangle that landlord!
What? But it has to work! (Pressing various buttons frantically) I…I can’t stay in here! (Starts pacing around)
Calm down Jim. Just press the emergency button and they’ll be here soon enough. (Holding on to belly while taking deep breaths)
No! No! You don’t understand! I can’t be here! Today was supposed to be the day! (Starts mumbling to himself as he paces back and forth)
The day for what? You need to calm down Jim! You freaking out in a cramped elevator is not the best thing to do right now, especially with a pregnant woman on board.
How can I calm down!? I can’t handle this anymore! Do you know what I was going to do, huh!? I was going to kill myself! I was going to the top floor of this building to throw myself off!
What!? But Jim! What about your wife and children!?
What about my wife and children!? You don’t know anything Margaret!
Oh no. No, no, no! (Looking down at the puddle beneath her feet) Fuck!
What the hell is that!?
What the hell do you think it is? (Taking deep breaths)
You are not having it in here!
(Moaning in pain) Well too bad, Jim! Now get your ass over here because it’s coming! You’ve had three kids already so I don’t know why the hell you’re freaking out! (Lies down on the floor with her legs spread apart)
Well, I didn’t deliver the kids!
Please Jim! I can’t have this child on my own! As much as I’d rather have it at the hospital you’re the only one here who can help!
Alright, alright. (Sits down across from Margaret, nervously looking anywhere but between her legs)
(Laughs) Oh come on Jim! Just think of this as a good deed! (Her face scrunches up in pain) Jim! I think little Daisy is coming! Owwww!
Uhh, okay! Just take deep breaths! One, two! One, two!
(Weakly) Why don’t you tell me something…anything? I need a distraction until the contractions start again. (Taking deep breaths) Now tell me, why were you going to kill yourself?
Oh please, Margaret. I hardly even know you. You wouldn’t understand anyway, what with your perfect marriage and whatnot.
And how do you know that? Do you live with me and James? Every marriage has its ups and downs and trust me, mine isn’t perfect. James was supposed to meet me here so we could go to the hospital together but his boss needed him, as always. Does that sound like perfect to you? And who cares? If you’re going to kill yourself then it doesn’t matter if you tell me. The end result is the same.
(Hesitantly) I guess I can see your point. Alright, let’s see if you can handle this. Well, I caught Betty cheating on me with some asshole named Jose from her job. I come home from work early on Friday of last week, expecting to be home alone. When I walk in through my front door I already felt something was wrong. I looked around quietly, thinking maybe there was a robber in the house or something, or one of the kids had cut school. What do you think I find when I open the door to my bedroom? Betty with her legs wrapped around Jose, riding him! I almost ripped him to shreds!
Jim. Oh my God. I’m so sorry. (Grabbing on to her stomach) Jim! Daisy is coming! Ahhhhh! Shit! Why did I get myself into this!? Why can’t men have the children instead! Ahhhh! (Pushes)
Come on! Keep pushing, Margaret! Deep breaths!
Keep telling me about yourself, Jim. It helps. Owwwww!!
Uhh, okay okay! Well, after that I asked her why she did it and you want to know what she said!? (Mimicking a woman’s voice) Oh, well, you’re never home! I was getting bored! I couldn’t take it anymore! And when Jose showed an interest in me, I just couldn’t resist!
What!? (Pushes) Ahhh! Are you kidding me!? How could she say that after 10 years of marriage!?
Keep pushing! You’re getting there! (Wiping his forehead) Well, yeah. I had to leave at that moment because I didn’t know what I would’ve done to her if I had stayed there. I thought long and hard about it. Just how much of my marriage was a lie? Has she cheated on me with other men? What about our children? Do they mean nothing to her? It blew my mind. I loved that woman more than anything. I couldn’t take another day with her but divorcing her would be a hassle and deciding who the kids stayed with would be a whole other dilemma. I guess I felt the easiest way out was to kill myself, but also a punishment to her so that she has to deal with the bills, the lack of money, the children, the ridicule.
Now I can see why you want to kill yourself. But, Jim, you’re pretty damn selfish if you ask me. You’re children have no fault in this and yet by killing yourself you’re leaving them behind and punishing them for something you’re wife did. (Pushes harder) Aghhhh!
I see the head! Keep it coming!
(Struggling to talk) Jim, what do you think would’ve happened to your children if you’d thrown yourself off the building? (Pushing) Ahhhhh! (Breathing hard) They’d be stuck with your wife who wouldn’t have enough money to pay the bills! They might even be placed in foster homes if it so happens that she ends up not having the means to keep her children alive! Would you be able to live with that!? (Pushes again)
(A baby’s cries are heard and JIM straightens up, cradling a baby in his arms.)
(Smiling) She’s beautiful. (Hands over the baby to MARGARET)
She certainly is. Jim, do you think you could really go ahead and kill yourself and be okay with leaving your children behind with a woman like that?
(Lets out a deep breath) You’re right. I can’t just leave my children like that. They deserve better. (Looking at Daisy) They’re innocent. None of this is their fault so why should I punish them for it?
(A low rumbling sound is heard.)
(Smiling) Good timing. You ready, Jim?
Yes, I am.
[I wrote this play a bit after Salvation for my creative writing class. I was surprised when my teacher made me read it in class, along with my boyfriend, Luis. It was pretty funny and embarrassing but I honestly didn’t think it was worth reading aloud. I felt it was okay. But I’m probably biased because I believe that all my writing sucks. I’m just never satisfied and always see room for improvement. It’s not that I’m not proud of what I write, but I always find something wrong with it or that I could change. Then I find out from feedback that it’s a great story or play or poem and all my worrying about getting a bad grade or being told my writing sucks was for nothing. I’m really happy that people have responded well to my writing, especially my teacher which was a great honor and definitely helped to make me a little more confident in my abilities as a budding writer. I hope I don’t disappoint with this one either. And, by the way, the format is a bit off since tumblr doesn’t let me do certain things so normally it would not look like this on paper. Enjoy!]
My name is Julie Winters. I am thirty-two years old. I live in one of the many houses in the suburbs of New Rochelle, New York. I live in the sky blue one with the grey roof and the red mailbox. Every day I wake up at 5am on the dot. I slowly slip out of bed, careful not to wake my husband. I slip my pale feet into my slippers and make my way to the bathroom. I strongly believe in keeping myself looking young and healthy so I go through a very strict routine every morning. I start with a shower. In the shower, I use a gentle cleansing body wash, followed by an exfoliating akai berry and orange body scrub. After that, I use an all-natural cleanser and exfoliating gel scrub on my face. After I get out of the shower, I brush my teeth with whitening, mint-flavored toothpaste.
I then proceed to apply an age-defying facial masque. I always like to look at myself in the mirror when I apply the facial masque. I like to see it harden on my face, as if creating a mold of my face. With this mask I can do anything. Sure, it’s a mold of my face but underneath it is a cruelty that knows no bounds. I like to keep this “mask” on as I go about my day. This idea of Julie Winters, this person, does not exist. She is only but an illusion to others; one that I like to keep up. Though you see my warm smile, and you feel my warm body against yours as we hug, and maybe you even sense that we may have something in common: I simply am not there. The personality, the way I dress, the things I say are all fabricated. My conscience, my pity, my hopes disappeared a long time ago, if they ever did exist.
After I finish with my morning routine I decide to wear my red dress with the white collar. I wake up my husband with a kiss on the forehead and I say to him,
“Honey, time to get up. Don’t want to be late for work.”
“Hmm? Oh, good morning, honey. Are my slippers by the bed?”
“Of course they are, sweetie. I’d never forget that. And your robe is by the chair.”
“Good. I have a big presentation today. Can’t have my day starting off on a bad note.
“Well that’s what I’m here for; to make sure your day starts out right.”
“Off to make breakfast, right?”
“Yes, honey. Now, go get ready and by the time you come down I’ll have breakfast ready.”
I then proceed to wake up the children by gently shaking them. I have two children: Mary Sue who’s 12 years old and Billy who just turned 9.
“Wake up sweetheart. It’s time for school. Don’t want to miss the school bus, now do we?”
Mary Sue shuffles around a bit, reluctant to open her eyes.
“Come on, sweetheart. You have to get up.”
I keep on gently shaking her until she opens her eyes and says, “Good morning mommy. Should I wake up Billy?”
“Yes, sweetheart. Then you help him get ready, okay? Your clothes are on the desk, and your brother’s are on the chair.”
I have to play my part as the “housewife” to the fullest in order not to arouse any suspicion. I make my way downstairs to the kitchen. I stop at the entryway of the kitchen and stare at the dreary walls, the shiny oak counters, the marble floor, and the yellow curtains. I hate those stupid shiny counters. This kitchen seems so much better at night. This is the point in my role as housewife where I start making breakfast. As I finish the scrambled eggs with bacon and a side of toast, along with some orange juice; coffee for my husband, of course, I wait for all of them to come downstairs.
You may ask yourself why I’m going into such detail about my daily life. Well, I want you to see the extent to which I play my role as housewife. I have it down to an art. To the neighbors, I’m the perfect housewife, the perfect mother, and the perfect friend. But, the reason I do all this is to be able to freely let go at night and let my desires run rampant.
This all started back when Mary Sue was still seven and little Billy was only four. In the beginning of my marriage to Ted Winters I was happy and eager to have children. After I had my two children, I focused on raising them and being there for my husband when he got home. All of this I accepted until that day.
My husband had left for work already, Mary Sue had gone to school, and Billy was asleep. I’m on my way out to water the plants in the garden when I notice there is a raccoon trapped in one of my husband’s homemade animal traps. As I get closer, I realize it is dead. With my gardening gloves still on, I grab the raccoon by the tail and try to pull it out of the trap. I pull and it RIPS. I pull some more and it RIPS some more. The only thing I’m managing to do is slowly tearing the tail from its body. I start to get frustrated at this dead animal which is clearly preventing me from doing my gardening. I grab the trap and stomp my way to the kitchen. I place it down on the shiny wooden counter harder than I had intended to, making a loud clanking sound that echoed throughout the walls. Hmm, now how am I supposed to get this thing out of the trap?
I start to look in the drawers. Drawer number one has spoons and forks. Drawer number two has a couple of pens and a notepad. And drawer number three has…knives. Seems like we have a winner! Hmm, I never knew we had knives this big in this house. How did I not notice this before?
There’s one knife in particular that catches my attention. It seems to be shinier than the rest. It has this gleam that gives it an almost ethereal quality. I can’t take my eyes off of it. It is perfectly sharp; perfectly clean; perfectly made for me. I grab it by the handle. It feels even more amazing in my hand. What’s this feeling inside me? Why am I so fascinated by this knife, a butcher knife at that? As I examine the butcher knife I see my reflection on the blade. Who is this person looking back at me? The eyes are wide with excitement. The mouth is half open as if anticipating something to happen. I don’t recognize this person at all. Is this the real me? Have I been living a lie all this time? It’s like I woke up this dormant beast inside of me and there’s no way to silence it.
Right at this moment something clicks in my head. I’m not a housewife. I’m not a mother. I’m not even a neighbor. This person that I was up until this point doesn’t exist anymore. I don’t even know if that person ever existed. My life before this point seems so blurry now. But I don’t care. With this knife in my hand I can let this demon loose; this demon I never knew I had dormant inside of me.
I turn my attention towards the dead raccoon in the trap. My eyes run across its body, examining every little detail. From the eyes staring ahead in shock, to the grey fur littered with spots of caked on blood, to the left leg, caught in between the trap’s sharp bloody teeth. My eyes keep lingering on the left leg. With a bit of effort I pry open the trap’s teeth.
“Now I’m free to do whatever I want to you. But first I must get the cutting board”, I say happily.
I get the cutting board and place it on the counter. Still wearing my gardening gloves, I pick up the raccoon by the tail.
“Heh, seems like I forgot the tail was coming off.”
The raccoon is hanging on to its tail by a thread. I place it neatly on the cutting board, as if I was ready to cut up some chicken breast or beef. The anticipation is killing me. I notice my palms are sweaty, my breathing has quickened, and I can feel my rapid heartbeat pounding at my chest.
CHOP. There goes its tail.
CHOP. There goes its lower half.
CHOP. There goes its little torso too.
CHOP. And there goes its head.
I look at my surroundings. Everything is so fuzzy, so blurry, so unreal. The room starts spinning and there’s a deafening whirring in my ears. My grip on the knife loosens as the strength in my hands seems to dissipate. It slips out of my hand and clashes with the marble floor. I grab onto the counter with both hands to steady myself. I close my eyes and take a couple of deep breaths.
“What the fuck?”
I open my eyes slowly. As my eyes adjust, I start to notice something shiny. What is that? It’s not the knife. It’s the counters; the shiny oak counters I hate so much. But something is different now. They’re beautiful, so very beautiful. The blood is resting upon the counters, as if complementing it. The splattered blood that landed on the counter so artistically, almost as if the oak counters are my canvas and the blood is my paint. I take a step back and look at the result of my actions. The raccoon sits there neatly on the cutting board. All around it is blood; splattered on the counter, in the sink, on the floor. Bits of fur litter the cutting board, held in place by the blood. The raccoon itself is surrounded by a puddle of blood that’s slowly dripping onto the marble floor.
“It’s a masterpiece.”
I look around a bit more until my eyes fall on the clock on the wall.
“It’s…2:45pm. Shit! The school bus will be here in half an hour!”
I start to panic. I need to clean all this up. More importantly, what am I going to do with the raccoon? Hmm…It looks just like any other type of meat. And I am tired of making the same thing everyday. Hmm…
I have to work quickly if I’m going to pull this off. I run to the pantry room and get bleach, soap, and a couple of towels. The towels absorb the blood quickly, destroying my masterpiece. The bleach is diluting my masterpiece, as if it had never existed. I move the raccoon to the sink and finish cleaning up the blood from the counters and floor. I wash the butcher knife and use it to skin the raccoon. I enjoy watching the strips of skin fall one by one into the kitchen sink. The more I skin, the more it starts to look like any other piece of meat. Peel away the layers and it will be unrecognizable. I remove the bones, the paws, the heart, and the intestines. I put it in a bag along with its head and tail. The rest I will use.
I take off my dress, slip my feet out of my shoes, and finally remove the gardening gloves. I put this all in a bag and decide to hide it in a cupboard in the pantry room. Ted never goes in there and neither do either of the children. After I change into another dress, I go back to the kitchen. Stupid shiny oak counters. I season the meat, just like I would any other meat I’ve cooked before. Ten minutes later, as I begin to fry the meat, Mary Sue comes in through the kitchen door and says,
“Mommy, what smells so good!?”
“It’s a surprise! Mommy is cooking some new meat. Just wait ‘till dinner and you’ll see just how tasty it is.”
“Aw come on mommy! I wanna know what it is!”
“No, sweetheart. You’ll just have to wait. Now go put your book bag down and change into something more comfortable. Then, you start your homework, okay?”
Needless to say, they definitely enjoyed the meal. My husband especially liked it. I make raccoon every now and then. But, after that day, my hunger for blood and dismemberment and guts and death only grew. I couldn’t stop. I moved on to cats, dogs, mice, birds, hamsters, ferrets, squirrels, even skunks. Each time I create a masterpiece and each time I have to wipe it away. This is the only way I can go on living this life. I play my role as housewife and I get to feed my masterpiece to my family. They can revel in my art and praise it, not knowing what it really is or who I really am. Not one of them suspect a thing and they never will because I am Julie Winters, a housewife, a mother, and a good neighbor.
[Just in case anybody was wondering and so I don’t get in trouble, there’s like 2 or 3 lines that I took from the American Psycho film. I had to. Those lines were just too perfect and there was no way I could possibly change them to sound any better so the credit for those lines goes solely to American Psycho. The rest is from my own head. I hope it’s okay.]
I submitted this short story to the literary journal of my school and they actually chose it. This is the final version for publication and I felt like putting it on here because this is one piece of writing that I can say I’m proud of. Of course, I think I can do better and in time I’ll probably revise it again but for now it’s good. Here it is:
I wake up this morning feeling like today is going to be a good day. I throw on a robe and head towards the front door. I open it, and the sun shines its heavenly rays on my face. I pick up the crisp newspaper waiting for me by the grey floor mat, remove the rubber band, and open up the newspaper. Guess what’s on the front page?
“JESUS, BACK FROM THE DEAD. THIS MAY WELL BE YOUR LAST SUPPER.” About time he came back for us. My eyes hungrily scan the page for more information. They center on one very important sentence: The only way to salvation is to be eaten by Jesus himself. To my delight I find that he’s going to be in Albany tomorrow.
I quickly close the door, the clicking sound resonating in the empty hallway. I walk to the kitchen, passing the chipped wooden cross propped up against the white wall. I grab the phone off the wall and dial Betty’s number.
“Betty? Guess what! Jesus is back. And the only way to be saved is by having him eat you. We have to get in line early. Apparently he’s going to be at City Hall tomorrow.”
“Are you serious? Where did you hear about this?”
The newspaper. So, what do you think I should wear? I was thinking maybe not too many layers since Jesus will have a lot to digest to begin with.”
“I agree. I’ll do that, too. What time should we meet and where?”
“Why don’t we meet at the corner of Tonk Street and Merryweather at 7:00am?”
“Sounds good to me. Well, I’m gonna go now. I have to tell my mom. She’s been waiting for this day since she was 10.”
The next day I get up at 6:00am. Maybe I’ll get to see him in all his glory before he starts eating people. I decide to wear my white t-shirt with the blue rose on the front, its delicate petals glistening with water, its stem a faded green and my favorite black cotton shorts. I want to make this as effortless as possible for Jesus, so no jewelry. He’s done so much for us, it’s the least I could do for him.
As I walk to our meeting spot, I watch the willow trees dancing in the wind, the leaves swaying to their own music. The desolate bank across the street, the lonely swings in the park to my left, and the dark 24-hour supermarket all seem so lifeless and sad. I spot Betty in the distance. She’s wearing a yellow and red floral dress that comes together at the waist and fans out to land neatly just above her knees. I reach her, and we speed off without a word towards City Hall, our feet pattering against the cold concrete, both aware that we have no time to waste.
When we are finally close enough to see the tall, menacing stature of City Hall’s giant steps, perfectly ridged columns, and dull grey exterior, Betty and I notice that there are already people there. Damn it. We should’ve gotten here earlier. There are already about 100 people here, all in line with their loved ones and friends and there must be even more further on in line. I spot Jimmy Brown with his wife Angela and little Nancy by their side towards the front of the line. As I scan the crowd I see Edward Singleton, the nosy man from across the street and Mrs. Jones behind him knitting what looked like a sweater with the words “Our Savior” on it. We start to head towards the back of the line, recognizing a couple of faces here and there. The line never seems to end. It reaches Ware Street about 3 blocks down before we are able to take our place in line. As we take our place in line, I start to observe the man in front of me. He’s an overweight man, his rolls of fat spilling off the sides so that it looks as if his fat is a tutu that isn’t long enough to cover his butt. His greasy grey hair sticks to his cheeks and his sweat serves as the glue. He’s wearing brown shorts that end just below his knees, revealing his hairy legs. He’s wearing worn-out boots that look a size too small for him, suffocating what should be his ankles. Are you telling me this is the guy that’s going before me? Jesus is going to be full after eating that mass of blubber and fat. Then what happens to me? I have to wait? I don’t get my turn? I should go first.
Two hours later, Jesus arrives, escorted by men in what look like yellow beehive suits. As they walk by us people begin gasping, crying, yelling for joy, and saying just about anything that comes to mind. His skin is grey and you can even see some of the bones protruding from his body where the flaps of decaying skin are peeling off. His glazed eyes dart about quickly, examining the mass of people here to see him. His long brown hair is caked in blood and he’s wearing a tattered white robe, almost completely covered in black, grey, brown, but mostly splashes of red. He looks wonderful. It’s Jesus in person and I’m going to have the honor of being face to face with him. By now, the words being yelled out are indistinguishable so that it sounds like I’m locked in a baseball stadium, the people’s chattering turning into a sort of annoying hum that never ends and keeps grinding at my ears. As he limps away, both hands reaching outward, I take this chance to try to talk some sense into the man in front of me.
“Excuse me, sir? Don’t you think it would be a bit more considerate to move to the back of the line since Jesus will be taking quite a while to eat you? It would be better to let us smaller people go first so that he doesn’t get full from eating you. That wouldn’t be fair to everybody else behind you, now would it?”
His eyes bulge out and his bushy unibrow makes a hairy V. His cheeks puff up and his face is littered with blotches of red and white. How rude. I was only looking out for Jesus’ well-being and the interests of others. He turns around and stays that way for the rest of our time there, even after my various attempts at getting him to let me skip him. As I preoccupy myself with this I don’t notice that the line has advanced a great deal. Soon enough, it’s ‘ol fatty’s turn. I watch as some other men in beehive suits throw buckets of holy water at him until finally every little roll is drenched in holy water. They have to purify the person before letting Jesus feast, of course. The men then grab him by his meaty arms and guide him to a spot on the stage floor marked with a black cross.
Jesus stands there looking at this man, probably reciting a quick prayer for him before salvation. Then, as if in slow motion, I see Jesus open his mouth wide enough to fit two fists in there. His back arches forward as he gracefully lunges at the man’s face. There’s a lot of squishing and spurting fountains of blood bathing the stage in a beautiful sea of red. Jesus moves on to the chest, first biting off the man’s breast and playfully shaking his head as a dog would when playing with a rag doll. He then focuses on the stomach and the tutu of fat, gnawing at it like a baby chewing on a toy. He’s so angelic and beautiful. Tears well up in my eyes until the fat man’s slowly disappearing body is blurred out completely. I keep the tears there for a bit, absorbing the overwhelming joy I’m feeling right now. When I finally blink, I look straight ahead to see Jesus staring at me from the stage. I see a man with bloodshot glazed eyes, the color of the pupils a faded green. His nose is peeling a bit on the left side and his mouth is open, blood dripping from his black and yellow teeth, bits of pink flesh stuck in between them. I notice the delicious scent of rotting skin wafting its way up my nostrils, stinging the insides. I’m next.
This song is always stuck in my head. I love it!! Yes, I know it’s in Japanese and people who don’t speak Japanese wont understand it but I feel that music is something that transcends language. Even though I’m learning Japanese now I’m still not fluent enough to understand everything they say. Actually, I only understand a couple of simple words but that doesn’t stop me from listening to Japanese rock. I hate it when people ask me why I listen to it if I cant even understand what they’re saying. That’s why there’s websites that have the lyrics translated into English. So, it’s not like I’m listening to this blindly and even if i was…so what? When I listen to music it has to leave an impression on me, whether it was the vocals, the guitar, the drums, or just anything about it. That is how I decide if I want to listen to more of a certain band. So if I like the beat and the vocalist’s voice in general but it’s in another language, for example, I will definitely give it a chance anyway. Some people are so close-minded. Even if you’re not used to music like that I feel that people should keep an open mind and give it a chance anyway and you may be surprised by what you find.