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outta

black and white shot of shower

He'd spent all day prepping. He'd done the perfect beauty ritual - a bubbling clay mask, scrub and moisturizer. He'd oiled and straightened his beard, his fucking facial hair was flawless.

He'd pressed his favorite shirt. The floral with just enough formalness but still casual at heart. He'd not eaten the day before so he could fit into his sexy slim fit jeans. He'd back off 30% on his usual fragrances.

He arrived at dinner. He sipped on chardonnay and decided against more bread - until thirty minutes had passed. The server understood, she'd obviously been there herself.

"Even if he's not coming you should have something to eat, honey.", she'd said.

He had the largest alfredo pasta ever, more wine than seemed humanly possible and two tiramisus for dessert, with a third in a to-go box.

no email from him. no text.

After stumbling home, he had already been sitting under the hot shower for 20 minutes waiting for his sour, angry mood to improve.

"Wash that man right outta my hair, my ass.", he muttered to himself.

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despite this soft death

donuts

A bookish man with an unkempt mop of greying hair sat nervously fumbling through large pieces of parchment. Stepping up into the soft mauve spotlight, staring up nervously, he began to speak.

"Are you reminded of your youth when you have a mouthful of fresh hot french fries?

Of lost loves at the taste of a lemon poppyseed cake.

Of your drunk aunty the way your tongue rolls around in your mouth over a perfect risotto.

How he tasted in the shower that November morning before he left when you crunch into a crumpet laden with butter and honey.

Your father who used to embarrass you screaming at waiters in restaurants when you are served a slightly over-toasted sourdough crouton in a caesar salad.

Carbs are........

Carbs.................

are killing you softly. Yet, despite this soft death, we cannot help ourselves.

Carbs are love,

our intimacies,

our memories,

Carbs are sex.

All this and more when I cried a small tear this morning when I woke up alone, without donuts."

Finger snaps moved across the room like the wave at a football stadium, the room filling with affirmative murmurs of no longer hushed observations.

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the dirt is still here

sprout

I was out for my Sunday run when I saw him kneeling in one of the flower beds. The old Placer place had been on the market so long it really was a surprise when it finally sold. Its yard was overgrown and the house, far removed from the street, took on a southern gothic air. The moving vans came and went, the neighbors all eager to see who their new neighbor was. He continued his work nonstop until everything was meticulously manicured and restored. Watching him work was like watching someone fulfill the most devout monastic journey.

This admiration went for several Sundays. We grew to expect each other, looking expectantly from our respective worlds. It started with a smile to a stranger, which turned into a friendly wave. Finally, I circled back after a wave and stopped to talk to him.

He introduced himself as ‘the gardener,’ curiously with no proper name. The first thing I noticed was his dirty fingernails. The second was the large-scale chain and lock around his neck. He wore a sunhat that was in scale with the rest of him. He was a gigantic man with tattoos seemingly everywhere.

I told him how much I admired his dedication to the garden, that I never seem to find time to work in my own. That with the hustle bustle of life - the internet, the job, the wife, the kids, my folks - that it felt like so many things fell through my fingers.

"See here," he motioned, pointing to a handful of dirt in his hands, letting it fall between his fingers, "What you are missing is that even though it falls through my fingers.... the dirt is still here."

He reached down, gently caressing the fallen dirt he'd just dropped like one might the soft cheek on a child.

"It never goes away, ya see....," he said with a friendly smile, looking back up at me,“..it's just waiting here to be worked another time. Sure as shit, it fell through my fingers, it just means I have to reach for it again another time rather than considering the earth as "lost" to me, or as some kind of failure. The dirt is always waiting for me here. The dirt doesn't get offended.

Your only requirement is be to aware and present right in this instant, enjoy who you are with now, like we clearly are......versus being distracted by all the things you could be doing. Do your very best for the person or task you are in right now, and let the rest fall away.

I figure that's how I became a good man in the garden. When I'm out here - nothing else matters, and I give my best self to just this task. There are other tasks in life, to be sure, but they'll come in their own time. You'll see. It's like a magic spell."

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No Prince Can Save You Now

warriors

Snow White was enjoying the quiet. The guys were off at the mine. The bluebirds were off at a convention and not asking for duets with her. She had finished her chores and was enjoying a cup of chamomile.

She should have known better.

It was too quiet.

She was about to move for her sword when the boot smashed into the side of her face. She tumbled into the corner.

“Snow.,” snarled the female voice.

“Pocahontas.,” she said, bluntly acknowledging the tall warrior woman, sword drawn, standing in her living room.

“I heard what you did to Ariel. You know all the legend says is, ‘Cut off their head, absorb their power,’ – it says nothing about filet them and hang them in the harbor for everyone to see. That’s not normal. You’re sick. You need help.”

“That’s rich coming from the woman who left her prince to come back and live with seven dwarfling husbands in a small house and one bed. Pervert.”

The sword sang from behind Pocahontas and flew into Snow’s hands.

“Still relying on fairy god-mother to keep you alive with enchantments, eh, Snow? Let’s end this.”

"I will cut you up into all of the fucking colors of the wind, you bitch!"

The swords clashed in a flash of magic and steel.

Snow stared her down defiantly.

“There can be only one.”

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silence

faucet

Silence has crashed around me. Paralyzing and terrifying as my usual busy previous world has become utterly silent.

I used to run to the window at the sound of a car. The busses stopped a few weeks ago - and then the airplanes stopped. Food boxes arrive in the dark of night, and we all go out at our prescribed time to get them. Alone, I look up and down the street, greeted by nothing at all.

At first, we all felt saved by the internet with its limitless supply of information, fauxtertainment. Distraction. But that is all gone now too.

I imagine ancient ancestors having reverse concerns as the society of their time got louder and louder and louder. Until, however, we created so much that it came crashing down around us in what felt like an instant.

The leaky faucet in the guest bedroom is a sound usually drummed out by the din of everything else going on. Now it feels like my tell-tale heart.

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