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Friday, March 21st, 2003
3:36 am


       I watched a scrap of paper flutter upwards on the waves of heat still pulsing from the remains of the shed, its edges fading in and out of sight in the smoke. I absently picked a peeling bit of paint from the porch railing and released it into the air; it spun like a seed pod as it drifted to the ground and crumbled into dust. It wasn't always like this, I thought, feeling the brooding presence of the derelict house behind me. Even during the dying--while the lives whose last artifacts had become embers in the lawn were sinking further and further into bitterness--even then, the house must have been kept up. She wouldn't have let it go. Not until the very end.
       I turned to face the dilapidated siding, the dust-covered windowsills and dimmed glass and the sagging screen door, trying to imagine a whole family pulling itself apart between these walls. Trying to make sense of my own connection to that family. It would have been amazing, really, if we had gotten even half as far as we had, hunting down old acquaintances and former neighbors and past lovers, all tied somehow into the life of a man Micah and I had never met. Like wearing someone else's skin for a day. For months. Over the course of the long search, I began to feel as if I were that man--as if his anger and his hatred and his guilt and grief and sorrow were all mine. Near the end, I knew him better than I knew myself. My life became his shadow. My sight became a tool for his memory, as if I could only see someone else's old photographs whenever I closed my eyes. Like tattered sheet music played over and over through my life. It was as if my own soul had become part of his--as if my voice were only his echo. As if my flesh were really just his ghost--
       I twisted violently away from the door and leaned heavily on the rail, my arms straight and stiff, staring hard at the smoldering remnains of the shed. It's over. It's all over now. After a few minutes, my jaw unclenched and I felt I could breathe cleanly again. Almost as cleanly as the house, its doors and windows open for the first time in almost fifty years. The house was free; maybe its long-gone occupants could be free as well. Maybe I could be free again. You are, I emphasized with a silent shake of my head. The man who had become so much a part of me--of whom I had become a part--had finally been put to rest, I thought, with the memories we'd released in the flames of that pyre.
       Still. It was amazing at how powerfully that name had infiltrated my life--powerfully and secretly. I didn't even realize the first time I came across it until weeks later; a few words on a faded poster, the last bit visible from the very bottom layer of an ancient ad-plastered wall on a January New York street--In Concert; Composed & Conducted by Silas Avery.

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Wednesday, March 19th, 2003
11:48 am

arna bontemps says time is not a river. time is a pendulum.

methamphetamines and caffeine and fred-and-the-drug-shed. we want to release the continuity from the stream, the time not stopping. we want to break the straightness, and put in some wilderness. the truth is, whether we're sitting in a coffee shop or watching our childhood burst into flames, there ain't no denying we're swinging back and forth, coming back upon ourselves infinitely.

i told mike, "while i was putting those boxes of... of my life here, in the shed, all i could think was these are the most expensive things i ever owned. especially the dolls." he told me he snuck back to the shed when i was in the house getting a drink, and watched the flames turn colors when they started eating a new metal, or a polyester.

a pendulum swinging can seem chaotic but it will create a pattern -- it looks celtic, if you let it swing long enough. it looks like the tattoo my high-school friend erica has on her lower back: the universal symbol for "easy." erica is an exotic dancer in san francisco now. she rubs shoulders with drag queens the likes of which could be in The B-52s.

love shack. our tin roof got too rusted; we had to burn it down.

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Sunday, March 16th, 2003
9:28 pm

I am the opposite of inspired... My english essay is sucking all the creativity out of me.

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5:15 pm
eddieev I've been kinda thinking about the story for a little while now. I'll post something either tonight or tomorrow night unless anyone else beats me to it!

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Friday, March 14th, 2003
7:57 pm

I can't think of anything to say anymore.... o.o

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Sunday, March 9th, 2003
9:08 pm

...the alley and wait for Fred to leave. ‘Course we didn’t know his name yet, but Mike was calling him (like they’d been pals for years):
“Bug eyes-“
“What do you mean Bug eyes?”
“You see those glasses on him? They were like the kind that magnify your eyes real big, y’know?” and flicked his fingers at my face.
“Mike, you wear glasses.”
“But not- I’m getting contacts, though”
Ha! I burst out laughing and stepped in a slushy gutter puddle at the same time.
“You’d said that – seriously Mike – three (ha!) years!”
“No, no,” he protested as I shook my shoe dry, “really I’m just used to my glasses, but in the spring I’m getting contacts. Because…Rhea, quit it now, c’mon- it’s warmer in the spring so…”
“Your allergies though!”
“Okay, okay.”
And he decided the discussion was closed. Hell, I thought it was a hoot until the wind started blowing and we realized how it was far too cold for us to remain still. Ideal time for a burning shed. Or bed.
“How long’s he going to take?”
Mike was hunching his shoulders into the gust and seemed to agree.
“Let’s split,” he said.
We slushed down the muddy snow sidewalk for about two blocks towards the subway (passing a Checks Cashed, closed, & Wendy’s) when we discovered that Fred was pacing us across the street – apparently unaware – with his collar pulled up over his ears. I could see his glasses though, which were kinda fogged up.
I tugged Mike’s sleeve and pointed. For a moment it felt as if something had bit my ear, yet it felt fine. A little red. But there was Fred.
Time to pounce.

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6:48 pm

We put on our best 'you wouldn't understand' faces, and smiled in that patronizing way which is almost worse than reaching out and patting someone on the head, crooning, "There, there..." Broad winks were exchanged, and we smothered snickers as Fred turned back to his coffee, only after giving us a series of confused expressions.

"This is so much better than being at work," I whispered in a conspiratory tone, and he smiled and nodded before sipping his tea. We looked around, to find people still staring at us, as if expecting us, the so-called 'druggies', to suddenly jump up and dance on the table, but we didn't. That is to say, we thought about it, but decided not to.

We drained our cups, then stretched limbs and gave wide yawns. "Well, Rhea... I suppose we should be going." I arched a brow.

"Where to?"

"Our drug-shed, of course!"

"Ohhh... Right!" We both laughed, wrapping ourselves in our coats and shuffling towards the door. It was mutually understood that we were going across the street, to hang out in the....

(and here, I have run out of ideas... Plus my science homework needs doing.. Meep.)

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1:03 pm

We were quiet for three seconds. Fred stared at us, demanding us to speak. Three seconds was the time limit for awkward silence. Fred spoke first.

"What do you want?"

"Ah, nothing.. Sorry." I sat back down. Mike sat back down. We sat.

"Well HE wasn't very nice," I whispered to Mike. He nodded, closed his eyes. Sat.

"Oh my god," Mike said suddenly, sounding a little more queer than was needed. "What are we doing in a coffee shop?"

"I.. I don't know?"

"And, oh my god."


"I left the meth on! I was heating.. in the shed! Oh fuck! That's why it was burning."

"Mike. Please tell me you are kidding."

Mike looked down at the coffee table, darting his eyes back and forth from my face to the coffee stains.

"I'm sorry!" he blurted out.

"You're sorry?! You're fucking sorry?! That was a lot of meth, Mike! And there was cocaine, weed, AND heroin in there!"

"You saw the goddamn thing burning, too! And all you could do was sit there and stare at the smoke? What the fuck?"

By now, I'd noticed that the other coffee shop patrons had put down their Rand and Nabokov novels, making way for a slightly amusing drug brawl.

"I was tripping off that LSD we took earlier, Mike! What the hell did you expect me to do BUT look at the smoke?"

Mike shrugged, his temper gone. I calmed down, too. One drug shed lost. A couple thousand dollars. I'd get over it. I glanced over my shoulder at the black-turtle neck college kids who were still gawking at our table.

"Read your fucking Kerouac, ya quacks!" Mike shouted at them.

"Hey, I like Jack Kerouac," I said, squinting my eyes at him.


I closed my eyes, breathed in the coffee bean air, and readied myself for my next sentence.

"Mike," I said quietly, "I'm pregnant. And it isn't your baby."

He gasped. "Whose then? Whose is it?"

"It's Fred's."

Fred heard his name and turned to our table.

"What ya say?"

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Saturday, March 8th, 2003
3:37 am
eddieev Hey all!! I'm piss drunk right now, so this'll sound like one of those, "I love you guys!" speeches, but here goes: This is a seriously wicked group!! You're all excellent writers, and I feel privileged being here! I think we should give lesion a serious "thank you" for bringing us all together.
Now, [lol] could someone please give our first-person protagonist a name? I think she needs identification.
Take care all!

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3:01 am
eddieev And so we met our guide. 'Fred' was what we hoped we would never be, but one who had the wisdom to deter us from his path of failure. He was a hollow human being, but had the arrogance of God himself. In the time we knew him he would infer all the truths of life, all the things that he wished he'd done, but never had the balls to attempt. It was a Tuesday that we undid the only record of his life, but it seemed to take a lifetime to get to that point: Where you knew what he was about, what he was trying to tell us, but what we could never understand in our impetuous youth, what we never 'got' until it was too late to say 'thank you, we'll take it from here'.

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Friday, March 7th, 2003
12:40 pm

The absense of prior knowledge can make a determined go at looking like hope, anyways. It wouldn't have mattered in any case; the lack of cutting wind, trecherous slabs of ice and snow sticking to our eyebrows mixed with the presence of hot drinks would make a fine impetus for optimism. There were several minutes of wordy silence while we absorbed the atmosphere around us; filthy, disorganized and completely unaware of it's own state. The coffee shop and everything else in the City so far seemed to have the same organic beauty to it, a sort of accidental wonder created by pasting one layer of living over the freshly fallen remains of the last. The people here seemed so busy doing their living in their city that they didn't notice that the slow tide of their days were carving masterpieces into the walls.

I stared up at a photo of what I presume was someone's grandmother. She was radiant, surrounded by ugly-but-adored children and sitting in a lawn chair on what could have only been a sunny day. Someone had brutally waxpenciled her face into obscurity with the words "HUNGER FOR MATRIARCHY". I signalled for Mike to take a look with a nod of the head and directed eyes as I blew into my cup.

We had a good laugh.

Idling in coffee shops had always seemed like a wonderful way to spend time in the city; what more could we hope for at our age? Sadly, we couldn't take the time to nurture ourselves into proper bohemians. I stood from my chair and tapped our nearest neighbor on the shoulder, or at least his coat's shoulder. I earnestly couldn't tell if there was any person in there.

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Thursday, March 6th, 2003
11:23 pm

Snow fell violently, the otherwise harmless flecks whipped one way and then whirled another by merciless January winds. City streets were paved with ice and sleet and the sun was constantly blotted out by heavy clouds, causing time to slip away without reckoning, simply fading in cold hours and ticking clocks drowned out by the howling winds.

We sat at a table inside an unusually quiet New York coffee shop, coats and scarves sloughed off and draped over the backs of our chairs. We clutched cups of hot tea between fingers still shivering from the cold, and winced every time a bundled figure opened the door. Our soft whispers were inaudible to anyone but us, but our smiles were bright and hopeful despite the lack of hope, in that way that only naive children of our age can muster.

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9:00 pm


       I tucked a strand of hair behind my ear and shaded my eyes from the sun, leaning against the rail post and sliding down to sit on the splintery porch step. I smiled up, squinting, at Mike--short for Micah, but he'd gone by Mike ever since someone in the third grade had made fun of him. His face was a darkened haze with the midday sun hanging behind his head, but I could see the white of his teeth as he grinned at me in that half-earnest, half-secret way of his. "You're not funny," I told him straight-faced. He winked at me. "No." He grinned more broadly for an instant, then went back behind the same concerned, pensive face he'd been wearing all day. It seemed for a moment that he looked so... old--that worried thoughtfulness didn't belong on his face; his green eyes were made for smiling, not those frowny crinkles at the corners.
       But then, I'd been frowning for most of the day--most of the past few months, really. The sudden lightness was almost too quick a change; it seemed too soon to be carefree again. I looked down, running my bare toe along the rough timbers of the floorboards, listening to the whisper of my tough soles against the ancient wood. "I can't believe we--" I said pointlessly, not expecting a reply. Micah didn't give one, leaning back against the opposite rail and crossing his arms over his chest. I could almost hear him thinking the same thing that I was--This is it. This is really it. We'd come so far in so little time, and now there was a whole new world spread out in front of us; the grain fields that stretched golden from across the road to the horizon seemed like the haze of light that hangs for miles around the edges of a city at night--as if we'd drive into view of the skyline any minute. It was a lot to leave behind all at once. Not that anyone would believe half of what we'd done, least of all us.

--But then, maybe I'd better start at the beginning.

We were only seventeen...

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7:13 pm

I smiled. I suppose it was one of those tired, worn out smiles which says everything without saying anything. The heat of the afternoon rose steadily off the sunbaked concrete and skattered stones which formed the driveway, off the roof and the wooden planks which creaked beneath our chairs. I felt exhausted, yet at the same time I was filled with a boundless energy, a certain vibrancy which I felt sure must have radiated from my tired skin.

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1:07 am
eddieev "Hot enough for ya?" this was one of Mike's common jokes. We always thought that that was a kinda stupid thing to say on a hot day, and we always made fun of people who asked it for real. But today, with the smoldering shed, it was one of the things that put us both in stitches. I was actually waiting for him to say it, because it just wouldn't have worked coming out of my mouth.

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Wednesday, March 5th, 2003
11:38 pm

The streak of smoke that had stretched across the sky since dawn was slowing, like a tree limb that twisted slowly in the breeze. Like the cool draft from inside that came through the screen door and touched my bare feet every now and then. The house must have been breathing; it had been... well. A lot of years, since fresh air had touched its inner walls. Really touched them. It seemed like the newly empty attic was letting out a sigh. Even with the dust and cobwebs caking every inch of me, I felt incredibly clean. Everything seemed clean all day, Tuesday; the yellowing lawn and the cluttered kitchen and the porch that needed to be swept and mopped and painted. Even the black smoke overhead, trailing off until it faded into blue. ...

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9:50 pm

We sat on the porch for 4 hours on Tuesday morning. I almost forgot to tell that part. We had just burned down the shed, and everything in it. Everything. So it was natural, that we should stay there on the porch, kind of like the wake of a funeral, but I can't tell you why we didn't move until noon. We stared out at the trees for a long time, and picked paint off the wooden railing. Occasionally we'd look at each other and crack raucous laughter -- half in disbelief, half out of pride at what we'd accomplished, what we'd removed forever. I think we said maybe, maybe six or seven words....

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