Monday, April 12, 2010

I still like it.


“No man is an island”- John Donne

It was the 16th of July. Partly cloudy was the prediction, heavy showers the reality. The weather man had had to call in sick to avoid dirty looks from the staff. Humidity was 28%, wind speed 32 km/h. The sun would set at 6:43, and would go by largely unnoticed.

Ellen stood on the train platform, her ticket held almost as tightly as her smile. Every day was a race to be won, and once again she was first in line. It was during these quiet mornings, as she observed new passengers, that her mind would fall into its fondest habit. Imagining what every passenger would look like having sex. Due to her job as a high-powered fashion magazine editor, Ellen often enjoyed imagining some rather famous pairings that one usually would never attempt when dressing. Karl Lagerfeld giving it up to Marc Jacobs. Tom Ford ravaging Stella McCartney. A rather unfortunate Manolo Blahnik being dominated by Vivienne Westwood. It was no wonder that Ellen, due to her imagined porn stash, was widely acclaimed for the most daring fashion pairings. Looking around slowly, she skipped over the rather portly balding man, and settled on the next subject for a new fantasy.

The portly balding man eyed the kiosk. Did he have time to buy a packet before the train came in? If there was no time for The Ritual then there was no point. The sweets would be discarded. Herman reached into his pocket and felt around, had one escaped his fate? No such luck, he would have to buy a new packet. His palms grew sweaty at the thought. Yes, Herman was a jellybaby fetishist. He would first divide them into their various colour groups, ensuring that each held the same number. The excess were sacrificed. Then he would line them up, asking if they had any last words. They hardly ever did. Then, executioner-style, he would bite each one’s head off. Once The Ritual was done, Herman could finally sleep soundly, dreaming of a jellybaby genocide.

Marjorie eyed the sweaty man beside her, and considered changing seats. No, she thought to herself, I’m wedged into this one. So she calmed herself by applying yet another layer of fine powder to her already chalky face. Marjorie had been a Someone. A glowing-skinned, thin-bodied, red-lipped, fishnet-wearing Someone. But the Burlesque scene was not what it used to be, and after all the commotion that had followed her husband’s death she had chosen to keep a low profile. Which was not easy for a woman weighing 324 kilograms. Thank God she had majored in Crimonology, and knew the perfect murder weapon was one that would disappear. Which was why Marjorie had taken her husband on a romantic trip to Alaska and subsequently murdered him with an icycle. She had blamed in on a nearby polar bear, but the police had remained unconvinced. Which had led to her new life as a No one. As she guzzled her third full-cream milkshake of the morning, Marjorie reminded herself of one thing, nothing kept you invisible like layers of fat.

Paige was a slave to Lady Luck. She carried a rabbit’s foot in her pocket, a wishbone around her neck, and a golden four-leaved clover ring on her finger. She wished for love at 11:11, picked up every fallen penny, avoided the 13th floor of her office block, and loved the number 7 with all of her sad little hopeful heart. As she avoided yet another crack in the pavement, she thought to herself that it was Friday. She had better pick up some chow mein on the way home. That would give her a chance to stand by the lucky cats, and meticulously choose the perfect five fortune cookies for this week. Every Sunday, Paige would lay out each fortune on her bed and meditate upon each of them. She followed the lottery numbers they contained, accepted the promises of a windfall to come, and looked forward to the tall dark stranger that she should be running into every Tuesday. Paige thought to herself, If she could just follow her fortunes closely enough they would bring her the love and life that she deserved. Touch wood. 

Stefan was afraid. He had avoided the sweaty man on account of his fear of bald men, the intelligent-looking tight-smiled woman due to his fear of long words, the woman with the lottery ticket because of his fear of numbers, and had settled down next to the obese woman. Stefan was not afraid of fat people, in fact he felt rather comfortable around those who did not follow social conventions the way that Stefan did so religiously.  A failed writer, he hoped that fitting in with those around him would prevent them from sensing his failure. So he hid his pop culture-reference tattoos under long sleeves, his unusually amber eyes under thick glasses, and tried to channel all of his strangeness into online gaming. He wrote short stories on napkins in restaurants, and left them unautographed for customers to find. A round peg in a square hole, Stefan feigned corners and in his head attempted some innane smalltalk.

Now if Stefan had just taken the smalltalk inside his head, and attemped to verbalise the syllables that reverbated within it, he may have found that Marjorie was scared too. And if Herman had shared his jellybabies with Ellen, maybe they could have made the jellybabies have sex and then bite their heads off. And if Paige had shared a fortune cookie with Stefan, maybe they could have indulged each other’s oddities and appreciated each other for them. And maybe they would have all noticed each other, and known that they were not islands, they would have noticed the sun set at 6:43. Maybe.

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