Thursday, September 27, 2007

Awake and Exhaling

(I wrote this as a flash-fiction piece for my creative writing class last semester after reading some Dave Eggers and drinking lots of coffee, hence the presence of only about 6 sentences in this entire piece.)

I see art all around me, man, you know you flip through a magazine fast till the pages blur and the pictures just SCREAM at you, some of them, you know, they have that look, that real good look you get from a photographer who’s really got it, you know, and all together these pictures and these words, all together they’re just like WHAM in your face and you GET it! And then you start looking around you in the street, you know, ‘cause you wanna be like this dude who took that one picture of the girl sitting at the bar with the white death face and blood lips and the show bones and her blue top hanging on her like the skin of a mermaid, you want to find these people, and they are everywhere, man, you just gotta have the right eye to see them, they look you in the face on the street and you realize maybe right then or maybe a few minutes later when you brain goes shit, man, that dude was like, a whole book just standing there!

They’re everywhere, these people, you just have to open your eyes and use that side of your brain that sees like that, you know, and then they’ll just pop out at you, even the people you see every day, you know, like the guy who sits on the bench in the park day after day and feeds the pigeons, the guy who feeds ‘em bread, and he’s always old, he’s got this face like a candle that’s been burning all night, the wax all dripping and collecting in folds and lumps and hanging and the flame sputtering, and he’s always wearing this gray suit jacket that looks like it’s been washed so many times that the fabric is starting to wash out of it, you know, like the next time it gets washed there’ll be a skeleton, a jacket skeleton showing through in the holes where the fabric’s washed away, and then the guy looks at you because he hears you coming, and his eyes are like God’s.

And sometimes you don’t want to see it, you don’t want to see the pictures and words and the art out there because it hurts you, you know, it’s painful to watch these people because they are so real, they hurt you with real because you know it wouldn’t have taken a whole lot for you to turn out like that. You see them, you know, the coke-head kids, the speed freaks, the kangaroos, they hang out in clubs and behind clubs and in alleys with their dinner plate eyes and dirty shirts and unwashed hair that hangs like vines in their faces, ‘cause you know who has time for being clean when you’re awake, man, when you’re seeing what the world is like all at once, that’s what they think, and they’re laughing and screaming, guys and girls frantic to live their lives already, you know, like they want it to be done faster, faster, faster, and you look in through their pupils and their brains are screaming to be dead.

Sometimes you can’t look, sometimes you have to look away, but then when you think you’ve lost hope, it’s great to go out at night and just stand in the middle of the sidewalk and close your eyes halfway, and you see the people go by in your periphery and in front and sometimes you even can feel them in back of you, and you just stand there and you feel the people and listen to the lights that shine loud like a brass band and all the beautiful and sad and happy and lonely people are walking by you and you can feel them, like the white leather spike-heeled woman-man, and the club-hopping pill-popping floor freak and the doctor who’s going to see his late-night woman and the late-night woman going to see her doctor and the eighteen-year-old big-eyed big-titted cheerleader who’s about to find out she’s got a baby inside her and the street-corner foot-tapping man who screams for a stage and the quiet nerd who’s just trying to buy some orange juice for his sick mother and the tight-collared empty-eyed business man who wishes it would all just STOP, and they’re in you, man, and you want to just become transparent so you could be a part of them all, to have their pain and share their happiness and to drink their tears and take them to swim in a 3 and to show them that this is life, man, this is the art all around us and when you wake up each day after the worst night of your life this is what makes you take your first breath in.


Manisha said...

Wow, Claire, this is really an excellent piece. I am a big fan of flash-fiction myself, and yours is extremely well executed.

I especially like the consistency in the narrative voice, how you create a narrator-character without actually ever presenting him/her. The sentence structures are really well thought-out, and keep the reader's interest, and my personal favorite is the very last sentence.

And the images! Really, really good. I have pretty much nothing to offer in the way of criticism. Good job!