qwazix

I was walking alone, as one does, between the dirty apartment buildings that were stacked one after the other as if by a giant kid that stacks their toy bricks: arranged in a way, but not very neatly.

I entered they gym shop on the ground floor of one of these buildings. I asked for some protein bars and a couple of yoga bricks. While the clerk was fumbling around to open the plastic bag, I was imagining, what if I asked him for a frozen chicken? Would he laugh? Would he just pause and look at me? Or, I thought to myself, he would take the question at face value and tell me he doesn't sell frozen chickens and that I should go to the supermarket next door.

As I exited the shop once again, a man was parked so tightly just off the sidewalk ramp, that neither wheelchairs, nor walking people could cross the road. As I saw him walk away from his vehicle, afraid to chastise him for his blatant lack of consideration, I imagined I was not alone, but with a friend.

I would grab him and hold him, while my friend would slowly remove his backpack, open the zipper and get a portable, battery operated little blender out of it. He would then take a small tablecloth, spread it with care on the boot of his car, and get some pineapples from a supermarket cart we'd be hauling.

In the meantime, I've tied the guy and put a funnel in his mouth. My friend now has a knife and is peeling and cutting the pineapples, laying them tidily on the tablecloth. I take the pieces one by one, put them in the blender and after I'm certain they'd be a homogenous pulp I gently pour the smoothie down the inconsiderate bastard's throat.

What is he gonna do? Go to the police? Who would believe somebody claiming that two guys stopped him in the middle of the street and force-fed him fresh pineapple pulp. They'd think he was mad.

The same evening I was sitting in front of the computer, watching the multiple columns of mastodon scroll endlessly by. Someone commented on the current fad (well by 2020, not so current anymore) for absurd job titles in programming-related ads such as: rockstar developer, javascript ninja and others, equally cringeworthy.

Immediately I thought I should send a CV to all of those companies, just to land a single interview and then show up dressed up like Mötley Crue but with a colorful keyboard instead of an electric guitar, or even better, dressed like a ninja, and go sit there in the waiting room as if nothing weird is happening. “I'm here for the javascript ninja position, yes”.

Which of course reminded me of the time my partner was working at Big Pharma and they usually had these “Round Table Discussions” where opinions of managerial staff and other high ranking officials were supposed to have equal weight with white collar workers and where all kinds of infuriating discussions took place, and I wanted like nothing else to show up in the middle of the meeting dressed up like a medieval knight, with a horse if possible, and announce my presence. I always thought that just the looks on the managers' faces would be payment enough for my imagined bravery.


Next day, on the way to work I stopped to get a coffee at the familiar bakery. There was a new girl there. The coffee was surprisingly good. That made an impression, but I didn't think long about it. At the office I'd remark about the coffee to my new co-worker.

She turns to me in the most natural way and tells me: “You should go back and tell her. Tell her that she made you the best coffee you've ever had. Tell her that you only live for the brilliant coffee she makes and that you want to marry her. Tell her you love her.”

I stayed there looking at her, wondering how did she know.

I took the words “urban exploration” to their literal meaning. There wasn't a nook nor cranny that I wouldn't sneak in. Friends and family started worrying about me. They saw weirder and weirder photos scrolling past their feeds and the comments below revealed unease and worry. “Where are you going? Is it safe?” “What is that thing?” “Are these junkies?”

They were not junkies, of course. Not that I hadn't met people under influence, but they don't ever let you take their photos. During the day they are mostly decent people, working at the desk next to you and you are none-the-wiser. They were what they call themselves “The Guardians”. They take turns to guard spaces in the city that don't play by the usual rules.

Today I was down there below Surgeon street and I was trying to move the trashbin that was strategically positioned to obscure the entrance, but it wouldn't budge. A few moments later a skinny face emerged behind the bin: “Go away, the bin is here for...” he paused. “Oh, it's you. Can you slide in through here?I bolted the bin in place because I think they must have sniffed us out. Damn cops.”

I squeezed with some disgust behind the filthy bin and descended the makeshift ladder. The air smelt of mold. The Guardians were gathered in a circle, conversing quietly. “Where are the days when we were squatting empty buildings in plain sight? We could help people back then: there were community meals, free lessons, parties. Now we're gathered here, underground, like rats” I heard the oldest one say, a bald, skinny man in his mid-50's or so. “There's no point in reminiscing the past, Peter” remarked another one, younger, muscular, with reddish hair and short beard. “there's reason to believe they're onto us and they've been more aggressive than ever, at least since we've gone underground”. He let a long breath of air come out as if he didn't want to say the rest of the sentence.

“We have a lot going on down here. We could go down as terrorists for most of it if not only for helping that young mother and her baby. They're illegally here and since they passed that law that conflates immigration with terrorism” he let a tired sigh out “I can't even talk about it. How many are you ready to risk your lives?”

“Fuck it I still remember how it was before and I do curse myself for supporting this oppression for 8 hours every day. Somebody has to fight. Somebody has to die. Might as well be me.” Peter said without a hint of hesitation. This seemed to energize the group. The whispering between them grew louder.

I attempted to whisper something myself to the woman next to me but before I could, my field of vision blanked. It felt as if the movie of my life suddenly faded to white. A fraction of a second later, a loud bang. My ears hurt. When I regain some kind of sensory input I hear loud voices and the sound of rubber clanking on plastic. Clubs on shields.

“Grab whatever you can, and charge!” Peter's voice was heard, louder than ever, and echoing on the cavern walls. “We're dead ahead, anyway”.

I left you years ago. I still feel bad about it but it was the only way. I was not the person you thought I was and I couldn't be what you wanted. I chose my own path. It was very hard for me to face you so I disappeared. I know you must be disappointed. Don't be.

I just hope that the adage “every parent wants their children to be happy” holds true for you too. I do believe it holds true for you, too. But you're too old. Your worldview does not match mine. Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice...

I didn't mean to get mean here sorry. I'm also sorry for the bad pun. Totally unintended. Let's get back on track: I am happy. I am a completely different person from you and I am a completely different person from what you wanted me to be, a.k.a what YOU wanted to be. No, I don't have degrees. No, I don't have a “good” job, nor “achievements”. I won't have children and you won't be a grandma. But I am happy. And that has to be worth something.

I was lost. I kept trying to be something you had imagined, something vague and a moving target. When I realized I can never be that, then I was finally free. But you would never understand. Or so I thought. Now I hope you do. And I hope you forgive me.

I am tired of being judged by other people's standards. I am me. I know that at times one can't see clearly inside himself but fuck it, sometimes I know what I want and how I feel. I am tired of doubting myself, doubting my wants and my feelings.

I want to be something different and I don't fit into this world. Friends are those who accept me. Family are those who support me.

I hope I can still consider you family,

Love,

Your child.

Jeannie flicked images on her phone. “Look, mom, this is the new school”. She was so happy her daughter would talk to her like that. All day at work the other moms were whining how their daughters never spoke to them.

“Here's the classroom. This one on the back is my desk. I drew that bouquet of flowers on it today”.

“It's lovely, darling” Melanie said, thinking, “I'm sure the next thing I'm going to hear is: I want to have a tattoo like that” but she stopped herself before saying anything out loud.

And here's our hiding spot in the yard. Melanie knew hiding meant smoking but she let that slide too. One thing at a time.

She continued flicking past pictures describing this and that. Between them a plain door in pale green. Melanie could distinguish a heart or two drawn in marker on it. She squinted.

“Ah, this is just the bathroom door” Jeannie said and quickly flicked past it. Melanie did not immediately react. She kept staring blankly at the phone as a cinema reel started playing in her mind's eye.

bathroom

The set was a school bathroom, but way more decadent than the one in her daughter's photo, at least judging by the state of the door. Marker graffiti on every wall, broken mirrors, stickers everywhere. She pictured a young girl with a red marker, drawing a heart around a BFF acronym and a couple of names she couldn't even remember anymore. She also saw the same girl rushing to take a tiny piece of paper out of her underwear and taking two quick glances before flushing it down the drain. Suddenly the girl is now sitting on the sink counter, leaning on the back wall with her bare feet under the running water, while her friends were leaning on the stall doors, all smoking camel cigarettes out of a battered soft pack in the foreground. Soon the other girls disappeared and here she is again, legs wrapped around that tall boy with the wavy hair and strong hands. A shiver traveled through her spine as she remembered their lips crushing together while his body pushed her against the wall.

She tried to shake the feeling. “Hey mom, what is it? I lost you there.”

“Yes I'm with you. I was just thinking that no school bathroom, is just a bathroom...”

#shortstories #flashfiction #writing #script

this story's prompt

I'm waiting for the bus at that busy bus stop on King Constantine avenue, the one near the chapel of, what's its name, anyway, a saint or the holy mother of something probably. My bus should arrive some time between now and half an our later, I hate waiting for busses, especially since my walkman is out of batteries and I can't listen to any music. And the cars are too loud! Do you think in the future the cars would be quieter? Airplanes are certainly quieter than what they were a few years ago. One can only hope.

Then there's this baby next to me in a fancy stroller who's crying all the time it's annoying. Where's his mother to comfort him? If it's a him. I can't tell. The stroller's fancy and it's dressed all in white as if they just christened it. It can't be, its parents should be somewhere around... Who leaves a child in a stroller in a crowded bus stop. He certainly couldn't have arrived here by himself.

I'm trying to shut the baby out. It's not there. It's not annoying. Get over it. Look away, see on the opposite side of the street there's this guy juggling oranges or something, look at him. No, don't look at him. He'll come by asking for a tip later and I don't have any coins. And I'm certainly not going to give him a hundred, no. What time is it? The bus is probably still a quarter away. And the baby is still crying. Somebody make him shut up.

Maybe there's a pacifier somewhere inside the stroller, let's have a look. Yeah, here it is. Hey baby, here suck on this, do us all a favor, there you go. Silence, at last. Ok, relatively because there's now this guy on the 50cc motorbike who's revving up all the time at the traffic light. I want to kick him in the balls. You'll make the baby start crying again, you bastard.

WHERE'S MY BUS! I'm tired here. It's more than 30 minutes since I came here. Fortunately the baby hasn't cried for a while. He's looking at me now and playing with my hands. He looks cute. No sign of his parents either. I'm starting to like him. I'm touching his tiny nose. Is that a smile? That's a smile. Awww. Let me find something that jingles. My keys. Hey mister look! Keys. Listen how they jingle!

At last! My bus. It's approaching fast. Hey little mister, nice to meet you! Hope your parents return soon. But what if they don't. Maybe I should wait for the next bus. I hate these old buses too, maybe the next one will be one of the new ones. They have airconditioning too. Now I'm gonna melt in there. Anyway, let's wait for the next. How do your parents look like, little mister? I'd like to meet them. When you see them tell them they can come over for dinner one day. Just kidding, I wouldn't know what to tell them, I'd just sit there all evening and say nothing and they'd be weirded out. I don't mind talking to you though, you seem to understand me. Nobody listens to me anyway.

Ah, look! A nice car over there. Wouldn't you like to have that car instead of waiting here for a crowded bus? Wouldn't it be nice to drive with the top open and have the air brush through your hair? You don't have much hair yet but you'll grow some soon. I think you'd be pretty when you grow up. I'm sure of it.

Now now, don't start crying again, look! there's another bus. Is it our bus already? It is. That explains why the other one was late and packed. Now I really got to go little mister. But who leaves a baby on a stroller in a crowded bus stop. If his parents never come get him? I promise I will watch the news every day. I will come here every day in the morning to catch my bus.

“Sir! will you help me a little, please!”

Έχω ζήσει πολλούς δεκαπενταύγουστους στην Αθήνα. Και όσο παράξενο κι αν φαίνεται, δεν με υποχρέωσε κανείς να το κάνω αυτό. Οι πιο όμορφες διακοπές που έχω κάνει ποτέ ήταν τρεις εβδομάδες μόνος, στην Αυγουστιάτικη Αθήνα.

Έκανα τις βόλτες μου, άνετος. Γνώρισα γειτονιές που δεν τις είχα δει ποτέ. Απόλαυσα την αυγουστιάτικη αθηναϊκή νύχτα ή οποία έχω λόγους να πιστεύω πως ίσως έχει το καλύτερο κλίμα στον κόσμο. Πήγα στα μπαρ που άλλες εποχές θυμίζουν αστικό λεωφορείο σε ώρα αιχμής και απόλαυσα ένα ποτό. Πήγα στις παραλίες της Αθήνας και κατάλαβα ότι λίγα έχουν να ζηλέψουν από τις διάσημες παραλίες της χώρας. Είδα πόσο μεγάλη και περίπλοκη είναι η πόλη και πως ενώ όλα φαίνονται ίδια κάθε περιοχή έχει το δικό της ξεχωριστό χαρακτήρα. Αγάπησα την Αθηναϊκή Πολυκατοικία, και έτσι έναν επόμενο Αύγουστο πέρασα τις μέρες μου αναζητώντας τις ωραιότερες από αυτές.

Τελικά βυθίστηκα στη σύγχρονη ιστορία της πόλης μας και κατάλαβα πόσο λάθος έχει η κοινή γνώμη μας για αυτήν.

Έτσι λοιπόν σε όποιον λέει τον εαυτό του Αθηναίο, ζητώ να περάσει τουλάχιστον ένα δεκαπενταύγουστο στην Αθήνα (για να μην πω έναν ολόκληρο Αύγουστο) κατ'επιλογήν. Είναι βέβαιο πως υπάρχει κάτι για όλους.

Τον επόμενο Αύγουστο σκοπεύω να σημειώσω τις πλατείες της πόλης μας στο χάρτη, να τις επισκεφθώ και να δοκιμάσω μια λιχουδιά σε κάθε μία απ' αυτές.

This is going to be rescheduled due to low attendance

The prompts for next time is a photo from a collection that Froso brought. Some are posted below so that you can choose one to write something about it.

old photos

EDIT: We finally did meet!

Comments on Carolyn's piece (six words)

We thought that Carolyn's writing has something sarcastic and funny without being overt, and it's really interesting. Especially if you hear her reading it. The writing is concrete, straightforward and observant. It creates images and the scene seems real to the reader.

Well done!

We all agree that we want meetings to be biweekly

Let's say that on April we'll do a public reading. The subject is to be decided in the next meeting. The space to be used is Exile Room on Athinas st.

Every time we will have a keynote reader who just reads 10 minutes and then receive feedback from each one for 3 minutes. Next time the ones that didn't read will continue. Goal is for everybody to read every two meetings.

Next meeting is 17.45-19.45 on Saturday 19 October 2019

For next time we will write a story (300-500) with 6 of the following words

  • demolition, κατεδάφιση
  • window, παράθυρο
  • sadness, θλίψη
  • sunrise, ανατολή
  • elephant, ελέφαντας
  • sobriety, νηφαλιότητα
  • toothpick, οδοντογλυφίδα

If you have anything else you want to share you can always ignore the prompts. They are there for those of us (including me) who need some constraint in order to be able to put their circuits to work.

Hi there!

Our first touchtype club meeting will be held on Saturday the 5th of October 2019, 18:00, at the outofbounds software meeting room at 35, Alexandroupoleos st.

The place is near the Athens Tower and Hippokrateion Hospital. It's about 8 walking minutes from both Megaro Moussikis and Ampelokipi stations.


View Larger Map

The meeting room is on the first floor of the blue building.

I'll be waiting for you. Bring something you have written recently so we can kick the club off with some interesting words.