Category Archives: Literature

Two Can Play At That Game

round and around and around we went
carousel stopping for none
the moments were passing, the time we spent
blurred in the peripheral hum
heart’s heavy drumming, an attempt to repent
but the moment was over and done
left lonely and clutching in our torment
ward away a wayward longing to run
my cheek on my shoulder, swollen and tense
eyes seeking chaos for sun
but everything’s merged and my fists are clenched
around the ride that’s supposed to be fun

Zina unSeen – Chapter 4

When Dean got off work, he headed in a random direction like he did every day. He thought that this would up his chances of running into Zina, in person, for the first time. He always took special note of the weather and how he felt as he left the FaceSpace building, knowing that he would want to commit every detail to memory if it did turn out to be the special occasion that he had been waiting for.

That afternoon, it was drizzling and chilly, and he was feeling a little bit down. He knew that he might be in trouble at work, and if he was forced to monitor another person, he wouldn’t be able to see Zina at all. What boring, aimless hell would his life be without any hint of her personality in it? He had seen some of the posts that other agents had to monitor. He would end up tearing his hair out with a demotion like that.

As gloomy as it was, he liked the cool rush of fresh air that came with the rain. He inhaled deeply and decided to head toward the waterfront, where he liked to spend countless hours looking out over the horizon and imagining himself in a different life. When Dean had first begun his career, he had honestly believed that he was going to make a difference. He saw vast potential for FaceSpace to be a way to bring great minds together to jump-start social progress.

However, as the years passed on, he began to realize that there were more sinister agendas at play. FaceSpace not only planned to keep track of all user information and profiles, but it also hoped to push people away from self-expression. It began with customizable features, and ended with multiple choice answers and check boxes that defines one’s personality. People went in looking like themselves, and came out looking like a marketing statistic. Dean had been working for a monster.

Worse yet, he wasn’t allowed to have any personal relationships whatsoever. His time was meant to be dedicated to his work. It was a very secretive organization, moreso since the government had learned about the technology and camped out in the office, ultimately making it their own headquarters. Since then, Dean’s orders were strict. The fewer people he kept incontact with, the better. No sensitive information would be leaked. And it was all very sensitive.

He had seen more than one agent carted away and taken to the loony bin because the pressure was just too high. Company picnics and socialization events had been put in place to prevent agents from losing their minds, but it was never enough to truly satiate their innate need for close bonds. They missed their families. Not only that, but they missed the option of making their own friends.

Dean thought he was still hanging in there, at least when compared to most of the other poor saps he used to know. His will was strong and what kept him going was knowing that whenever he went into work, he was assigned to the most interesting, beautiful woman in the world. Literally. FaceSpace Corporations hoped to have everybody linked into their network, and of every user on the interface, she was absolutely the most perfect.

He was lost in thought, gazing over the calming water, when he felt a dull pain on his shin. He looked down curiously and found himself staring straight into the shocking blue eyes of a goddess. Dean felt his heart jolt. It was as if he had been electrically charged so that every beat would release a surge throughout his body. She was right in front of him, scooping her plastic portfolio up and hoisting the strap over her shoulder.

“Sorry,” Zina said dully. She obviously wasn’t sorry at all. Neither was Dean.

He opened and closed his mouth. She was staring at him expectantly and began to shake her head in frustration. She probably thought he was being indignant. He could imagine her internal dialogue – “What the hell is this idiot’s problem? Did I mar the golden shin? It’s just plastic.”

Suddenly, the reality that she was right in front of him struck him hard and nearly brought him to his knees. Dean closed his gaping mouth, turned on his heel, and ran away.

Zina unSeen – Chapter 3

Dean leaned back in his chair, chewing thoughtfully on his pen. He brightened up and crouched over his keyboard to carefully type, “Krane’s Erasers.” He grinned in satisfaction when his monitor beeped and several hundred ads for Krane’s Erasers popped up on the screen.

He looked through them thoroughly before choosing the one he thought would catch Zina’s attention the most. Dean knew that she loved the color purple, and opted for a medium sized ad with purple text. It had a pleasing display of different types of erasers – everything from kneaded to gum. They were of the highest quality, and he was proud of himself for considering them. Part of his job was to study her psychological profile and choose the advertisements that would most likely appeal to her. They would pop up on the sidebar of her screen where she had no choice but to pay attention to them.

Decorating her user page with things she may enjoy was the highlight of his week, especially knowing that she would definitely see his tiny offerings to her. As he looked through the wide array of different products, he envisioned her using them randomly throughout her day. Maybe she would be smiling while she used the paint brand he had exclusively chosen for her, or her face would be grim with determination as she erased yet another mistake on something that she wanted to get just right. He fancied it as his way of getting close to her, and it was very exciting to think that her life may be affected by him in any way. It was their only true connection.

Dean was painfully aware that the direction his emotions were leading was taboo. He did his best to ignore the guilt he felt when a surge of excitement electrified him. Unfortunately, she consumed his thoughts, day and night, no matter how hard he tried to keep his neurons to himself. After hours, he found himself wandering throughout the city, wishing there was some way he might catch a glimpse of her. He would often find himself whirling around, his heart in his throat, because he thought that a woman who passed him could have been Zina. Of course, she would never recognize him, but given the chance, he would abandon everything for two sinful seconds of eye contact.

As Dean hummed to himself and experimented with different places to put the ad, Mr. Brown stared at the monitor in his office, watching him work. Dean managed to do ad placement much faster than the other agents, that was for sure, but the look on his face was frenzied, almost manic with pleasure. Either he took great pride in his work, or there was something else going on.

Mr. Brown sighed. He didn’t want to get rid of Dean. He was loyal and hard-working, but enough was enough. He took a deep breath and pressed down on the intercom.

“Frida?”

“Yes, sir?” his secretary answered.

“Could you please send me the paperwork about Dean Rogers’ placement?”

“Right away, sir.”

“Thank you, Frida.”

Mr. Brown looked at the monitor one more time and sighed. Dean was dreamily gazing at a row of paintbrushes. He switched the monitor off. He had seen all he needed.

Zina unSeen – Chapter 2

Zina sighed as she rounded the corner. She would probably be late again. It seemed like punctuality had skipped her gene pool somehow. Hopefully it wouldn’t cost her this job – most people knew how artists were (flaky but intelligent enough to get away with it most of the time) – but there was no guarantee that this would be the case.

“Shit!” she hissed, dodging out of sight of the window of Sporefux coffee. Inside, there was Damien, sipping at an espresso with the cute blonde girl he was always insisting she had no reason to worry about. His hand was draped casually over her shoulder.

That stupid fuck has probably been lying to my face all this time.

If she ignored it, maybe it wouldn’t affect her. It’s not like they were together anymore. He had made that clear. She could bottle it all up inside and unleash it in the studio. It would be like what she used to do in high school, back when she still lived in the hell-hole apartment with her mom and little brother. Zina quickly tried to recall the technique she had used back then to push her emotions far, far down. She closed her eyes and inhaled deeply, willing whatever she was feeling to be transformed in the dark abyss into something that could eventually become beautiful.

But not right now.

It seemed like it had worked, until she reached the next intersection and a painful lump began to form in her throat. She had believed that Damien was the one. He was supposed to be the man who would somehow bring an end to the cynicism toward love that she had callously adopted as a teenager. He had promised as much, but, just as she had always secretly feared, he had let her down. They had broken up just yesterday, and now she knew exactly why.

Zina merged in with the crowd of people waiting to cross the street. She needed a distraction. The last thing she wanted to do was burst into tears while standing next to the disheveled woman who was screaming at every car that passed. This wasn’t exactly the best area in the city to have your vulnerabilities showing. There were still a few blocks to go before she reached the studio, so she pulled out her phone and checked her FaceSpace page, hoping that the “walk” light would flash soon.

There were no new notifications, and so she typed a quick status update.

“Sporefux is only good for one thing – pissing when you have nowhere else to go.”

She immediately got three upvotes for it and allowed herself a resigned grin. If nothing else, she had friends and family who would loyally appreciate her cynicism. And enough associates on her page’s cronie bar to make her feel like anything and everything she had to say would be heard one way or another.

It didn’t take long before the flood of comments began pouring in. Everybody had something to say about Sporefux, and she read them all as they came. It was enough of a boost to get her through the rest of the trek to the studio.

When she arrived, she tucked her phone safely into her messenger bag and ran up the long, metal staircase that led to the loft. Unsurprisingly, Gina was already there, sipping on a little silver teacup. Zina glanced at the clock. Only five minutes late. That wasn’t too bad.

Gina was her latest client. She was sitting rigidly at the counter, perched autocratically on a wooden stool. So far, Gina had seemed a bit pretentious, but Zina was trying to give her the benefit of the doubt. She needed the money.

“Good morning, Zina,” Gina said. She enunciated the words pointedly.

“Morning,” Zina replied, tossing her jacket onto a chair. She rolled up her sleeves and glanced over at Gina, who was making an obnoxious clinking sound with a tiny spoon in her tiny teacup. It was probably exactly the type of spoon one is supposed to stir tea with, and for some reason that pissed Zina off.

“I made tea if you’d like some,” Gina said. Zina didn’t have time to answer before Gina went on. “It’s organic. Steve, you remember my fiance, had it imported for us all the way from Thailand. They say it’s great for flushing out toxins in the body.”

“Oh, so it makes you poop?” Zina asked.

She watched Gina’s mouth fall open in disgust before it quickly morphed into a fake smile. The transformation was captivating. Zina stifled her laughter.

“I thought we could get started on the floral arrangement,” Gina said, not addressing Zina’s comment.

“Actually I’m not quite ready for that yet,” Zina said.

“Oh?” Gina asked. She fancied herself to be something of an artist, and had hoped for her wedding to be unique and artistic. Unfortunately for Gina, her passion for art had nothing to do with any inherent talent that she actually possessed, which was where Zina came in. The poor, annoying woman had no understanding of the creative process or respect for the time it took to get everything right. Unfortunately, that didn’t stop her from having a very specific vision, and one that she insisted on hanging around every second of the process to make sure that it came into being.

“Well, I had an idea for the backdrop, but I have to try it out and know the color scheme before I put the flowers in…you know…so the colors all look right?”

It was exasperating to try and explain what she was trying to do, and Gina obviously had no faith in experimentation. Zina was working on her dime, after all.

“Try and make it quick,” Gina said, waving her hand dismissively. “I have to get to my yoga session this afternoon.”

“You got it,” Zina pursed her lips in what she hoped would be perceived as a smile. It was really her last ditch effort at patience. If anything else happened before lunch time, she wouldn’t know what to do with herself. She dug her phone out of her bag and typed another quick status update before dropping it in her pocket.

“If you give a mouse a cookie, it will ask for organic, imported herbal tea and a sterling silver spoon. On the plus side, at least it will be able to poop.”

Sex and Hemp: Just Another Day at the Bookstore

“Nine Parts of Desire,” “Sex and Destiny,” “Intimate Adversaries,” “Sexual Personae,” “The Sex of Things…”

All these titles warrant a second glance. It seems the shelves of Gender & Women’s Studies are filled with highly controversial, even erotic content. As I skim through the titles, trying not to discredit any based on my initial “ick” factor upon considering anyone else’s opinion on sex, I hear the shrill laughter of two men. They look like they are teenagers, trying to embody the spirit of the ’60s, but since they can’t possibly keep alive an ideal they have no concept of other than “live and let live,” they’ve resigned their activism to sharing weed with their friends and decorating themselves with hemp.

What’s left to fight for, they might wonder, beyond legalizing pot? Unfortunately for me, beside the shelves of Gender Studies books is a shelf dedicated to “sociology…” particularly tattoos and illegal drugs. I briefly wonder if there is some sort of feminist agenda at work here: Place the books that appear to promise naughty disclosures of the female anatomy where men, if they’re high enough, might venture to pick them up.

I wonder if my new stoner friends will be fooled and subtly move away, to a rack of audiobooks I have no interest in, knowing that the privacy might leave them more at ease to display their true natures.

They spend a frustrating amount of time flipping through books like “Build This Bong,” “Reefer Madness,” and “The Psychotropic Mind.” They really think they’re on to something, enlightened by nature into an obsessive dependence on their drugs to keep their minds ever open, ever vulnerable to the next cathartic state when they realize, with striking clarity and conviction, how blind they’ve been to the 27 essential differences between jam and jelly.

I listen to them discuss this dull epiphany and decide I’m ready to leave. My friends will not be fooled. They will never even walk away from their weed and body art shelf. It’s likely that they will grow roots and stay there until their high wears off, maybe even until that distant, unforeseeable day when books like “Sex & Destiny” won’t even need to be written.

I turn and walk on my way, daydreaming that by the time the stoners are out of their archaic trance, the Gender Studies shelf will be an antiquated thing of the past. The books will become fossilized and replaced by others celebrating a victory and touching on its colorful past of struggle and oppression. While I’m at it, I decide to include world peace and the elimination of dangers to animals and the environment. I don’t care if pot is legal.