Crazy Conversations: 1

I am a very social person. I love to be around people, to hear about their lives, and to spend time with those I care about. I am also what one would call a night owl. I like to stay up late, play card games, and shoot the breeze.

I usually hang out with my female friends once or twice a month. Lexy lives in the mountains. Jen works an ungodly amount of hours. I am at school from 8am to 4pm and spend a lot of time looking for writing jobs. If I am not with my boyfriend, I am searching for jobs or spending time at the gym.

On this night, it was going to be a mix of people. Lexy was doing something with her boyfriend. Jen could not make it. So it was just Bethany, her boyfriend Sam, and two girls from next door. I had met one of the girls, a Japanese immigrant girl named Makoto. Her roommate was American and rather extreme. Sydney had never been over for a movie night and by the end of the night I was grateful for that. 

It started off pretty good. Sam spent most of the night on the couch, reading a book. We made tacos, talked about some books we read, and helped Makoto with her English. Bethany was Makoto’s English tutor, which is how they met. While Makoto can read and write very well, she still has trouble with certain phrases, and slang passes right over her head.

The problems began when we discussed what movies we should watch. Makoto had never seen Jurassic Park 1-3. She loved the Godzilla movies. Bethany is an avid fan of anything Dino related and put down her vote for that as well.

Sydney, on the other hand, wanted to watch some documentary on school shootings.

“I don’t want to,” Bethany said. “We never watch serious things. We are trying to relax.”

Sydney huffed and puffed and said she would leave if we didn’t watch anything else. To be a good host, Bethany asked if anyone had seen 27 Dresses, which I had purchased earlier that day. It is in my top 5 favorite movies and I have seen it close to 30 times.

Makoto sounded interested.

Sam, despite being into zombie and action movies, said it sounded “cute.”

Sydney told us she would rather watch “dino shit” than sit through “two hours of a crappy comedy that makes unrealistic demands of females.” So, in the end we put in Jurassic Park.

We were on JP 2 when Sam asked if Bethany would mind getting him some of the leftover tacos and a Pepsi.

Bethany agreed, “What flavor?”

“Cherry,” he said.

Bethany gets up from the floor, asking if anyone else would like a drink. I ask for a Sprite, Makoto wants more water. Sydney, on the other hand, is furious. She has been sitting on the floor this whole time because there were not enough chairs. She seems to think this is the worst thing to ever happen to her.

Sydney starts to scream at same. “How dare you! You are so rude. You should let the girls have the couch and sit on the floor. It is about time you men learned some fucking manners,” Sydney says, pointing a blunt finger at him. “You do not ask your girlfriend to get you food. You make it yourself. She is not your slave. You are so lazy. Do it yourself.”

Makoto turns to look at the wall, turning red. I just gape at her.

Bethany stands there in shock. After a moment, she walks back to Sydney, standing between the irate girl and Sam. “I think you are overreacting,” Bethany says.

Sam sighs. “I would get it if I could,” Sam said. “I am usually the one who cooks. When Bethany works, I clean the house. When I work, she does the chores. We are really rather modern.”

“You are lying,” Sydney says. “For the last two weeks, all you have done is sit on the couch and read. Or played on your computer. You just sit there, like a king, all bundled up while she runs around like a slave. What type of relationship is that?”

I stand up. Walking over to the couch, I pull off the blanket on his legs. “You have been over twice in the last two weeks. You aren’t close enough to Sam and Beth to know all about their home life. Also, remember when the movie night was cancelled three weeks ago?”

“Yes?” Sydney says, looking at me.

“That was because Makoto and I took them to the hospital because Sam broke legs falling off a ski lift and hitting a tree.”

Sydney looks over at the couch, where Sam’s giant green casts are now on display.

“He can’t walk because he is too much pain. He is on leave from work until he can move without almost passing out,” I say.

Bethany sighs. “I don’t know you very well,” Bethany says. “But from what I have seen, you are not the sort of person I want over at my house. I would like you to leave.”

Sydney gasped in shock. “But, but…”

“Just go.”

With that, Sydney picked up her stuff, called us “troglodytes” and wished us the best in hell. We never invited her over again and Makoto moved into her own apartment a few weeks later.

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Short: Passion of Fire

The building was the inside of a star, bright flickering reds, and greens. There was a tunnel of smoke, dark, heavy storm clouds raining ash and fire. Astella could see the blackened bones of the building, lit from the inside. She had been crawling towards the back door, towards cool, sweet air.
She was trailed by a ten year old girl and an elderly man. They were the only ones who had not been killed when the kitchen collapsed on them. The work party had turned into a nightmare.
Ahead of Astella, Rick was leading them to freedom. She could see the red soles of his sneakers, the dirty hem of his jeans. He had been flirting with her by the punch bowl. He was calling back to them, trying to give them hope. He coughed between words, saying loudly, “We… almo—st there. Almo… there.”
The little girl was giving the most pathetic shrieks. Her face was streaked with dirt. “Mommy, daddy… Cathy!” she cried. “I want my… my… mommy.”
The old man was trying to move her along. “Becky, baby, go on,” he would say. “Grandpa is here. Gran…pa is here.” He sounded weak, as if the smoke were smothering the life from him.
“There is the door!” Rick cried.
Astella could feel the difference. Some windows must have broken, because the smoke was thinner, the air easier to breathe.
“C’mon guys!” he called back between wretched choking. He pulled off his shirt so he could touch the burning metal and glass. He pushed forward, cursing the heat. Part of the roof caved in behind them, making Becky shriek.
Air rushed in, making the fire cackle happily. It seemed to be singing, Time to die. Time to die.
Rick cried out. “It is hot. Go out… before it collapses!” Astella felt the little girl press passed, trying to reach freedom. The old man begged for Astella to move.
“Hurry darling, hurry!” Grandpa said.
Astella was frozen, her limbs unable to move. She reached for the little girl, holding her with one arm. “I can’t,” Astella cried. “A man cannot open the door for a female. I leave… and I am stripped of my rights. You’re trying to make me your slave. I won’t let us do it.”
Astella broke down sobbing, the room growing hotter, and the fire ever closer.
The old man cursed. “We are not going to die here.” He shoved Astella forward. She lost her grip on the little girl, who scampered forward. Rick used his feet to hold open the door. He snagged the back of Astella’s Pikachu sweatshirt. She was shoved out the door. Firemen pulled her out of the smoke second later. The rest of the group was led away to ambulances to be checked out.
Astella heard the building collapse. “You guys were lucky,” the paramedic said. “Any longer and you would have all died.”
Astella was in shock. Not because of the fire, but because she let a man tend to her, a man save her life. The collapsed building represented her heart.
Astella sat in the back of the ambulance, letting Bryan the Paramedic take her vitals. She was given water. He was tending to her burns when a young woman walked up. Her hair was braided, her face without make-up. Her long white skirt swirled around her ankles. Mickey Mouse glittered on her baggy sweatshirt.
“Are you Astella Van Buren?” the girl asked. “I am Emma, Emilee Port.”
Astella shrugged, her voice still sore. “Yes…”
“I come from the Man-Haters Women Club, from the New York Crazy Girl Feminist Branch 13,” Emma said. “Your current behavior is unacceptable. You would have been a martyr for the cause.”
Bryan the Paramedic looked at Emma like she was crazy. “Wait, are you kicking her out of a club because a man saved her life?”
“You would not understand… you have a penis,” Emma said nastily. “Now Astella, you must sign this paper. You are a traitor to the cause.” She held out a fuzzy tipped pen and a pink sheet. “Please sign here.”
“I am not signing anything,” Astella said. “You’re crazy.”
“I think you should leave,” the paramedic said, waving over a police officer.
Emma fled, taking her paper with her. She tripped on her long skirt, twice, but made it into the crowd.
Bryan sighed. “I am sorry… people are crazy.”
Astella went to the hospital and spent two days rethinking her life choices. In the end, when she left, Bryan gave her his number. She took it.
On the first date, trying to prove how brave she was, she let him pull out her chair. It was love and Astella was free.Image

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A Profound Understatement

I have a lot of flaws. I am not the worst person in the world. I don’t murder people, I don’t enslave others, I have never raped anyone. I don’t steal. But sometimes I lie to myself, exaggerate or overlook certain truths.

It is okay if my boyfriend makes a racist comment, because he is just joking. It is okay if I nod my head and agree someone I like is being “a bit bitchy.” Even if I don’t agree, even if I want to stand up and tell them to fuck off, I might go along with it so I don’t cause a scene, make a big deal out of something that is a passing comment.

But sometimes the comments don’t pass. They build up. They become these huge monsters and I am lost in a prison of my own making. When I do decide to speak up, I am told “well this is weird. You never had a problem with this before.”

Part of it stems from early bullying. That is not an excuse, I know. But for the longest time I wanted to have friends. I wanted to be the one to fade into the background. So I would say I liked something that I didn’t, or laugh at a joke I didn’t find funny. I watched programs I had no interest in, or denied watching others. I would never have admitted to liking X-men or Transformers in elementary school. I would never have told them I liked playing soccer or hanging out with my mother.

By the time middle school came around, I was better. I started to develop my own interests. I didn’t cower when asked what I enjoyed doing. I could openly admit to liking superheroes, comic books, and anime. I could cultivate a sense of who I was. But I began this rather bad habit. To make people ignore my faults, I would focus on a “common enemy.”

It could be someone my group disliked. Or I would invent someone. I would focus on talking about how horrible X was. I would say something witty about how stupid they were. It would make people laugh and I would be accepted into the group as the “hilarious friend.” This trend continued through high school and into college.

I would never say it to anyone’s face. It would stay between my friends. I didn’t recognize it as a flaw until just this year, when my life spiraled out of control and I started to lose people I cared about. To make my boyfriend happy, I would ignore his comments. To make myself seem cooler, I would talk about someone who had done the “stupidest thing I had ever seen.” It could be the mother who would not discipline her child, the heavy girl in the tight pants, the “wannabe” rapper on YouTube. When I ran out of interesting things to say, I would fall into the habit of “at least I am not as bad as [so-and-so] right?”

At least I am not as fat as that girl.

At least I am not as lonely as that guy.

At least I have more class than that woman.

Wow, look at the way she dresses. Look at how bad her hair is.

I became someone I disliked, someone that others would not respect. And my friends told me that it was okay, because those people “are stupid and not worth your time.”

Now, I realize, that all this fear, this self-loathing, this dangerous thinking is causing me to hate myself more. It does not make me happy to sit around and resent others. It does not make me cool to make pithy statements about people I don’t know.

I am not saying that people should not make unhappy statements, that every form of complaining is bad. I am saying, that for me, these comments make me less of a person, less of myself. I have turned into a bitter, unhappy person. I am one of those girls I used to hate in high school, who thought their opinion on my life was more important than my own.

I have become the bully.

In my attempt to be accepted, to become happy, I have stumbled.

I don’t have to call someone ugly to make myself pretty. I do not have to focus on others looks to be happy with my own body. I don’t need to make my life about being “better than others.” I have to make it about being a better version of myself, content, moral, and just.

So now, looking back at the wasted years, I have come to the conclusion that things need to change. I need to change. I need to remember who I wanted to be, who I desire to be. I need to be the best I am.

I can complain, when someone does something to me. I can dislike people. I just cannot make it my mission to focus on that hatred, insecurity, and childhood reasoning. It is not okay and I am not okay with it.

The next step is relearning how to think better of people. And that is a journey in itself.

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Deejae Harper

Deejae Harper

I am the one of the right.

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