"And in the name of this great Republic and all its citizens, I do hereby award you the gold star of participation."
Trumpets sounded. The crowd erupted in applause. The Prime Minister fumbled with the medal for a second before pinning it to Buford's chest and shaking his hand.
Buford politely nodded a thank you to the man in suit-and-sash before stepping forward and waving a big, appreciative, "you're all fantastic!" wave to the assembled mass. They exploded into a second round of enthusiastic applause and cheering. Pausing just a moment to soak it all in, he then turned to his left and carefully made his way back to his seat.
"Today is a blue day," she thought. Not a depressed day, not a sad day, but a blue day. Royal. Aquamarine. Iridescent. A bright bubbly beautiful blue.
She dug through her dresser, pulling out anything and everything blue. When she'd had a mound of clothes on her bed, she began picking through them, wondering what she would wear to face the day. Skirt or pants? Or maybe her big blue denim dress?
There once lived a wise and just king who ruled over a vast and prosperous land. One summer day a malady befell the land - a dragon of enormous size. Upon learning of the terror, the king summoned his advisors and councilors.
They debated and deliberated for a day and a night before recommending a martial solution. The king's oldest and bravest son was to take an army a thousand strong to defeat the beats. Agreeing with the assembly, he ordered it so.
Jonathan wiped the sweat from his brow, chancing a quick look at Julia in the process.
'How many has she picked?' he marveled at the pile of locks in front of the neon-blue haired woman. 'She's got well over double me.'
Jonathan pressed into his work. A slight, clean-cut man, he looked like someone transported from the 1950s. Flick, flick, flick and he'd undone the lock in his hand. His left tossed it into the pile while his right fished for another. He chanced another glance.
'Shit,' he flinched. 'She's just picked two more!'
Continued from Part 2.
The four sat for a moment, rain pattering away.
"Well, that was kind of fucked up," Andrew broke the tension. “It wasn’t a bad story though, I’ll admit.”
“She ruined my story though!”
“Well, it killed some time, I suppose,” added Jeff. “Who’s up?”
“Andrew’s the one who thought this whole thing up - he should go,” Lydia said.
She was the pride of the fleet - a gleaming white ship with red trim that dominated any port she visited. And she was in trouble.
"Sir, we're reporting extensive damage throughout the ship - hydraulics are basically non-responsive, we're down to the last AA battery, and we're only running on a fifth of our power. If they're able to rearm and reinforce, well..."
There is truth in the dance. Bodies interacting, people displaying a primal movement, bone-deep impulse - whatever it may be - released by the rhythm.
But, like the fart sound of two sweaty chests during sex, there is humor in the dance as well. At least Rodney was a good sport about it.
"It's not so much that he has two left feet," a voice floated out onto the floor. "He has a three legged race going on out there!" Rodney ignored the jab - he knew what he looked like. Beth, however...
"Hey you wanker!" she shouted at the unseen heckler. "Why don't you get a life!?"
"Beth, please," Rodney whispered, paired with an ill-timed hip thrust.
Continued from Part 1. “So the prince and the farmer’s daughter got married and lived happily ever after.” Lydia finished up. The boys expressed their thanks for the story. Julia, however, was less than pleased. “That’s it? That’s your story?” “Yes...is there something wrong with it?” Lydia asked, genuinely concerned. “Yeah, it sucked. How fucking girly.”
I obliged. I suppose I technically had a choice to do otherwise in the existential sense, but with choice came consequence, and I didn’t want to find out where insubordination would get me. My feet took me to the first of the black granite steps. My nerves stopped me there. My mind mulled over the fact that there really isn’t such a thing as “black granite” - the stairs, dais, and great chair were probably all made of gabbro.
The four of them huddled together in the tent.
“When is this rain going to let up?” Andrew asked for the fifth time. No one bothered to answer – they were far too cold and miserable.
“Guys, seriously. We need to lighten the mood in here.” Andrew tried, “It's not like we're going to die out here – it's going to suck for a bit, but then we'll head back to camp, take a hot shower, eat some hot food, then sleep in our regular beds.”
“Easy for you to say,” Julia piped up, “You're the one who led us out here.”
The bullet crashed into the wall two feet away from her head. Her ears rang from the fraternal triplets of sound - the shot, the breach of the sound barrier, and the impact in the wall - but she did not flinch.
"I knew you didn't have it in you," she derided.
The man - well, more boy than his three decades of unpleasant life might otherwise suggest - broke down, crumbling to the floor in a pile of elbows and ankles and knees and tears. He'd failed. His attempt at freedom, the culmination of countless stealthy nights researching, building, planning, all undone by his inability to kill his captor.
Was it his humanity? Was this inability merely the manifestation of the fear of the unknown? The existential angst over freedom - true freedom? Was he, as a member of the human race, more inclined to accept the tortures he knew - the relentless tortures of the flesh - over the tortures of the unknown? The mind-bending prospect that what he would face without her would be solely of his own doing? What choice would any of us make when confronted with the option of no longer having an entity to praise and to blame, to consult and to obey, to shape our very existence and to give form to our reactions. Could any of us kill our god?
Or was it just him. His psychology. His defect.
The woman said his name. Once softly. Once sternly. His sobbing stopped.
"Clean yourself up and have dinner ready in an hour."
Call it irrational, call it longing for my truck (sold without my consent), but whatever it was, you started out in the negative. I suppose that changed.
Over the four years you were part of my life, you saw a lot more of me - a real me - than most other people. From the boring daily commute - to work, to school - to the cross-country adventures, you proved a faithful companion.