Raw Self

It is a contradiction, an innocent awareness, or childlike yearning, in the eyes, wide, and then how to move, sudden, an anticipation of that specific want.

Only half-knowing what that is, clamoring, naked and lost, only a hint of the half-gaped mouth, in that desperately reach of raw self, a true and spiraling cosmic event.

Cold & Alone

I have always loved the idea of living in a small apartment, my bed in an alcove, old blankets and quilts against the cold, getting up to shovel the walk, shoveling other people’s too, my job clearing the snow, just that, and then getting back inside to watch old movies and drink cold beer, thinking about my $11,000 gambling loss, how I could have spent that on a hundred bottles of nice scotch, a cruise in the Galapagos, an engagement ring or rent for half the year.

Not a Writer, Still a Writer; Still Not a Writer, Not a Writer Still

My failure as a writer runs deep, with successes few and far between. I won a short story contest in Grade Four, received an honorable mention in a Hires Root Beer contest, wrote film reviews in college, sports for community newspaper, ad copy for Toto toilets, was accepted to a Kenyon College writing program, and most recently serialized a speculative novel for which the publisher lost interest.

The failures are much more profound – nothing published, nothing at all, after 40 years – a few friends who bother to read anything. Not that I write this for sympathy but rather to underline the reality that despite all of this, I still feel the writer, still, as Highsmith says, only know myself when writing things down.

Coming to terms with who I am, remembering the pain and mistakes, not negating, just coming to understand the little wounds and think on the words that give those cuts dimension, not just typing to see the night to the end, but that essential thing coming out like riding my bike into the half dead forest, stripping down, throwing everything away and being naked. It’s the only thing. Or insufferable. One of the two.

Post-humous publication appears the best of chances – to be remembered by a species devolving into apps – and together we go into the ether.. 

Writing Advice From Patricia Highsmith

Highsmith revealed that in order to get herself in a different frame of mind, by pretending she was not herself, moving herself into a state of innocence, free of the day-to-day worries and anxieties of life. Her favorite technique to ease herself into the right frame of mind for work was to sit on her bed surrounded by cigarettes, ashtray, matches, a mug of coffee, a doughnut and an accompanying saucer of sugar. She had to avoid any sense of discipline and make the act of writing as pleasurable as possible.

Celebrate 2019 by Going to 2124

For your 2019 resolution, pretend that it’s 2123 and you’re on The Anori where living at light speed brings into question every arriving anywhere.

A distinct image of Lai flashed in Calli’s mind, not when she stared back, not her empty eyes, her thin pale lips, but her turning away, turning her body, involuntarily turning, choosing oblivion. “Lai should never have left.”

“Calli, I thought we agreed not to talk about that anymore.”

“She didn’t deserve what we did to her.”

Ashe duplicated the file and saved that to her Bearing. “It’s not worth arguing about.”

“Ashe, you need to accept what you did, what we all did to her.”

“No, Calli. She did it to herself. She did everything to herself. Everything, the exile, the trials, The Hive and The Hollow. Everything.”

“I knew her, Ashe. I knew her better than anyone.”

“I don’t agree, Calli. I think Em knew her better than anyone. She knew her for twice as long as you, maybe more. She did everything with her. And what did she say about Lai?”

“Lai created Em. It’s hard to have a clear opinion of your maker.”

“Em was very clear in her opinion. Very clear. She said it over and over again. Lai couldn’t stop herself. She was addicted to her power. That’s what destroyed her.”

“Don’t be such a simple human.”

Asleep in the Storage Shed

The door won’t close and it’s cold. This is where I started. And this where I am. 

I didn’t think. That’s my one thought. I didn’t think.

I come back to the old thing about me never being here or anywhere, just a bunch of thoughts in my head, held down in the dark, in this shed, thinking I might get out, knowing I won’t, making everything else up to keep me from losing it.

I just need to get that drink in me and everything will be okay again.

That’s all I’ve got for now. It makes the most sense.

Val in the Anga

…where we leave our guarded understanding to break free from that containment to find the universe that lives within all of us.

Val drove the truck hard, the corner coming too fast, how she wanted it. Dee was with her,not Dee but an Ethi of her, the idea of her when they had first met. She was screaming and laughing as she tried to change the channel on the radio. And then it was a song that Val remembered from when she was a kid. She had listened to that song on a tiny radio and the truck’s radio turned exactly to that too. But then Dee changed the channel again, and the tiny radio was gone.

“Leave it,” Val implored.

There was a stream of trucks ahead of them, heavy traffic, and she passed them all on the shoulder, over the gravel and rocks, wildly through the potholes, the axles getting slammed, and then the road was open again, a distant city on a hill.The music got louder as Dee leaned further back into the dark, and a car veered in front of her, crashed into the blackness, and another one veered to miss that and crashed with a thud. She looked around and stared at the accident to see if it had really happened.

Aqaara: Moving at Hawking 4X Speed*

The connector to Dee Pod was empty, the infinitesimal vibrations somehow building out here with the view out the oblong windows of the deep blackness. Calli stared out into it, looking for something to move, the stars to move past, a planet to appear as a fleeting shadow, but she only had a vague sense of motion, moving forward maybe, and then not, just still again, going nowhere, hovering. And then as suddenly, forward again, something there and then gone, a planet, moon or fragment of something like that, thrusting forward, and then suddenly back, hard, twisting around, the thing coming past the other way, falling backwards now, thinking she might vanish like that, her heart in the back of her head, plunging, a real sense of going down that rabbit hole, in that thing, going forward and back at the same time, not in the same place, but around and around, up and down, all at once. And then spat out of that, lurching ahead, really forward at Hawking 4X, At that speed so close to light, feeling that, getting somewhere, the glare and things in the blackness really moving past, leaving those for the next, exploding ahead into the darkness, as fast she was she was moving still, on into nothing.

*Hawking 4X: four time Hawking Speed which, at .21 light speed, is the fastest speed Stephen Hawking believes humans will ever be able to travel.

The Anga: From “Aqaara”

…where we leave our guarded understanding to break free from that containment to find the universe that lives within all of us.

“We sat on the rocks. All of us we were naked, stark naked. It wasn’t a sex thing, none of that. It was just being naked by the lake.” Liyuan’s mouth was too big for his head, his hairline a straight line on his forehead; he wasn’t as old as he felt, moving his hands slowly over his knees as he spoke. “We saw the storm at the far end of the lake, billowing up, thick and black, rich, swirling over the tops of the trees. The trees were lush green in that light. And the thunder, the way it rolled down from the heavens, the lightning echoing behind it, that was the magic. The rain came racing up the lake, that pristine darkness suddenly a tumult with it hammering down. The drops splattered on our skin and the rocks, so cool and wonderful. And we slipped into the water, pushed out from the shore, our bodies wavering beneath the surface, and drifted out into the downpour. It was the most natural thing on earth, swimming into that glorious darkness, so warm, out into the middle of the lake.”

Ashe knew all of this. She had experienced these very thoughts, floated in this exact dream, but it had vanished. She could not hold it.

“We were in the middle of the lake, the rain coming down in sheets, just sheets and sheets of it. That’s what I remember the most, the rain, the lightning a mile away, the quiet, the sound of the rain against the lake, the black clouds and the still water, so dark and pure. And I’m afraid of that. I’ve always been afraid of the dark water. Always afraid. But not this. Not this.”

Po appeared on the shore, floating just above the lake, indiscernible for the woman, not Ashe, who tried to will her away. It never worked.

“We stayed in the lake, our faces looking back at each other, turning around, spitting out water, little streams of it, the impression of our fluttering arms and hands beneath the surface, just a hint of those. This was it. A moment of divine existence. Yes. Exactly that.” He closed his eyes as he rocked slowly forward and back, his hands out for balance. “And then the lightning was right there, a streak of it across the black sky and into the water, the thunder ripping through us, the storm right on top of us. We knew we had to leave. It was dangerous. And we didn’t. We stayed, thinking we might die like this, struck dead, floating belly up, and we were good with that. I was overjoyed. Overjoyed.” He stared at her, wide-eyed.

“The program makes you get out of the water.”

“Out of the water?” His face suddenly became creased, his eyebrows moving sharply down, his mouth pulled tight. The light had gone out of his eyes; he was going to cry.

Ashe pulled his hands together and cupped them in hers. “None of that. You hear me?”

He held her eyes, staring back, dark, his mouth a sharp line, and then reached out and touched her chin. “That’s an error. That was the purpose of creating it, that lightning shearing the air, terrifying blasts every second moment. And yet never have I been so without fear. I belonged there.” He sighed and sat up straight again. “Sometimes I think that I might still be there, still in that water.” “The program needs to be rewritten.”

“Yes.” He nodded back firmly and let out some tears.

More of Aqaara can be read here:https://www.outerplaces.com/science-fiction/item/19061-aqaara-three-don-gibson

Read more of Aqaara on “Outer Places”

The spaceship Anori approaches Hawking Speed as it exits the Earth’s solar system: https://www.outerplaces.com/science-fiction/item/19034-aqaara-two-don-gibson