#fridayflash "Family Ties"

It started almost imperceptibly, after she had unexpectedly become the single parent of too many kids. Small breaks for contemplation over a cigarette and a cup of coffee lasted longer. Moments of introspection lengthened into mornings of mulling and afternoons of inaction. She was letting go of exercising her maternal obligations in favor of the internal occupation of thinking about them. Hard decisions, bad memories and fears plied for her attention alongside hopes, fantasies and recollections - and ruminating on these had become an addiction. She thought incessantly on ways to keep her family safe and well cared for with only one parent. She was their mother, it was her obligation.

As some of her brood got older and more able to handle the daily routine without her help, she had more time to think about how she shouldn’t let the children do all the work. The children would say her name three or four times before she would hear it. Her irritation was evident in the sharp snap of her reply or the slicing redirection of her gaze from the window to the intrusive child. Alternatively, she’d often let a child sit on her lap while her hand would gently stroke their arm or hair in time to some invisible metronome. They thought of her as a loving mother because of those moments. That she would, perhaps once a week, sit them all down for lengthy and repetitive lectures on How to Be a Good Child in the Face of Adversity, showed them that she cared.

The smaller children figured out that if they waylaid her coming out of the bathroom or getting back from a cigarette run, they might get to occupy her attention for a short while before she was drawn inexorably back to the chair. There were more and more days that she would answer the older children’s questions, but in a dazed manner, as if she’d been struck on the head recently or was just coming out of a faint and wasn’t sure where she was at the moment. There were nights when she never made it to bed. One of the smaller children would make a midnight potty trip and see the glow of her cigarette reflecting off the windowpane, and a pang of loss would clench their heart. Misunderstanding that pang for fear, they’d hurry back into bed and hold tightly to their bears or blankets until falling back to sleep. She had begun to slightly frighten some of the children, but she was unaware of it. For her part, when she noticed a small child padding from the bathroom at night, she was wracked with guilt over the state of their sad little lives, or the fact that they didn’t call to her for help anymore. She didn’t understand why she’d lost them, so she would contemplate that as well.

The school officials dealt endlessly with behaviorally difficult children and parents, so her quiet and unobtrusive family was somewhat of a relief, regardless of the fact she never showed up to the children’s concerts or conferences. It was all too easy for her to continue, even intensify, her introspective ways. The eldest children graduated but continued living at home to “help out”. They’d hold family meetings and discuss important matters by her chair, more out of respect than necessity because they rarely could break her reverie. The children took good care of her - fixing her food, which would often sit for hours unnoticed unless someone took away the coffee and cigarettes , at least until she’d get a few grudging bites in her mouth. Only the braver children would take away her necessities though, risking the cuss words hissed through clenched teeth, flashing eyes and invariably repentant tears at having been mean to one of her children. Years passed by and nothing much changed except the children’s height.

It started almost imperceptibly, after she had stopped caring for herself altogether. Through the years, small trinkets and fresh flowers had often been left on the table by her chair from this or that child, as tokens of their love. But now that she needed her personal hygiene attended to, the children made small changes. Increasingly, she was dressed in more colorful houserobes and wore more jewelry. She had become a sort of living icon, enshrined on her chair with her cigarette smoke curling through the air like incense. They brushed her hair until it gleamed, and applied soft make-up to her wan cheeks. They kept her safe and well cared for between them all. She was their mother, it was their obligation.


#fridayflash "Letter to the Editor"

To the Editors of Gourmet Trends,

We, here at GenetiFoods Corporation, would like to set the record straight regarding your brief article about our new line of treats. We are not the “barbaric overachievers” of the food industry, nor are we “blithe caterers to the X-omnis”, as your magazine erroneously labeled our corporation and our endeavors in the last issue (May 2120). We cater to all vores and do not ally ourselves with nor show preference to any specific group. (In fact, our efforts in creating more products for the insectivores are unparalleled – and everyvore knows that they are the toughest consumer market of all, with their overabundance of naturally occurring, albeit highly distasteful, food supply.) By designating us as “barbaric”, you designate our global customers as barbarians!

GenetiFoods Corp. does not overachieve, but rather we simply strive to feed the people. Our vast array of meticulously formulated consumables has withstood the test of time – from the early years of genhanced meats and vegenmatter to better feed growing global populations through the Famine War, to keeping up with supply and demand through the dark Green Age, and continues today in these times of highly demarcated consumer vore-factions. We are a global corporation retaining amazing longevity and the continued trust of all the vores. We have always been at the forefront of the Consumption Question – spearheading bold, and may we add successful, moves in the genetic engineering of new food products, safely and consistently.

Considering the latest atrocities committed by the extremist vore-factions of omnis and veguerillas (which epitomize barbarity, with their growing propensity towards mutual elimination, the latter in a vindictive reversal of long-held morals with its “eat the hunter” campaign), we feel strongly that our good name not be allied with any such extremist groups. Please retract your statements publically and without delay.

We would hope that our new line of tasty treats, e.g. JelliedBears and Elecones, inspires some revitalization of joie de vivre in the various vore markets. The older vores amongst us can attest to having made it a long way in a short time regarding global satiation, and more’s the pity to backslide into the Green Age-mentality of “feed to live” rather than enjoy one’s food – which is what we thought your publication is trying to overcome.

Adiro Helesthion Grubenhoff III, CEO
GenetiFoods Corporation

(story and illustration both by me)



I just watched, found kind of by chance*, a cool film called 'Gigantic' with a nifty cast (including awesome part played by Ed Asner!) and good soundtrack. It is one of those slightly odd movies with lots of interesting characters, half of which you either wish you were or wish were part of your life.

Insanely expensive mattresses, shroom tea, Chinese baby adoption, possibly imaginary stalker, dictator piƱatas and ... Well, worth seeing, in my opinion. Yay for the unexpected entertainment!

* #1 daughter was in the mood for an easy-going romance film, so we searched by genre and looked at 'Gigantic' because it's the name of a great Pixies song. We then saw Zooey Deschanel's name and felt one good omen double, then triple with Ed Asner, and quadruple with John Goodman. We didn't recognize Paul Dano's name, but he was excellent in the lead.


Two Score

I am 40 years old today.
I wish it felt more magical or surreal, but I'm not as surprised by the lack of magic in the world anymore. Maybe that's what getting middle-aged is ... The realization that 99.9% of the time 'this is all there is'. The other .01% is what keeps you going, hoping, searching, waiting and observing.

It's kind of pathetic, but in an endearing way. Castles of sand, that kind of thing.

Now.. where's my coffee cup? I've got mundanities to avoid.


#fridayflash - Stuck

Standing to one side, I watched the crouched figure remove a nail from between its lips. The figure swiveled slightly, sweeping its gaze past me just for a moment. The opaque eyes panned the landscape beyond without searching or wavering. I might have been a fleeting emotion; untouched, unobserved and unable to connect with this consumed being.

Slowly, it placed the nail on top of its pale foot and brought the hammer down in one precise swing. No hesitation in the movement, no acknowledgement of pain, only deep involvement in the process. Nail from lips, to foot, swing of hammer and repeat the process. The figure’s tortured feet bristled with the consecrated nails. The ground beneath was a red reflective pool of form, action and indifference.

I shut my eyes to the void where anguish should be, and opened them to the dim light of my office. My throat was dry when I spoke.

“It seems your parents requested this meeting, yes?”

Giving the file an explanatory nudge, I glanced over at the young woman sitting across from me in the over-stuffed chair. My question hung in the air, as expected. I was the last hope after neuroscientists, psychiatrists and shamans. I was the traveler to her living purgatory. But I wasn’t her hope.

“I’m sorry.” Pausing for gentle emphasis, I continued, “I cannot help you.”

My senses intensified to gage her reaction - a honed response from having issued this innocuous finality before. The young woman continued to mindlessly regard the carpet, picked for its soothing blend of soft colors and simple patterns. The decorator had done well, but the lack of vitality in the office was almost obtrusive. Or perhaps I was still dealing with remnants of the girl’s psyche.

I paged the attendant to escort the young woman back to her room.
Gazing at her parent’s number on top of the closed file, I reached for the telephone handset. My mind conjured up the vision of a hammer swinging down resolutely. My knuckles went to my eyes, rubbing ineffectively to erase the visual that looped quietly in my head.

(story & illustration by me)