Fitting rooms…

We all know the emotional impact of an image of a girl in a dressing room. She’s devastated when the clothes don’t fit. Devastated is probably the wrong word. ‘Chipped away at’ might be better. She is slowly, that part of her that is most her – call it soul, call it whatever you want – is slowly chipped away. The waistband is cutting into something much more than just flesh. It’s a chisel, a drill, a hammer, designed to strip away, demolish whatever makes you feel good about yourself. Maybe this is all a little overdramatic.

            You don’t ever forget trying on the biggest size in the store and having it feel much too snug. Although with this ‘obesity epidemic’, the biggest size has gotten much bigger than when I was in high school – there is now a whole sedentary army of too-tight waistbands, proper fit absolutely impossible to achieve, fighting a battle that isn’t really supposed to be won, like Vietnam. Just inflict the maximum amount of damage with that cheesecake and call it a day.

            And you can’t forget that your pants are uncomfortable when you sit at a desk all day long – that constant cutting feeling. Back to the cuts. The deep ridges, the gashes, the deep red lines that look like scars. Indents. Indentations that look like they might bleed.

            I know a lot about fit because I’ve been every size there is. Alright, an exaggeration, perhaps. There is a whole world of plus sized clothing that I am flirting with and just barely rejecting. It’s a fine line, I guess. A fine line, or a bunch of creases, and angry red marks on a sore stomach. It doesn’t fucking fit. The size 12 pants don’t fit, but it doesn’t fit in my brain that I am no longer a size 12 and must go up a size. It doesn’t fit at all, does not compute. It doesn’t fit when I have a piece of cake because I pretend it isn’t me that just ate it, and this is so easy. It doesn’t have to fit together in my mind until it catches up with me in the dressing room, when tears spring to my eyes, when my cheeks glow with shame, when the pants won’t fit.

           

            It’s just a thing about shapes. If I could get the geometry down, I’d probably be all right, or at least less embarrassed.

            It’s a lazy, sloppy kind of math.

Short Short Story – The Bureaucrat

Here is another short short….

I need your advice at the end.

THE BUREAUCRAT

 

“In the 1930s, [Hopper’s] work toughens up and becomes strange.”

                                                            -Holland Cotter, The New York Times

 

It bothers him, the things he can do at his cubicle, the things that nobody will notice or care about. For example:

            He once tried to paint a copy of Nighthawks at his desk. It was mid-afternoon on a Tuesday. He had bought a beginner’s art kit at lunch time at the shop around the corner. He threw his silk tie over his shoulder, rolled up his starched linen cuffs and began. The street came out in brown and black blobs and he couldn’t get the light right in the diner. The streaks of yellow wouldn’t soften, even though he watered them down. The man and the woman in the red dress were stick figures he drew on in marker as an afterthought. He got paint on his tie anyway, and sat down in his extra-comfortable leather office chair, completely discouraged. It had never dawned on him that painting might be hard.

            He is obsessed with Edward Hopper and he doesn’t know why.

 

            “In the city, no distances are respected. Hopper’s eye is everywhere. He peeps through apartment windows, catches people undressed, depressed, lost in thought, just plain lost. He looks over shoulders, down women’s dresses.”

                                                                                             -ibid.

 

            There is no window near his cubicle, although he spends a lot of time imagining that there is and imagining that the world outside it looks like an Edward Hopper painting – all disjointed light and beautiful melancholy.

            He leans back in his extra-comfortable leather chair, closes his eyes and sees that woman in the red dress everywhere behind his eyelids. She is smiling at him slyly from every single cubicle.

 

            He tries again, to paint Nighthawks. The red blob of paint will not materialize into anything other than a red blob no matter how hard he focuses, no matter how tightly he holds the brush.

 

 

            “Edward Hopper’s snapshot-like composition creates an inescapable sense of loneliness. The isolation of his subjects was heightened by Hopper’s characteristic use of light to insulate persons and objects in space.”

                                                                          –Encyclopedia Britannica

 

            In his daydreams, his chair tortures him. He wiggles his bottom deep into supple leather comfort and stares blankly ahead. He imagines being chained to this chair forever, having cigarettes put out on his skin by the red-head in the red dress.

            He smiles for the first time in weeks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, should I torture him some more?

Another short short even shorter story….

I wrote this one back in November, but I figure I’ll air it out now, see how it smells….

 

STICKY

 

The smell of oil sticks was starting to get to her. It wasn’t the strong odour, she could handle that. She sat back in her chair and took a deep breath. The heavy scent filled her nose, causing all of those carefully concealed memories to come rushing back. She sighed, wishing memories wouldn’t rush quite so fast, even though she knew it beat having them creep back slowly, one by one, at all those inopportune moments.

 

            The floor creaked as she stepped away from the huge canvas. Shaking the dizzy out of her head, she walked outside to their–her–balcony. She put both hands on the railing and leaned over, stretching out her cramped back muscles. I’ve been working on this for too long, she thought. It was cold outside. Leaves drifted off the trees when they were damn well ready, and it was pretty and kind of fun to watch, but the sun was too bright so she went back in.

           

 

 

            He raked leaves at his parents’ farm. The smell of hay, cut grass, and chilly air mixed just enough to make him nostalgic. It was a sneaky nostalgia, because he remembered everything with a smile: all the time they spent out here, wandering around the woods and gardens, planting, weeding, sketching, laughing. His thoughts turned to the huge painting he had started out here, but never finished.

 

            He remembered it all, but he couldn’t remember what happened to cause the fight, couldn’t remember why he stormed out last spring. His smile deflated and he finally felt the cold he’d been ignoring all day. He stopped raking and stood still, getting even colder, as more leaves drifted off the trees, falling at his feet. It suddenly felt like he would never be finished.

 

 

            Every night around eleven-thirty she would take the tray of oil sticks into the room that had been preserved exactly as he left it. The six-by-eight canvas stood propped against an easel, calming staring back at her. She worked slowly and methodically each night until she was tired enough to sleep. Her body usually gave out before her mind did, most mornings around seven. All night she worked with the oil sticks, listening to Bjork or something else morose, putting painstaking detail and tears into every single blade of grass. Sometimes it seemed like she would never be finished, there was too much detail to shove in, too many obsessive little strokes.

 

            It hit her, after she slowly added her initials to the bottom of the canvas in late November, that she didn’t ever want to be finished. So she found something wrong with a single leaf and went back to work.

            It started to snow, and the weather told them what to do and how to do it all over again.