Saturday, November 05, 2005

Nanowrimo: Day Five

I took yesterday off. Back in the saddle today.

16. An Unrequited Love Letter Never Sent

Dearest Margaret,

I know you've asked me not to call. Or write. Or come by your apartment. Or hire singing telegrams so underemployed actors, dancers, and singers perform renditions of "The Candy Man" for you. Or engage party clowns and magicians to do their thing just for you and you alone. I'd employ a stripper to entertain you, but that seems to be going just a little too far. And hiring a male stripper seems like it's not going far enough. I'd hate for you to get another restraining order. I'm still living down the first one.

But I need to reach out to you. To see you. To hear you. To feel you. Even if only in my mind's eye. In my heart. In my soul. And on this page.

Our month together was the best month of my life. The best. I've never met anyone who makes me feel like you do. Your hair. Your eyes. Your scent. The way you stumble when walking up short flights of stairs. The way you twist and fold uncomfortably when sitting in one place for too long. The way you glare untrustingly at anyone offering you a candy bar still in its wrapper. I love the way you say, "Peel here? Like I'd fall for that!" The way you read every page of text twice before turning, mouthing each word silently to yourself, but only one time or the other, never both.

Those are just some of your wonders. Some of your charming and disarming quirks. Some of your magic. I hope that I contributed in some small way to your life. Your world. Your evolution. I hope that our time together was important and influential for you, as well. I also hope that sometimes, just sometimes, you think of me fondly, recalling me with affection, and wondering how I am, where I am, what I'm doing, and with whom. Because I think of you all the time. All the time.

Just the other day, for example, I was walking down the street, thinking of you, thinking only of you, when I walked straight into a street sign. Not the round, solid kind, but the green crimped kind with holes in it. I got a gash just above my left eye, and it bled. My, how it bled. At first I didn’t realize what had happened, and I just kept walking home. But eventually, my vision became obscured with blood, and I had to use my handkerchief to tamp the flow of blood. When I got home and looked into the mirror, I was truly a horror show. No wonder everyone was wending such a wide berth around me as I walked up the steep hill home.

And no wonder you can't stand me, either. No wonder you avoid me. I'm a man who can't even walk down the street without walking into street signs. Not the kind of man you want, need, and deserve. You need a man with gaydar, radar, and sonar. A man with supersensory powers.

Wait a minute, I have supersensory powers. Clearly, even those are not enough.

Regardless, I am yours. Forever and ever yours.


17. How Men and Women Handle Rejection

Peach wasn't one to take to being newly alone again too well, even after just a single month of coupledom. He had only been with Margaret for a month, but it had been the best month of his life. It had also been the longest month. Not long in the sense that he couldn't wait for it to end, and, my, how time does plod on. But long in the sense that Peach hoped the month would never end, and wouldn't it be cool if every second were as long as a minute and every minute were as long as an hour? You can see where this is going. The month was good. It was as good as a year. A good, long year. And that year, a lifetime.

Now that the month of heaven had ended, Peach was not in a good way. He was in a bad way. Day after day, he stayed inside his apartment, sitting on his soiled futon in day-old boxers, watching reruns of stilted British comedies, and subsisting on pot pies and rice. He began to read books. He stopped reading books. He didn't finish any books. He read months-old magazines, tearing out pages and pictures to mail to friends, family, and former lovers. He made a point to not address any to Margaret. She had no idea what she was missing. That'd show her.

Margaret knew what she was missing. Whom she was missing. She was missing Peach. When her copious tears had dried and she had dabbed her peepers clean of sleepy seed, she looked into the mirror. And what she saw worried her. Her pink and silver hair was stringier than is usually was. Her skin paler. Her eyes more haunted. And her mouth a thinner line of disapproval and disappointment than usual.

"Turn that frown upside down," she muttered to herself. She struggled and shrugged out of her dumpy, athletic gray sweatshirt, brushed her teeth, ran a quick comb through her air. Inhaling to steel herself, she stood in front of the telephone and prepared to call Peach. She picked up the handset. She began to dial.

And as Peach, across town, began to howl and sob in anguish and loss, every single phone in Libertyville rang. And rang. And rang. It was a chorus of calamity, communication, and crisis.

18. Peach Gets a Letter in the Mail

One day, Peach walked down the four stairs to his mail slot. He'd moved out of his parents apartment, gone to university, and graduated with honors, earning a degree in astrophysics. And other then rejection slips from the leading journals in astrophysics, he received very little mail of note. Outside of the occasional advertising circular and the occasional bill, which Peach paid very little attention to -- he'd yet to learn that he had to pay bills addressed to him. Or that people, teams, entire organizations, and even governments kept track of such matters. He thought his credit rating was on par with his Permanent Record. Like such a record existed! Ha. Some people were such suckers.

When he opened his mail slot and peeked inside, he saw an envelope. Business size. We're talking No. 10. Serious stuff. The kind of envelope that means business. And on the outside of the envelope, on the face on which a postage stamp was affixed, his address was typewritten, not handwritten. It wasn't even printed in the typeface designed to look like someone's handwriting. He wasn't quite sure what to do.

That's not entirely true. He knew exactly what to do. He opened the envelope, picking open one end and then slicing it open along its entire length with a fingertip. He pulled out the single sheet of paper, which was folded in three, and unfolded it. He looked at it. Then he turned it over and looked at the side with writing on it. And he read it.

19. What the Letter Said

Dear Mr. Sebastian:

It has come to our attention -- the attention of the United States Government -- that you have a very special skill. A skill that has gone unnoticed by many, if not most of the people in your life. A skill that is of special interest to the Government. And a skill that is of possible use by the Government.

To that end, the Government requests your participation in and presence at a secret meeting on Nov. 11. Please come to the Army Recruiting Station on Main Street at 3 p.m.

Don't tell anyone where you're going. When. Or why. (Let's not mention how or to see whom; you should get the point by now. No? Sigh.)

This isn't a big deal. You're not in trouble. Don't worry about it.

The Government

20. A Zero's Welcome

Peach's return to Earth was a banner day. A banner day indeed. Among the festivities planned were ticker tape parades, multiple weddings, bar and bat mitzvahs, pop quizzes, local elections, retirements, premier TV episodes, restaurant openings, book launch parties, and college reunions. So Peach wasn't surprised when his placeship landed, the landing gear settled gently on its pneumatic valves, and the portal opened to reveal an empty landing field. He'd seen it coming, from 60,000 feet up.

Peach walked down the ship's stairs, strode with purpose across the landing field, stepped hesitantly beyond Cape Caramel's chain-link and razor-wire gate, and waited on the curb for at least 30 minutes trying to hail a cab. Anticlimactic? Some would say so. Others would say that the parade, mitzvah, opening, party, or reunion they'd attended was the best fete they'd ever gone to. Someone had spiked the punch. Coworkers hooked up inappropriately in the office-supply closet. "Malcolm in the Middle" still brought the funny. And young men and women became adults. Gave one faith, it did.

People were also glad they watched the 10 o'clock news. Turns out that a placeflight had been successful, and that the pilot was once again on terra firma. Gods bless America.

21. Mapping the World of Peach

  • His kitchen counter
  • His futon
  • His bathroom
  • His bed
  • His mailbox
  • His front stoop, where he finds his newspapers
  • The post box on the corner
  • The laundromat
  • The corner bar
  • The liquor store
  • The other liquor store
  • The other, other liquor store
  • The grocery store
  • The other grocery store
  • The four-lane thoroughfare at which he has to wait for the walk light
  • The subway station
  • The other subway station
  • The elevated station
  • The train station
  • Where he buys his croissants
  • Where he buys his orange juice
  • The other train station
  • His office
  • The deli
  • The other deli
  • The pizza place
  • The sushi restaurant
  • His post office box
  • The taco stand
  • The other pizza place
  • Margaret's place
  • Margaret's arms
  • The Interweb
  • The recruiting station
  • Outerplace

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