I wrote a new short story and I’d love to hear what you think about it.

Veiled Lids

 One florescent light, its cover open, bounced with the movement of the car. She watched the cover swing backward and forward as the train moved along turning sharply first left, then right.  As the cover swung in front of the light, it caused a strange plastic flicker. So smooth was the train’s movement, the yellow flicker of light was the only sign that they were speeding along underground at 30 miles per hour.  There was a mass grave of dead flies stuck in the corner of the light.  It struck her as curious.  They were not underground insects; how did they come to die here?

The plastic seats were hard and uncomfortable and an ugly shade of brown-orange, faded gray under the constant harshness of the florescent yellow.  She shifted her not so easy weight in the seat, but could not make herself more comfortable.  Giving up, she slumped back down, feeling the tiny round bolts make a depression into her back.  She pulled her large green overcoat more tightly around her.

She lurched slightly as the train slowed. It broke in front of a dark station and the doors opened. She deflected her eyes from the platform as a lone man entered. He was dark and thin.  His expression was slightly haunted, as though he had drifted into the car by accident.  He blinked once as he looked up at the florescent light.  The train began to move again, but he did not sit down. His black eyes scanned the car.  He spotted her and for a brief moment a look of recognition seemed to cross his face, but it disappeared quickly.  He chose a seat that faced her at the other end of the car from her, in a shadow.  The train sped onwards.

It was not long before the train slowed again.  This time the station was brightly lit. The light was white and made her squint in contrast to the yellow light of the car. A woman entered; she was young and dressed in white, her red hair was long but matted and wet.  She wore a thin golden chain around her neck with the letter “O” dangling from it.  She held a small child in her arms; he was sleeping against his mother’s chest (for she must have been his mother as his tufty hair was the same dark red).  She slid into the first open seat she came to, bouncing her son slightly as he stirred. She did not look at her fellow passengers but kept her head down, staring at a point somewhere on the brown carpet of the train.  She brushed her lips against her infant son’s head.

The train began to move again.  The three passengers of the train did not look at each other. They did not speak. They simply sat quietly as the car rattled along.  The loud woosh of the wind as train journeyed was the only sound.  Three more stations passed and no one entered or exited the car.  The first passenger shifted again in her plastic chair.  The dark man in the corner took off the hood of his sweatshirt. The young woman rocked her child.

A sixth time the train door opened. This time another young woman entered. Her dark hair was tousled and her mascara left dark streaks around her eyes. Her clothes were expensive looking, but grimy. She also had the look of someone who wasn’t sure where she was. The stench of stale alcohol was strong on her, and the first passenger rubbed her nose.

She, unlike her fellow passengers, did not remain silent.  She took her seat next to the first passenger and looked at her with bemusement.

“What is this?” she asked.

“The Alighieri Line.”  Her voice was sharp, but it cracked as though it had not been used for a long time.  She had a harsh accent that might have been Italian.

The young mother kept her head hung as if she was afraid to look this newcomer in the eye, but fingered the “O” around her neck.  Still, the last passenger glanced around curiously.  “I’ve never taken the metro,” she said.

“Mmmhhhmm.”

“What’s your name?”

The first passenger looked at her with scrutiny.  She measured the woman’s face for a moment before answering, “Bea.” She said it short as though it was the end of the conversation.  The newcomer didn’t seem to notice.  After all, her voice was not unkind.

“That’s an unusual name.”  She looked at Bea expectantly, as though waiting for her to speak, but she didn’t.  When it became clear that she wasn’t going to get a response, she spoke again. “I’m Lucy.”

The woman called Bea nodded without looking at Lucy.  She opened the giant straw bag she was carrying and started to rummage through it.  It seemed that she could not find what she was looking for as she set the bag down on the floor of the car.  There was a cacophony of metal on metal as the train took a sharp turn.

Lucy began to pull on her dark hair and bouncing her crossed leg.  “I’ve never ridden the metro before,” Lucy said again. The train slowed slightly; the dark man in the shadows shifted in his seat, but did not stand.  The baby whimpered.

“I’m not even really sure how I got here,” Lucy said with a sardonic laugh, “I meant to take a cab home.”  She did not seem to notice that Bea finally was showing an interest in her. She looked at Lucy with a sideways smile and knowing eyes. Lucy, however, stared straight ahead and did not see this.

“I can barely remember what happened,” Lucy continued. The young red headed mother in the corner raised her eyes for the first time to look at Lucy.  Stale tear streaks were evident beneath her pale eyes. “I wonder why my friends didn’t come with me.”

Lucy scratched her bare shoulder and shuddered at little. When she looked at her hand, there was the slightest hint of blood on her bright pink fingernails. “Oops,” she said, “Guess I scratched myself.” Her voice seemed to raise a pitch as she said it.  The man in the shadows suddenly stood up from his seat.  He walked forward and took a seat next to the young woman holding her child.  She moved over to give him room.

“It’s New Year’s, you know,” Lucy said, “We were celebrating, my friends and me.”  The train screeched again and slowed, but it did not stop.  The four people on the train lurched again in their seats.  Lucy grabbed a metal bar to steady herself.  “I don’t think I like the metro very much.”

The other three passengers all looked at Lucy now with a curious expression. Lucy shuddered and looked away from them.  “It’s strange really,” she said, “I even brought extra money for a taxi.  I wonder why I didn’t call one.”

Lucy uncrossed and recrossed her legs.  Her knee continued to bounce.  “Which line did you say this was?” she asked again, looking at Bea.

However, it was not Bea that answered.  This time, the dark young man spoke up with a voice so low, Lucy almost did not hear him. “The Faust Line.” His voice too was heavy with an accent that might have been from Eastern Europe.

Lucy shook her head at him.  “No it isn’t. That’s not what she said before,” she indicated the woman sitting to her right.

“They are one in the same.”

Lucy squinted and then closed her eyes.  She shivered slightly.  “Such strange names,” she murmured, “I don’t think I’ve heard of them before.”

Bea made to pat her on the shoulder.  Lucy stiffened at the touch. “I’m sure you have heard of them, dear,” Bea assured, “Otherwise, why would you be here?”

“I don’t know why I’m here,” Lucy said.  This time her voice betrayed a hint of fear.

“Just think, dear, I’m sure you will remember if you try.”

Lucy looked at her.  “I just want to go home.”  Her voice whimpered a little.  She sounded like a small child.

Bea smiled reassuringly.  “We are all going home.  That’s why we are on the train.”

Lucy looked unsure. “Where does this train go?”

Bea smiled but made no answer.  Lucy asked again, this time directing the question to all, “Where does it go?”

The sad young woman whispered the answer this time.  Her voice was kind and musical, but drenched with pain. “To the end of the line.”

“That’s not an answer,” Lucy rebuffed.

“It is the only answer,” the dark man responded.

“I don’t understand what you mean!” Lucy exclaimed.  It was obvious that she was nervous now. She sprang up from her seat and the yellow florescent light flickered above her.  “Why am I alone?”

Bea cocked her head to one side and raised her eyebrows.  “You’re not alone, we’re all here together.”

“But who are you? I don’t know you!”

“Of course you know who we are.  Think.”

Lucy was crying now, her tears streaming down her face faster than she could wipe them away.  She didn’t say anything but leaned against the metal pole as though it were her life support.  She looked at each of the other passengers in turn.  They all looked back at her, waiting. Lucy shut her eyes and screwed her face in concentration. Tears continued to bubble under her closed lids.  She took a deep breath and slowly sat back down.  There was a look of relief that flooded her face, a sense of calm that had not been there before.

“I did take a cab,” she said softly, “I know that I did.”

Bea nodded knowingly.  The lights flickered softly as the car journeyed on. The young red headed woman fixed her stare back on her son.  The dark man put his hood back on.  Bea shifted in her seat. Lucy wiped the tears from her eyes, spreading a mascara trail across her cheeks.  “How much longer till we get there?” she asked.

“Not too much longer. We are almost there.”

The train took one more turn through a dark tunnel, its headlights fading slightly as the train began to slow for the last turn. The florescent light overhead flickered.

 

Do not for ever with thy vailed lids
Seek for thy noble father in the dust:
Thou know’st ’tis common; all that lives must die,
Passing through nature to eternity.

Hamlet (1.2)

I’m thinking about making this the second in a series about my observations about the differences between men and women.  I think it just might make me famous if it turns out I’m right.

First of all, I need to give a shout out to my dear (probably one of my dearest) friend Kollin, who helped me develop this theory.  Or at least he listened while I ranted it out. He’s such a good listener.

Myth: All women are complicated.

Yes, you heard me I said it…myth.  I would like to present myself as the proof to this statement.  I like to think of myself as a pretty open book when it comes relationships.  If I’m not interested, I’ll either let you know or distance myself till he gets the idea (yes I know this isn’t the nicest or most perfect option, but I really hate confrontation, and this is effective for getting the message across.)  Now, I can be mysterious when I want to be, but that’s usually a flirting technique.  I still like to think that when I’m “mysterious” I’m pretty straight forward.

Myth: All men are easy to understand.

I just heard the outcry of men all around the world who read that statement and are offended by my implication. “No way! Men are so easy to get!”  XXXXXX Wrong answer. Thanks so much, please try again.  Yes, I will grant you that most men are pretty straight forward, but this is certainly not true about all of them.  And it seems to me that I’m pretty good and pickin’ the ones who are complicated.  No “relationship” I’ve had has been easy going. Period. And it’s always the guy who makes things weird.

So, that being said, here is the theory I want to present: There must be one person in a relationship who is complicated.  It may be the woman, it may be the man.  But relationships are not meant to be easy.  Perhaps if there was not complication, then things would be boring.   Who knows?

I do know this: I almost wish I was the complicated one.  I think if I went after simpler guys it would save me a lot of heartache. Relating back to my last note in this “series,” women take things more seriously.

I could be just writing a lot of fluff here.  Actually, I get the feeling that I am. I do know this: my conclusion here is to be wary of believing those myths about men and women.  I think that’s what makes relationships so difficult is that we are all so ready to jump into those myths and believe them, that we have a hard time of seeing things as they really are.  Take things in stride; go with the flow; breathe in, breathe out; take one day at a time (wow, could I have fitted one more cliche into that string?)

Oh yes, and communicate. That saves heartache too.  (Does that sound like a lead in to a new note to you, cause it does to me)

Alfred, Lord Tennyson Memorializing Events in the Battle of Balaclava, October 25, 1854
Written 1854

Half a league half a league,
Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred:
‘Forward, the Light Brigade!
Charge for the guns’ he said:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.

‘Forward, the Light Brigade!’
Was there a man dismay’d ?
Not tho’ the soldier knew
Some one had blunder’d:
Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do & die,
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.

Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon in front of them
Volley’d & thunder’d;
Storm’d at with shot and shell,
Boldly they rode and well,
Into the jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of Hell
Rode the six hundred.

Flash’d all their sabres bare,
Flash’d as they turn’d in air
Sabring the gunners there,
Charging an army while
All the world wonder’d:
Plunged in the battery-smoke
Right thro’ the line they broke;
Cossack & Russian
Reel’d from the sabre-stroke,
Shatter’d & sunder’d.
Then they rode back, but not
Not the six hundred.

Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon behind them
Volley’d and thunder’d;
Storm’d at with shot and shell,
While horse & hero fell,
They that had fought so well
Came thro’ the jaws of Death,
Back from the mouth of Hell,
All that was left of them,
Left of six hundred.

When can their glory fade?
O the wild charge they made!
All the world wonder’d.
Honour the charge they made!
Honour the Light Brigade,
Noble six hundred!

***Before I get into the beefy-ness of this, I feel the need to make a couple disclaimers.  1) This does not apply to any one in particular, it is just a summary of general observations, partly based on my Sunday school class.  2) I am going to be making a lot of generalizations about both men and women, and I do not claim that these generalizations are true about all, but merely that generally they apply to most.  3) I am writing this note based on my very limited experience, and it is intended to speak for those like myself. I do not claim to be an expert, so please excuse anything I say that might offend.***

It is my intent, with this risky venture, to express my feelings about the difference between man and woman.  Now before you start getting all excited that I am finally going to reveal the secret mystery to understanding the opposite sex, I will not.  Primarily because I don’t understand that myself.  These are rather my own initial observations in the case study of my life.

The subject that I would like to touch on here is casual dating.  I don’t really believe that there is such a thing.

Uh oh a minute, I can already hear you starting to argue, let me explain: if two people agree to “go out” together on a “date,” the sole purpose being having a good time and hanging out, then yes, I can classify that as casual dating.  However, i ask that you notice the key phrase in that above definition: two people. Both. Agree. Together.

That being said, I think that this is an “agreement” that is not often adopted.  Women are emotional beings; we tend to get really caught up in the fanciful ideas of what could be and what might be.  This is not saying that when a guy asks us out the first time that we believe from that point that this is the man that we will be marrying, but I would be lying to say that we don’t feel a bit giddy at the prospect that this could be the beginning of something that has the potential of heading somewhere. We can tell you all day long that we are all about taking things slow, and that we aren’t serious, and more likely than not, we recognize and believe that to be the case. But there’s always the thought in the back of our minds, “What if?” Women get very emotionally involved and invested, and the slightest slight can throw a woman out of wack for a good while.  Yes, it is absolutely ridiculous; it doesn’t make any sense at all,  but that doesn’t make it less true.

So really there’s just one thing that I ask, and that is for men to be careful.  There’s nothing wrong with “casual dating,” but make sure that the women realizes up front that that is the direction you are heading.  Even if it is just a first date.  We know that its not serious and we aren’t expecting a relationship based on that first date, but guard your actions, men.  Be careful of your flattery and word choice; be careful of your treatment. Our hearts are much more easily broken, even when we are guarding them.

As I said, this was not meant to be a rant or to apply to one person or persons in particular. These are simply basic observations I have noted based on my own experiences and the experiences of other women like myself.  God has given humans the incredible gift for love and we should take care to treasure it.

You yung’uns out there may not remember what the world was like before you could journal on the internet, but I used to be a prolific journaler. I like writing.  A lot. And what in the world could be better than writing about your own life?  It really gives you a new perspective about what’s going on in your own world.  It helps you to look at things objectively. For example, I’m just sitting here thinking about even the journals I kept my sophomore year in college and reminiscing how foolish and immature they are. I’m sure that in 5 or 10 years, I’ll look back on anything I’m writing now and think ‘geez what a tool I was then!’  But besides that point, it helps me when I’ve got things bottled up.  I have a problem with emotion.  Or rather, I have a problem of having too much of it.  However, unless you live at my house and hear my occasional outburst, you won’t know I have all of this emotion.  I will never cry in your presence, I will never meltdown around my colleagues and peers, and I will certainly never be..ahem..witchy.  Actually, that’s partly a lie.  I’ve done all of those things in public, but not frequently, at least in recent years.  However, I have emotions that I don’t share.  Why? Well because I’m ashamed of them, I suppose.  Therefore, I journal.  Pen and paper do not care if you are being ridiculous or foolish.  A spiral notebook will never judge you.  It is like the perfect listener.  It never offers criticism or even well meant, but unneeded, advice.

And yet, in recent months, actually since I was in Ireland almost a year ago (Saints preserve me, has it been that long already?), I haven’t journaled. Why not? Well I don’t know really.  Time? Patience? Forgetfulness? Laziness? All possibilities. All likely. And yet, I’m probably at a time in my life when I’ve never needed it more.  I’ve had…shall we say…emotional trials over the last few weeks.  I could have stood for some emotional relief that journaling does.  It’s almost as though it lightens some of the burden. 

But I’m sure you are wondering about these aforementioned trails.  What are they, you ask? Ah, you thought you had me fooled, blogging is not journaling, and therefore, you don’t get to know the specifics.  I’m not yet to the point where I’m willing to put every detail of my personal struggles out there for a stranger in Timbuktu to read.  Which makes me wonder why I’m really writing any of this in the first place.  To let those who love me know that  I am struggling, I suppose.  It’s easier for me to communicate through writing than in person. Perhaps to try and help you understand me just a little bit better.

But for now, it’s just me, my pseudo-journal, a luke-warm glass of white zinfandel (which actually should probably go in the fridge to rechill), and some of the best Irish music I’ve heard in a long time.  I.e. in a pub in Dublin. 

So fill to me the parting glass, and drink a health what ‘er befalls, and gently rise and softly call good night and joy be to you all. 

You know what I miss doing?

Literary analysis.

That’s right, I said it.  The English minor in me has emerged full swing.  I’m sitting here, watching Pride & Prejudice, and do you know what is going through my mind?  Austen’s message on the status of women.  Yes, P&P is a lovely story about finding true love while overcoming personal biases.  Yada, yada, yada.  However, when you really break the story down, Austen portrays the inequalities of 19th century English society in the terms of how women are affected by unfair inheritance laws, and the hypocrisy of social status.  Think about just a few lines: “Even my piano stool belongs to Mr. Collins.” “We are perfectly able to keep a cook.” And these are just a few.  Don’t get me started on the {please imagine this spoken with an hyperbolic and ironic British accent} Lady Catherine de Bourgh.

Yes I just went there–I high school English classed all of you.

But that’s just it, you know, I really enjoy picking literature apart and finding the symbols and message hidden amidst its pages.  It’s like a scavenger hunt.  It creates critical thinking skills.  Not to mention that, as often as I complain about how it takes the fun out of reading, what it does in actuality is makes reading more enjoyable.  When you know the author’s true purpose and read with that in mind, won’t the novel (poem, short story, etc) make more sense? I find it so.

And let’s be honest, the fact that this is a lost art is depressing.  People do use their brains anymore!  Technology, as much as I love it, I am convinced has created a generation of dumbed down Americans.   Why read a classic novel over 140 pages when you can twitter up to 140 words?  We are an ADD generation, bouncing around from one thing to the next.  When will we take the time to breathe!!  And how did I get to this conclusion based on literary analysis?  Well honestly I’m not sure.  But I will end with this.  Stop, take a breath, read a book, and think about that book. Don’t be afraid or too lazy to analyze, you never know what you might teach yourself.

Has it really been since September that I’ve posted a blog?! That’s a long time.  So much has changed since then!

I actually don’t really have a whole lot to say anymore.  Chalk it up to exhaustion, work, laziness, whatever really.  I’m in one of those phases, you know, where I get writer’s block pretty badly and just run out of things to say.  However, as this is my creative outlet, hopefully that will change soon.

Biggest change in my life, especially looking at my last blog about escapism, is that I’ve gotten a job.  I know.  It’s awesome.  I’m teaching back at home at my high school–the place where I told my mom when I graduated that I would be working there.  She told me “Don’t get your hopes up, it’s very hard to get a job there.”  Ha, I showed her.

So I’m working.  It’s honestly just about my whole life right now.  They don’t prepare you for the kind of job that teaching really is.  Sure I’ve been trained in the resources and teaching styles and “instructional strategies” and whatnot, but administrative stuff? They managed to leave out a college course on that one.  I’m at the school till 6:00 at night sometimes.  Lesson planning is going to be the death of me, I’m convinced.  And don’t get me started on…well…it’s best to leave that for another time.

So, whew.  That’s really all I can say about life right now.  Teaching is my life. I’m ok with that, I mean I did train four years in order for it to be so.  In the words of one of the guys I graduated it (who is former army) “I mean the military is a lifestyle, but no where near that as teaching.”  One day I’ll grow out of it, I’m sure.  I’m still a rookie, you know.  I’ll grow into it.

What else can I say? I do apologize for being neither as elegant or thought provoking as I used to be.  It’s the nature of the game.  Hopefully it won’t be five months before I post again.