Eye of the Story

The Evergreen State College

Category: Writing Projects (Page 1 of 2)

Mike Pezzillo- A Glint in the Eye and a Growl in the Belly

A Glint in the Eye and a Growl in the Belly

 

That night the Missouri was friendly. There was a half-moon and he steered the small boat by swimming one-handed on the stern, kicking and steering around the bends of the river and round the sandbars, whenever possible. He was thinking of old friends, some gone, most not yet, some good, others searching. He might have had a tear in his eye but the river washed it away.

The river and the half-moon absorbed him on his way down the Missouri to the landing. ~PV

“So I talked to Peder about that dream,” Julie says, referring to a dream in which her father had sat upon her bed and spoke to her. “I started crying when I talked to him. I said, ‘It was like he was there talking to me.’ And I was crying when I said, ‘but I don’t know how this shit works. I don’t know if it works that way.’
‘Ah, Jule,’ Peder said, ‘that’s exactly how it works.’”

We’ve been sitting in Peder’s apartment for an entire day and now into the night, sitting some kind of secular shiva for him and for ourselves, a setting of face-to-face that came about organically amidst the needs of pragmatic concerns; all the trivialities of death that assail those left behind. The living room, the office, is covered with history, a life, all scrawled on notes ranging in size from post-it to repurposed take-out fliers to whole reams of oddly-cut yet uniform papers. A large number of the post-it sized notes are phone numbers, addresses, and the occasional little reminder to pick up wine or stop at the bank or to listen to a specific NPR segment. A smoke alarm dangles from it’s wiring on the ceiling amid cobwebs of some distant vintage, yellowed a darker shade than the nicotine-coated walls. A cane, Peder’s cane, rests quietly against the desk, directly beneath the silenced smoke detector. Loose cigarettes lay strewn across every horizontal surface, and the ashtrays haphazardly placed between stacks of paper and pill bottles suggest that Peder had started smoking again recently.
Yellow-paged books sit serenely on shelves coated with a fuzzy patina of dust and age. The kitchen, recently cleared of old empties, ancient food stuffs, and forgotten peanuts, is now in the throws of Terry Buetler making Tuna Noodle Helper, his specialty and an old favorite of this crew. A painter and carpenter by trade, like Peder, Terry has a lot of fine skills and has learned to do his job very well in spite having, like Peder, of a crippling issue with math.

(For Peder, math was such an issue that he almost didn’t get his degree. A friend of his, a psychologist at USD, wrote up a recommendation to the school board suggesting that Peder’s college-level mathematical reasoning skills had been burned out by excessive LSD usage, a convenient fiction that Peder came to refer to as “Acid Amnesty International”. As a carpenter, Peder developed his own method of geometry which never failed him.)

Carryl wanders into the kitchen to find Buetler puzzling over how to double a recipe that calls for 2/3 of a cup. Carryl peers wide-eyed at the box, unable to decipher the instructions without her glasses, which were left at the hotel in the rush to get here this morning. After a few minutes of fumbling they manage it together.

A short while later Buetler is wandering around talking about everything that pops into his head to Savvy and I, and Carryl and Julie are talking in the kitchen.
“Yeah,“ Carryl says, “we’re sitting Shiva, South Dakota style: Bring us food, bring us wine, pay your respects.”
“But I don’t want Molly to think that we’re having a bunch of people through here,” replies Julie, “you know, I don’t think she’d be comfortable…”
“Oh no,” Carryl intejects. “No no, like, I wouldn’t want to- I wouldn’t want to- but see, I’m already that way.”
“You’re not posting no…”
“Yeah, fuck that shit,” Carryl laughs.
Julie grabs her glass. “I don’t have anybody to call.”
“T.J.’s coming and that’s enough for me,” she says as she draws a glass of wine from the box on the counter.
“yeah,” Carryl continues, filling her own glass. “And that’s what we’re doing and I think, actually, which- so I’m not saying we have to do anything. I think what we’re doing… I’m just, like, recognizing the there is a minor setting, not that I’m Jewish or ever been that involved, but part of the sitting Shiva goes in layers and stages, like you start with the immediate family, and then it’s not for several days before before it opens up. This one gal, I knew her reasonably well, she came up to me this year at Human Factors, she’s Jewish, she lives in Israel, and she said, ‘hey, just wanted to say…’

Terry lopes in, a joint in his mouth.
“Oh,” interrupts Julie, “we decided to take the lid off and let it cook down a little, ‘cuz it’s kinda soupy. I don’t know, it’s your…”
“You think, Carryl?” Terry asks, “is it too soupy yet?”
“No, I think we’ll go with Julie’s ideas on this one,” Carryl replies.
Julie stammers, “With the- the- the-”
“…the lid off…” Carryl supplies.

“Yeah,” Julie shoots back, “just let it simmer a little, but with the lid off, maybe…”

“It’ll evaporate better, probably…”

“Yeah,” Terry says edgewise, “it’s a good idea.”

“Yeah,” Julie nods. “Absorb the liquid.”

“Maybe it was Peder’s idea,” Carryl says, nodding sagely. “Yep.”

“I think Peder would really want me to-” Terry begins. “He knew why you guys were here to help me with this,” he chuckles.

“Or maybe he wanted soup,” supplies Carryl.

 

I’ll almost always fall in love with people who are often in trouble on account of their own good wits. ~PV

“I’m gonna put this outside for Peder,” Terry says, heading toward the door with a bowl of the much-anticipated Tuna Noodle Helper.
“Yeah,” agrees Julie, then, “wait, why does he have to be outside?”
“Well,” Terry backpedals into the room, “it’s free out there…”
“He can come in here,” Julie says. “He IS here.”
“Where should I put it?”
“Over there.”
“By his big coat,” Carryl says, pointing at the mountainous black parka piled on the corner of the desk, Peder’s smiling face beaming over the top from an 8×11 photograph.
“He was never a big eater, he’ll probably only nibble at it,” Julie sniffs.
“At some point,” Carryl chimes, “he might want to go outside for a cigarette.”
“Yeah, he’s got his Icehouse, and his Tuna Noodle Helper.”

“Let’s make it thematic,” says Terry. “He would have liked that. Where’s that ashtray and one of those fucking cigarettes?”
“Oh shit, we’ve been cleaning a lot…,” mumbles Carryl.
“oh man,” Julie agrees.
“…been cleaning too much if you can’t find a dirty ashtray.”

A person can become so alone that he almost no longer understands friendship. I don’t say this to explain myself or excuse myself, I simply know this from my experience. Now, perhaps because it’s Solstice, I want to reach out to my old friends to say that I have them still in my heart and mind and that I am most grateful for what I learned from them. ~ PV

 

“What’s important?” Terry asks me. “You’ve got to look at the streets. Yeah, it’s cold out, but how many people, if they didn’t have their digital media would not be outside? Hanging out or doing something, there would be events. Picasso and those guys… and back in the NY School, abstract expressionism, they had people they’d talk to, like a constant dialogue and community, and I think it’s so crucial for art to survive, especially in the individual, and not around bouncing shit [off other artists]. I miss that dialogue so much. It’s depressing.”

Carryl sings, “That’ll work for me, lord. That’ll work for me. I’ll have an Icehouse, and that’ll work for me.”

Project: The Sun And The Dae (Zoe Brook.)

The Sun And The Dae

So I can’t figure out how to attach or embed at PDF, and my project wasn’t super long, so hopefully this is okay.

 

 

Eye Of The Story

Sam Schrager and Caryn Cline

Final Project

Zoe Wright

The Sun and The Dae

Casey met her on a night out after being abandoned by her girlfriends in a weird little club across town. She still wasn’t sure what about the woman had drawn her attention. She was quietly sitting in the corner, looking mostly at the table, but sometimes she would look up and sort of grimace at the surroundings before taking another drink. The woman struck Casey as older than she was, maybe it was the tired lines at the edges of her eyes, the way her mouth didn’t appear to have smiled in a long time, or maybe it was that her style choices could be described as an ill fated vintage.

It was pretty early in the evening; Casey hadn’t wanted to go home yet, and wasn’t thinking clearly enough to have a way to get there. She went over to the woman and asked to join her in the corner, it was quieter than the rest of the club, secluded from the dancing and music. The woman had only shrugged. Suit yourself.

Eventually they started talking. First complaining about Casey’s friends who’d ditched her to leave with their new companions. Little by little, uninhibited Casey had told her all about the little annoyances that were happening in her life, that had happened before, and even some that she was anticipating. Her table mate didn’t expend much energy in their conversation at first, only nodding occasionally or offering small acknowledgment of Casey’s frustration. Finally Casey fell silent and stared down into her glass, tired and wishing that her night was going better than it was.

Their corner tucked away in a kind of alcove, and their silence was filled only by the muffled music coming from the rest of theclub. Finally the woman had taken a swallow of her drink, and leveled her gaze at Casey. Then she started talking.

She told Casey she’d lost her job a couple of weeks before. That she’d been searching but couldn’t find anything. No one wanted her for the job she did before. Tonight was maybe giving up, or maybe a punishment. She’d spend the day in unsuccessful interviews. She was exhausted, every fiber of herself ached or groaned under the weight of carrying herself. She was here because it was supposed to make people feel better to drink, to go out and be around people. So far it was a complete waste. She had forgotten how much she hated being around strangers, and how stressful and exhausting it was to navigate and manage the contact, even if it wasn’t direct.

Her name was Dana, she said as she wound down, looking even more exhausted than before.

Casey had smiled at her, and then they had really talked. They talked endlessly, soon they were even laughing. When they laughed together, it felt to Casey like they had woken a sort of giddy childish delight in the world in each other. Something that neither of them had felt in a while.

Casey was a fundamentally happy person, and an incredibly lucky one at that, but that didn’t mean there were stretches in her life that weren’t long and tedious and difficult to travel. And Dana, Dana was just about done in.

The rest of the night was a blur of giddy laughter and strange adventures. They had encouraged each other to go out on the dance floor and dance, forgetting about how ridiculous they might have looked, or reveling in it. They pranced down a couple streets with pretty shop windows, designing elaborate events they’d host when their lives were more exciting. They stopped in a park and swung on a swing set and laid in the grass how they do in movies and took a silly faced selfie. They had added each other on Facebook on a whim and shared phone numbers; and when the night was finally over, they had held each other up as their exhaustion and festivities made them stumble to a cab. They shared a silly phone call when they both got home, each ensuring the other was safely to their apartment, but getting distracted with the hilarity of funny noises.

When they collapsed into their beds, they felt younger, lighter, even through the exhaustion that hugged them.

Dana had woken up the next morning only to get a rather impressive dose of painkiller, a large glass of water, and to change into some soft pajamas. She was nearly back to her bed when she decided that peeing desperately needed to be added to list. After her list was complete, not neatly or efficiently complete, but done, she tumbled back into bed and closed her eyes.

When Dana woke up the second time, it was it afternoon. She still felt slightly sick, but mostly only when she thought about what she needed to do that day. She needed to keep on the job search, or something. That need wasn’t really enough to motivate her to get out of bed though, and she just rolled over and grabbed her phone off the edge of the dresser next to her bed. When she clicked open Facebook she saw the open, smiling face of Casey in a new profile picture from the day before. She had forgotten that they had added each other.

She clicked her name and skimmed through her profile, feeling strange for wanting to know more about a woman who was basically a stranger. It felt like an invasion of privacy, but Casey had demanded that they add each other. That they should keep in touch.

Dana grimaced and swept her finger down. She shouldn’t stay friends with this woman, shouldn’t take advantage. She didn’t really use her Facebook that much, only had a few coworkers, some distant relatives and some cousins she didn’t really know. She’d have to weed out the numbers soon anyway, now that she had lost her job. Might as well start now, with Casey. Save herself the embarrassment later. The other woman felt bright and shiny, filled with life and vitality. She was like a sun, a ball of energy that would burn her badly if she touched it.

Her finger hovers over the button for a few seconds. She sighs and tosses the phone down on the pillow beside her, rolling over to stare at the ceiling. She couldn’t bring herself to press it. It’s silly, really, to keep her on my Facebook. But when Dana remembers Casey’s infectious laugh last night and her insistence that they add each other, she can’t bring herself to undo it.

Casey might be the a sun, but Dana desperately wanted to keep a small part of that light, especially since her world seemed so thoroughly dark.

I’ll leave it be for a little while, she thought. I don’t want to seem rude. A little while. To satisfy myself for curiosity’s sake. I don’t want her to think I didn’t like her, I don’t want to be conspicuous.

She hit the key to move away from Facebook to check her email, an ever depressing task now that there wasn’t really any pressing reasons to check it. Most of what she had done with it had been related to her job, and with that gone, there wasn’t going to be much left. It wasn’t more than a few seconds into her scrolling into her email when her phone vibrated cheerfully and told her she had a message.

You have a message from Casey Holdt.

She clicked on it. And felt again like the sun of a beautiful human was shining on her when she saw the bright greeting, the typing icon, and then another message. How are you today?

Dana grinned, an odd sensation given the last few weeks, and rolled onto her stomach with a sense of giddy delight as she responded, glad she hadn’t hit the button.

Thursday,

I started keeping this journal to keep track of my progress with the production when I got the role. Now it seems like it’s more of a Casey record keeper. There are a lot of little moments at the theatre that make me feel good feelings, positive ones, but so many of them revolve around Casey. It had surprised me so much to see her there after our week of chatting online. It had been so strange to see her again in person after so many days of talking online.

Strange that it was a real person after all, strange that she kept talking to me online for no reason. Strange even more that she had seemed to want to talk to me in person when we met again. That she seemed happy to see me.

I must say something like that in every entry I write. It seems to come up everytime I think of my happier days.

Today’s moment is particularly special, I think. Because in today’s moment, Casey gave me a nickname.

We were back stage, in the dressing rooms. It was just before the sun went down, and there was sun streaming in through the windows. Madison said something about how much she loved theatre, and how much it clashed with her love of sunshine. Casey had nodded. “There are some times when I go outside in the daylight and I feel like I’m stepping into an alien world.”

Madison had laughed.

I had just finished putting on the last part of my costume for the last part of the show. I hadn’t spent much time in it, and when I went into the other room I stepped into the sunlight to see how the light and lively dressed actually looked.

And Casey had looked over at me and nodded, looking almost proud. “Well damn you’re beautiful. Maddy, even when the sun goes down, we’ll have our own Dae.” she looked straight at me and grinned.

For that moment, absolutely everything was amazing. The rest of the rehearsal went well, and throughout the whole thing, Casey kept calling me Dae.

I hope it sticks. When I hear her say it, it makes me want to smile, even when I should be crying for the scene. And when our director picked it up later during notes, it still made me want to smile.

I hope it sticks.

On Wednesdays I go out for lunch. Sometimes I go out on other days, but I always go out on Wednesdays. It keeps me sane while I’m working in the inside office world of my current assignment. When I step out into the sun, I blink, feeling the unpleasant sting of eyes unused to bright sunny days.

I start walking, blinking away the sun, and nearly run into her.

She laughs and catches me, smiling and silhouetted by the sun. “Careful,” she says.

I grin back. “Watch where I’m going, Dae.”

She snorts and takes my arm. “I thought maybe you’d like to go to the park for lunch. If you don’t have plans.” she sneaks me a look out of the corner of her eyes and a lump catches in my throat. That vulnerable look didn’t come back so often anymore, but every time it does it hits me hard.

I lean into her side and tip my head onto her shoulder. “It sounds wonderful.”

Her eyes light up and I let her lead me a few blocks over to a little park filled with trees and rather large rocks. She looks so much younger today than when I first saw her. Her face smiles when she’s not thinking and her steps swing as if she’s moving to music that only she hear.

Today in the first few strands of spring, while breeze in the air is cool and the sun is shining brightly, she’s wearing a pair of light colored jeans and a red sleeveless turtlenecked sweater shirt, her hair swinging around her face freely.

She led me to a place that was half surrounded with rocks, half with trees, where there was a sun beam scattered across the a patch of thick grass. She dropped the canvas tote bag she carried everywhere and pulled a blanket from around one of it’s handles, spreading it on the ground in front of us.

“You should sit. I suggest taking off your shoes. It’s lovely to feel the air.” she says.

“It’s beautiful today.” I look up at the sun streaked trees, each new leaf was a little different color. “This was a great idea, Dae.”

She grins at me, holds out a hand while I try and take off my short heels without tipping over into the grass. A few seconds later the shoes fall off and I give into the giddy urge to tip over into the soft grass around me. Dae laughs down at me, and the sounds makes a bubble of happiness float up inside me.

It doesn’t take her long to set up the food she’d stowed in her bag, and open a bottle of sparkling cider. “Fettucine Alfredo, bean salad, and apple crisp.” she says, pointing to each glass container in turn. “Perhaps not terribly well presented, but I’m sure it’ll be just as delicious.”

She drops down beside me and I pull her into a hug. “It’s wonderful. Thank you.”

We scoot over to the blanket and she serves us our food on silly colored picnic plates, and pours the cider into collapsible canvas cups. When I take mine, I hold it up into a part of the sunbeam that seems to sparkle gold with suspended dust. “Dae, who is awesome and to the day, which is gorgeous and perfect for a lunch at the park.”

Dae runs a hand through her freshly cut hair and smiles. “Thanks.” She says softly. We drink.

The food had been fantastic, and it was great to spend time outside in the sun. I didn’t feel bad at all for lying to boss, telling him I needed to take the afternoon off. Take care of family matters. I grin to myself. Not exactly a lie. It was family. And it was certainly more important than the crap I had left at that office. I can’t wait for this assignment to be over. And today was one less afternoon spent suffocating there.

I turn my head over on Dae’s leg and look up at her, to find her looking down at me. She smiles a little wider when she sees me. “What’s up?” she asks quietly as she brushes a lock of hair off my forehead.

I shrug, shifting a little to watch her better. “Just wondering something. Are we totally weird?”

“For which thing? There are a lot of things that could make us weird, you know.”

“True. I was thinking about how most people have a specific thing they call each other. Is it totally weird that we don’t?”

Dae looks up across the park for a moment. “I don’t think so. I think if it works for us, it’s all the better. Does it still work for you?”

I nod, smiling up at her as she looks down at me with a serious look in her eyes. “Of course it does. One of my coworkers just told the office today that he and his girlfriend were going to get married, that they were fiances now. It just struck me, that a lot of people rely on labels. Especially teen romance movies.”

Dae laughs. “Especially those.” she pauses. “I guess it would be weird to a lot of people. But that doesn’t bother me. Not anymore at least.”

“Good. It doesn’t bother me either. Just keep talking to me, and I’m happy with whatever we are, no matter what it’s called.”

Dae smiles and leans down to kiss me in the sun streaked moment.

rachel hatfield – project

Here we go: my project.

Some pieces are finished, others are not. Any feedback you have, I wholeheartedly accept. I’d love to chat sometime about writing or, more accurately, not writing when you should be writing. I’ve had way too much fun with this program and I’m sorry it’s almost over!

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The Evergreen State College
Olympia, Washington

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