I write short stories. I own surprisingly few pairs of shorts. I sometimes short circuit.
"Alana" sounds like "A lotta" = A lotta shorts.
Take the title however you like.
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
Marissa wasn't there when they were handing out Destinies.
Though the line for Brains hadn't been very long - the shortest in decades! - their stock was overflowing because of it; they had overstocked. This made the available options varied and vastly more difficult to choose between. Marissa thought she would get in a line and just be handed the next proper Brain; that it would take all of 10 minutes. If she'd know, she would have arrived earlier. She had never preferred too many choices: Just give me the best of what you've got and I'll be on my way, was her thinking.
Marissa had argued extensively with the Supplier.
"How are we supposed to decide if we want a Creative Mind or an Analytical Mind if we don't know what our Destinies are yet? How can I possibly choose a Brain inclined towards Math and Science when I don't know if my Destiny will be that of a Painter?"
The Supplier calmly reassured her.
"Miss, your Destiny is matched to your Brain. Pick a Brain that seems best to you and the Destiny Giver will match it. After all, you don't currently have a Brain with which to make the proper decision about your Destiny anyway."
"Well," Marissa fumed, "If that's the case, how can I possibly pick out a Brain if I don't have one to pick one out with in the first place!"
The Supplier slid his finger down a row of possible Brain matches.
"Seems to me, as I have a Brain, that you have a natural inclination towards curiosity, interrogation, sarcasm and violence. Let me see if I have something in that vein. A Brain bent on world domination, perhaps? Or a politically-inclined, closed-minded Brain?"
"Do you have one that's not as smug and superior as your Brain? Something in the Intelligent-Yet-Humble Category, perhaps?"
"We don't have that specific category, ma'am, but I believe you were born with smug superiority so no choice of Brain is going to change that."
Marissa let out a wild scream and attempted to leap over the counter, through the window and onto the Supplier's windpipe. But he slammed the gated window shut and her head ricocheted against the bars. Pre-Brainees tend to be either nearly vegetative or royally pissed off. Scientists are still baffled.
When she came to, she found herself out of line and laying on a bench. She marched up to the counter but was promptly escorted to the end of the queue.
Twenty minutes later she came face to face with the Supplier again. By this time she had calmed down and managed to speak with a pleasant voice.
"I think I would like to see your Artistic Brains please."
The Supplier handed her a clipboard full of options and closed the gate with a suspicious look.
"You can decide over there and come to the front of the line when you know."
"Why, thank you." Marissa forced a smile.
By the time she finally picked one out, had it implanted and wired into her Nervous System, the Destiny Station was preparing to close in 5 minutes.
She ran as fast as her legs could carry her. Why these two vitally linked departments weren't in the same building let a lone in the same room, she didn't know. She cursed the fact. But when she got there - they were closed.
"No problem," Marissa thought, her new Brain kicking into calculative gear. She went home, set her alarm for a bright and early start and was standing outside the Destiny Station at quarter to 9 in the morning. At 9:30 Marissa began to worry. She copied down the number written on the door and went to a pay phone on the corner. Her call was answered right away.
"Hi, I'm standing outside your office right now. I really need my Destiny."
"Oh, I'm sorry, ma'am. We're closed."
"But the sign says you open at nine," Marissa pointed out.
"Oh, no. We're closed for good. With all the self-help books and everyone looking for their Destinies on their own, no one's been by here in ages. Except to complain that they're just sure we gave them the wrong one because this quiz or that TV Show told them they need to read that book or watch this other TV show so they can 'reveal the secrets to discovering their True Inner Purpose' or whatever."
"But I WANT you to give me a Destiny! What am I supposed to do?"
"I guess you just have to try to find it on your own. You picked up a Brain, didn't you?"
It all came down to oranges.
Daniel's entire life - from the supremely important to the devastatingly boring (Far too many of the first had been massacred to oblivion and too many of the latter quietly endured) - all came to a bone-grinding halt at the kitchen counter on the 23rd of January.
Which orange? They all, all five of them, looked the same.
Daniel picked up the woven bowl which cradled them, placed them on his two-seater table with a grave deal of concern and sat down in one of the padded folding chairs. He picked each one up; handled it, squeezed it, sniffed it. He thought of Jerry Seinfeld's melon joke and rolled them each the short length of the kitchenette to see, well, to see if one stuck out in some way or the other. Not a single one followed the same path. One was much slower than the others, though; at first Daniel reasoned this one had more orange in it. But then he doubted his ability to throw them each exactly the same way with the same speed and realized this venture was a better joke than a scientific experiment.
After he'd rinsed each off (in hot water) he sat them in a row from left to right and tried to place them in order like a hand of cards. Again he could not come up with a system of hierarchy. Daniel finally decided to cut a slice out of each to taste and grade that way. He even took a moment to select the proper knife, a steak knife: he only had a butter knife, four steak knives and a butcher knife. But when he sat down to do the deed he blanched at the thought of the four he would evidently leave behind, rotting away by day's end and going needlessly to the trash.
He also wondered, if the one he chose today was the best, why would he ever want to eat the other four? Hadn't he compromised in every other area of his life? Wasn't every day that he lived to see full of suppression and sub-standards? How could he knowingly eat sub-par fruit on top of all that!
No, that would be a step too far.
Gingerly, he placed the knife back in the drawer. Slowly, he paced around the table looking at the oranges from every angle. He wasn't really looking at them any more than when you, deep in your own thoughts, find yourself staring at the person seated across from you on the train. Unfortunately, oranges don't glare back at you or give you attitudinal quips like "Take a picture: it lasts longer". That would likely have eliminated one or more of them. Daniel took lip from just about anyone except an orange - or any other type of fruit. They're not very intimidating. Oh, they might bark; we're the ones who bite. Unless you're allergic. Then you have to watch yourself.
Daniel plopped down on his chair. He found that he couldn't comfortably see all the oranges at once so he piled them all in the bowl again, directly in front of him, and went into a deep stare the likes of which could decode any Magic Eye 3-D picture.
Some unacknowledged time later, the front door opened with a crash and Janet came storming in.
"What is wrong with you? Let's go! You're making us all late!"
Daniel looked up in a haze.
"But - the oranges."
"Listen, Dan, " Janet said, "I don't know if you missed your medication or you took too much of it but I've honked; I've phoned; I've buzzed. If someone hadn't been having groceries delivered at the exact second I was about to speed off you'd still be sitting here like a vegetable. Or fruit. Whatever. But Nancy and Bill are in the car waiting and I have to present my half of the proposal in like half an hour at that completely premature board meeting and I will quite literally murder you if anything goes wrong even if it has nothing directly to do with you because it will definitely be the indirect result of you completely ruining my morning and working up my blood-pressure by acting like an irresponsible, inconsiderate child."
Daniel sighed. He threw his suit jacket over his shoulders and scooped up his briefcase. As he turned back into his apartment to grab his keys and lock the door he saw the oranges. He knew they would be there when he got home, with their secrets. He quickly grabbed a coat off the rack by the door and threw it over them. Oranges were the last thing he wanted to be greeted by after the horrendous day he was bound to have. They're so perky.
"And Dan?" Janet called to him from halfway down the stairs at the end of the hall.
He pulled the door shut, jiggled the knob and looked at Janet.
"You're buying the coffees. And the gas."
"Don't I always?" Dan replied.
Janet was at the bottom of the second stairs. She called back to him without a glance.
"No. No you don't."
- Lanii Be Good
- I'm Lanii. I try to Be Good. It doesn't always work. "Call Me Lanii" is sort of about that - my inner and outer triumphs (what?) and struggles. "Alana Shorts" is sort of about that, too: I draw way too much inspiration from the crazy and strange events that actually happen to me and end up writing very little 'fiction'. I usually have my tongue quite thoroughly stuck in my cheek.