Vestigial Steel

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Superman stole my jelly roll.

He took it right out of my lunch bag then sat next to me.

“Superman, that’s mine,” I said.

“Sorry, toots,” he said. He halved my jelly roll then pulled a pack of Decade Red out of his sleeve, lazer-visioned a cherry onto on of the cigarettes, and then he killed it in a single breath.

“You can’t smoke in the lunchroom, Superman.”

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Potential Pt. 2

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I lay on my unmade bed and admired all the women tacked to the wall. Over three years, I’d been adding one after another. Currently, I boasted over fifty drawings, pegged to my wall in stacked rows of ten each. Gary wasn’t being fair when he teased me about drawing the entire female faculty. I sometimes drew women that weren’t teachers. One drawing was of my mother, another of Aunt Suzanne, and another of the Hospice nurse who stayed with my grandmother during her final days. The youngest woman was still well into her thirties. Young faces never interested me.

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Flirting with Revolution

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It was hot again. Why did it have to be hot again? It was the second week of September. Where was the fall weather? The trees were already changing, and the leaves were falling down. But, pardon my words, why the hell was it eighty degrees today?

The shuttle broke down a block away. We had no choice but to walk the distance. Nobody spoke, and there was no point looking at each other’s faces.

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Potential Pt. 1

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Other guys drew cartoon characters with huge, floppy genitals or whatever model of car they wanted even more than the hottest cheerleader. The whole hour of detention, however, I drew Mrs. Simpson. The bitch of it was, I knew I’d have to draw the whole picture over again because all I had was a No. 2 pencil and a sheet of lined notebook paper. Coach Elliott didn’t allow me to bring my sketchpad or charcoal pencils into the portable building where all the delinquents waited for the clock to strike four. I’d convinced myself if I didn’t finish the picture in time, I’d never finish.

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Blonde Android Shutdown

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I was afraid of myself. This fear had chased me for a very long time. It was a fear that would never surrender. It was a fear that would never die, and hope remained bound and gagged. I cannot be this person, this thing. I cannot be, but what if I am? I was a joke, something to laugh at. They laughed hard and good at my expense. They played their mind games, daring me to win. They tore me down, ripped me apart. I was nothing. I was theirs to play with, but who is laughing now? All I wanted was to dream. Why was that so hard to believe? The stars were right there, dressed in beauty.

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Long Time Gone

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His face was scarred, the flesh of his forehead, cheeks and chin ravaged with the lesions of time and self-indulgence. His torso was round and, from where I watched, shrunken, as though it had compressed in upon itself.

He might have been slim once, youthful and full of honest conviction, and that would have given him the stature of a giant on the stages on which he’d acted. But he’d grown rotund, and he held his oversized head atop his soft body with the care of someone aware of his infirmities, a giant reduced to the proportions of an ordinary man.

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Privilege

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A kid from the projects named Mike Scully sparked Art Foster’s interest in Anna. Mike idolized Art and started the ball rolling when he whispered that she was the most beautiful girl in Rhode Island and maybe the world. He was a jumpy kid, always pacing, rocking or twitching, constantly talking about a lightweight fighter named Jackie Weber. Scully’s family lived in the apartment where Jackie had grown up. Scully wanted to be a Marine. A homemade tattoo of a snake on his arm looked like a worm. The dagger it wrapped around was a sad likeness. The “N” in HONOR was backwards. Whenever Art pitched Pony League ball, Mike was in the stands cheering as if he were his brother. Art thought he might be gay until he revealed his love for Anna.

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Cellar Dawn

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Hi, mom. I’m home. These words echoed throughout an empty house three weeks ago. After that, it was like I never left. Part of me screamed to go, but it finally died down. Then, days just rolled on by, and time was spent under a sunny porch. The only strange thing in such a quiet, beautiful neighborhood was the man living across the street.

He was like clockwork. At eight a.m., he left to do his morning jog. He returned an hour later with a newspaper tucked under one arm. He went inside and would emerge forty-five minutes later.

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Along the Rails

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The train was late again. Commuters muttered with disgust, and time flashed across small, thin screens. An announcement overhead informed those freezing in the winter cold air that the train would be arriving at the station ten minutes later than expected, and the waiting room downstairs was well-heated for those suffering from deep freeze. But by the time the passengers make their way down the escalators to that room, the train would have come and gone, and the next one would not be until another hour or so.

Shoving his hands into his pockets, William stomped his feet against the concrete platform. His toes tingled from the cold, and his hands were becoming numb. White clouds of air escaped his lips, and his ears waited anxiously to hear the train.

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Alien Dream

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It’s amazing how much you hate the ordinary life. You hate the mindless routine that meets you every morning and leaves you every night. Every day is the same damn day, but you take it for granted. It’s your life, but you hate it. But when it’s gone… All you want is to go back to the way life used to be. Such a thing is no longer possible. Not for me.

They broke my door down late into the night. I had no chance to react. My hands were bound behind my back, and I was forced to my feet. Lucky for me, I decided to go to sleep in boxers and a t-shirt that night, but my bare feet stumbled across the smooth, wooden floors and out onto the cold streets.

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