Morning Pages 10/8/19 (They can’t all be winners)

PROMPT: He hadn’t seen anything like it in twenty years of teaching . . .
He’d read it before. He knew he’d read it before. But try as he might to find the source of the paper–the plagiarism committed, it wasn’t there.
He typed sentences into google. He used an anti-plagiarism software search. He showed the principle, Ms. Frankle, and the whole English department. Everyone agreed. Cassandra Yin had not written this paper. But then, if she hadn’t, who had? It could have been a family member. A father. A mother. An older brother or sister. But then why was it so familiar.
The next week, after the 4th period and, which landed just before his planning period, he sent his TA to the office and ask that Cassandra Yin be brought to his classroom.
It took about 15 minutes, in which he graded the philosophy paper his seniors had been writing–they were all terribly cliche, all about how the shadows in the cave were nothing more than a shadow of real life. It was true. But the same paper rewritten 30 times does get old. He should have implemented some kind of peer review. He’d do that. But the results of such were always poor.
A knock came at the door, which was propped open. he always had the door propped open. He looked up.
“Hello.”
Cassandra Yin was standing there, she was wearing an off white beanie, yellow baggy sweater, and slim jeans with black and white converse sneakers.
“I got a message that you wanted to see me?” she asked.
“I did, yes,” he said. “Come and sit.”
He swiveled in his chair and grabbed up her paper from his back desk. “I wanted to talk to you about. . . about this paper you wrote.”
“Okay.”
He got up and motioned for her to sit at one of the student desks. He sat at one facing her and slid her paper over to her.
“Who wrote this?” he asked.
She put her hands on the paper and held it. “I… I did.”
“You did?”
“Yes.”

Morning Pages 10/5/19

PROMPT: He waited until her husband was out of the room, then…
said, “I know it’s a lot to take in. It’s new for him too. That’s why we thought–if we told you together maybe it would be–”
“What?” she asked, a hole in her chest where her heart had once been. “Easier. . .” It reminded her of the time when she was a girl and out in the woods behind her parents’ home.
She’d tromped through the sludge and mud on a cool summer day. Raindrops were beading on every leaf and dripping from every branch. The ground was soggy under her rubber boots, every step she took let her down. Every man she loved would do the same in the future. She didn’t stick to the trail, she never did. That was the best part of childhood, looking back on it. If you weren’t off the trail then you weren’t part of the everything. The childness of it all.

On that day her boots stuck in the old decaying leaves as she continued into the woods to her favorite little place. It was the best place. It really was. All green this time of year, the bows of some unknown trees reaching out above and creating a little canopy to keep her calm and safe when things at home were just too much to bear. And at that time everything seemed to be too much–though she didn’t know why. Just last night she’d thrown her homework all over the floor. Why were they mixing letters and numbers in math class? She’d always felt the two symbol systems should remain stolidly apart and alone. Like she always seemed to be from other people. That was it. Why couldn’t math be like she was? English too?
Along the route that she walked regularly that wasn’t a trail, but her trail, right at the stump with the new sapling growing from it, she heard the noise. It was a grunt or a groan, or maybe both, but it was certainly pain.
She slowed and sniffed. All she could smell was nothing. She’d been fighting that sniffle for a while.
There it was again. A low grunt, just out of sight. Just in the little sanctuary, she loved so much.
She inched forward, not too fast, but just enough to see what was inside the tree limbed sheltered grove.
Her breath caught that day, just as it did when her husband had said those words.
Inside the grove was a deer. Old by the look of it. And lying on its side, it’s head moving, just slightly, up off the ground. What was it doing? She stepped closer.
A branch snapped under her rubber boot. At first, she’d expected the deer to leap up and run. But it didn’t. It just stayed there, rocking slightly, giving little grunts. She approached. Maybe it was injured? But no. She saw no blood, no legs twisted awkwardly. Then she was right there and looking down into its eyes and face and it was all nothing but blackness darker than anything she’d ever seen, even at sleep.
The deer’s tongue slipped out of its mouth and wetted its nose. She could have fallen into those eyes. She did–maybe. Just a cavern of long years in the wild. A hole to fall into and die. And that’s when she knew. The deer was dying. It had lain down to die and she had interrupted it. The poor thing. But maybe it was better this way, she reminded herself now. Maybe it’s best not to be alone when you die. When love dies. When relationships end.
Across from her, Antoine smiled. Beatrice and Danny had shared this room for 11 years. Her husband reentered.
He set the lemonade down in front of her then went and sat on the couch next to Antoine. Danny looked even paler next to his friend. No, she thought, his lover.
“It’s not what I ever wanted for you,” said Danny. “I’m sorry.”
Beatrice didn’t say a word.
She looked down at the dying animal and felt completely alone, even though the deer was still there–at least a little. What could she do? Nothing. She’d taken a seat next to the animal and after sitting there, listening to its breathing, she’d gained the courage to reach out and pat its neck. To her surprise, it didn’t flinch or buck or make a sound at all. If anything, she felt its breath exhale almost in relief. She’d run her hand down it’s course fur once, and then again. She’d kept doing it, just as if she’d been petting her cat in her bedroom. She didn’t feel the cold or wet seeping through her jeans, and she didn’t hear the wind pick up or the rain begin to fall again. She just kept petting that deer, letting it breathe and hold on to life for as long as it could.
She could have cried, but she didn’t. Not for the deer and not when Danny left with Antoine. The hollowness was still there, but she’d be okay. She’d have to be.
It was only when night had fallen and her stomach growled that Beatrice had realized the deer was no longer breathing. She didn’t know how long it had been dead, but she thought the fact she hadn’t noticed was a sign that the deer hadn’t either. She hoped that was a good thing.
She hoped the same as she locked the door behind her husband and sat down on the floor.

Morning Pages: 10/1/19

PROMPT: She had missed the last train and there was only one person she

hated more than herself. It all boiled down to timing, she tried to say, but that was a lie. If she had just ordered the uber or lift one minute earlier, none of this would have happened and she would be there for–for–well, she didn’t know what she was running toward, but it had to be better than what she had left behind.
In the distant city night, a siren began to wail. It was long a pleading, like a lamb left out in the cold of winter while it’s yew is cozied in the shelter with its brothers and sisters. Why did she equate everything to farm animals? Maybe because the gig was up and the lamb was her and the cold was pressing in.
Her breath buffed out, visible under the street lights.
She could still see the taillights of the train, cruising away into the distance and all the while, the siren got louder.
They’d never let her leave. Not this city. Not ever.
She picked up her thrown bag and walked back into the station. Nobody was in there. The kiosks kept flashing their lights: 50 PERCENT OFF ALL TIX TO STOWAWAY.
Where Stowaway was, she didn’t know.
She left the lighted interior and went out onto the street corner and let her bag fall once again. It slumped on its side, like a child throwing a tantrum. Why couldn’t she do that? Just give up. She guessed that was what she had been trying to do. Give up, run away. Leave the businesses, the corporations, the lights, and noise behind. All she wanted was to live in the country. A small place. Maybe with a garden. She’d heard of people who grew their own vegetables and raised chickens for their eggs. The only vegetables she’d ever had were grown in an AngriVat and the only eggs were ones that came from the Pens.
People said those veggies and eggs even tasted better. But she’d never get to try them.
She could hear the wailing of the sirens closer now, and even make out the red and blue splashing of light off some of the nearby buildings.
When the trucks came around the corner, they barely made any sound at all. Just the whirring, like a drone, but they were cars.
A man in a suit stepped out of one, men in the uniforms of AngriPol stepped out of the others. They didn’t point guns or yell–they knew she couldn’t go anywhere.
The man in the suit stepped up to her.
“Susan,” he said. “You know you’re not authorized to leave the city.”
“I know,” she said.
“What’s best for the city is best for you.”
“Is it?”
The man nodded as if explaining one plus one equals two.
“It’s very simple. If corporations create, you consume, work, and so on.”
“I don’t want to be part of it anymore,” she told him.
“Without consumers what do you think would happen?”
She looked at the curb. She shook her head. “I guess production would stop.”
“That’s correct,” said the man. “And if production stops, nobody would have jobs, and if nobody has jobs nobody can consume.”
She looked up into the man’s eyes. They sparkled as the lights of the AgriPol cars continued to flash.
“What if I don’t want anything anymore?”
The man bent down. “Everyone wants. That’s just the way things are. In this city, you get to fulfill that. Out there,” he pointed back into the station. “Out there, people want and never get to fill that void. They want and want and want, but they are stuck with nothing.”
She wanted to tell him that the people outside the city had choices too. Choices to make what they needed. To work on their own homes, not Agri-owned ones. They went for walks in the hills and bruised their bodies playing games that weren’t riddled with corporate sponsorship. They had enough, and the stars overhead and sometimes that’s better than having everything. But she’d missed the last train and the GhostTek she’d paid was probably dead by now.
She stood up.
“We can order something nice,” said her father.
She only nodded, a hollow shell of an answer. The man in the suit led her back to his car and she climbed in. Overhead, the stars could not be seen by the flashing of the lights and the glam of a city that seemed completely dead. She wondered what real grass looked like. Not the perfect GreenGrow of AgriGen, but the muddied pits of a football pitch in the country. Someday she would see.
Someday.