Thursday, March 31, 2016

Microstory 289: Perspective Sixty-Four

Perspective Sixty-Three

If you’re against me and people like me, I want to ask yourself one question; can you see the future? I don’t mean, can you literally look into the crystal ball and watch future events unfold? I mean, can you guess where cultural norms are headed? Have you seen a pattern, even just lately? To understand this question, and its ramifications, let’s take a look back into the past, but less than a few hundred years. When this country began, our founding fathers put forth this concept that “all men are created equal”. It wasn’t as novel an idea as you think; the colonies didn’t invent freedom, we just popularized it and generated a standard. The thing is, though, that even then, we weren’t equal. A better translation of their ideals would be “all white landowning men are created equal by arbitrary divine decree”. Yes, the founding fathers were not Christian, but they were theists. In fact, most of them were deists. Rather, their ideas suggested a true belief in deism, and a personal rejection of church notions.  I’ll let you look that one up on your own. Anyway, the reality is that women and people of darker skin were not treated as equals, and would not legally be so until much, much later in history. Even today that women and minorities are on legally equal footing, we’re not actually equal. We still have a ways to go. But my point is that things have progressed, so when you fight further progression, do you honestly believe that you’re going to “win”? Do you really think that a hundred years from now, your descendants are going to be as homophobic as you are? Can you honestly not look down the road and see where this is going? I mean, it’s painfully obvious to me. You even refer to my school of thought as progressive. Why would you do that if you didn’t know in your heart of hearts that my reality is the one we’re going to be living in? I mean, nobody goes to a “make America great again” rally and calls it progressive, do they? Its very point is going back to where we were before; back to when women weren’t allowed to vote, and black people weren’t allowed to drink from the same water fountain. It is a fool who believes that the past exists in the future. The past being in the past is just a basic principle of time and causality; one that I learned as a child. The fact that you’ve not yet learned it as an adult is horrifying, and automatically renders your opinion completely meaningless. You ever see the sun rise at night? Didn’t think so. Even if you didn’t have the opportunity to pass seventh grade, come on...come on. You’re not just an opposing force; you’re on the wrong side of history. Any dipshit can see that.

Perspective Sixty-Five

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Microstory 288: Perspective Sixty-Three

Perspective Sixty-Two

Even with this “love is love” campaign, and others like it, people like me and my family have trouble with public perceptions. Sure, things are better than they used to be, and I have to believe that, but we still have a ways to go. It would seem as though society is finally all right with two people of the same sex being with each other. You still have your holdouts—backwards hicks and smarmy politicians (i.e. people whose opinions don’t matter)—but for the most part, we’re moving not only past hatred, but past tolerance, and into acceptance. It is believed by many that acceptance of transgendered people is our last hurdle, but it’s only the most obvious one. In fact, the world’s increasing appreciation of sexuality is about recognizing the differences in who people are at their core, but says little about practice. As an example, lots of people are all right with gay people, as long as they don’t have to hear the specifics. The question of group marriage or polyamory, however, involves how people behave in their daily lives. Gay people are gay because that’s who they are, but polyamorous people are strange because of what they do, and how they act. But we are not so different from you, as a well-adjusted person would be able to see. Most people will not understand this word upon hearing it, but upon learning its definition, will make snap judgments about the family. We are assumed to be wandering sex-obsessed indecisive deviants. The words I hear most often are “hippie” and “tree-hugger”. Much like bisexuals, the assumption is that we simply cannot decide who to love, and so we just take what we have at the moment, comforted in the fact that the relationships do not have to last forever.
I would like to clear up a few misconceptions. We are not polygamists. Polygamy has a deep history of imbalance, rape, and a sort of numbers game. It is so much a male-centric concept that polygamist relationships with one woman and multiple men uses a completely different word, and is considered even weirder than the normal kind. Certain mormon sects practice a form of polygamy where underaged girls are forced into marriages because they’re raised to believe that this is their duty in life. And when they consummate these marriages with their “husbands” it’s called rape, because it is not consensual. It can’t be, because they’re only married because they’re told they have to be, and to this specific man. You can call it sex-slavery, if you prefer that term instead. And it’s a numbers game because a higher number of wives indicates notoriety and respect. Polyamory, on the other hand, is a form of relationship based on love, mutual expression, consent, and everything else that composes any other kind of relationship. My husbands and wives are all in this together. For us, there is no “primary relationship”. We are all bisexual, and we are each in love with all the others. No two of us are legally married to each other, because we believe that this would distort the group dynamic. We have sex as a whole, in smaller groups, and as couples. Our family is particularly large, I admit, but the standard criteria stipulates only a minimum of three people. We want to be heard and accepted, just like anyone else, but we understand that other changes need to take place before these things will be put forth in legislation, or even the media. And so we patiently wait our turn.

Perspective Sixty-Four

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Microstory 287: Perspective Sixty-Two

Perspective Sixty-One

Our son is not well, and we feel so bad about not liking him. Sure, we love him with all our heart, but he just keeps disappointing us. He always has another half-baked idea, and then he fails to follow through on it. They say that you’re supposed to love your children equally, but his brothers and sisters turned out okay, and we can’t help but notice. It’s so frustrating, because we kind of feel like he’s constantly pushing us to our limits; like he’s testing our patience. His ex-girlfriend just asked us for money so that she can move out and find her own place. We’ve given it to her, because we’ve always treated her like another daughter, and that’s what you do with family. Our son is gonna be mad about it, though, because that means it really is over. He’s been in denial about it, but this is what’s best;  they are not living under a healthy dynamic. Part, if not most, of how he can be is our fault. He was our first child that we had when we were really young. I guess we’re not as ashamed to admit it now that times have changed, but the pregnancy began when we were still seventeen, and not yet married. Unfortunately for him, he was our practice run; a situation that was completely unavoidable once we decided to keep the baby. We did a much better job with our later children. We were able to raise them with some consistency. We couldn’t figure out how to deal with him, so we would switch between coddling him and being angry and unrelenting. Of course that was wrong, and we’ve tried to make it up to him, but the damage has been done. Looking back, we think he may have some sort of learning disability that should have been taken care of. And that’s an excuse, but one that will only take you so far. At some point, once you’re an adult, you have to just grow up and get over it. You can’t use it to justify your actions, especially if you’re not willing to get a diagnosis and seek treatment. It’s time he takes control of his own life, and honestly, gets his shit together. A family friend suggested he get a service dog for mental health. Apparently it’s done wonders for their niece. We don’t think we can help him through it, though. It seems as though the only person who he’ll listen to is his little sister’s wife. Well...one of them, that is.

Perspective Sixty-Three

Monday, March 28, 2016

Microstory 286: Perspective Sixty-One

Perspective Sixty

I broke up with my boyfriend a while ago, but he can’t seem to get it through his head. It sure doesn’t help that we bought a condo together, and I can’t move out. I don’t have the money to find somewhere else, and more importantly, he doesn’t have the money to buy me out. I kind of feel like he tricked me into continuing with this relationship. Not long after we got this place, he announced that he was going to become a clown. Before he even started classes, he started walking around in costume and makeup. He says that he’s doing it to get over his fear of clowns, but that’s one of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever heard. Overcoming your fears is one thing, but adopting them isn’t normal. To make matters worse, he and I share this fear of clowns, so he’s constantly scaring me, and he doesn’t even seem to care. As long as he’s happy, he figures that I should step into character and be happy too. Well, that’s not how the world works, and I wish I knew how to explain these things to him. I am this close to just living out of my car. That might be preferable to what I’m about to do. I don’t have any family, but I actually grew pretty close to my ex-boyfriend’s parents. They have an idea of what our situation is, and I’m about to ask them for some money. Oh my God, it’s going to be so awkward, but I think they’ll understand. They’ve known their son longer than I have, so they know how he can be. I already tried asking my boss for an advance, but that didn’t work out. It’s not her fault, the business doesn’t have the money either. I guess we’re all in the same boat. Okay, I’ve been standing at the front door for a few minutes. They probably know I’m here by now. I just have to give this a shot. What’s the worst that could happen, they reject me? If they do, I’ll just rob a bank. How hard could it be? Here goes nothing.

Perspective Sixty-Two

Sunday, March 27, 2016

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: May 14, 2068

Click here for the 2016 table of contents.

Darko threaded them through a couple of commercial aircraft all the way back to Kansas where they spent most of the day catching up with their family. Mateo, Leona, and Darko were in the bedroom together, trying to play a card game later that evening. “Can anyone else do what you do?” Leona asked, out of the blue.
“I’ve not encountered anyone else, no,” Darko said. “Not even a salmon, which I find somewhat strange.”
“Why would that be strange?” Leona asked.
“Well, it’s clearly physically possible to thread an object. And the powers that be like their time travel with as much variety as possible; portals, flash jumps, blinkouts, shuddering. It’s just weird that I appear to be the only threader. It makes me quite a bit weaker than some other choosers I know. The more specific your flavor is, the less powerful you are, as you can imagine. That’s why Meliora is such a big deal. She has very few limitations, if any.”
“That’s Melly’s full name?”
“It is. I actually think she prefers it.”
“Do you choosers all, like, know each other? You hang out at the Y and have Saturday game nights?”
Darko laughed, “we run into each other now and again. All of time and space, and our paths cross more often than you would think. I guess we just run in the same circles.”
“What makes you different than salmon? Why do the powers not control you, and how do you seem to understand it better than others we’ve met?”
“The only person who knows less than salmon is the Delegator. You people are purposefully kept in the dark, and he’s just insane. What you might find surprising is that many choosers know less than salmon. This is because they’re not bound by tasks and expectations. We jump through the timestream to our liking, and usually only do what we want. Choosers are like orphans, while salmon know who they’re parents are, because they’re living by house rules. That’s actually only half an analogy since most choosers aren’t raised by their parents, as I’m sure you’ve heard by now. I was raised differently, and so Meliora read me in personally.”
“Why is it that we were told powers and choosers were the same thing?”
Choosers often take on the persona of powers. They’re false prophets, but salmon believe them because why wouldn’t you? They can be powerful, yes—especially the Rogue and the Cleanser—but they’re just lying.”
“What do you know about the powers that be? The actual ones.”
“Very little. Meliora says she doesn’t know much. One thing we do know is that they are not from the future. That’s usually the assumption, just because it’s a logical conclusion. That’s all I can say.”
“It’s not much, but I should expect no less from you.” A stranger had appeared in their room.
All three of them instinctively jumped into defensive positions. “Who the hell are you?” Mateo demanded to know.
“I am the new Daria.”
“What are you talking about?”
“I should clarify; I was made as Daria’s replacement. There is always a teleporter who goes around helping people, like Bruce Banner. And I’m the lucky guy.”
Mateo let his guard down a little at Daria’s name, but the other two were not so easily moved. “Do you know this man, Darko?” Leona asked.
“I do not, but what he’s saying is a real thing,” Darko admitted. “The Savior is a special position. Your father can jump around time to complete missions. There only ever needs to be one of him, and they’ll call him in when necessary. But a teleporter is fixed within their own lifespan, which means if the powers that be need something done following the Savior’s death, they’ll need a new one.”
“I was born upon Daria’s retirement, and I was activated following her death. I guess they used an interim savior in the meantime.”
Mateo outstretched his hand. “It’s nice to meet you. I don’t know what you know of us, but I’m Mateo, and this is Leona and Darko.”
They were still not receptive to the stranger.
“You can call me Makarion.”
“Interesting name.”
“Taken from a character in a saga that was running around the time I was born. You missed it.”
“Well,” Mateo tried to calm his people down. “The Savior is welcome in our home.”
“Don’t be so quick to judge,” Makarion said.
“I’m sorry?”
“I was activated as the Savior, but that’s not what I am anymore.”
“What are you talking about?”
“A few years back, I met the Rogue.”
“Oh no, please no,” Leona said, shaking her head.
“He taught me how to take control of my pattern,” Makarion continued.
“This can’t be happening.” She started rubbing her head and pivoting out of frustration and general fatigue.
Mateo put his face in his palms.
Makarion went on, “I owe him my life. So I became his apprentice. Should anything happen to him, I was charged with continuing his mission. I’m here, not to introduce you to the new Savior, but to the new Rogue.”
“Jesus, Mary and Joseph!” Mateo cried.
“I knew this would happen,” Leona lamented. “I knew we wouldn’t be through with his games.”
“Don’t worry, there will be no tribulation today. He told you that you would have breaks in between. He was angry with how you handled the prison tribulation, which is why he prolonged the next four, but we’re going back to the original plan now.”
“You don’t have to do this,” Darko pleaded. “Just walk away...teleport away and leave us all alone.”
“I’m afraid I can’t do that.”
“He’s dead!” Mateo was still yelling. “Whatever debt you felt towards the Rogue, it’s done; it’s over! Let it go!”
“No!”
“He taught you to take control of your power,” Leona said. “So don’t waste it on us. You can go wherever you want. Rob a few banks, build a lair in the desert, fight some paladins; we don’t care! But don’t trade one master for another. If you continue the Rogue’s ambitions, then you might as well be answering to the powers that be again. Because you’re still not a freethinking individual.”
“I don’t see them as the same. The Rogue has no hold on me. This is my choice.”
“It’s not, because you hate us like he did. Which makes no sense, because you have different motivation, if he ever even had one.”
“I share his dream,” Makarion said.
“And what might that be?” Darko asked.
“Wouldn’t you like to know?” Makarion volleyed.
Mateo sort of ushered Leona and Darko to the corner, not to protect them, but so that he could foster Makarion’s undivided attention. He peered at their new enemy and waited, hoping it was possible to instill fear in him. “Do you know what happened to the last two men who opposed me?”
“Of course I do, we were just talking about the last one. They died.”
“They didn’t just die,” Mateo said. He put on his best crazy eyes. “I killed them. I murdered them.”
“The Cleanser killed Reaver. And I would hardly call what you did to the Rogue murder.”
“The Cleanser and I are good buds.”
“I don’t believe you.”
Mateo laughed sinisterly. “Horace Reaver was in prison. And he was gonna die there, before too long, I’m sure. The Cleanser wants to rid the world of time travel.” He raised his voice and started talking with his hands. “Well, Reaver was not a threat. He was just sitting there, in his little rat cage, with his little rat food. His story was over, but I was angry, and I was done with watching him suffer, so I ended it. I deployed the Cleanser, and he took care of it for me. So if you think you can come in here with your little Crowley act and scare me, then you clearly don’t know who you’re dealing with.”
Makarion was noticeably afraid, but stubborn and determined to persist. “Your eighth tribulation begins tomorrow. I suggest you watch the movie.”
“What movie?” Mateo asked, knowing the answer would be revealed soon.
Makarion disappeared in a sharp but short-lasting flash of light, leaving behind a a now very deprecated DVD. Leona picked it up. “The Martian.”
“Never heard of it.”

Saturday, March 26, 2016

The Odds: Eighty-Three (Part V)

Click here for the previous installment...
Click here for the entire story (so far).

I’ve already talked to you how I came up with Eighty-Three. I don’t understand why you’re asking me about it again. It just that the thing is that a four part story sounds weird, and I’ve already scheduled out one more week for this, and I’m not yet ready with the premise of my next story anyway. I had an idea for this final part, though. What was it? Dammit, I completely forgot what random thing I was going to talk about. I blame you. Oh yeah...no forgot it again. My sister’s chatting with me online. Give me a second. The lottery! Yes, that was it! Do you remember how this story started out with me claiming that I won the lottery? Well, I’ll explain that to you. Just to make sure you know, I make $11.95 in a job I don’t hate, but with very low weekly hours. I absolutely did not win the lottery, which makes sense, because I only played it once. And when I did so, it gave me the idea for what eventually transmogrified into this story you’re reading right now.
The story was originally not about me at all, and was planned as a standard novel. Think Slumdog Millionaire meets 2007’s The Winner. What’s that second one, you ask? It’s a Rob Corddry show about a guy from the present telling the story about how he was once a loser, but eventually grew to be successful. He..might have won the lottery, or he might not have. It was pretty bad, so I didn’t exactly give it much thought. The point is that my story, originally entitled simply Lottery, was about a guy who uses a special set of numbers for the lottery, and ends up winning. And the book goes over what each number means to him; why he needed to use them. Upon decided to start my website, the idea was truncated to weekly series form that I was intending to write sometime in the beginning of my second year. That ended up being what happened, but not everything went as planned, obviously. I sat down on my computer a few weeks ago, knowing what story I was about to start, but not having any clue how to actually follow through. This was the Saturday of, literally a few hours from deadline. So what was I going to do? I did what every bad writer does: I wove myself into the story. I created a fictional version of myself and laced him with exaggerations, straight up lies, and warped perspective. I just had to get something out. And this isn’t the first time its happened. Nearly any continuous series I’ve tried to write that doesn’t take place in a canon I’ve already created ends in disaster. Siftens Landing, Mr. Muxley Meets Mediocrity, and this weeklong group of microstories about a bunch of vehicular collisions. They were all bad, or worse, and those first two have been stripped from the book version I’m releasing later this year, along with this. Really, the only series I like that doesn’t belong to salmonverse or recursiverse is my Perspectives microstory series. And even that is hit or miss, depending on my mood, how much sleep I’ve had, and what I have yet to do that day.
This series was supposed to be a couple more installments long, but I’ve had to truncate it because of how little interest I have in continuing it. It’s no longer a story at all; more of just a collection of random thoughts. So the next two weeks are going to be a fairly short story, supposedly told in second person perspective. If you recall, back before I even had a short fiction website, I posted a little thing in second person on Facebook. It’s also told backwards. I considered it to be my first microstory, and reposted it here, so you can read it. If you want, whatever, no big deal *shrugs and blushes*.
I just went through thirteen years of photos, and thirteen years of calendar events. I was hoping to find an interesting story I could tell you about myself, even a fictional one inspired by my life. But the truth is that I desperately hope that no one is reading this at all. I’m just going to quit while I’m behind and end it here. I’m sorry to have wasted your time. It’s just as well seeing as I need to focus on The Advancement of Mateo Matic. I made some major arc breakthroughs yesterday and today. Eighty-Three more installments to go until we can get to August 5, 2151. What’s the significance of that one? Dunno, that’s too far in the future. Do I seem like the kind of guy who plans well? I just wanted to mention the numbers one last time. Speaking of non-sequiturs, here’s a picture of the time I jumped into the air in the basement and plugged the shop-vac into the ceiling socket. Not impressed? Let’s see you do it. But the ceiling we use has to have two and a half feet on you.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Microstory 285: Perspective Sixty

Perspective Fifty-Nine

I’ve always been afraid of clowns. I know I’m not the only one. Where my coulrophobics at? At least 12% of you, I know this much. Clowns are creepy because of this thing called the “uncanny valley”. What it all boils down to is that clowns appear to be human, but they’re not, and we all know it! Their faces are completely painted in this horrifically unmoving caricature. A clown has only one emotion; it may be sad or it may be happy, but it can’t ever be anything else. And clowns act funny. They’re always overexaggerating their movements and getting into trouble that could be easily avoided if they were just wearing shoes that fit. Clowns are creepy, and there is no way around it. Which is why I decided to become a clown. I was watching one of the Batman movies a few weeks ago. Bruce Wayne is afraid of bats, and so in order to become stronger, he adopted the bat as his symbol. By overcoming his fear of bats, he’s able to be braver in other situations, and take on his opponents more effectively. I’ve always felt the need to strip myself of my weaknesses, but this was one that I had always avoided. But I had to do it; I just had to. So I enrolled in clown college. I nearly had a panic attack when I first walked into the building. Forget that; I had an actual panic attack. There were clowns everywhere. Well...maybe there were only a handful of them, but that was a handful too many. And the classroom itself was like a shop of horrors. But I pushed through it. I’m learning makeup, dancing, props, and even a little costuming. You might be wondering whether I’m only learning to become a clown so that I can get over my phobia. Well, no. I’m going to be a clown. I’m going to continue with this profession for the foreseeable future. It may seem crazy to you, but it’s what I have to do. I wish only that my girlfriend could understand.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Microstory 284: Perspective Fifty-Nine

Perspective Fifty-Eight

My job is just the worst. Forgive me, but all y’all are nasty. When I was in high school, my guidance counselor provided us with this completely baseless test to find out what kind of career we should pursue. Being the na├»ve and trusting kid I was, I agreed to go with what they said. I skipped the four year school and opted for an associate’s degree instead. I have to do the same thing every day, which is just brutally boring. I don’t know why I didn’t realize that I wouldn’t like that, but I’m regretting this whole thing. People have terrible breath, and they take such poor care for their teeth. It ain’t that hard. You put paste on a brush, get it wet, and rub it all over your teeth. You do this at least twice a day, floss, and don’t eat anything weird. I found an obsession with brushing my teeth while I was training to be a hygienist, but I wasn’t always so religious about tooth care. Yet I’ve never had one cavity, or any other major problem. I ultimately needed braces, but that was more of a cosmetic decision. Dental hygienists are so underappreciated. The dentist comes in to see the patient for two minutes, five at most, and what do you say? You say that you “have a dentist appointment”. Ain’t nobody talks about going to hygienist, even though that’s what you’re doing, if it’s just a regular checkup. Everyone said the pay would be great, and it’s certainly not minimum wage, but there are some caveats nobody said anything about. I spent a lot of time paying off student loans, and there are a bunch of insurance problems that go over my head. And I’m one of the lucky ones, because I was able to secure a position at a dental office. With all these lies, there are too many people looking, and not enough places to work. Take my advice and stay away from the field. I’m trying to get out of it. Clown school.

Perspective Sixty

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

First Book Published

I cant really remember when I first loaded my website. I built it with a domain using my real name back in...2014? I wrote microstories whenever I was up to it, but the site itself was just in terrible shape. I taught myself HTML when I was a kid, but things had changed; HTML had progressed, and I was behind the times. So I built this new site here on Wednesday, March 11, 2015, rebranding myself under my pseudonym. I started out by rapidly copy-pasting my preexisting stories, and then I posted a few new ones. But then on Sunday, March 22, 2015, The Advancement of Mateo Matic was born. And Ive been posting a new story every single day ever since. In true TAMM fashion, 365 days after the saga first began, I directed my browser to Smashwords.com, set up a profile, spent hours reformatting my document to fit their criteria, and published my very first ebook. Thats right; its real publishing. I can now call myself a published author. Yes, the stories are free on this site, but the published version is better. I was able to revise it extensively, add foreshadowing, and even fill in some plot holes. Trust me, your life will become better once you buy my book. Buy it. Buy it. You want to buy it. Click the link and buy the book. Youll love it. Thank you in...advance (BOOM!).


Microstory 283: Perspective Fifty-Eight

Perspective Fifty-Seven

I’ve had it up to here with this place. These people don’t understand who I am, or what I am. Yeah, I’m quiet. And yeah, I sometimes have what appear to be violent outbursts, but I’m no danger. I don’t keep a knife in my locker, and I wouldn’t know where to start if I wanted to get my hands on a gun. But I’ve actually heard from others that I’m the kid everyone thinks is gonna show up with an AK and just blast everyone away. The truth is that I just don’t like school, and my interests lie elsewhere. I have a group of friends who all go to this preppy private school, and I really only ever want to hang out with them. They’re the coolest people I know, so why would I waste my time with these jackasses? And why should I fill my brain up with all this crap either? Teach me to count money, and to read, and then leave me alone. I don’t need nothing else. My brother’s an adult, and he’ll be damned if he can tell me the last time he used long division. It’s ridiculous, and I have no use for it. So yeah, sometimes I skip school. It’s not a big deal. I already know what I’m going to do with my life. Last time I checked, you didn’t have to go to college to be a dental hygienist. Now, I know what you’re thinking; what kind of middle school kid wants to be a dental hygienist? Well, first off, it pays well. I won’t be making six figures, but whatever. Second, you get to stab people with things, and they just have to sit there and be happy about it. You do the same thing every day, there aren’t really any surprises, and when you go home, you’re done. My dad has an office job, and he spends all evening working at home. He always says that when he’s not on the clock...he’s on the clock. But my uncle is a dental hygienist, and he loves it. He’s so much happier with his life than my father is. So please, you can keep your Shakespeare monologues and balanced chemical equations. Screw this meeting with the vice principal. I’m going to meet my friends in the back of the superstore.

Perspective Fifty-Nine

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Microstory 282: Perspective Fifty-Seven

Perspective Fifty-Six

People are always asking me when I’m going to get my own gig as principal. But I’m perfectly happy as the vice principal. And that’s not coming from a place of resentment. I haven’t been passed over several times, and am now just pretending it doesn’t bother me. I really do prefer my job to my boss’. He sits in his office all day, making decisions and dealing with bureaucracy. I get to deal with the students. I’m sure to you that doesn’t sound like a plus, but I got into teaching in order to shape young minds, not to sign documents. My position here gives me the scope I need to encounter any student, rather than the small subset teachers have, and when I do interact with one of the children, it’s really important in that very moment. They come to see me when something’s wrong, and I’m proud to be the person who can hopefully make things better. Don’t misunderstand me, teachers are superstars. I’m not saying they have no effect, but it’s so subtle and seamless. What I do is take immediate action on a pressing issue, and I get to see the results of my efforts instantly, good or bad. I am by no means considered a “cool vice principal” but I’m not as hated as my colleagues in the rest of the district. You know how that old saying goes, “firm but fair”. That’s always been important to me; to make sure the student actually experiences a benefit from my discipline, and that I make it a learning experience for them. I don’t just want to punish their behavior and walk away, because they’ll probably just do it again. Of course I still see recidivism, but I like to think my numbers would be lower than the national average. I do have this one kid who has to come in all the time. I feel for him, I really do. He is incredibly clever, but the problem is how much he vocalizes what he knows. He takes his assignments profoundly seriously, and always has to make sure to become an authority on the matter, but sometimes just so he can argue with his teachers about it. I want to encourage him to explore his passions, especially for history. I want to fuel his thirst for all knowledge, but I need to find a way to teach him restraint. You need to know when to keep your mouth shut, am I right? Maybe we just need to find a subject with which he struggles. Maybe that will give him a glimpse of what it’s like for the rest of us. We’ll look into that when he inevitably returns to me within the week. For now, I’m due to speak with a particularly troubled child.

Perspective Fifty-Eight

Monday, March 21, 2016

Microstory 281: Perspective Fifty-Six

Perspective Fifty-Five

“My name is Thomas Edison. Most people know me as the father of many inventions. But what you don’t know is that I stole a not insignificant number of them. You see, inventing isn’t about starting from scratch with an idea and developing it until it’s done. No, it’s about incremental refinements and enhancements to preexisting products. Using what wealth I had already accrued, I exploited legal loopholes and co-opted ideas could put in the time and effort into creating something. They were then contractually obligated to hand over their ideas and creations so that I could patent them. I even sued independent people and companies for patents the rights to which I was not entitled to hold.”
That was the beginning of my presentation for our huge eighth grade project. We were tasked with choosing an historical figure and portraying them in little plays so that parents and other visitors could watch. The teacher was neither happy nor impressed with my research. The point of the assignment was apparently to conform with socially accepted “knowledge” on history, rather than actual true knowledge. I’ve always been like this; more knowledgeable of the facts than my supposed teachers. We’re all taught that George Washington said he couldn’t lie about chopping down his father’s cherry tree, which is ironic, because if he had ever tried to convince someone that the incident happened, he would have been lying. My third grade teacher thought violins were distinguished from violas by having six strings, instead of four. I even had a screaming match against my science teacher who said chameleons changed color to blend in, when it really has more to do with mating and temperature regulation. This is just the latest adventure in my perpetual need to be right all the time. The thing is, though, that it’s not just that I have to be right; it’s that I am. I don’t ever say anything that isn’t true, unless I’m claiming to my parents that I didn’t put on a makeshift hazmat suit so that I could see what our neighbor’s house looks like while it’s being fumigated. Welp, I’m being called into the vice principal’s office. Again. Wish me luck. Oh no, this is still theatre. Tell me to break a leg.

Perspective Fifty-Seven

Sunday, March 20, 2016

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: May 12, 2067

Click here for the 2016 table of contents.

“So, you killed him.”
“I don’t know that I would look at it that way. I was responsible for his death.”
“No,” Leona said clearly. “There was a bomb. It was not about to explode; it was actually in the middle of exploding. He was safe on the other side of a barrier, until you pushed him past it so that he was in danger. Then the bomb finished exploding, and killed him. You killed him.”
“He was torturing us, Leona.”
“Do I seem like the kind of person who thinks that makes a difference?”
“Yes,” Mateo lied.
She didn’t respond.
“It wasn’t really killing him. He said he was immortal. And if he didn’t want to explode at all, he should have been able to jump out of the way, or hold time in place, or...or something!”
“It is irrelevant whether he survived or not. You pushed him through with the intention to kill him. You didn’t want him to survive, and if you really thought there would be no chance of you succeeding, you wouldn’t have done it, because now he’s angry.”
“Well...” she had him there.
“How can I be with someone I don’t trust to not murder the next guy who comes along?”
Mateo was going to double down on the argument. “Well, you obviously don’t have a choice, do you? You didn’t choose me in the first place. You were literally fated to be with me. The powers that be made it so. They’re the ones doing all of this. And I don’t know if The Rogue was, or is, a power or a chooser, but he was a threat. If the powers wanted to stop him, they could, with a wave of a hand. None of this is my fault.”
“You still have the gift of free will.”
“No, I don’t, Leona. I don’t. No one does. That’s the whole point. The regular humans, as in the non-salmon, they don’t have choice either. When you have a group of people this powerful, and they’re not benevolent gods who choose to give us free will, then it doesn’t exist.”
“You could have chosen to not push him through the barrier. That was a choice, unless someone was controlling your mind.”
“Maybe they were!” Mateo screamed. “We know they can do that! Either way, I had to try. Yes, I killed him. Or at least I attempted to. Because what I’m really going for is protecting us, so I felt I had no other choice but to give it a shot. You weren’t there. You didn’t see it; I’m just telling you about it. In fact, you weren’t there for the last two years! I was alone on an island for half of it, and stranded with only one other person on a lifeboat for the other half! So don’t you dare talk to me about choice! This is war, and I made a fucking call!”
“It’s been two years?” Leona asked quietly.
He had not yet told her about that. “The first tribulation was Cast Away. It was going to be four years, but he altered it. Then it was Life of Pi. He kept me in a time bubble so that he wasn’t technically breaking my pattern. But it meant spending months under the relentless sun.”
“I didn’t know that.”
“I didn’t know where you were. I didn’t know if you were dead, suffering from something worse, or just perpetually a football field away. And when I found out that you had just been at home, for only a few days, I wasn’t relieved like I should have been.”
“Keep going,” she said, calmer than she had been.
He didn’t want to finish, but he had to. “I was angry. You barely cared that I was gone, because it was just a flash in the pan for you.”
Tear formed in her eyes. “You think I didn’t miss you because it had only been three days? You think I don’t miss you when I turn around and you’re right behind me? You think I don’t miss you when I fall asleep, or you’re in the bathroom, or I blink? I spent years waiting for you to come back to me. And you were the one who didn’t care, because I was just this dumb teenage girl who threw up on you in the hospital. And only a few days before. I can’t imagine what you went through on that island and in the lifeboat, and I’m not saying my life was worse than that before I joined your pattern, but it was no picnic. My feelings for you were almost immediate. That was hell for me, and I fear every second you’re not in my line of sight, because you may be gone forever.”
He had never really seen it from her perspective before. They cried together for an hour or two.
It wasn’t until after they were dried out that they looked around to find out where they were. They were sitting on what must have been an island. It looked not unlike the one from Cast Away. A small plane was crashed on some rocks down the beach. Supplies were scattered around it, not as if having fallen out, but like someone had placed them there. An inflatable lifeboat had been opened inside of the fuselage, filling up nearly every nook and the other thing. “What is this one? Plane is too small to be Flight 29.” Leona noted.
“I don’t know. It’s not something I recognize.” They were not yet over their fight, and things were weird between them, but they were able to put it on hold to focus on surviving.
“We need to find water,” Leona said.
They grabbed some empty plastic jugs and headed inland. Before too long, they found themselves at a lake with a beautiful waterfall. “Okay, this is looking a tad bit more familiar now, but I can’t place it.” A pig came out of nowhere and approached them. The two humans just looked at each other. “I’m not killing a pig to eat. It seems...too soon?”
“Yeah, I would agree,” Leona said. “I’ll get the water.” She waded into the lake while Mateo tried to shoo the pig away.
He looked over and saw Leona stop suddenly, dropping the jugs. “What is it?” he asked.
“I’m about 83% certain that there’s a snake in my shorts.”
“Oh, I know where I recognize this one.”
“What?” She was impatient.
He tried to recall in his memory. “It’s, um...Forty Days, no that’s too long. I can’t remember the title but it’s a romantic comedy about a pilot and his passenger. This is the snake in the lake scene.”
“Well, how do we get out of it?”
“In the trailer, it looked like Harrison Ford just...reached in and took it out.”
“You didn’t actually see the movie?”
“I was a child. You probably weren’t even born yet.”
“So we don’t know what’s coming for us.”
“I think there’s an explosion, and we jump off a cliff.”
“But we don’t even know if they survive.”
“It’s a romantic comedy, of course they survive!”
“Well, I don’t know! Just come get this goddamn snake out of my pants.”
This would have been an awkward part in the film, because the characters neither knew nor liked each other. But this was nothing Mateo had not seen or felt, so retrieving the snake was easy. It was only uncomfortable because they were fighting.
As they were walking up from the water, pig still in place, they heard a rustle in the brush. “Please tell me that is not a baby. Because mama would have to be gigantic.”
“It’s full grown,” Leona assured him.
“Please tell me a pirate isn’t coming to kill us.”
“That I don’t know it.”
“I’m not a pirate!” yelled Darko, still not quite in view. He walked into the clearing, hands in the air.
“Put your arms down. We just didn’t know.”
“Are you two ready to get out of here?”
“How did you find us?”
“The plane out there is the actual one used in the movie in question. It was stolen from the prop warehouse under suspicious circumstances. I threaded something else back to before the robbery, then I threaded the plane to arrive here. I’ve arranged for it to be moved back stateside, so I can take you home.”
“Much appreciated,” Mateo said cordially. “And hey, we’re finally gonna take that plane ride we talked about fifty years ago.”
They walked back to the beach and let Darko thread them through the timestream of the plane all the way back to a warehouse in Hawaii. It was already May 14, 2068. Click here for the next installment...