Grandfather rumbled from white capped peak to tree-lined base, his belly full on the dust of the earth.
Sixty million years of growth.
Sixty million years of history silently, sullenly watched.
Peoples and animals had crossed his body without regard, leaving craters and scorch marks and flowers(more) as well. They burrowed into his flesh and lived in his warmth, embraced him and loved him, hated him and defiled him. They even built temples in his honor, the old sour sage.
When his fury finally erupted, all that was left was a valley of ash.
One day of lapse in maintenance, of letting dishes pile, of not scrubbing deeply the bodily crevices, of spooning peanut butter with a soiled finger, one day was all that was necessary to shake Brendan free from this world, or world free of him. Just a slight acceleration of(more) spin or a few degrees shift in axis. Perhaps he merely fell through a floorboard crack, frightened at scurrying shadows invited in by the scent of waste. We don't know precisely.
The first moment we know Brendan he is standing in a green hell, a valley of thick choice, ringed with dolomitic decision. A slow cheetah ambles by, and Brendan pleads, "Let me just have a taste of the tail of euphoria."
But even cheetahs reply, "Get a job, sir!"
Next we see Brendan he is covered in traveling wounds, blood in his smile. He's made it a hundred yards down the drainage. A thicket of slide alder forms into a chuckling presence.
"What the fuck are you on about?" says Brendan.
"On birthdays you say, 'I'm old now', but when a friend dies while ironing at thirty-eight, you say 'he was too young.' Learn to seek what you fear." And Brendan moves along, taking that advice to somewhere just above and to the left of his heart. Why he bothers at all? We can't say.
He hates the sunsets; he sleeps under overhangs. A mare's tail tells him, "Don't be like me." He reaches the highway and thumbs a ride home. It's not the home of that world but this new one, and thus not home. He walks away from that apartment on Bonnie Brae, removes his clothing, and the blue boys give him a lift.
It would seem we are utterly incapable of giving a shit about Brendan.
"Class-Story Starter," Ms. P. wrote on the chalkboard. "In a valley of . . ."
"In a valley of," Chloe copied, and then continued, "hundreds of soft, meowing kittens rolled and played." She passed the paper back, to Henry.
He kicked Chloe's chair after he'd read her(more) sentence. Henry wrote, "And then one of the kittens stepped on another kitten's tail and that kitten got real mad and the spikes on his back shot up."
"Mutant kittens rock." Zoe was uninterested in school in general and writing in particular. She flicked the paper back to Paul.
Paul did like school, especially writing--he'd already submitted one of his short stories to the *New Yorker*, which his dad said was the best magazine--and he didn't like the idea of mutant kittens in his story. He considered starting a new story, faking Chloe's, Henry's, and Zoe's contributions, but he was also working on Letting Go with His Creativity and on Working Better with Others, two suggestions Ms. P. had made in the last parent-teacher conference.
Sam, behind Paul, plotted a variety of grammatically perfect sentences, so she'd be ready.
Paul lowered the tip of his Pilot Varsity Disposable Fountain Pen to the paper.
Zoe hit send on yet another successfully discreetly typed text.
Henry worked loose the scab on his elbow.
Chloe doodled her first name with Zach's last on her book cover.
Ms. P. daydreamed out the window at the flat, dry-golden fields, far as her eye could see. She was surviving this first year of teaching in this place far from home by telling herself that this was a valley. Mountains still encircled her--they were just a little farther away, waiting for her on the shimmering edge of her imagination.(less)
high school causes regression in everyone who walks the halls.
teachers run around the courtyard pelting each other with water balloons. eventually two female teachers remain, scramble for amo, for cover.
the football coach says, "this is probably the first time they've done this since college."
the social studies teacher chuckles, "girls gone wild."
"everything is poop poop poop," says the IB English teacher. she has a 6 year old boy.
"that's just boys?" another English teacher chimes in.
"no, the men too. except they talk about sex too."
"hey. the distance between poop and sex isn't great," says an unnamed student teacher. "think about it," she says.
the table laughs. "ok that's far enough. I mean, we're eating here," says the IB teacher. The table resumes stuffing their faces with the best cafeteria food. ever. the grains for the cinnamon rolls are local. the rolls are all made from scratch. the lettuce for the burgers is local romaine. but thin slice of yellow cheese crowning their burgers undoubtedly originates in a factory in an industrial heartland city hundreds of smoky miles from our local college town.
earlier in the day a group of teachers wearing butcher paper cone hats dances and sings to a cover of Elton John's Rocket Man. The cover is called "rocket math" and is sung by the Ella John, a social studies teacher in a yellow boa and huge glasses. the effect is that she looks like a 6yr old boy cross dressing as a 40year old woman cross dressing (poorly) as elton john.
everyone on stage looks like an older whiter khaki'd version of camp tel yehuda '99 staff.
"we had a good time watching your face through all that"
A valley of light, of happines. That was all Rebecca Chandler felt. But even though the place was incredibly blissful, deep inside her, she felt like something was missing. And she even knew what that thing was, too.
(more) Jack Dawson. Her calm, placid, peaceful partner. She wanted him here with her more then anything. But, she knew that wasn't possible.
Because how could someone who's alive join her in the valley of the dead?
(This was a Darkfall fanfiction, I own nothing except the idea.))(less)