“That’s how high it came,” the lady says, pointing at a faint brown line drawn straight by the waves, high across the exterior of her broken house. She gives us water and lukewarm orange juice, and we do our work.
The woman’s fake eyelashes caught my attention as I dug away the mud. Half of them were still clinging on, although most of those remaining were half-hearted in their fight, drooping in strange angles from the side of her eyes. She was in her late twenties, and she was there for a week. As we carried back the sacks of dirt back to the white, beaten-up truck, she told me that her arms and thighs were sore from all this carrying. Usually she was a stylist, and she picked out clothes for wealthy women in Shinjuku.
Nothing says happy holidays like a trip to the mall. Drooping garlands swaying to a decaying cassette player, bleary-eyed consumers everywhere, holiday spirit in the air; the most wonderful time of the year. In between stops and swipes, a child’s will and insistence drags his family onto a different kind of line, to a path striped with candy canes straight to the North Pole. Each step leaves an imprint in plastic snow, all leading toward the big man at the end. For every child, this time is the most important part of the holidays, the moment to speak face-to-face, man-to-man, with Santa Claus himself.
“Here the Minotaur roamed, and was fed by human victims.” – Thomas Bulfinch, The Age of Fable
Here’s a story you’ve probably heard:
A fresh-faced youth sets forth from Troezen on his way to Athens. Brave man that he is, consumed by the desire to prove himself, he takes the land route (more dangerous than the sea), encountering various brigands and marauders along the way. He defeats them all with ease, and arrives at Athens an established adventurer. He is instantly recognized by his father, the king.
But all is not well.
In a famous episode of the television show, The Twilight Zone, Henry Bemis, “a bookish little man whose passion is the printed page but who is conspired against by…a world full of tongue-cluckers and the unrelenting hands of the clock,” miraculously survives a nuclear blast. The lone survivor, he despairs until he discovers that the entire book collection of the public library has been saved as well. Finally, the bibliophile can truly pursue his passion, uninterrupted by anything or anyone, with, as he declares “all the time I need, and all the time I want.” However, after arranging all of the books that he intends to read into perfectly ordered stacks, and situating himself on the steps of the library to begin his literary fete, his glasses slip from his nose and shatter on the stone.
There was something about Peter’s clothes that attracted the moths. It was his scent, he thought. It had changed: there was some new chemical he released into the air. His most recent bedmates had commented on the aroma of his skin.
“Like Sweet Tarts,” one had said.
“Like dill,” said another.