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"Meet" excerpt

Thursday 10/17/19

Entire new story composed today. It's 9:30 in the morning. Another started. Was doing two at once. Literally going from the one to the other. Excerpt. Really good. Really bloody good. Every day. Thwack. Every day. Thwack. Every day, something major. These people have to hate me, because I invalidate all of the fantasies they desperately try to harbor in their system and their communities where actual ability reduces their houses of cards to ash. The specter of comparison. This is not about communing, this is not about mentors, it's not about your reader group, it's not about the one terrible, sixth-grade level story you're going to write in fifteen months along with three sad, lonely blog posts on your blog, it's not about workshopping, it's not about Bread Loaf, it's not about Pushcart nominations, it's not about any of the bollocks they need it to be about as they shower down their shit into a market that already does not exist, flooding the field, which was already flooded, with more shit, and more shit on top of shit. Because it is mediocre dreck work, at best, that comes from the right kind of mediocre person, and the right kind of person with the right kind of bad shit gets waved through, passed through, sent on their way, like passing kids through a school who never mastered the lessons, so the school district can claim a given educational record.


It's about ability. These people hate and fear ability, because it represents truths about themselves, their so-called dreams, which they cannot escape, and certainly cannot face. I am the destroyer of their illusions and lies-to-self, simply by dint of how I write, what I write, the range of it, the amount, the level.


***


There is a tunnel that goes to the general store in our town, but I don’t know how many other people are aware of it.


The general store is old, from the 1920s. It’s at the bottom of a hill where train tracks are, or used to be, depending upon where one stands on matters of biodegradability and what men make and the earth usurps. The tracks are mossed over now, raised fissures, or cobalt-gray weals, rendered linear, rather than bolts of metal that once helped carry people into the grab-bag journeys of their lives. Distended veins. There’s a hill on the other side, so it’s like a valley where the tracks were, in a railway cutting.


Some people from forever ago didn’t like walking through the cutting, crossing the tracks, because there had been various accidents involving horses and cows. They had a tendency to stop dead-still on the track, as if sensing it was imperative to remain in place, to wait for a hand that would better guide them, or, it was even said, assistance they might lend, as if calf or foal were in duress. Some were run down. One man held on to his kid’s pony as long as he could before jumping clear. He was hit with part of the head that knocked him out and cracked his own skull so that a hole had to be drilled and the built-up fluid—I read that it was barley-colored—drained off.


I liked living at the top of the hill, overlooking the general store, which is modernized now and does brisk business. It’s just a store with a lot of stuff, eclectic offerings, you wouldn’t know it had a history beyond, maybe, a large pickle barrel at the front, a full hogshead of dill. The tunnel is overgrown. If you stand outside of it and look in, you can’t see more than ten or fifteen feet. It’s woolly. A gateway of bracken passes aside for plants whose shapes are hard to make out, fronds with purpled-edges, like these are plants that have been kicked in the shins, but they look like they feel heavier, oppressive, whereas the bracken you could inhale, asbestos in flora form; gray-green fairy dust, mite-shaped memories of spores. When you get to junior high kids start saying to other kids that it’s the best place to hook up because you will be completely undetected. No one will walk in on you and you can do anything you want. Kids don’t wink. They’re not avuncular. But if they did wink they would wink here, after these pronouncements. Some kids thrust with their hips to make their point.


That frightened me. Didn’t matter that I was the girl everyone regarded as her generation’s local tomboy—for there is always one person who enters local civic memory as chief representative of this idea—despoiler of boys in all athletic competitions. People moved in and out of our town a lot it seemed, as if you weren’t always going to live here, but you might stop for two or three years while you made your way to a better station.