There were some fantastic responses to the Applies to Oranges giveaway contest. The comments to that post are like their own wonderful literary journal. And why can’t we host an online journal in a comment stream at HTMLGiant? I’m calling it the second issue of the Crystal Gavel, the “Trouble in Paradise” theme. I think I’m going to nominate the winners here for Pushcarts, too. I’m applying for the ISSN tomorrow.
Maureen Thorson has selected the winners: Josh Thompson, for “Clerical Work” and Heather Sommer, for “Ex-Pats” and Nick Francis, with “Vacationing.” (Josh, Heather, Nick, please email your address to me at adam at publishinggenius.com and we’ll get you your prizes.) Their entries can be read below the fold, or in Crystal Gavel 2, naturally.
Thanks to Maureen for putting this together! Check out her very truly wonderful book over at Ugly Duckling’s wonderful website.
Indonesia reminded him of anthropology. Anthropology was his ex. She was part of a crowd of naked people taking drugs with low blood pressure he didn’t share. He hated Burning Man. The sex was subpar.
Why Indonesia he forgot. He wanted to see a pink tarantula but the skies rained only colorless insects. At this rate he would permanently vacation here.
From his hammock he watched endless ants steam across the equatorial earth. If he joined the ants he’d learn simplicity, humility, and social tact. As a kid he never killed bugs because he’d heard of reincarnation. He was thirsty.
His ex believed in a watery reincarnation she absorbed from a yoga studio near her apartment. Her spirituality was a shellacked coffee table he had in college. To him it was xenophobic.
Indonesian beer is cheap and cools your insides. If you pour it on your head it may cool your outsides.
When time to leave the hammock it was also time to dig beach holes and join the crabs. After a the wave receded he could run dig a new hole and wait for the sea to iron the shore smooth again. This was the foundation for a new humanism.
Once he discovered that even though his ex wore her sexuality like a fake tan, her skin still peeled like an orange.
He would kill a crab only to eat.
We made up sad stories explaining why we were here.
We wanted to fit in and all around us, misery.
I didn’t tell you you got me pregnant.
I thought you’d get the wrong idea.
You used words like honeymoon
and your ring said love in Arabic;
you didn’t tell me until we’d had sex.
I didn’t expect you to tell me at all.
We went swimming at midnight, before
you told me anything. The water buzzed
around you as though you conducted thunderstorms
and this was your secret. Whenever I’m on a lake,
I imagine the waves bring me a corpse –
always of a young woman, beautifully
preserved – not love letters in bottles
or treasure maps or starfishes. Bodies.
More than one, all floating uniformly
towards where ever I am. I’d never
tell you this. It’s not that I’m sad, love –
it’s just a story like all other stories
and like all others, it ends.
If a man in a white shirt and a tie catches on fire and people–people being who they are–refuse to extinguish him, you’re on vacation. It’s trouble if the man strikes up a conversation with you, flirts, billowing, tries to buy you a drink. Extinguishing his advances will, in effect, extinguish also his melting there, and you, having extinguished him, will call into question your actually being on vacation. The trick, then, is to do what they say not to do, with fighting and fire. And when he is doubly engorged, sooty and ruining, you will have maintained your vacation and he will know, undoubtably, the level of your interest as he falls to the beach in ashes.