Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Thousand: Six Hundred Forty-Three

nervousness, maybe because. No, it couldn’t be because anybody said anything funny. “Go ahead,” the thing says after a silence. “Go on in.” “I thought you wanted to go in.” The thing laughs again, longer this time, and the girl doesn’t. “Are you afraid?” the thing asks. “Of you?” “Of anything?” “I guess I’m afraid of tigers,” the girl says. The thing stands up on those weird gangly legs and walks past her, the girl turning so it doesn’t get behind her. It settles down. “There’s no one left at the dormitory, you know,” it says. “What makes you think

Monday, January 30, 2012

Thousand: Six Hundred Forty-Two

stump with a spatula. The head might have been a tree stump charred in a wildfire which someone fancied looked like a head and said, “Hey, let’s put it on top of this roadkill skunk and call it Pinocchio.” “You’re wrong about everything,” the odd thing says. The girl sneers, “Yeah? What are you, just another complainer? There’s this room here, seems to be empty, could use a complainer, it’s a complainer apartment, give you a good deal on it.” The odd thing laughs, not quite a merry laugh, but not entirely calculated. The girl laughs, too, maybe out of

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Thousand: Six Hundred Forty-One

“I will never get anywhere in life. People hate me. I hate people. Everything is wrong. Wrong wrong wrong.” The girl looks over her shoulder. A black thing is sharing the hall with her. It’s about the size of a foot stool. And it’s looking at her. “Wrong girl. Wrong day. Wrong way out.” “It was you who spoke,” the girl says to the thing, which moves a little closer on legs long and knobby that immediately disappear under it when it stops moving. “You’re wrong,” agrees the mouth, which looks like it’s been dug out of a mouldy tree

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Thousand: Six Hundred Forty

cranks up the noise. “I am so miserable. I am always so miserable. I have been condemned to be miserable for all eternity.” All fucking eternity. The girl sighs. Maybe that’s the job description, that’s the help wanted ad they answer. Seeking Persons All Varieties of Unhappy to Stand in White Rooms and Complain. Is the pay good? Aren’t they animatronics or something? They don’t really seem human. But what they say, yeah, that’s familiar. Your mother, that boyfriend who turned out to be as fun as quicksand, those days you couldn’t get out of bed. You’ve heard those words.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Thousand: Six Hundred Thirty-Nine

The hall the girl moves through on her duties has always been dim, and stepping into one of the white rooms a blast of brilliance, however monotonous or irritating that which the light embraces. The fogged-out room retains this brilliance, if it has lost all detail. When she pushes the door a little, teases the fog or herself with a sliver of egress, the gap is also a line of light. The hall is quiet. Standing directly under one of the fluorescent tubes in a ceiling fixture the silence is bothered by a faint buzz. Opening one of the rooms,

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Thousand: Six Hundred Thirty-Eight

this door open, what will happen. The fog will roll out into the hall. You won’t be able to see where you are. Where will it stop. Will it swallow the world. The girl leans her head against the door. Can’t hear anything in there. No draft coming out. Try again. Go find the overseer. The overseer will know what to do. She’s the one opening the boxes, letting the fog out. Maybe she’s lost in the fog herself. Maybe maybe maybe. Who knows what’s going on. Right. Not me, the girl thinks, even managing a chuckle at the thought.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Thousand: Six Hundred Thirty-Seven

the white boxes. The door whuffs shut. Right. What to do now. Go back in. Forget it. Go back to the dorm. She gingerly pushes the door again, not noticing she’s holding her breath. The room’s are always painted white, white linoleum, white plastic trash can liners, white upholstered stools, it might just be nerves. Right. Seeing things. Seeing nothing. She continues very slowly to push the door into the room. The white box lets it out. That’s what happens after awhile. You leave the white box open and the fog comes out, fills up the room. If you leave

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Thousand: Six Hundred Thirty-Six

stool. The girl expected the overseer to address her, of course, to nod at her, to scowl at her. Why did the overseer ignore her? It couldn’t be she wasn’t seen. That’s crazy. Maybe the overseer didn’t say anything because. The girl tries to think of a reason. Unable to dredge one up that doesn’t seem about as mysterious as no explanation at all, the girl glances once more up and down the hall, then pushes the door. The room is empty. Or something. Or nothing. She jumps back, gasping. The room is as empty, as fogged-in, as any of

Monday, January 23, 2012

Thousand: Six Hundred Thirty-Five

bites her lip. Right. The hair that’s in the jacket. That single suspicious black hair stiff as a bristle that the girl retrieved from the top of the cabinet in a pristine white room. She was trained to watch for stuff like that. Something that’s not supposed to be there. She is to bring it to the attention of the overseer. Didn’t the overseer see her when she came into the room? The girl was standing on a stool, not the sort of thing you’ll see in one of these rooms, a girl in a keykeeper uniform standing on a

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Thousand: Six Hundred Thirty-Four

in a circle, meet itself. Considering how little different each room is, how similar the complaints of the residents, will she even recognize it if her visits begin to repeat? She entered from a door on the right. Right. There isn’t one visible just ahead, but for every ten doors on the left, one will appear on the right. Maybe it’s time for her to go back to the dormitory. She will get in trouble for losing her jacket, of course. The hair. That would show the overseer she. The hair that’s in the envelope. In the jacket. The girl

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Thousand: Six Hundred Thirty-Three

into the room she takes another breath and lets it out. Remember to breathe. If your heart races you can only do so much to calm it. But if you concentrate on the breath, you can gain some control. The hall is quiet. She can’t hear the bountiful soliloquies of any of the occupants of the rooms. She can’t see the overseer. But then, the hallway curves gradually to the left and whatever is four doors ahead is out of sight. It’s enough of a curve, the girl thinks for the first time, that it ought to come back around

Friday, January 20, 2012

Thousand: Six Hundred Thirty-Two

on her knees for further examination. She goes on to the next room. Where things are the same, though the monologue is louder, and the words slurred. The girl is hurrying now, pushing open the door to each room just long enough to glance into the corner and see the white box’s lid is up. When the girl realizes she is becoming frantic, terrified at seeing that unvarying sight that up to today she has never seen, she stops herself at a door. She breathes deeply, trying to force away the panic. “That’s better,” she says, lying hopefully. Before looking

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Thousand: Six Hundred Thirty-One

correct her, so he can see the error in her ways and mend them.” “I thought you said he sees all,” the girl says on the way out the door. She doesn’t care if the creature tries to argue with her. But she’s not going to try pushing it over. One attempt at that is plenty. The occupant of the next room is mumbling and only when the girl passes by its elbow does she catch a few words. “Clean start over every little bit helps.” The white box on the floor is open and fog-filled. She doesn’t get down

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Thousand: Six Hundred Thirty

by.” The girl gets up off the floor, slaps dust off her knees, though there isn’t any, and straightens the creases of her pants. “She will do this, what he has told her to do. It doesn’t matter what she thinks. Her thoughts are his thoughts. She sometimes forgets and does something else and goes to him and tells him what she has done, as she does every day, even though he knows everything, even though he sees all, she tells him everything she has done that day, she is to keep track for her own practice, so he can

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Thousand: Six Hundred Twenty-Nine

that what she usually does? “When the student is ripe the teacher will pluck her!” The girl jumps, then shakes her head. The figure in each room doesn’t talk all the time, but they drone on when they do talk and the girl rarely pays them much attention. She looks up at this one. Its suddenly speaking was a surprise is all. “The teacher will bite her, bite deep into her rosy skin, exposing her flesh. Bite deep, exposing her core, the very heart of her, where her future lies, and he will drop words in, words she will live

Monday, January 16, 2012

Thousand: Six Hundred Twenty-Eight

left holding her jacket that she wants to rush up and snatch it back. But this one’s arms are slack at its sides. The girl even glances at the floor to see if the jacket is lying there, dropped when the figure lost interest. But, of course, nothing but the reflection of flourescent light glares back at her from the tiles. The girl steps around to the white box, fishing out her gold box as she kneels. The lid is up. Inside, as in the last room, the box seems filled with nothing. The overseer must have opened it. Is

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Thousand: Six Hundred Twenty-Seven

on with her rounds, if she pretends nothing’s happened. What has happened? She’s lost her jacket. Anything else? The keykeeper overseer came into a room and removed an object from a white box, a box, the girl only a minute prior, had prepped with an ant. The girl has never seen that before. She’s never had a look into one of those boxes, either. Seems there’s nothing to see, yeah? It’s a mite chilly without the jacket. The girl goes on to the next room. When she opens the door the naked figure looks so much like the one she

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Thousand: Six Hundred Twenty-Six

of the cabinet. She put it an envelope. The girl draws out the contents of her pants pockets and checks them over. Her blouse, buttoned up to her throat, has no pockets, but she pats herself to make sure no envelope slipped in during the struggle. Not that it was a struggle. A brief capture, followed by an escape. The envelope must still be in the jacket. She glances at the door. Going back in is not something she wants to do. Maybe she can go back later. The room’s occupant probably will forget all about her. If she goes

Friday, January 13, 2012

Thousand: Six Hundred Twenty-Five

its usual routines have been interrupted. It doesn’t have an automatic next thing to do or say. The girl unfastens the buttons of her jacket and slides out of it, leaving the jacket hanging from the creature’s hand. She retrieves a few things from the pockets, the gold box with the ants inside, a placatory erector, her notes from the last meeting, coins, and the map. “I’ll leave you the glossary,” she says. “You might learn something.” She sidles around the unstirring figure and pushes open the door. In the hall she remembers the hair she recovered from the top

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Thousand: Six Hundred Twenty-Four

have been cut and there’s no communication between mind and face. The only indication that something has changed is the lack of change. The grip on the girl’s jacket has pulled her to her toes. The grip does not loosen. She tries to lower her heels but the arm holding her up remains rigidly at that height. The mouth is open, if a bit less. No more drool has slopped out. “My name is Lou,” the girl says, softly this time but firmly, recognizing that this statement has found a place inside the troubled creature, has surprised it, perhaps, and

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Thousand: Six Hundred Twenty-Three

we will look forward to getting together over coffee and donuts, we will begin to think we cannot live without each other because it is a lonely, frightful world and when you find a true friend you wonder how you made it all the days the days the days of struggling against phonies.” The girl unclenches her jaw, unbunches her fist. “My name is.” Is she really going to say it? “My name is Lou.” It’s disconcerting watching the creature’s face. Even when it responds directly to something the girl says, she can’t tell by looking. It’s like the nerves

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Thousand: Six Hundred Twenty-Two

at the corners and the girl wonders if the creature is starting to trying to smile a wicked grin a. “Who are you?” the girl asks, fear in her voice, which she hears, and corrects as best she can. “Do you have a name?” “A name!” the creature cries out. “A name! The little keykeeper wants a name! Does the little girl have a name herself? Does she have a name she will share? We will be buddies, won’t we? This little girl, this Susan, this Fatima, this Imelda, and I. We will be confidants, we will share our troubles,

Monday, January 09, 2012

Thousand: Six Hundred Twenty-One

the chin. “Hah!” the girl shouts, grabbing the creature’s upper arm and shoving it sharply against the ribcage. It’s like shoving a tree. The limb bends, but the trunk? Steady steady. “Hah!” the girl shouts again, lowering her shoulders and thrusting forward. Sweating, red-faced, she falls back. Has it even shifted its weight? She glares desperately up at the face. Does it even notice her? A hand shoots out and snares the lapel of the girl’s jacket. She gasps. The creature moans. “You can only go down so fucking far, bitch! I’m down as low as it goes.” The mouth twitches

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Thousand: Six Hundred Twenty

slides out of the left corner, dragging a long clear thread. The drop dangles, sways. “That’s disgusting,” the girl says. “I’m tired of having to step around you people. You things. From now on I’m going to push you out of my way. Starting with you.” The girl slips the glossary back into her jacket and moves toward this nemesis. She hesitates, not sure where she should make contact. It’s a head taller, but so skinny, unstable-looking. She avoids looking at the silvery hiding thatch of pubic hair, the sagging, papery skin, the drawn cheeks, the few stiff hairs on

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Thousand: Six Hundred Nineteen

a cobblestone. Not even a rung on a ladder, that would be out of the dirt!” “If you’re so good at it, what’re you doing standing there! You should lie down so I can step on you. Why do you stand there in the way?” The naked creature blinks, its eyes roving the room, from corner to corner. At last the vacant gaze settles at the girl’s feet. Do those eyes spark with resistance? Is there anger, motivating anger in them? The girl steps forward. “Get. Out. Of. My. Way.” The creature opens its mouth and a drop of drool

Friday, January 06, 2012

Thousand: Six Hundred Eighteen

would be none.” The girl harrumphs. She looks around the room. “You,” she says to the naked creature. “I can’t even tell if you’re a man or a woman. I was told not to try. Are you even human?” The naked one stares, but at what? “You can never win! You can never win! Nothing you do ever makes any difference! It’s the same fucking thing all over again. Over and over and over again. Always the one getting stepped on. Always the one who has to lie down in the street while the people who matter use you as

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Thousand: Six Hundred Seventeen

swirly sort of Hollywood fog that boils and rolls out tendrils and creeps around your feet, but the other fog, the kind you don’t see up close, that you see only when you look into the distance and there’s no distance to see, everything more than a gentle stone’s throw away hiding or removed. The girl pulls something else out of her jacket. A little glossary. She looks up the word “fog.” “Avoid entering,” the book says. Under “box” she finds, “A container for things you don’t want to see.” Under “room” the book says, “The space without which there

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Thousand: Six Hundred Sixteen

she brings out she keeps closed in her fist, and the girl standing on the stool doesn’t know what it is. The woman strides from the room, without having looked at the girl. Nor has she closed the box. The girl climbs down from the stool, steps around the inhabitant (the girl always avoids touching the dweller of each room, as she was trained), and sidles up to the box. She peers into it and sees. Nothing. Not an empty box, but a white blank, shadowless, without depth or contour, as though the box were filled with fog. Not the

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Thousand: Six Hundred Fifteen

that’s not the way it is. Losers never win. You’re born that way. A loser.”) and curtsies before the white box. One speckled fist raps twice on the lid. The box pops open. The girl is watching from the stool. She captured the hair. It wasn’t long but was wiry, like a whisker. She slipped it into an envelope she drew from an inner pocket. The droning loser may or may not be watching the opening of the box, is turned that way, head alternately sagging forward or to one side. The old woman reaches into the box but whatever

Monday, January 02, 2012

Thousand: Six Hundred Fourteen

the air moved by her movement, and. And just then the door to the hall opens, and an old woman steps into the room. She is wearing the same gray, militaristic uniform as the girl. Her hair white and styled into curls the consistency of meringue, a hint of blush on her chalky cheeks, a faint, unnatural red on her lips as though youth were still tittering behind a curtain in the high school principal’s waiting room, which is down the hall from wherever she has ended up, the woman steps around the room’s possibly permanent occupant (“But everybody knows

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Thousand: Six Hundred Thirteen

hair? She trains the tiny circle of light from the penlight directly on the wavering black line. “If there were really any chance, you know, I’d be okay with not winning, you know. If people who really deserved it won sometimes. That would be something, at least. Then you could be happy for them.” The girl hooks the leg of a wheeled stool and slides it alongside. Without taking her eyes from the strand, the girl climbs onto the padded seat and slowly, watching her balance, stands, reaches her left hand out for the black hair which is wobbling in