Jason (jcreed) wrote,
Jason
jcreed

Late night last night, got two or three hours of sleep. We turned in our ICFP entry around noon and got some lunch.

In my semi-sleep daze I skimmed over my NaNoWriMo from last november. A lot of it is still wincingly awful. I found just one chapter that I actually was sort of happy with, although (a) I still never got around to editing and (b) I am so not a writer.


Wei stood at the door and strained to look through the frosted glass
panel set just above the room's number, which was spelled out in brass
numerals screwed into the wood. She fingered the handle.

Just as the muffled sound of the lecture and what little she could
make out visually together suggested that the speaker had turned his
full body towards the blackboard, she, in a single motion, opened the
door, swung her body inside the room, found a desk to sit at, closed
the door, and sat down. She made no noise louder than the chalk
scratching out the term's curriculum-in-brief.

After a little while, the lecture proper began. Wei found that in such
situations she could relax and listen passively, and still be able to
remember what she heard later. She had used her time in the classes at
the Niece to daydream, check out her classmates, doodle, maybe ask a
question or two to make sure she didn't come off looking too slack.
No reason not to continue the tradition, she figured.

She let her eyes unfocus, and looked out the window. Not much of a
view, really. Just more fucking concrete. She noticed, however, yet
another group of posters, these ones taking up the space between the
window and the back wall of the classroom.

They were all duplicates of each other, dozens of individual pages,
but only three or four types represented. All of them had numbers
written on them in various places, some handwritten, some typeset, and
a couple had stylized pictures: boxy caricatures of celebrities,
abstract patterns of lumpy shapes, naked women. One stood out
peculiarly for not having anything eyecatching on it, just a river of
gray unless you looked at it close enough to see that it was text. It
read,

\begin{quote} Look. You, who's reading this right know. Listen to
me. Believe me: you know her. You will know who I'm talking about,
anyway. She's your friend. She's your best friend from years and years
ago. You said you'd stay in touch. She calls you on your birthday. You
don't expect it. It's nice of her, a nice gesture. She really
cares. She knows you'll never talk any other time, and you never
remember when her birthday is anyway, but she really genuinely doesn't
mind. She doesn't get easily offended. She doesn't need much. She
doesn't need to be entertained. She makes the stuff of her own
pleasure. She reads. She writes. She makes beautiful things. An
artist, maybe, a singer. She loves to think deep, deep thoughts, but
has a shallow one now and then, too. You loved to argue with her. She
made disagreeing with her the most pleasurable thing, made the tension
of debate and thought and ideas and ideals and persuasion a living,
brilliant dance. She doesn't think she's beautiful, but if you ask
her, she'll concede she's not ugly. Other people think she's plain, if
anything. She doesn't really bother with cosmetics. She doesn't think
about whether her shirt matches her pants, or whether her pants make
her ass look too big. She has more interesting things to think about.

But you know that your friend is, in a way that no coat of paint and
advertising can reproduce, the most astonishingly beautiful woman on
the face of the earth. I do, too. Most people that see her don't. I
feel sorry for them, but I'm not about to tell them the secret.

Her hands, her long fingers, are made to fit, with miraculous
perfection, the back of someone's head, to steady their neck as she
kisses them forcefully, but the scene never leaves her imagination ---
she knows her designer's intent, but never finds the opportunity to
fulfill it. They are made to touch the side of someone stranger's
shoulder coyly, by accident, with total deniability, for she strains
to think of herself as desirable. She's only human.

But her eyes are deeper than possible, deeper than human eyes should
be. You fall into them, looking at her calm, inviting face. You hope
she looks away, so that you can have your life back, and then you hope
she doesn't. You want to spend your life like this.

There's something about her that is wordlessly {\em more} than the
crowds she loses herself in. She holds her breath and dives, touches
the sea-floor sand, while humanity splashes noisily in puddles.

You know her. She's your friend, or a friend of a friend, or the
lonely girl you felt sorry for at a party, tracing the wall with her
hand, looking at her peers, the ones that spent a lifetime learning
instead how to flirt and how to be pretty, and wondering why she
accepted the invitation at all.

You know her. I don't yet --- but I hope to.

Help me.
\end{quote}

It still, like all the other posters, had a box at the top, and three
boxes at the bottom. On this one the number in the upper box was 9992,
typeset in little pointy-ended segments like an LED readout. In one of
the three boxes, someone had pencilled in 1689. The other two were
blank.

Wei had a stubborn little bit of sympathy left in her for whoever
wrote the text on the poster, but it was mostly drowned out by a more
general and reflexive feeling of scornful apathy. Clearly he was just
pretty fucking lonely and thought if he made some oh-I-am-so-deep
capital em Message, and printed it up and posted it all over the
fucking place, he could get some girl to write her phone number on it,
or some shit like that. Maybe even get laid. But seriously, who the
hell falls for such drippy-nosed shit like that? Are there girls out
there that really take themselves so seriously? Would they see this
and clutch their fluttering hearts and cry, ``Oh, my, my, my, my Gawd,
that's so {\em me}! Aren't I lucky that there's a {\em real} man out
there that sees my inner beauty!' when he hasn't seen them at all?
Probably some ugly bitch, anyway. `Plain,' my tail. You ask for a girl
that doesn't think she's the sexiest piece of ass this side of East
Harbor, and you'll get one that damn well {\em isn't}, my friend. And
if she does have these fucking magic come-hither deep-as-the-ocean
eyes, and we'll toss in magically perky breasts as a freebie (I know
you were thinking it, even you couldn't make it sound so fucking
poetic) what in God's name makes you think she'll want you?

She lost control and swore out loud in her disgust at the
poster-poet's stupidity. Even from the back of the room, this caught
the attention of the lecturer.

``Um, ah, Ms., uh, don't know your name, mm, do we have a, uh, a
question in the back there?''

Wei thought fast.

``Yes, sir. In your opinion, are the economic consequences of the
Roman invasion of North America really as significant as McEvoy
claimed, in light of the archaeological evidence you mentioned five
slides ago?''

The smugly-dressed student seated directly in front of her turned his
head half-way around and raised an eyebrow. Then again, he only really
had one, so it wasn't an entirely trivial matter to tell what he was
trying to say.

The lecturer responded, ``My, my, an excellent question. As a matter
of fact, I just had a paper accepted on the topic...'' and his voice
trailed off into Wei's subconscious once more. She had a feeling last
week that doing a little homework on the professor might pay
off. Always nice to be proven right.

The thought of some whiny little prick, sitting by his phone and
crossing his fingers, still made her feel extremely irritated.
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