CaBloWriMo: A Beautiful Friendship

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He’d stuck to her from the off, mirroring every movement, like the magazines told you he would. For week after week, she couldn’t go anywhere without him somehow turning up and working his way steadily across the room until he was across from her, eyes fixed on hers, predatory. She was unsure whether to be flattered or terrified.

One time, he came cycling with her and a couple of friends, except that he didn’t have a bicycle. He’d spent a year in the French military, he said as he kept pace with her effortlessly, officer class. She cycled faster, giggling as she left him behind, feeling elated. It rained, and his shirt stuck to his chest in a way that did things to her body that alarmed her.

He’d become progressively less charming as their lives had become more entwined. Most of what she said seemed to cause offence, and her protests turned him to stone. As they teetered together on the brink, it came to seem so much easier to keep her feelings to herself. When anybody asked, she told them everything was great and that she couldn’t be happier.

And so when he asked her to marry him, that’s what she told him too.

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CaBloWriMo: Soulseek

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I saw it nearly happen once, an Illicit. They do their best to keep it from happening, but everyone knows it does. The net is full of stories. There’s nothing to stop two people meeting and letting nature overwhelm their rational minds, so long as they don’t get caught. It’s hard to understand why they’re so against the workings of science. We all know we wouldn’t be here without it.

I was still a kid when they gave up putting numbers in the elevators. You just get in, wave your key card at the reader and it whisks you direct to your floor. Quick, efficient, and minimizes the danger that there’ll be anyone else in there with you. In the rare event that there is, it’s only polite to pretend that you haven’t seen them.

In the old days, human interaction happened like this, in elevators, random and happenstance. Say you struck up a conversation with the stranger in the elevator, what then? There was a chance that you would strike common ground, discover a mutual love for bird-watching or Russian art-house movies, and on this flimsy basis bring offspring into the world, to roll their eyes at your shared hobbies and grow up sullen and unfulfilled. And that was if you hit it off.

That was before Soulseek took the happenstance and the angst out of personal interactions, and with them the petty jealousies engendered by the agony of choice. All you need do is sit back and leave your future to science and the state – to Soulseek.

(By 日:Muramasa, via Wikimedia Commons)

CaBloWriMo: Two feet in front of me

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I could not see more than two feet in front of me, which was hardly any great loss. The action was all right here, hot metal hissing angrily at spattering rain, the dull tang of sodden diesel fuel pressing about the sinuses and clutching at lungs, the irate and incessant blaring of horns.

To go forward is to live. To stand still is to die. Time is money, and you are in my way.

To my right is the yawning gutter, last resting place of the careless, the overly cautious, and those too poor for a knock-off diesel-powered knock-off Chinese Honda. To my left is the roaring knock-off diesel elite of the new Viet Nam, bearing livestock, live bees, gas cylinders and family members lashed lazily to rusting back racks, a perpetual motion comedy disaster perpetually waiting to happen.

In the middle is me. I ride a bicycle, but am conspicuously too white to be poor. If I am not poor, it follows that I must be crazy. All Tay are crazy. You should see the prices we will pay for vegetables. Clearly wrong in the head. I am not insane enough to ride without a helmet, however. I value my head over my hairstyle.

I do not want to meet my end in the gutter, yet with every breath I feel diesel knife through my face mask and facial membranes, subtracting days from my life span, every second in this toxic embrace costing me minutes out of my time at my destination: that sweet new cafe with the beautiful bittersweet ca phe sua da and the roof terrace with the breathable air, and the quiet.

I jink left through the tiniest of gaps and surge forward, into the the boiling bloodstream of the city. Nothing keeps this Tay from her ca phe; not even you, Ha Noi.

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