Spider

I know my rhyming’s is easy, and I know the poems’s cheesy. So I’m sorry.

Five legged spider stumbling
Quiet incomprehensible grumbling
Tripping, confused tumbling
Ego slowly crumbling
No one there accompaning
Abrupt spider death

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Stationary

Carefully he rolls his boulder
Slowly up the hill.
He knows that rolling hurts his shoulder
Still he slowly rolls his boulder
Onward up the hill.
He rolls it till it’s at the summit
Sure he knows the drill
He knows the boulder’s sure to plummet
So he stays there still.

Stream Crossing

Crossing a stream is best done with care
Hidden perils everywhere
So move your feet slow and steady
Wait to place them till you’re ready
For if you try and move too quick
You’ll trip upon a rotted stick
And fall flat on your face

Second Guessing

Though time with you is most delightful,
When you leave my thoughts turn frightful.
Did I leave a good impression?
Did I end the night all strong?
Or will I writhe in deep depression,
Feeling that I’ve said some wrong.
If only I could get some sleep,
And stop my endless train of thought.
To sink on down towards darkness deep,
Confident in what I’ve wrought.
And so I try to hold and hope,
Like climber clinging on to rope,
That tonight was not just some vacation
And that your train won’t leave my station.

Felix and the Dating Game (Final)

Felix woke up 37 minutes ago. But he was still in bed. He was going to be late for work. He checked the clock next to his bed again and saw that he now only had 23 minutes to shower. He decided that he would be fine with a shower as short as 15 minutes. He turned face down into his bed and put his pillow over his head.

Felix woke up. He checked the clock near his bed. He now only had 12 minutes to shower. He took a deep breath, let it out and then rolled over and fell off his bed. He got up and looked at the mirror on his wall. Felix forced a smile. “Today will be a good day,” he said to his reflection. His reflection didn’t look convinced. He was definitely going to be late for work. He walked over to the machine and turned it on.

“Calibrating,” the machine said, calculating new personality number.”

Felix wondered if his number would be different today.

“Your personality number is 972. Personality 972 is compatible with the personality 495. There are currently 22 million people who fit these criteria. There is a 0.03% chance of you meeting your match today.”

His personality number was always 972. The numbers only changed if the machine detected a change in personality. Some people’s numbers changed more often than others but Felix was the same person he had always been so his number was always the same. However the 0.03% chance surprised Felix and his forced smile felt more natural. That was higher than yesterday. No doubt today would be the day he found his match. He looked at the clock. He had 7 minutes left to shower and still be on time for work. He hurried to the shower room.

His alarm sounded through the whole house signaling it was time to leave but Felix ignored it. He was only halfway finished. The alarm continued as he finished his shower and got dressed. “0.03% is much better than yesterday,” he thought. He picked out his best shirt from the clean pile of clothes on the floor. It was yellow. Yellow seemed like a good color for today. Felix picked up a pair of pants from the floor and smelled them. They were fine; he could wear them for at least 3 more days before he had to wash them. He looked out the window, it was sunny, and so he decided it must be warm out, left his jacket behind, walked outside and locked the door.

Felix arrived at work 8 minutes late and it took him 3 minutes to reach his station on the second level. He apologized to his boss and hurried to his station. It had been much colder than he thought it would be and he wished that he brought his jacket.

He sat down at his station and powered on the work machine. “Good morning machine,” he said.

“Beginning work sequences,” said the machine. He finished his first assignment and looked at his clock. Work felt like it was taking much longer than normal. Felix could not wait to try his luck at The Dating Game this afternoon. He knew that his 0.03% chance was great and knew that he was sure to meet someone today.

 

He worked for 2 hours before a woman interrupted him. “Hello Felix,” said the woman. Felix turned towards her. He recognized her. She worked on the 5th level. What was she doing in his station? Now that he thought about it, she had come to his station before. He thought about what she had said to him last time she visited but found he couldn’t remember.

“How are you today?” she asked and when Felix didn’t say anything she said, “I love your shirt, yellow is my favorite color.” Felix wondered if she knew that talking about non-work related topics during work hours was frowned upon by upper management.

“Your shirt is also a pleasant color,” he said to her. He wondered if that was the response she was looking for. He still had 73% of his assigned work to complete today.

“Thanks Felix,” she said and smiled. Felix noticed that her cheeks had turned slightly pink. He wondered why she said his name so often. He thought hard, but didn’t think he knew her name. He was sure she told him once. It probably started with an S. He could never remember names that started with S. Why did people need to know each other’s names anyway? He rarely used people’s names in conversations with them. Memorizing what everyone was called seemed like it would take up a lot of time, time he could use to finish his daily assignment. He wondered when the woman would leave; he really needed to get back to work. “A few friends and I are going to go to have a few drinks after work tonight. There is a bar not far from here,” she said and then paused expectantly. He did not know why she was telling him this. “Do you want to come with us?” she asked. She said this a little faster than the rest of what she said and Felix almost didn’t hear her properly.

“I can’t, I have to go to the Dating Game tonight,” he said. “I have a 0.03% chance of meeting someone compatible today. 0.03% is a much higher chance than normal.”

Her posture slumped slightly and her smile faded. “0.03% doesn’t seem like such a high chance. How do you know that there won’t be someone compatible tonight at the bar where we will be getting drinks? How do you know there isn’t anyone compatible working in this building?”

Felix laughed. “The company looks for specific types of people. Most people that work here must be similar personality types. And there are sure to be a lot of people at the Dating Game, which means there is a higher chance of meeting somebody there.” Felix noticed lines on the woman’s face that weren’t there before. “Why would anyone go to a regular bar to meet someone?” Felix laughed again. The woman sighed. She looked like she wanted to say something else. She opened her mouth as I to answer his question and explain exactly why someone would go to a regular bar, but instead she turned around and walked away. She seemed frustrated. Felix wondered if she was frustrated because she hadn’t thought to try the Dating Game. Or maybe her chance of meeting someone compatible was lower than 0.03% and she was jealous. He decided he should really stop bragging about his chance. He didn’t want to make anyone jealous.

Felix worked extra hard to finish the remainder of his work. He had lost several minutes talking with that woman and so he had to work slightly faster to catch up. If he didn’t finish 100% of his assignments he would have to stay late and he didn’t want to stay late. Not today. He didn’t want to waste his 0.03% chance in an office building by himself. He finished all of his work with 2 minutes to spare, closed down his work machine, went down to the ground level and left the building. The Dating Game was hosted in the community center two blocks from Felix’s office. As he walked towards the Dating Game he noticed the woman from his office walking with a group of friends across the street. She noticed him watching them and made a little smile. Felix kept walking.

Finally he reached the community center and approached the door. Outside was a doorman. “Entry fee to The Dating Game is 10 dollars,” said the doorman.

“Of course,” said Felix, and he handed the doorman $10 dollars. The doorman handed him a name tag and a pen and then opened the door and stepped aside, allowing Felix into the bar. The room was filled with hundreds of tables arranged in a circle. Each table had two chairs. In the middle of the circle were hundreds of people standing around in silence waiting for the game to start. Felix wrote his name on his name tag, put it on and then put the pen in his pocket.

A short man climbed up on to one of the tables. “Alright everyone, take a seat,” he said. Everyone moved to a chair. All of the men sat in chairs on the outside of the circle of tables and all the women sat in the chairs on the inside of the circle facing them. “You know how this works,” said the short man, “Every 30 seconds you will hear this bell.” Here the man paused and shook a little bell. “When you hear the bell, the women will move one table over clockwise. Not all the chairs are full so if you are left without a pair for a round, just wait till the next bell.” Felix looked around the room at the several empty chairs. “Is anyone not ready?” asked the short man, nobody answered. “Begin.”

Felix turned to the woman sitting across the table from him and tried to smile. Her name tag read Elaine. “Hello,” he said. “My personality number is 972, are we compatible?” He always started conversations at The Dating Game like that. There wasn’t really a reason to start any other way. Why would he want to waste energy talking about anything else if she wasn’t compatible?

The woman sneered at him across the table. “Definitely not, my number is only 2 digits.” He didn’t think she had to be so rude but it made sense. He had noticed that people with 2 digit personality numbers tended to be rude. They sat quietly together until the short man rang his bell and Elaine stood up and moved to the next table.

In her place a short woman with black hair sat down. Her name tag in neat small letters said Daphne. “Hello,” he said. “My personality number is 972, are we compatible?”

Daphne shook her head. “No my number is 946 and I am compatible with number 579. I really hope I meet someone today, the machine told me I have a 0.04% chance of meeting a compatible person today. That’s how I knew I should come to the dating game. I never have chance that high.”

Felix was amazed. He had never had a chance that high. “My chance today is 0.03% and I thought I had a good chance,” he told her. “I’ve never even heard of someone with a 0.04% chance. You must be really lucky.” Daphne gave him a little smile. “I wonder how the machine calculates the chances.”

A small laugh escaped her lips. “I don’t think anyone knows,” she said. “They probably collect data through satellites. There are so many satellites now, you know. The short man rang the bell again and Daphne stood up.

In her place sat a woman Felix recognized. It was the woman from work. He looked at her name tag and saw the name Sophie. He knew her name started with S. “Hi Felix,” she said smiling. He wondered why she was here; she told him that she was going to get a drink with friends. “I wasn’t having that much fun with my friends,” said Sophie, answering his unasked question. “You seemed so excited about coming here, so I thought I would come check it out.”

Felix wasn’t sure what he should say. He was pretty sure they didn’t have compatible numbers. Since they worked together, he assumed that their numbers must be similar. But he decided he should ask anyway. It would be rude not to. “My personality number is 972, are we compatible?”

Sophie made a funny face. “How was work today?” she asked. “I noticed you were late I hope you didn’t get in trouble.” Felix still wasn’t sure how to respond. The short man rang the bell and all the women moved one table clockwise. Except Sophie, she didn’t move. Felix looked over at the table on his right. Luckily the chair at that table had been empty so there wasn’t anyone to replace her anyway. He looked back at Sophie.

“Today work was uneventful. Despite being late I finished 100% of my assignments.”

“That’s pretty impressive,” Sophie said, “I don’t always finish all of my work. Whatever I don’t finish gets pushed to the next day. Some days I have to work really hard to catch up.” She laughed. Felix was horrified. He had never completed any more or less than he daily assigned work. Felix wondered why she wouldn’t tell him her number. It didn’t make sense to continue their conversation if their personalities weren’t compatible. The short man rang the bell again and all the women rotated one chair over. This time there was a new person who came over to sit in front of Felix but Sophie still hadn’t moved so after giving Felix a strange look she skipped over his table sat down at the next table. Felix stared at her. He didn’t like that Sophie was breaking the rules and it was making him frustrated. How was he supposed to meet someone if she used up all his time? Maybe he could try with her one more time. “What personality number are you?” he asked. “I am curious to know what kind of person you are.”

Sophie sighed. “Well, you would think the best way to do that would be to ask me some questions and find out for yourself,” she said.

“But there are so many people in the world. How would you ever meet them all if we didn’t have the personality number system? “Math is always correct. Logic never fails.” Now he was agitated. He didn’t know why she didn’t understand. “The machine knows what kind of person everyone is and its algorithm can always find someone compatible.” His loud voice was drawing attention from the nearby tables.

“Always?” she asked. “Don’t machines ever make mistakes?”

“Never,” said Felix. “Not as long as they use the correct inputs.” He paused for a second looking at her. She was smiling again and her smile was making him uneasy.

“How do you know the machine uses correct inputs? She asked.

Felix slouched. He felt smaller in his chair. He knew exactly where she was leading him. He looked up at her and saw that she was still smiling. “The machine was designed very well, he said. “It takes inputs from hundreds of different places. Some people even think that the machine uses satellites to collect data.” He wondered if anyone other than Daphne thought that the machine used satellites. “It is very unlikely that it could be wrong with all of that data.” He found himself looking at her face. Their eyes met and he noticed how much he liked the dark brown in her eyes. He realized that he was smiling and when he looked at her he watched Sophie’s smile start to widen.

“Isn’t there a chance that even with all of the information the machine absorbs that the machine misses something, something small and important?” Felix started to answer but was cut off by the short man and his little bell. Again all the women stood up to rotate. All of them except Sophie, she sat still staring at him waiting for the room to settle. Once again a woman came to sit at the table across from Felix and then moved to the next table when she realized that his table was not free. Felix barely noticed this time. He was trying desperately to construct a valid response. The room became still again, but before he was able to talk Sophie asked him a question.

“What is the probability that you will meet someone compatible today given that the machine is wrong?” Felix thought about that. The answer wasn’t too hard to define. The probability of A given B is the probability of A and B divided by the probability of B. But there weren’t enough givens to give her a numerical answer. How was he supposed to know the probability that the machine was wrong? If the machine was wrong there was no way of even knowing the probability of meeting someone compatible.

“The machine is very accurate,” Felix said, but now he wondered just how accurate it was. His 0.03% didn’t seem as promising anymore. He looked over at Daphne who was several tables away. She was kissing the man across from her. He wondered if the machine had given them compatible numbers, was her 0.04% chance even accurate? He looked back at Sophie again. She was still looking at him and he felt himself become caught again by her eyes. He looked at her smile and he found himself thinking that that he liked her smile.

“Do you enjoy ice cream?” She asked.

“Of course,” he said. It was a strange question; he wasn’t sure how it connected with the rest of their conversation.

“What is your favorite flavor?”

He knew the answer right away and so he answered just as the end of her question left her lips. “Blue of course.”

She smiled. “Blue is the best flavor.”

He smiled back at her. “How do I know that you are telling the truth? Machines cannot lie. But people can. Maybe you said you like blue ice cream just because I like blue ice cream.”

“I would never lie to you, lying is impractical because it wastes people’s time.” She said to him, and for some reason he believed her. “There is an ice cream store just outside,” she said. With that she stood up and reached out a hand. He stood up and reached out as well. Together, holding hands, they exited the small bar and into the night. After they finished their ice cream they walked around the city for so long that Felix lost track of what time it was. When they were both tired they went their separate ways. On the way home Felix realized that although he didn’t remember most of what they talked about, the way that he felt while they were walking stuck with him. And while he couldn’t identify the feeling he knew that he enjoyed it. When Felix arrived home he was so tired that he fell asleep almost immediately.

The next morning Felix got out of bed soon after he woke up. He walked over to the machine and turned it on.

“Calibrating,” the machine said, calculating new personality number.”

Felix wondered if Sophie would visit him while he was working again today.

“Your personality number is 974. Personality 974 is compatible with—” Felix turned the machine off. He didn’t need to hear the rest.

Felix took his shower and although he had plenty of time he finished quickly and put on a clean blue shirt and after a moment’s thought a clean new pair of pants. Smiling he left his house early and headed for work.

Wasp Prisoner

“Don’t move,” I whispered. There was no one else in the room so I guess I was talking to myself. “Don’t move even a little bit.” I hate wasps. I’m not allergic or anything but I just hate them. It’s not like they make honey or anything else that I would find useful. They just fly around freaking the hell out of me. “Stop crawling towards me.” The wasp doesn’t seem to understand whispering. “Please just fly away.” The wasp jumps and lands on my leg. “Don’t move,” I whispered again to myself. “I don’t have anything you want. Just leave me alone I want to be on my way.

The Short Story of Jax (Final)

He creaked the door open and looked out. Outside people were moving fast up and down the hallway. A woman and her son were talking to each other on a bench and curious Jax started to listen.

“Is daddy going to be ok?” asked the son.

“Yes the man who attacked him stopped attacking daddy after he took his wallet,” said the woman.

“Why did the man attack daddy?”

“Some people take things from people who can’t protect themselves honey. The man wanted dad’s wallet and dad didn’t want to give it to him that’s why the bad attacked him; to force daddy to give him all his money.”

“Stronger people always get whatever they want.” The boy said this last part as if there was nothing anyone could do about it. It was just a universal fact that he had learned.

“No son–” The woman stopped short, noticing that Jax was listening. “Are you listening to our conversation? That is so rude. Go away and leave us alone.”

Jax immediately stopped what he was doing. He needed to find some real clothes. He crossed the hallway and tried the door across the hall. It was unlocked and opened easily. Inside were two beds. One was empty and the other had a man roughly his height. He has a cast on one arm and bandages on his head. His eyes are closed. Jax smiled and looked around until he found the row of short cabinets against the far wall. Quietly he walks over, bends down and opens a cabinet, it’s empty. His smile starts to fade as he gently closes the cabinet and opens the second one. Inside is a stack of colorful clothes and a small empty backpack. He took the clothes out of the cabinet and spread them out on the floor. There were two pairs of green cargo pants, three long sleeve button down shirts of varying degrees of purple, a thick long sleeve orange and brown flannel shirt, and several pairs of socks. He quickly took off his clothes and folded them in a small pile and put them in the cabinet. Then he put on one pair of green pants, the darkest purple shirt and the flannel. He reached for one of the pairs of socks and picked them up they were really scratchy. He put the remaining pair of pants and shirts in the empty backpack and zipped it up. Then after a thought he unzipped the bag, and put two pairs of socks in the bag just in case. He zipped the bag back up and then he closed the cabinet. He opened the third cabinet it was empty except for a pair of indigo sandals. He took them out and put them on his feet. They were a little big but they fit alright. He felt good. He closed the third cabinet and turned around. The man in the bed was staring at him. Jax put the backpack on slowly.

“Hello,” He said to the man.

“Hello,” the man said. “Why are you taking my clothes?”

“I don’t have any,” said Jax, “and yours are great. I love all the colors. Plus we are about the same size.”

“Well that makes sense,” said the man. “They were my costume in the play I was in. I was a clown that went crazy and started murdering people. I can’t be in the play now since I broke my arm on set and I have some regular clothes in the next cabinet so I guess you can have those.”

“Thanks,” said Jax, he wondered what a clown was and why one would be murdering people. “I hope your arm feels better.” He turned towards the door and walked out. He walked down to the ground floor, past the person and the front desk and out the front door. Nobody stopped him.

Outside there was a man sitting on the ground. The man was very dirty. He looked like he slept outdoors a lot. He was waving at the people walking by and gesturing at a hat that was on the ground. Jax walked up to him.

“Do you need help picking up your hat?” Jax asked. The man blinked. Jax sat down on the ground next to the man. “Today has been really strange. I don’t remember anything that happened in my life before today. I don’t have any place to stay. Do you know where I can stay?”

The man found his voice. “I have a place where some of my friends stay. It’s under a bridge two blocks from here. I’ll take you there and you can stay there with us until you figure everything out, but it’ll cost you. Do you have any money?”

“I don’t think so.”

“Let me see your backpack.” Jax took off the backpack and handed it to the man. The man greedily opened the bag. His face fell as he realized the bag just had some clothes in it. “The shirts and pants are too fancy for me to wear and still make money begging. But I’ll need socks eventually, I’ll take those. Smiling Jax handed over the one thing he had that he didn’t want. “People call me Chipper because they say I’m always happy. What’s your name?”

“I’m Jax, I don’t know why I’m called that but I am.”

Chipper gave him a strange look. “Follow me,” he said, and he got up and started to walk away. Jax got up and started to follow him. They walked about two blocks until they got to a bridge. Jax picked out a spot to call his own under the bridge and Chipper excused himself to continue begging. Since Jax now had a place to call home he decided he would go exploring.

So he walked farther down the street. He stopped when he saw a beautiful woman rushing down the street in the opposite direction he was walking in. She had blonde hair and eyes with a flash of green in her eyes. For a second he couldn’t move. “She looks like she knows what she is doing,” though Jax. He decided to follow her. She walked briskly but it wasn’t hard to follow. She kept walking till she reached some steps going down on the corner of a street. Jax was becoming very curious as to where she was going so he followed her into down the stairs into a tunnel. There was garbage in the corners on the floor and he could almost taste the salt smelling air. The woman reached a turnstile and swiped her card and then walked through. Jax didn’t have a card, and he didn’t know where to get one so he took a minute to make sure no one was looking and then he jumped over the turnstile. Ahead he saw a train rumble into the tunnel. The woman got on the train and Jax quickly followed her. He sat down in a seat near the door and watched her move down the car and sit somewhere close to the middle. As the train started to move Jax’s thoughts started to drift. Nobody really wanted to answer all of his questions and he had so many of them. Even Chipper got bored with his questions and left him. There were so many people in the world around him but he still felt kind of alone. He wished he had someone he could talk to consistently. Someone he could ask questions that might have dumb answers. Then he thought about the woman he was following. He hadn’t talked to her yet but she was so pretty, and if someone as dirty as Chipper could be so helpful, she must be very nice. He tried to imagine what he would say to her when he finally got the opportunity. People always seemed confused when he tried talking to them. What could he say to her that would make he want to keep talking to him?

The train stopped, the doors opened and two men walked into the car. They both wore black suits with different color ties and they seemed important. Each of their jackets they had name tags; one said “Steve” and the other said “Kevin.” They were sitting across from him on the subway car and they were talking about girls. Jax knew that people disliked it when he eavesdropped on them so he tried very hard to pretend like he wasn’t listening.

“We’re just friends. There is no way she would go out with me,” said Steve.

“Dude, how do you know?” asked Kevin. “Did you ask her? Girls don’t go out with you if you don’t ask them.”

Steve looked down at the floor and shifted his feet. “I just know. Every time I ask a girl out she gives me a bad excuse for why she’s not available and then starts avoiding me.” He smiled slightly and looked up. “Did I tell you about the girl I asked to prom?”

“Steve, you are twenty-four. Prom was like six years ago. You have to move on. Plus I’ve seen Becky. I know she likes you. Just ask if she wants to get coffee or something, what’s the worst that could happen?”

Steve looked back at the floor. “I really like her. What if she says no? Won’t that make in really awkward for everyone?”

The other man mouth widened and a hiss of air came out before he got his face under control. “Not asking her is making things awkward for the rest of us. Just be a man and get it over with. If she rejects you we’ll go get really drunk and you’ll forget she even exists. But she won’t reject you because she likes you, I’m sure of it.” Steve smiled slightly and their conversation drifted. Jax thought about what they said. How did Kevin know that Becky liked Steve? He wondered if there were certain signs he should look out for when he talked to the blond lady.

The train stopped and Kevin and Steve left the train. Jax checked and confirmed that the woman he was following was still on the train. Then the train started and Jax’s mind wandered. He became busy crafting the perfect sentence and then he started thinking about things that he would say to the woman when she did decide to get coffee with him. Then he started thinking about where they would go next when their coffee date went well. The train stopped again and this time the woman got off. He smiled, stood up and walked confidently after her.

After three and a half blocks she crossed the street and walked into a building. On the door of the building were the words: “Jefferson Telemarketing.” Underneath the words was a piece of paper, taped to the door and fluttering slightly in the wind. On the paper typed in bold was “Help, Inquire Within.” So Jax opened the door and walked in. Inside there were rows of cubicles and in the back was an office with clear glass walls. Jax looked around and noticed that the woman he followed was in a cubicle on the far left closest to the wall. She was staring at a computer screen and talking on the phone. Jax walked around the cubicles and past her desk. As he past her desk he noticed a journal on her desk with the name “Lily” written on the corner of its cover. “What a great name,” he thought. “It was so light on the tongue, almost like a lemon candy.” He kept walking till he got to the back room. He stared through the glass door at the man at the desk and waved. The man at the desk was looking at his computer as well. He didn’t move. Jax knocked on the door hard and the man looked up, his face questioning and gestured for Jax to come in. Jax walked in to the office.

“The paper outside says you need help. Can I help? Are you the right person to ask?”

“Yes,” said the man at the desk. “My name is Brad Finkle. We are looking for a new Telemarketer.”

Jax looked around; he didn’t see anyone else in the room. “We?” he asked.

“What? Yes, company is looking to hire a new employee. All you have to do is call the people on the list and read from the script and take down their information if they decide they want to buy any of the products. We pay minimum wage. You can start right now if you want. Just find an empty cubicle.”

Jax didn’t understand the purpose of his job but they were going to give him money, and he didn’t know what else he would do all day. Also he wanted to talk to the woman that lead him to Jefferson Telemarketing and since she seemed busy at the moment he needed to stick around so he could talk to her later. So Jax walked around the office. He walked past Lily’s desk but she was still on the phone and didn’t notice him. He kept walking until he found a cubicle that didn’t seem to belong to anyone. He went in and put his backpack under the desk. Then he looked over the wall at the man sitting in the cubicle next to him.

“I work here now,” said Jax. “Can I have this cube?”

“Yeah no one’s using that one, it’s all yours.”

Jax turned away and sat down at the desk. The computer was off. There was a phone on the desk, but there was nothing else. “I don’t know what I’m supposed to do.”

The man groaned and hung up the phone. He stood up. “I don’t understand why the boss always hires people who don’t know anything off the street,” he said. “Turn on your computer. There are some icons on the desktop. You click on the one that says call information. It’s basically a list of people, their phone numbers and the product you are supposed to sell them. There are a few text boxes. If they don’t buy anything just put an X in the box next to their name, and if they do buy something write out their information in the boxes.” Ben paused and stared at Jax. “Got it? Do you even know how to use a computer?”

Jax didn’t remember ever seeing a computer before but for some reason he knew that he could use one so he nodded. “Yes I do. Thanks,”

“Sorry I snapped at you. I’m Ben.” He extended a hand to shake. “What’s your name?

Jax also extended his hand till it was above Ben’s. “I’m Jax.” Then he sat down at his desk. He started calling people and telling them about things they could buy. Sometimes they bought something and he would write their information down. Most of the people he called just yelled something vulgar and hung up the phone. He liked these people best. After about an hour of calling people, Jax heard Ben say, “Do you want a Snickers? I’ve got extra.

“Sure,” Ben threw it over the cubicle wall and Jax caught it and looked it over. “Thanks”

“No problem.”

Jax wondered why there would be a problem, but before he could ask Ben was back on the phone. He wasn’t very hungry so he put the Snickers in his pocket to save it for later. Jax started another phone call. This person was very mad that he was interrupted right in the middle of a movie he was watching. He described the whole movie to Jax over the phone. Jax enjoyed every bit of it. When he finished the call and hung up the phone. Again he looked over at the

Jax got up from his desk and walked around again. This time Lily was not on the phone. “Perfect,” he thought. He got up and walked over to her cubicle. “Hello.” He said. He wondered why his voice was shaking. He swallowed.

She looked up and smiled. “Hello.”

“My name is Jax. I just started working here today.”

“I’m Lily. It’s nice to meet you.”

Jax nodded. He wondered what he should say next. She was staring at him waiting for him to respond. “Can you just ask someone you just met out?” he thought to himself. He didn’t see why not. He had forgotten how he was going to ask, he had so perfectly constructed his question but he didn’t remember what it was. “Do you like coffee?” He said out loud. He grimaced, that wasn’t it.

Her eyes sparkled. “A little, it depends on the day.” She laughed a little to herself.

Jax blinked. He wondered how the day affected her taste buds. He rephrased his question. “Do you like coffee on days that have characteristics like today?”

She laughed again. “Are you trying to ask if I would like to get coffee with you?”

Jax smiled weakly, “I was trying to.”

“I am doing something today after work but maybe another time.”

Jax’s smile faded a little, “Alright, another time then.” He walked back to his desk. When he got to his cubicle he peered back at Lily. She was back on the phone and she was still smiling. He took the snickers out of his pocket, opened the wrapper and started to eat it. He wondered if she was actually busy or if it was just an excuse. Jax wished there was a way to know for certain how a person would respond to a question. He thought back to their brief conversation. She was smiling 75% of the time they were talking. That seemed like a good sign. What about the quarter of the time she wasn’t smiling though? And what about the times she laughed? What did they mean? Did she think what he said was funny? Or did she want to encourage him to say more things to her? What did she want him to say?

“You want to go get lunch?” asked Ben.

Jax jumped. “Yes,” he said. “Let’s go.” The snickers bar had melted in his pocket and was getting all over his hands and he wanted to get out of the office before Lily saw. He got back up and followed Ben out of the office and onto the street. Jax stopped and Ben walked a few more steps before he looked back questioningly. But Jax wasn’t paying attention he had seen something across the street. It was Kevin. Jax was suddenly angry. All of his frustrations were now directed at him. “Ben I have to go, I’ll see you later.” He started to cross the street. Ben just shrugged and walked off down the street.

“Hey Kevin, Jax yelled.”

Kevin turned around. “Do I know you?”

“I was on the same train as you this morning. Your advice didn’t work.”

“What advice?”

“I asked her out for coffee and she said she was busy.” Jax hands were shaking. He stepped close to Kevin. Jax could smell his breath. “You said that would work.” Jax pushed him into the wall of a building smearing bits of snickers on his shirt. “What are the signs?” Jax was getting louder now. “What are the signs?” Jax stopped. There were small red hives appearing on Kevin’s face. He was breathing fast now.

Kevin sat on the ground. “Peanuts” he said.

Jax didn’t like how soft Kevin’s voice was. “I thought you could help me.” He stared at Kevin who was now patting his legs and searching his pockets.

A clear plastic cylinder with an orange tip and a colorful plastic cover fell out of his pocket and rolled slowly on the sidewalk away from him. “Please help me,” he whispered. The EpiPen rolled off the curb and into a grate on the street. Kevin’s eyes were fluttering. He was no longer talking. Jax looked around the street. The few people out were not paying him any attention. He checked Kevin again to see if he was able to answer any more of his questions but he wasn’t moving. He let out an exasperated sigh. Things didn’t seem to be working out for him today.

He turned around and walked back to the office. Maybe he could talk to Lily again. When he got back to the office Lily was back on the phone. Jax picked up the phone. He was halfway through dialing one of the numbers on his list when he heard sirens and Ben ran into the office. “Some guy collapsed outside. I think he is dead.”

“What happened?” Someone asked.

“I don’t know, nobody saw.”

Everyone rushed outside just in time to see two EMTs carry a stretcher with a body into the ambulance. The body was completely covered from head to toe in a sheet. Jax shook his head and walked back to his cubicle and started calling people on the list again. “Hello, are you happy with your current dish soap? Twilight dish soap will give you the cleanest dishes you can –” click. Jax crossed out the number and moved on to the next one. He couldn’t believe that people could be so inconsiderate.

As the day work day neared its end people started to leave and soon the only people left were Jax, Lily, the person two cubicles down from lily and the boss Mr. Finkle. When Jax noticed that Lily looked like she was packing up he got up. He thought he might as well try one more time. He walked over, “Hey Lily?”

She looked up and smiled at him. “Yes?”

Smiling was a good sign he thought to himself. “I know you said you were busy tonight but are you free any other time?”

For a second she didn’t answer and Jax was suddenly sure that she was going to say no. He thought about when Kevin had said, “What’s the worst that can happen?” He wondered what would happen if she decided he was being too annoying. Maybe she would just stop talking to him. He suddenly regretted asking her anything today.

“Sure,” she said. “Let’s meet tomorrow before work at that coffee shop on the corner of the street.”

Jax was elated. Clearly he knew what he was doing. “Sounds good,” he said. “See you there.” Lily waved and left the building.

Jax started walking back to his cubicle. He was feeling good. He looked up. The other coworker was standing in his way. “You need to back off man,” he said.

“What,” asked Jax?

“Lily’s not into you man. Just leave her alone.”

“Of course she is into me,” Jax thought. “What does this guy know about anything?” He noticed that he had picked up the stapler from the desk closest to him.

“I am going home now,” said Jax. He tried to walk past the man but his way was still blocked. Jax was getting mad. “Get out of my way.”

“Not unless you say that you will stop bothering Lily. We don’t need that kind of harassment in this office.”

“Stronger people always get what they want,” said Jax and he hit the man hard with the stapler putting a staple right above his eyebrow. The man astonished stumbled backwards, tripped on his own shoe and fell over hitting the back of his head hard on the corner of a desk. He went still and blood started pooling around his head. Mr. Finkle was standing up in the doorway of his office staring. He had heard raised voices and the noise of the man hitting the desk. Jax didn’t think he should stay at the office. He ran out the door despite Mr. Finkle yelling for him to stop. He didn’t want to get stopped. If he was stopped how would he meet lovely Lily at the coffee shop? When would he be able to spend time talking to her about whatever was on his mind? He ran into the train station and jumped over the turnstile pushing people out of the way and running onto the train. He would just go to the bridge. He was sure everyone would be calmed down in the morning. It wasn’t his fault that man had fallen over. He had to hit him. There was no other choice, he was in his way. He was sure everyone would understand. He was sure Lily would understand.

The train stopped and two men in blue uniforms got on the train. They had badges on their shirts that said Police. Jax was suddenly scared again. They must be looking for him. He got up and ran off the train. The policeman yelled and the two of them follow him of the train. He ran out of the station the policemen close behind. “Stop,” they yelled. But he didn’t pay any attention. He only saw what was directly in front of him. He saw the bridge that Chipper had brought him to in the morning and ran towards it. He stepped into the middle of the street and then–

Jax didn’t see the bus and the bus driver didn’t have time to avoid him. In less than a second Jax was no longer alive. The police couldn’t find a record of him, and no one found out why he killed the man in the office or how he killed Kevin on the street.

In the morning Lily waited for half an hour at the coffee shop. She was disappointed. She thought Jax really liked her. He seemed a little strange but he was funny and she thought he was genuine. She hated being stood up. Why couldn’t she find a man who was right for her? “I’m probably just destined to a life alone,” She finished her coffee and walked towards her office towards another uneventful day.

Bowling Alley

Frank finished the last of the beer and shook his head violently as if to try and get rid of the noise in his head. He got up from his chair and shuffled, shoulders hunched and head down, towards the door. He winced slightly every time he heard the crash of a ball rolling down the lane. He pushed the door hard and it hit the wall with a slam earning him some disapproving stares from people nearby. Frank took one last look and saw his friend Tina with a group of people laughing and eating pizza. He sighed and shook his head again. He walked through the door and onto the street looking up at the now dark sky. He breathed the night air in deeply, put his hands in his pockets and walked towards his car. He started to whistle. He was ready to go home.

Tina hadn’t seen Frank go home. She was too busy listening to a joke her new friend had made. When she noticed he was gone she briefly considered not going out to try and find him. But it was her fault he was here anyway, and they were good friends so she didn’t want him to have to leave alone. Tina said goodbye to the group of people she had been talking to and changed back into her street shoes. As she walked towards the door she swayed slightly to the music that was playing throughout the building. As she slowly opened the door she turned around and waved to her friends, waiting slightly to see if they were going to call her back but they had already turned around. She sighed and walked out into the parking looking around to see if she could find her friend.

Microwave

A microwave is a box shaped machine that is used to heat food. It has a platform on the inside that rotates so that the food gets evenly heated. On the outside there are buttons with the numerals from 0 to 9 which can be used to input how long you want your food heated for. You can access the inside of the microwave by opening the door on the front. The door is attached to the rest of the microwave by hinges so that it can swing open and you can put the food inside it. When the microwave is running a light is turned on inside so that you can watch your food as it warms up. The microwave also has a fan so that while it is heating up the food it can cool down the mechanics so that it doesn’t break. The fan does not affect the food it just helps cool down the machinery. The microwave heats up the food by projecting small radio waves into the food. The waves excite the water molecules in the food which causes them to heat up. This in turn heats up the rest of the food. This is why wet things heat up faster than dry things. Although the door of the microwave is usually made of a clear material it often has a coating that prevents the waves from leaving the microwave.

After heavy use microwaves begin to smell like a combination of all the food that has been warmed up since the last time you cleaned this. This can become unpleasant because the combined smell of oatmeal, fish curry and ramen noodles can make a person imagine the taste of a bowl of oatmeal with fish curry and ramen noodles mixed into it. This can make a person gag, although this depends entirely on the person. Other things can also affect the smell of a microwave. For example if you place a metal object in the microwave and turn it on it will begin to smell like toxic chemicals burning and smoke will start to spill out of the cracks around the door. This smoke will not only overwhelm your sense of smell but it also tends to cloud your eyes and can even make your eyes sting, clouding your vision. In extreme cases this can lead to a fire which will smell like ash. Again depending on what you have microwaved this could also smell like fish curry.

I Didn’t Expect Rain

When I walked out my door today it was raining. The air was cool and it smelled of earth and the breeze was wet on my face. The difference in temperature between my wet hair from my morning shower and the wet mist from the rain threw me off balance as I absentmindedly locked the door behind me and headed towards my bike. I hadn’t checked the weather before I left. It was sunny yesterday and it was dry when I went to sleep so I had no reason to expect rain today. In fact it surprised me when I went outside, even though I didn’t really have a reason to be surprised. This is what my dad was talking about when he said that I have to be more prepared and think ahead. If I was more organized I would have known that it was going to rain and could have dressed accordingly. As I bent down to unlock my bike I pictured the water spraying off the tires and up my legs and I thought briefly about going back to my room and getting a rain jacket. But it was too late; I was already down the steps and in the driveway. My bike was mostly unlocked from the fence. I was going to be wet today.