Fiction by Dean Francis AlfarForget the past
Do you remember the first time he kissed you? Of course you do. It’s not something easily forgotten. Not when it happens on Christmas Eve. How his lips touched yours, the expected softness, the unexpected harshness, the darting of his tongue. How your mind spun out of orbit into the infinity of his taste: ensaimada, eggnog, cigarettes. And his tongue, his tongue, his tongue.
Don’t deny you liked it.
It’s all right, we all fall in love.The secret apocalypse
When things end for you, they end very badly, wouldn’t you say? Not in a spectacular display of nova brilliance but rather in a helpless sinking implosion, quiet as it is potent, silent as it is final. You never choose to show your pain because you think something so private should be kept hidden from everyone else’s eyes: your ex-lovers, your friends, your family, yourself.
Many times in history, people predicted the end of the world. It was greeted with a certain sense of desultory anticipation. Some people partied (especially when the End of World coincided with Christmas), some people sold all they had and covered themselves in ashes, some people stayed in bed waiting for the end. But the end never arrived.
The lesson, I suppose, is that every apocalypse is personal. Choose your own adventure and helplessly pursue the inevitable ending.
Is it that way for you?
Do you think you can change it?Just another love story
Let me guess how it goes. After all, all love stories have been told, so it isn’t rocket science, is it?
Girl meets boy. Girl falls for boy. Some tenderness or whatever. Girl gets dumped.
It’s a story, I grant you. It has every hallmark: beginning, middle, end. The question is, is it a good story? Was the audience prepared for the ending? Was the principle of rising action observed? Was there verisimilitude? Is there closure?
You know the answers. They’re the same for almost everyone like you.
So by now you should know this is nothing personal.A word of advice
It’s less painful if you don’t struggle. The rope tends to cut into skin.Don Quixote knew his stuff
To reach for the stars is a good thing. To hope against hope is even better. To achieve the utterly fantastic – well, that’s what the human spirit is all about, isn’t it?
Sure it is. I know you agree. Nod if you agree.
Are you awake? I know you’re awake.
There you go.My first love
It was just before Christmas when we first met, a pair of seven-year-olds.
We played at each other’s houses, alternating days: Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays were at my place, all through the holidays and into the next year. We cut paper and raced cars. We built parapets and made them tumble. We had no sense of time, just an understanding that things would never change.
But things do change, puppy love notwithstanding.
Everything comes to some sort of end.The story of the perfect garden
There once was an emperor who could not abide imperfection. He summoned the wisest men in his domains and commanded them to build him a garden and to fill it with only the most perfect examples of things. This they did, determining a patch of earth of the perfect size and surrounding it with walls perfectly crafted. Then they set out and about and beyond the empire, seeking and taking things that were perfect. This they did for seven years while the emperor fretted as he walked the empty garden.
Soon they began to return and presented wonders for the emperor to marvel at, approve and set within the perfect garden. Things he approved: a clockwork wisteria that bloomed at the third hours of day and night, a great tiger with emerald eyes and catercorner stripes, a statue of a gilded horse that allowed no rain to touch it, and a ceramic jar that foretold earthquakes, eclipses and tidal waves. Things he disallowed: a song that grew in the singing, a bird with a tail colored with rainbow hues, a book that never told the same story twice, and a handful of pearls that were proof against poison.
In the years that followed, both the contents of the perfect garden and the warehouse of unwanted things grew until both were filled to the point of bursting. It became impossible to even enter the garden, much less walk in it. Famine and plague and all sorts of tragedies struck (the warnings of the miraculous jar went unheard, smothered by the weight of many other perfect things above it) and the people grew to be unhappy with their emperor.
There was talk about revolution but no one dared to act. He was that feared, even if his attention was focused only on perfection.
One day, he died (would it be terribly jolting if I told you he actually died on Christmas Day?).
The imperial chamberlain, his most devoted aide, had the emperor’s body washed with the most perfect liquids, anointed with the most perfect perfumes and covered in the most perfect silks, all taken from the towering heights of the piles in the perfect garden. He commissioned an orchestra to play the most perfect dirge on the most perfect set of instruments known to man, each one plucked from its place from the wonderful garden.
Then he had the exquisite corpse thrown into the warehouse of useless things, which was then set to flames, along with its perfect neighbor, the perfect garden.The moral that accompanies the tale
Everyone who wants perfection will be burned. OR:
You can’t take it with you. OR:
Fill in the blank - I know you want to.Your guardian angel
I’ve watched over you for years, you know. Don’t act surprised. I know you know.
That Christmas when you were twelve and you thought you had lost everyone at that amusement park, do you remember who helped you find them?
That Christmas when you were fifteen and desperate to be invited by the popular girls to their cool parties, do remember who listened to you as you wept?
That Christmas when you were nineteen and so stoned you couldn’t move away from the sudden headlights, do you remember you saved your life?
No, no, no tears now.
Stop. Stop. You’re breaking my heart.Whatever happened to Prince Charming
The sad truth of the matter is that he’s forgotten you by now.
That’s what happens when love ends. Dumper leaves dumpee and walks forward.
Memory is like that, you know.
He won’t rescue you.
How can anyone rescue someone they’re unaware of?
You are all you have. And me, of course, here, now and forever.Instructions for a better life
1. Christmas is just another day, really. What makes it special is who you share it with. Like today, this year, it’s you and me.
2. Love is both intoxicating and sad. Better to hold on to what we can, right?
3. The rope goes when you convince me you won’t run.Happily ever after
Can you see it?
Open your eyes and see it with me: sunsets hand-in-hand, shared cups of chocolate, endless Christmas trees, a soundtrack everywhere we go.
Can you see it?
I know you can. I know you will.
Because I believe in you.Let you go?
No, not you, my love. Not yet.