At some point in your childhood, you are threatened that something may be placed on your permanent record. You don’t know exactly what this means, but you catch the implication that this will be bad.

This doesn’t so much encourage good behavior. Just prevents you from doing anything bad enough to be added to your permanent record.

I wondered who was keeping track of my permanent record. Was it something that my teachers kept track of, or were all entries added by the principal. Did good deeds get put on there too? Could it keep me from getting a job for the rest of my life? Would potential employers turn me away when they saw the mark on my permanent record?

Where was it kept? How often was it updated? Maybe, if I could just find out where they kept it, I could steal mine and make sure they could never put anything bad in it.

Unlike a lot of the things you’re told at a young age to keep you from misbehaving, the permanent record is real. But like many things that adults hold over kids’ heads, the so many things you won’t understand till you’re older, your permanent record is more complex and exaggerated than it needs to be.

There’s another record, too. One that magically disappears when you turn 18 and you never have to worry about again. You can mark all over that one, just as long as nothing lands on your permanent one.

The thing they don’t tell you, the thing some of them don’t even know, is that everything, everything goes on your permanent record, and everyone gets a copy.

That time you peed your pants during the school play. It’s on your permanent record. That time you were caught masturbating in the locker room. That’s on your permanent record. When you ate Sally’s cake out of spite, then forgot your security pass next to the empty cake box. That’s on there, too.

It would be comforting if there was a person keeping track of everything, tracking it all in a file drawer somewhere. Then you could just burn the place down and not worry anymore. But that’s not how it works.

But I pretend it does. I dream that one day I will march into that monolithic building, a gas can in hand. The workers, as pale as the papers they file, will run out, too frightened to speak, as I spray everything around me with gasoline.

“This is OVER!” I will shout as, in slow motion, the match falls. And I will watch proudly outside, the workers quivering in both shock and relief around me, gazing in awe of the blazing, smoky freedom.

This is the dream that has kept me from killing myself so far.

I am the best paid receptionist Brown & Stone has ever had. My official title is Reception Manager. I got the title when one of the accountants questioned my pay rate.

One time, one of the sales assistants asked me how I had managed to acquire my handsome pay rate. I said I was good at negotiations.

I didn’t mention those negotiations took place after hours on Mr. Stone’s couch in his office. And whenever he needs me to format a letter. Or help him schedule his phone appointments with the large volume kept by my desk. The mammoth of a message book is seldom opened and mostly empty.

I was paid well for my negotiation skills. And a favor.

One night, I ran into one of the mailroom clerks on my way out. Lord knows what they were doing there so late. My blouse was still part way unbuttoned. Her eyes quickly swept over me, and as I watched the comprehension fill her face, I realized that this was going on my permanent record.

I didn’t care though. Everyone already knew. It had just been fact with no evidence. This wouldn’t change anything. Least of all my paycheck, so it didn’t matter.

Nothing these people knew mattered half as much as what I was keeping off the record.

I sometimes wish I were better at deception; better at faking emotions. Then maybe Stone would have thought I was enamored and wouldn’t have noticed my price tag. But I, an exquisitely poor judge of character, saw no harm in revealing my own nature, and he bought me, for what only hindsight can reveal as a bargain price, and there was no backing out of the deal now. Had I really any skill at negotiations, I would have been able to raise my price. But I am not in short supply, so I continue to fulfill his demands.

It was already twilight on a long summer afternoon by the time I arrived at the apartment building. The entry way was small, bright and empty. I always felt like it should be cold, but it never was.

“Hey fawn,” said a man, as he came around the corner with an impressive jaw, a heavy winter coat, jeans and work boots. He had a friend with him who had the same sense of style. They both looked out of place, lurking out at me from a conspicuous lack of shadows. The contradictory setting only made the shady characters seem more ominous.

I decided to pretend I thought they were talking to someone else and kept walking at a steady pace.

The man grabbed my arm and said, “You here to visit Stone?”

The fear flooded into my face before I could stop it.

“I don’t know who that is,” I let my real fear quaver my voice, hoping the thugs would take me as an unsuspecting visitor of some other tenant. I didn’t know who these guys were, and I didn’t want to know either.

The man stared at me a moment before letting me go.

“Sorry, miss,” he muttered. He and his friend held up the wall, glaringly out of place in the prim lobby.

I took the stairs up to the fourth floor. I always did. The elevator ride didn’t allow enough time for me to prepare myself for the visit.

You can desensitize yourself to even some of the worst sights; the familiarity serving to dull the harshest details. But I could never become familiar with this scene, because every time I visited, it was worse.

The building was clean, tastefully decorated, and inviting yet empty, the way hotels feel. The polished brass numbers on the doors gleamed in the adequate and purposefully unobtrusive light. The cleaner used on the carpet was the only indication that anyone had ever walked through these halls.

I felt the key in my pocket as I walked toward the door. It always felt like a blunted sharp thing, cold from disuse and meant to stay that way. I opened the door quickly and returned the key to my pocket, not wanting to touch the thing any longer than I had to.

The empty hotel feeling persisted into the apartment. An equally thorough cleaning service, or maybe the same one, had visited here as well. Ambient light from the window was the only thing lighting the room and I had to let my eyes adjust.

Despite the deeds someone may have done, it’s still hard to view the slow decay of another living being. It’s harder still when you know what they looked like before the decline. The echo of who they used to be rings through; the comparison intensifying the current view.

I was there to report on his status. And to give him enough to stay hooked. I was there to ensure the progress of the descent.

I remembered the first time I’d used the key in my pocket. It hung from a red ribbon then, like a gift. I had been sent with the drugs and a lie.

‘I hadn’t expected him to be there. His father- sorry, stepfather- said that he was away. I worked in his father’s office. My apartment was flooded. I needed somewhere to stay.’

He took advantage of a woman showing up at his door. Though, in hindsight, he hadn’t done anything but accept my advances. But I didn’t pay attention to hindsight; it grated on my conscience.

He’d looked like an underwear model. He was tall and blond and not a fiber was out of place. And I brought lots of drugs I didn’t take, but he did. And then I brought less. And then I brought less. And soon, every time I visited, there was less of him, too.

He sat on the couch in his prop set living room. His eyes were squeezed tight shut, he gripped his knees to his chest and he rocked slightly. Whether emotional or physical, he was in pain; probably both.

I walked over to him, put a smile on, and said the usual line, “I got some. Let’s do it now.”

It didn’t matter that I didn’t do any or that we didn’t even have sex anymore. It didn’t matter that I was dressed in my work clothes while he was wearing sweatpants and a t-shirt that he’d probably put on two weeks ago. He didn’t seem to notice. And I was glad, because I don’t think I could have had sex with what he had become.

I looked down at him and, not for the first time, wondered what was on his permanent record. Was it rife with the beatings of losers who dared annoy him with their presence? Was it smeared with the guilt others felt after he’d paid them for lascivious acts? Was it a phonebook of women he’d forced to have abortions? Or was he just a guy with a silver spoon and rotten luck? For my humanity’s sake, I came to my familiar conclusion: that he couldn’t have been anything but a shadow of Stone. Having been raised by the man, it would have been impossible to emerge as anything else. I carefully ignored the fact that, being his stepson, he might not have been raised by Stone at all.

Regardless of how I preserved my conscience, it didn’t much matter now. His fate had been sealed. His last moments would be wretched. If he garnered any mercy, he would die sooner than later.

I didn’t bother saying goodbye. He wouldn’t notice anyway. I just left, closing the door behind me. I didn’t lock it, I didn’t want to touch that key ever again.

With every step I detached and shut down my heart; filled myself with cold and apathy. It was the only way I would be able to do this without crying. Because I was doing this for myself.

“The bastard stole my money. You can find him in 402,” I said to the thugs in the lobby. I surprised myself with the amount of steady control and heavy anger in my voice. I saw them start moving toward the stairs out of the corner of my eye. I walked faster than I should’ve been able to in my heels. I wanted to be out of the building, I wanted to be blocks away, when the killing started.

God, I won’t lie. I won’t cheat. I won’t steal. Just please let this not be added to my permanent record.

Me and God both know I won’t be keeping my promise. But he’s better than me, so he fulfills his part of the bargain anyway.

two short stories read, one short story written. no one can call me a literary slacker!
…at least not this week. ;P

Hearts, Keys, and PuppetryHearts, Keys, and Puppetry by Neil Gaiman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I feel like I may need a second reading.

Apocalypse Scenario #683: The BoxApocalypse Scenario #683: The Box by Mira Grant

That was really good. Laying out the scenario and having them make an impossible choice.
Personally I imagined they all had southern accents, and I’d highly recommend that you do, too. 😛

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She looked around the little room around her. Apart from it being windowless and rather small, it was a pleasant room.
The full-size bed she sat on was covered in a quilt with a pretty flower pattern on black. At the head of the bed there was a small wooden dresser, only a bit taller than the bed, that one could imagine a guest might put their clothes for the weekend. A closet with sliding doors took up the entire back wall; a mirror was revealed when the doors were closed. On top of the dresser was a mini rock garden; fine sand, smooth pebbles and a tiny rake in a stone dish. A little desk with a little lamp sat across from the bed. A large picture of greenery with a babbling brook running through it hung over the desk.
She was staring at the door again and she forced herself to concentrate on her breathing and stare at the mini rock garden instead. She wanted to look relaxed when he came in, casually looking over her shoulder at the rock garden. Not staring intently at the door.
She heard the door open but she forced herself not to look over. She thought she felt the atmosphere in the room shift, felt the cool air from the next room rush into the stifled little room, but she knew that this was her imagination. Every room was meticulously temperature controlled.
“Dana,” he said, his voice flat, neutral.
She turned to him as if he’d startled her from being deep in thought, then she forced the corners of her mouth upward into a smile. She had practiced this in the mirror earlier, making it look genuine. It was harder to pull off than she’d thought it would be, but she managed.
He scowled back at her, suspicious. He tensed, prepared for her to attack. He left the door open behind him as he walked slowly and carefully toward her. He made leaving the door open look absent minded, but she knew it had been deliberate. He kept his eyes steady, glaring into hers. Watching for the slightest waver. She wanted to glance at the door, but she did not.
He froze as she reached up toward him. She waited for him to continue toward her, then got up to reach him instead when he stayed still. She leaned up to kiss him gently, until she felt him relax, then she pulled him closer. She kissed him more urgently as she pulled him down onto the bed with her.
She sat up suddenly and straddled him. The quick motion made him tense up, but as she began unbuttoning her top, he relaxed again.
As she felt his erection against her leg, her skin crawled with disgust. But she forced herself to smile as she bent down to kiss him again.
She jumped up and quickly moved to the center of the room, halfway to the door, then spun around and began to do a little dance. He had already sat up and started to come after her, but relaxed again when she started dancing. She moved forward again, dancing, reaching toward him. Then moved past him toward the dresser.
She bent over and shook her ass at him as she took a handful of sand from the rock garden. She raised both hands above her in fists, and spun around until she was in front of him again. Then she threw the sand into his eyes as hard as she could and ran for the door. She heard him scream out in pain and anger as the sand hit his eyes. She felt his hand clutch the bottom of her shirt, but she let her arms slide out of it as she ran.
The keys. Where would he keep the keys? Her mind raced for the answer, and her eyes searched around wildly, looking for a likely place.
She hesitated for only a moment before she remembered that he used a code to enter his car. He pushed a button for the ignition. There was no key. She would have to run.
She threw open the door and stumbled and nearly fell from the shock of the cold air against her half-naked body. It hurt, but she ran.
It didn’t take long before the movement of her running, and the adrenaline from her fear, kept her warm enough to keep going. It was a very large estate and a very long driveway lined with stone walls. Trees were planted thickly to one side to create the illusion of a forest. It was half a mile to the end. He would be able to rinse his eyes and get in the car in less time than it would take for her to get to the road.
She felt her body starting to resist keeping up her pace and she slowed to a jog.
She was a little more than halfway there when she heard the engine. She could tell he was driving fast. She pressed her back, her arms and legs, as hard as she could into the side of the tree; willed herself to be small and invisible.
He stopped nearly 100 yards away. She could hear him roughly pushing aside branches and shrubs in his search for her. But he didn’t call out to her. That would be too normal.
She was well out of reach of his headlights, but this fact did nothing to slow her heart. She forced herself not to pant, afraid the sound would carry through the silence. She forced air through her nose as fast as she could to her burning lungs. Her body was hungry for oxygen, but she couldn’t risk making a sound. Her lungs finally stopped hurting, and she told herself she had to start walking away. The grass was soft and he wouldn’t hear her bare feet walking through it. It was too dark to see her from this distance. She couldn’t get herself to move. Her panic ignoring her logical thoughts, telling her she should breathe slowly so he wouldn’t see the rise and fall of her chest.
He’s only human, he can’t see you. He’s only human, he can’t see you.
She chanted this in her mind three more times before she could force herself away from the tree.
She turned away from him and walked carefully, not able to hear her own footsteps. She finally saw the shape of the stone wall, the place where a gate would normally be.
“Only people with things to hide need gates,” she watched him smiling at her in her memory. She remembered being surprised and impressed by this. Someone so honest and transparent was amazing to find.
There was no way to know, she reassured herself. No indication of what he was.
Now she knew that only sane people hide behind gates. Hide and lock their gates, safe from people like him.
She made herself keep walking, waiting for her strength to return enough to run again. She forced herself not to turn back, knowing if she did her panic would get the best of her and she would freeze up again. But she listened. Listened for the sound of the car door closing, knowing she would have to hide again when she heard it.
She kept hearing nothing and felt her panic rising again. She felt her heart beating harder, knew her adrenaline was rising and that it could propel her the rest of the way to the road.
The road was not safety. The road was lined with the gates of other estates, and although they were not as large as this one, the houses were still set far back at the end of driveways like the one she ran down now; out of earshot of the road. But it was out. And it was closer to safe.
She pictured herself running to the right when she reached the road. This road went in a giant circle; a circle with a barrier at the end that would prevent cars from making a complete circuit, but not person on foot. And the right was the shorter way round to reaching a street that would have shops and cars and people.
But she realized that’s the way he would assume she would go. She should go to the left.
But once he’d turned right, and gotten to the main road, and not found her, wouldn’t he turn back around? Wouldn’t he double back and go to the left? And he was in a car. She might only be halfway there by the time he figured out she’d gone the other way. He would catch up to her.
But maybe not. If he chose to go the wrong way, and if she managed to run most of the way, maybe she could make it.
She finally made it to the end, to the road. It filled her with hope that gave her the strength to run faster. She ran as fast as she could, wanting to be well out of sight before he got to the end of his driveway.
She listened hard. Listened for the car. Heard her steps as she ran, heard her heavy breathing.
She finally heard the car, in the distance. It was silent enough that she could still hear it from this far away. She kept running but her panic rose again. She waited for the sound to get fainter, to tell her that her plan had worked, that he was driving in the opposite direction. She was already halfway there. She was making better time than she thought.
And finally she couldn’t hear the car anymore. Finally the sound faded off. She pushed herself to continue running. She varied her pace, faster and slower as her body started to complain. But the adrenaline kept her going.
As she reached the barrier, she saw the headlights creeping along the road. He was going slowly, craning his neck to look around trees and bushes. She ducked down behind the barrier and listened to the engine. She worked to get her breath back in control as fast as she could.
Just stay down. Just stay still. Wait until the engine fades away again. You’ll be ok, she told herself, forcing her breathing to remain slow and steady.
It seemed to take forever. It seemed like a lifetime when she heard him make a u-turn. So close to the barrier, in her mind’s eye she could see him crane his neck and see her over the barrier. But then the engine faded away again. As soon as she could hear it no longer, she jumped up and ran down the main road as fast as she could.
She finally saw the shops along either side of the road. She ran toward the closest one; an antique shop.
It was only now she remembered time. What time was it? Were the shops open? Lights in the windows were no indication. They all kept their lights on to deter thieves; to make sure that their cameras would get clear, well-lit footage if there was a theft.
She remembered it feeling like she’d waited longer than usual for him to come to her tonight. And it was winter, which meant it was dark early. It could be five, which meant many of the shops would still be open, or it could be ten and they were long closed. Then she noticed the number of cars parked out front and felt a rush of relief. Whatever time it was, it was still early enough for the shops to still have customers.
She ran into the antique shop, moodily lit as most such places were.
The clerks just stood there, matching deer-in-headlights looks upon their faces.
“Help me!” she said to them, “Call the police!”
They just stood still and continued to stare. She remembered then that she was naked from the waist up. She covered herself with one arm and pointed toward the register and presumably a phone with the other and repeated, “Call the police!”
The clerks seemed to come back from their daze then, the one closest to the register rushing over to the phone.
“Are you alright?” the other one asked, moving cautiously toward her.
She glanced over her shoulder toward the window, then moved to a chair that couldn’t be seen from the street.
“Yeah,” she said, sitting down. “Yeah, I will be.”

To read more of my stories, go to ChelseaIRL.com/Writing.html

i’m trying out putting up my Goodreads review in a blog. they generate the code for you to do it every time anyway, so i figure why not? so if you see posts in the future that are nothing besides what you see below, then you know it’s just me blogging the lazy way. 😛

Grave Peril (The Dresden Files, #3)Grave Peril by Jim Butcher
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This one I liked from start to finish. It started in an action scene, which is my favorite way a book can start. And it ended sadly. And there’s nothing I like more than a sad ending.

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my sentiment exactly

found this on xkcd the other day. this pretty much encapsulates my theories on growing up. …hence why the return of the ball pit is one of the many things i’m looking forward to this VidCon. 😛


xkcd.com

it now also happens to be one of the things you will see by my desk at work.

almost, but not quite, a complete failure

hi blog!

so now that that irksome BEDA is over and there’s no real reason for me to write, here i am!

so remember when i had a daily blog, that then was an almost daily blog, which then became silent as a fucking tomb? yeah, that was fun, right? not really sure what i’m gonna do about that. like, should i start writing in it again? should i change the focus entirely? like, should i turn it into a photo blog of some kind? …i feel like a photo blog would fail faster. i don’t know. then again, i admittedly haven’t given it much thought. as in the amount of time it’s taken me to write this paragraph is the amount of time i’ve dedicated to it.

in other news (if you really wanna glorify it by calling it that), i still knit stuff. so that’s still a thing. i have a few projects that i’m going to make for a few specific people. i haven’t decided what to do for everyone else. and i’m half-way finished with a hat that i’m procrastinating because working for more than a few hours will result in my hand hurting like a motherfucker for the next week (because of the material). so… that’s the best excuse i can come up with. i’d have a better one, but again, not much time dedicated to it.

so what have i been dedicating my time to? mostly watching TV and writing. …i wish the writing was more extensive than the TV ratio, but it’s not. except for the past couple days. the only problem with the writing progress is it’s quite scattered. i’ve been working on Theta and Delvia (for the past week especially) when i’m supposed to be working on Death Haven. btw, Delvia and Death Haven are working titles, Theta will probably be called Theta. but i don’t know. nothing’s set in stone. i’m just writing it. and not very well. so you can’t depend on me to come up with titles, nor know if they’re permanent ones.

thinking of bad writing, you should see the beginning of a scene in the second act of Theta i wrote the other day. or actually, you shouldn’t. it’s horrible. usually you write something, and you come back the next day, and you gape in horror at the monstrosity and delete as fast as you can whilst thanking God or the universe or whatever you might thank that no one will ever see your ugly shame. but this thing, this character’s introduction to the second act, i knew was horrible as i wrote it. which means it’s far worse than any of my thankfully deleted ugly shame that you shall never see. i mean, i haven’t even worked up the courage to reread. i don’t want to admit to myself that such drivel could be produced by my brain. i’d like to keep sound my fantasy that i’m better than that. and that’s the update on that.

and… well, that’s all i can really think to say. i mean, that was pretty fucking dull as it was, and it can only go downhill from here, so i’ll spare us both and end it here.

…this post. not my life. though, on second thought, you could be right. i might be wasting perfectly good air. but i’m gonna go continue to waste it, or maybe use it wisely (says my mentally stable optimistic side), as i continue to work on Theta and maybe Delvia, but probably not Death Haven when it’s the only thing i should be working on. or maybe i’ll surprise myself and start working on something else altogether, thus putting me further behind on everything else. because that’s just the type of thing i’m wont to do.

# of projects being worked on (writing not included): 5
# of books being worked on: 5
# of ANYTHING finished: 0

winning. #sarcasm

oh hey! just remembered something i AM making progress with, and that’s my reading! hooray for audiobooks! otherwise i’d be a failure at everything. #sadbuttrue

song of the day: Does & Hoes

random picture i took today:

BEDA 01 – oops!

OMG! i completely forgot about Blog Every Day in April! i can’t believe i forgot!

well, take this as the first one, and i’ll do the one for today later. then i’ll have the required 30 at the end.

…i just …i really can’t believe i forgot!

well, we march onward i suppose.