Nebe Nabe Veru ©2017 by Marc Alexander Valle

Jorge lied on the lawn face down, shirtless, feeling the funny feeling on his skin, thinking about how cows can eat grass but humans can’t, the sun blazing on his back. No parents home to say otherwise. No crying little sister. No older brother to call him weird.

And then the orange light shinned on the grass. He looked up as high as he could. A red orb floated before him. He froze. It approached him. His body shook. It hovered in front of him.

“Nebe nabe veru,” it said.

And the images flashed before his eyes:

His mother cut by the broken glass he forgot to pick up, cursing in Spanish.

His future wife.

His future children.

The catastrophic collapse of the world market.

His divorce.

His older brother’s incarceration.

His baby sister becoming a nun.

His mother’s final days.

His father’s heart attack.

His mother cut by the broken glass he forgot to pick up, cursing in Spanish.

Everything went black.

. . .

“Jorge. Get up,” his father said.

Jorge stood up, clippings covering his body.

“What are you doing?”

“Tanning,” Jorge said.

“What?”

“I saw it on TV.”

“On TV? Do they wash dishes on TV? Cause you’re grounded. Two hours we let you stay home and you can’t do abything around the house like we said?”

He peaked around his father. His older brother, David, stood smiling at him.

“Next time you go to church with us.”

“Damn it!” His mother walked onto the back patio, foot covered in blood. “I cut myself, Manny.”

. . .

Jorge and David sat in the hospital waiting room.

“Why you gotta be different?” David said.

“What?” Jorge said.

“All you had to do was go once and say it’s not for you. You think I believe in all that stuff?”

And then he thought about his brother’s future arrest, the wrong crowd that led to it, the drugs, the stealing, the lies to his parents and then the life sentence.

“You want to go looking for crawfish?” Jorge said.

“What?”

“At the creek. Remember we used to do that?”

“Crawfish? You’re thinking about crawfish?”

His brother stood up and started toward the bathroom. “You’re weird.”

Delicacy (Second Draft) ©2017

Words and image by Marc Alexander Valle.

The boy looked down at the worm, squirming on the backwoods trail. A ray of light illuminated its dark-pink hue and a warm breeze hit his face.

“Eat it,” she said. “I’ll kiss you.”

“No,” he said.

“Then no,” she said.

But he had wanted to kiss her all summer, floating in the deep end of the pool, bumping her hand at the movie theater as he reached for his soda, lying on the grassy field with the late-morning sun warming him enough to feel a sense of bliss.

He looked back down to the trail. The worm kept squirming and picking up dirt.

“It tastes like nothing,” she said. “Go ‘head.”

He thought of candy, then reached down and picked it up. He could feel the worm’s life force as it wiggled and expanded on his palm. “Candy would be pointless,” he thought, “It’s too fleshy.” He imagined roast chicken instead.

I’ve done it,” she said, “You won’t get sick.”

He popped the worm in his mouth.

He could feel it slither and contract.

The dirt turned to grim.

He attempted to limit the bug’s movement by controlling it with his tongue, the texture feeling like raw salmon, the taste reminding him of runny eggs.

He swallowed it and closed his eye. It slide down his throat quickly. He could feel it move. And like everything else he ate, the feeling disappeared just before reaching his stomach.

He opened his eyes and looked to her.

“Yuck,” she said.

He stepped forward and closed his eyes again.

His lips touched hers. But he felt nothing in return.

He held the kiss and waited for her to reciprocate. But he felt nothing in return.

He stepped forward and moved his face closer to hers. But he felt nothing in return.

He could feel nothing but dead lips, hear nothing but the cicadas and crickets chirping. Just the dead lips and live bugs and the hope of something in return.

She pulled away and jabbed his stomach.

“Gross,” she said, “I’m not kissing bugs.”

As he held onto his gut, crunched over, he could see her walk away down the path and out of sight.

The pain spread across his abdomen and he wasn’t sure if he needed to go to the bathroom. He could hear the birds singing and an animal moving in the brush. Sweat began to break out from his forehead.

He had to go home now. If he was late for dinner one more time, he’d be grounded.

Rays of light disappeared as a cloud rolled in. A cooler breeze hit his face. He inhaled a deep breath then let it out. He stepped forward onto the path.

Then he wondered what boy he’d get to tell first.

Ice Cream Party: A Flash Fiction

“Well,” my dad said, “you can’t just say that you don’t want to sing in the Christmas concert, Marc.”

“Why not?” I said.

“They’re not gonna like that. You’re gonna have to tell them that you’re a Jehovah’s Witness.”

“What’s a Jehovah’s Witness?”

“Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t celebrate Christmas.”

I gave Mrs. Reed that excuse the next day.

 “I didn’t know you were Jehovah’s Witness,” she said. “But you pledge to the flag.”

“Yeah, my dad said that we’re not that kind of Jehovah’s Witness.”

“Alright, but there won’t be any ice cream party for you.”

Over the next few weeks, students taunted me:

“Ice cream parties are fun.”

“There’s gonna be music.”

“You don’t like ice cream?”

One week later, the entire class was treated to ice cream. Myself, the actual Jehovah’s Witnesses, and misbehaved students were sent to the cafeteria where we did school work.

“I wish we could be at the party,” Ralph said.

I looked up. “I don’t like ice cream.”

I continued working.

Post-Meditation Journal Entry #6

5/14/17, 6:43-7:00

He was a fat man with buzz clipped auburn/brown hair. He came in the form of a weeble. I could perceive the number 700. I held him in my mind for what felt like a few breaths. I asked myself if this thought was mine, conceived from my own conscious mind. Usually, the thoughts that I entertain in meditation are conscious thoughts. But it was not a conscious thought. I could not have concocted this image from that same ego. I had just been battling the world on that conscious level, replaying heartaches and reimagining previous scenarios. This weeble man felt like a balloon, like a bubble rising from soda, but slowly, not popping. It was made of light but it was not an unreal, not an out of body experience. It was natural. Like breathing.

Then, just like Wile E. Coyote, who finally realizes that he’s run off the cliff, I realize that this object was not from my thinking mind. And it was gone.

It was a good sit. I saw a warm face and she smiled and felt that there’s good in the world. I saw and felt many things that I wanted to hold onto by writing it down. But I didn’t. I was too far into the journey. I don’t remember much else.

Post-Meditation Journal Entry #1

May 7, 2017, 1:01pm-1:07pm

I don’t know why I can’t meditate for longer than 5 minutes without looking at a clock or watch. This time I held the urge. It made me realize that I was just looking for an excuse to break from my practice. A fact like that, so obvious, evaded me. Seemingly obvious things have often evaded me.

The meditation itself: I saw someone observing me, my reaction. It was real. Not real as in a sentient being, but an image. He reminded me of the alien at the end of Close Encounters of the Third Kind. The one with the beer belly who did the hand sign, but his face was tall-like. He had a light-blue tint to him and he seemed to be smiling, but he was curious about who I was in this new environment, his environment (a new job maybe). I don’t know if I could trust this image/thought/person. I’ve always gotten along with people, but I’ve had mixed results with whether or not I can really trust him or her, 50/50. The Unknown is always 50/50, malicious or benign, the universe its record playing its notes.

Photo and writing by Marc Alexander Valle.

The Dunbar Number ©2016 by Marc Alexander Valle

First published in The Lehigh Valley Vanguard  ©2016

If you keep your mind open and listen to someone’s view, you can believe anything.

People on the ‘left’ always seem right, logical, thorough. People on the ‘right’ always seem right, thorough, logical.

Clinging to their views like a cat to its master’s when it’s about to go into a tub.

You second guess yourself.

You figure it out again,

you come up with new points, arguments, philosophies,

you tell yourself that your view is free from the influence of experience,

you tell yourself that you’re not free from the influence of experience, but still must be right.

Like you happened to have fallen out of a womb that landed you into the right time, place, race and class in history.

But have you ever met someone that admits to having the wrong point of view? I have. The person’s name is ___________. The person has asked to remain unidentified but has this to say: The momentum of cause and effect acts on us all, acts within us, acts without us. Don’t listen to me. Don’t give up. Don’t ever give up.

The Promise ©2016 by Marc Alexander Valle

Words and image by Marc Alexander Valle ©2016

They followed the jet as far as they could.

“You know time is slower up there?” Baskin said.

“Yeah?” Vinny said.

“And when he lands, we’re gonna be older than him.”

“Really?”

“That’s what my teacher said.”

 

The jet disappeared into the distance.

“Baskin, where’s it go?”

“A secret base. No one knows.”

“You wanna keep going?”

“No. Hangman’s on tonight.”

They turned home.

 

Neither said a word.

Vinny’s head pointed down.

Porchlights turned on. Fireflies danced. Streetlights flickered.

Neither said a word.

Vinny’s head pointed down.

“Tomorrow, Vinny.”

“What?”

“We’ll follow it tomorrow.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah, fartface. I promise.”

“Cool.”

They walked inside.

The Chestnut (Longer Version)©2016 by Marc Alexander Valle

The old man contemplated suicide. He would walk the park. Maybe change his mind.

Children played.

Mothers talked.

Dogs barked.

Fathers caught baseballs.

He still wanted death.

He turned to the creek and stepped on its bank. An object floated towards him, a squirrel clenching onto a chestnut. The old man bent down and held out his cane.  He leaned in as it neared. But the squirrel kept holding on to the chestnut.

The creek pulled the squirrel downstream. Then, submerged it.

Children played.

Mothers talked.

Dogs barked.

Fathers caught baseballs.

“Stupid animal,” a boy said. “Why do they do that?”

“Everybody’s gotta eat,” the old man said. “No matter how stupid you are.”

“I don’t get it.”

The old man turned away. “Sometimes you’re not supposed to.”

Both story and image by Marc Alexander Valle ©2016.

For the shorter, one-hundred word version of the story, click here, and please click ‘Like’ if you liked it.

 

Stuck in the Middle: A Flash Memoir

“Tell her that she’s not my friend anymore,” Tina, who was sitting to my right, said.

I turned to Linda, who was sitting to my left, “Tina said that she’s not your friend.”

“Tell her I don’t care,” Linda said. “She’s not mine.”

I turned to Tina, “She said she doesn’t care.”

“Well, tell her I don’t care either and that she’s a liar.”

I turned to Linda, “That you lied that one time and she doesn’t care.”

“She doesn’t?”

“No,” I said.

Linda looked around me, to Tina.

“You don’t care that I lied?” Linda said.

“What?” Tina said.

Two minutes later.

“Yes, you were, Marc,” Tina said. “You were trying to get us to fight.”

“But you told me to tell her all that.” I said.

“You didn’t tell her everything I said.”

“I did.”

“You’re mean, Marc.”

“But I didn’t do nothing.”

Life Lesson #2: Drama loves company. Do as little favors as possible.

Bucket Ruckus: A Flash Memoir

“Wax on, wax off,” I said. Tanya laughed. I continued with more impersonations.

After the fourth minute, it was indisputable. The second grade board was clean. I would have to impress her another time.

“Alright,” she said. “Mrs. Reed makes us dump the water in the sink when we’re done.”

Tanya approached the sink. I followed.

“I got it,” I said, taking the bucket from her.

“Mrs. Reed told you how to dump it, right?”

“Yeah! Watch.”

I grabbed the handle with my left hand and lifted. It wobbled. I held the bottom with my other hand. All I needed was to get it above the sink. Way above. As high as I could get it without getting water on the counter.

Tanya stepped forward, “Mrs. Reed said–

I tilted the bucket.

“Just make sure you pour the water sl—

I dumped all of the water into the sink in one shot. Nearly all of it splashed back.

Tanya backed off a step.

I backed off a few.

But it was too late.

“Oh my God! You got water all over my dress.”

I looked at myself, “Yeah, I got it on me too.”

“Why’d you do that? You were supposed to pour it in.”

“I didn’t know.”

Students got out of their seats, looking over.

“Ooohhh, weeee,” they said.

I turned to Mrs. Reed’s desk.

She was walking towards us. I placed my hands in front of me to cover the water. It was useless.