Character Portraits

#10 Mary Sue

Here he sits, the sunlight reflecting off the blonde strands of his hair. He is sipping coffee (very black). He talk, talk, talk, sips, and then talks. He is sitting with a brunette: she is thin and proper. Her lips are red, her legs doesn’t end. He tells her about how a gram of cocaine in Panama will set you back 2 bucks. 2 measly fucking bucks. Can you believe it? About the war in Palestine, missiles in Russia. Hackers called Anonymous. Snowden.

She nods and she listens.

She has very clean fingernails, cut to the proper lengths, they are not chipped nor they are stained. Her legs are crossed, and she doesn’t wear heels. She’s wearing shorts and a white v-cut top: she is showing just enough skin to keep him at the edge of his seat–please note:

She isn’t me, but I imagine her quite well.

On her back is a tattoo of a swan, about to take flight, its wings stretched to the edges of her shoulder blades – if you look close enough, the black ink against her skin can be substituted for her wings.

This tattoo is complete. It’s elegant and well-thought out, not rushed, nor typical. Everyone who sees it stare in bewilderment, and doesn’t use it as an excuse to touch her body. It also goes well with the edelweiss tattoo on his shoulder. On lazy days, they like to lay together in bed and watch each other’s tattoo rise and fall with the rhythm of their breathing.

Her back is straight, her eyes strong: she is listening to every word he is saying, she completely understands, she doesn’t ask questions. She doesn’t know anything about heroin, or cocaine, but she knows a lot about marijuana. She probably likes hash. She probably only smokes purple cush. She can recite all the countries at war in alphabetical order. She has monitored every move Trump has made after winning the election. She participates in rallies and is the head of an anonymous anarchist group. Her favourite band, above all, is Portishead. But she can tolerate The Smashing Pumpkins on a really good day.

She drives. She’s lived in one place her whole life but she can dream about going to Cuba from time to time. Probably to volunteer. She replies to every text he sends, to emails within a day. SHE IS RELIABLE.

She has her own magazine. It’s online and independent but it’s a start. She is on the editorial team of two magazines, a financial journalist for some investor’s blog and an occasional contributor to the Toronto Star. He can call her and she knows the rights words to make him happy – because she believes in every word he says. That’s key, I think. She also tells lies: it keeps him entertained. It keeps them together for four years. It is what she tells him, what he tells her, on nights when they smoke joints on the roof of their university. It is what brings him to her after a shift at Second Cup, his heart boiling with unhappiness and distaste for his co-workers: it is what she sees on his face when he showed up at her door bruised and broken, having just spent a night in jail for sitting in Queen Street with a backpack full of European maps, protesting G20. It is what keeps him hard when he fucks her, it is what gets her to moan and clench a fistful of his skin from his thighs—

It is what’s in the letters, passed back and forth, from Berlin to Toronto: marked by dates and clumsily drawn hearts and I love you’s and I miss you’s and when are you coming back to me?

She isn’t me.

And she sits, her back straight, calm and serene. She sits, confident and aloof, hands on top of her lap.

She sits, and she is still, and she does not doubt.

She sits, and she smiles.

She sits, and does not weep.

Standard
Character Portraits, Flash Fiction

Miss Representation

She sits on a leather-bound chair, stilettos clicking in tune with her fingers as they danced across her keyboard, sipping espressos by the minute and leaving lipstick stains on the rim of her white mug, decorated with names of writers only the educated could recognize: Beckett, Pinter, Bellow and Pynchon.

Soft knock on her door.

“Come in,” she barks, authority marked clearly on her voice.

A meek first year comes in, hunched over in his backpack, dishevelled hair and confused eyebrows bunched together in a face that screamed irretrievable disorientation.

“Miss?” his voice quivered, barely resembling a question.

“Yes?” she snapped impatiently.

“Will it be okay if I hand in my assignment late?”

“NO!” she cried out, making the first year’s head snap back into his neck like a turtle. “When I was in first year, I ALWAYS handed in my assignments on time! I didn’t even dream about asking for an extension, or making some goddamn lie about a dead grandmother! You went into this university and by doing so, you entered into an agreement – A PROFESSIONAL ONE – that you will abide by the holiness of the deadline and nothing, ABSOLUTELY NOTHING, should ever differentiate from that! Have you no shame?! Have you no integrity?! If I give YOU an extension, then I’d have to give EVERYBODY an extension! Do you think that’s fair for me?! Marking until the dawn of September just because you goddamn froshies can’t get it together enough to write a dog-simple essay?! My ass can write your 1,000 word essay in one goddamn minute! You do your essay! YOU GO DO YOUR ESSAY RIGHT NOW!”

The first year managed to peek out of his neck long enough to offer a meek nod, and in doing so, nudged a donut out of his pocket.

“WHAT IS THAT”

“It’s a donut, ma’am,” he said, tears forming at the corner of his eyes, regretting the second he decided to line up at Tim Horton’s before gathering the courage to knock at his professor’s door.

“YOU GET THAT GODDAMN DONUT OUT OF HERE AND DO YOUR GODDAMN DOG-SIMPLE ESSAY!”

And with that, the first year ducked out of her office, heart pounding, crushed donut balled in with his clenched fists. Another first year was waiting outside the door, shocked at all the commotion that occurred inside.

He glanced at the trembling freshman up and down before asking, “So, did you get an extension?”

“Hell no,” he replied, “but man, she had some nice tits.”

Standard