Very Short Stories
Jenny walked along a Brooklyn sidewalk in a neighborhood she would in her later years describe as
with a capital b, e, and d, respectively. She saw a black man and an Asian woman holding hands and she smiled.
“What an incredible world we live in.”
She then saw a white man and a man who she thought may have been Southeast Asian holding hands and she smiled.
“What an incredible world we live in.”
Finally, she spotted a dog fucking a teddy bear and she stopped walking.
A protest composed of hundreds of thousands clogged Broadway avenue. Before Manhattan’s main vein could be drained activists needed to finish making their semi-regular call for reparations. The banks and institutions that swindled the world and drove it into a horrible cataclysm needed to face metaphysical consequences. Ali was at the very front, one of five college students holding a banner painted with a disembodied fist and emblazoned with the slogan “We are the 93.5%!” The banner was purchased at a transnational office supply store; the paint used for the fist and the slogan was produced by a company headquartered in California, though most of its factories were in South America. Ali looked to his right at his friend Kwame and then back ahead.
Kwame spoke using a megaphone, “What do we want?!”
Those who heard him, which is to say a fraction of the protestors, replied, “Justice!”
Kwame matched them, “When do we want it?!”
They met his challenge, “Now!”
Ali screamed along. After a few hours the protest wound down and Broadway was returned to its cars and trucks and cyclists. Ali and his friends rolled up their banner and proudly walked to Washington Square Park. There they sat in a circle, from dusk ‘til dawn, with their pants unbuttoned, furiously playing with each others’ genitalia.
Laura finishes preparing dinner. Every night after she gets home from work she puts together a wonderful meal, taking into approximate consideration the necessary proteins, vitamins, and lack-of-gluten. Her husband Andrew sets the table, and then afterwards washes the dishes. The Goodmans live on the first two floors of a rustic brownstone directly facing Prospect Park. Laura yells, “Jonathan! Melissa! Dinner’s ready.” Laura works for a successful NGO dedicated to issues having to do with refugees. Andrew is a public defender. Jonathan and Melissa, both students at St. Anne’s school, skip down the stairs. The family sits around the dinner table.
Melissa looks at Jonathan and asks, “What was that all about during lunch?”
“One of the older kids started beating up a kid from our grade because he wasn’t a pacifist, which is stupid. It’s not like the kid was a Republican or something.”
“Jonathan,” Laura begins, stretching out the final vowel in his name, “what are the rules?”
“No religion or politics at the dinner table.”
“Very good. Now please pass the potatoes.”
Meanwhile, a homeless man outside digs through the Goodmans’ recycling cans. The Goodmans always make sure to recycle.
Carlos rode his bicycle to the _____ stop along the L train line, stopping by its sidewalk entrance. He noticed the many newcomers who moved into his neighborhood over the past few years. They skipped to the station in multicolored hair/clothing/accessories. She walked alone. The beauty with the earrings and flowey dresses and wavy hair. Carlos noticed a pigeon on a deli’s icebox staring at him.
“Don’t even think about it.”
The pigeon flew away, making sure to leave Carlos a gift on his left shoulder.
Tony stands up, hugging his friends and wishing them all a goodnight. Saturdays are usually reserved for fun and intense conversations about politics, global structures, and sex. Tony’s friends live in Brooklyn’s more affluent neighborhoods, which is to say those geographically closest to Manhattan. Their subway lines are well maintained and consistent. Tony lives further away from the economic and cultural center — Tony lives in central Brooklyn. The subway station is mostly empty save for a few homeless men trying to situate themselves on uncomfortable wooden benches. Tony remains standing. One thousand years later Tony’s skeleton checks to see if the train is coming. He is about to lose his temper and walk home.