“first datE” by Robin Som
Thursdaze (because the weekend won’t come fast enough) features original flash fiction modeled after our Drug Chronicles Series. Each story is an original one, and each encapsulates the author’s fictional experience with drugs. Our print series has anthologized authors writing about marijuana, cocaine, speed, and heroin, but contributors to the web series can focus on any drug, real or imagined, controlled or prescribed, illegal or soon-to-be legalized. Submissions to Thursdaze will be judged on an author’s ability to stylistically emulate his or her substance of choice. Submissions are also limited to 750 words, so try to focus. (They have a pill for that.)
by Robin Som
Are you ready? Here’s a bottle of water, just a sip will do. What’s that? Oh yes, my name of course, how rude of me. Well, that’s actually an interesting question, I have a few. There’s Edward, or Molly. Or Mandy. Me, I like Mandy—because I came and I gave without taking! Sorry, bad joke. Though somewhat true. It’s nice to finally meet you. Of course, you want to know more about me.
I was born in 1912, on Christmas Eve actually—I don’t look it? Thank you, that’s very kind of you to say. In Europe—my dad was a German chemist. We lost him in the war. Thanks, no, that’s very kind. Well, obviously I never really got a chance to know him, but yes, I do sometimes wish he could’ve stayed around long enough to see where I am now.
My dad’s co-workers raised me, and, you know, I got very little attention. A few decades later, it was actually the Americans who took an interest—yes, that is ironic! I really can’t tell you too much about that though—if I did I’d have to kill you! Ah, sorry, another bad joke. Well, anyway, my work with the military really didn’t last that long. Before I knew it, I was in California and it was the 70s! No, no hippies, not just yet. No, I hung out with a group of quacks, actually. I guess that’s when you could I say I . . . started to come up?
What was it the quacks saw in me? Well . . . how can I put this? It’s . . . it’s what I do. Just think, for a minute; think of all those things you hide away from the world. No, I know we’ve just met, but trust me, just trust me on this. Some of it’s dark, isn’t it? But that’s ok. You can trust me. And some of it is wonderful; but you must hide all these things from the world. All these powerful feelings, thoughts, wishes, the ones blocked out by the expectations, obligations, and embarrassments that enclose you—I let them out. I let them out for the whole world to see. How can I prove it to you? There’s only one way to find out.
You’ll never guess who it was that introduced me to the rest of the world. It was a priest; actually, he gave me my name—gives new meaning to the phrase ‘religious ecstasy,’ huh?! And before I knew it, it was the 80s, and the world and I had morphed into one big happy rave.
Why haven’t we met before? To me, it’s pretty obvious—it’s because of the man, right? The man, he cracked down hard on me, the ravers, the hippies, the students, the techno heads, the acid heads, the indie kids. It’s pretty short sighted—a whole bunch of other people miss out, too: The veteran suffering flashbacks to the Gulf War. Your elderly neighbor whose Parkinson’s meds are starting to make things worse. The patient with terminal cancer in intractable pain. There is more to me than meets me the eye—I have hidden qualities.
Let me prove it to you. It goes like this: We hit a club, a party—we can even stick to your living room. Wherever we are, it goes like this: at first, nothing. You wring your hands, you cross your arms, you don’t know what to do with them. You wonder what everyone else is thinking about you. And then I crawl up your spine, insidiously, delicately, but with real innate strength. I park myself in your abdomen, and one by one, I release the strands that form the knot of fear that sits deep within there. One by one, those strands unfurl—down your arms, down your legs, up your neck and into your mind. There, I matchmake serotonin and dopamine to their receptors:
“Hey receptors, long time no see, what’s been happening?”
“Oh you know, work, family, life, the man—the usual.”
Joy cascades from within and floods every single cell in your body. You smile. You dance. Everyone looks at you and thinks, “She is having a fucking great time!” You meet and acquaint. You hug, you laugh. And you love.
So. Here’s a bottle of water. Are you ready?
ROBIN SOM lives and works in the south of England. He has neither the talent nor the attention span to write a novel; flash fiction just about works for now. Other hobbies include digging up holes and filling them back in; and looking at himself in the mirror.
Do you have a story you’d like us to consider for online publication in the Thursdaze flash fiction series? Here are the submission terms and guidelines:
—We are not offering payment, and are asking for first digital rights. The rights to the story revert to the author immediately upon publication.
—Your submission should never have been published elsewhere.
—Your story should feature a drug, any drug, and your character’s experience with it. We’ll consider everything from caffeine to opium, and look forward to stories ranging from casual use to addiction to recovery. Stylistically, we’ll respond most favorable to stories that capture the mood and rhythm of your drug of choice.
—Include your drug of choice next to your byline.
—Your story should not exceed 750 words.
—E-mail your submission [email protected], and include THURSDAZE in the subject line. Please paste the story into the body of the email, and also attach it as a PDF file.
About the Drug Chronicles Series: Inspired by the ongoing international success of the city-based Akashic Noir Series, Akashic created the Drug Chronicles Series. The anthologies in the series feature original short stories from acclaimed authors, each of whom focuses on their fictional experience with the title drug. Current releases in the series include The Speed Chronicles (Sherman Alexie, William T. Vollmann, Megan Abbott, James Franco, Beth Lisick, Tao Lin, etc.), The Cocaine Chronicles (Lee Child, Laura Lippman, etc.), The Heroin Chronicles (Eric Bogosian, Jerry Stahl, Lydia Lunch, etc.), and The Marijuana Chronicles (Joyce Carol Oates, Lee Child, Linda Yablonsky, etc.).
Posted: Dec 12, 2013
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