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You’re trying to end the disquiet in your brain. It’s what you want the most. You feel it as a black diamond submerged, bubbling, in your cerebrum. A squatter. A free rider. You’re serving its time. It must go. The sky tilts and you choke back an urge to flee into traffic. Look around. Unchain yourself from the tumult. What’s noise? What’s signal? Where were you this time last year? Last night? Think. What’s manifestation? What’s material? See through disquiet’s dank eyes. What makes its heart pump faster? Fathom its lives, its beliefs. Other realities are accessible and venial, so grasp what’s up for grabs. You needn’t show your work. Stop counting, forget your quota. Untether yourself from expectations and the thrumming disquiet. Unbridle yourself from norms. The sky tilts again. Don’t project. What do you see and smell and hear? A pageant of shed lingerie. Sex-damp towels. A corkscrew and a claw hammer. A woman cradles another in a corner. A man on a king bed. Another in a chair. Patchouli, semen, and McDonald’s. Ivory soap. A highway nearby, heaving traffic: tractor-trailers booming, exhausted delivery vans, sirens swell, fade, vanish. Sleet pebbles the windows. What are you in this tableau vivant? Disgust? Arousal? The passing whim? Self-righteous buzzkill? Grabble not for certainty, but a path to ambrosian marrow. Thole the shitload you’re sapped from reprising: ducking income tax, the Polaroids you’re clutching, your flesh another’s boon or bane. Better to acquiesce, trust it’s both last year and right now and, yes, that churns your stomach, prompts another siren song from the boundless traffic. Sluice the wax from your ears, overdub a contrary melody, hear ambiguity. Don’t sweat about exoneration. Concede negation is absolution. Do what is necessary. Step forward. Call 911. Carry on crying in your sleep. 

This story was submitted, and rejected, for consideration for the 2022 Fractured Lit Fast Flash Challenge. Read the rejection letter!

Best paired with a Fireball Cinnamon “Whisky” pre-drink followed by a bottle or two of Aste Spumonte, all on an empty stomach.

Reprint and reproduction rights for this story are available for purchase. Contact me for more information on Anthologies, Course Packs, Reading Comprehension Exams, Translations, and Dramatic Adaptations

All material, unless otherwise noted, Copyright © Todd Besant. All rights reserved.

Photo credit: Rob de Vries, on Visualhunt

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Of average vanity

Todd Besant is a publisher, editor, reader, writer, occasional author, introvert, secret blogger, stargazer, freethinker, powerlifter, kitchen dancer, podcast enthusiast, and car singer.

He is overly fond of fine pencils, cool notebooks, pocket knives, waxed canvas shoulder bags, Moscot eyeglasses, coffee, bourbon, flat caps, clothing for shorter men, manipedis, and men’s grooming products–especially pomades, face balms, and under eye treatments. Todd is of average vanity, that is, very.

Todd is taller online, inordinately puzzled, comprehensively skeptical, increasingly alarmed, and as analogue as possible under the circumstances. His creativity is informed and driven by an avalanche of failure. Todd’s favourite words are louche, bare, frowsy, oubliette, chemise, thicket, snug, bristle, mound, abandon, frisson, and restraint.

He is the descendant of colonialist settlers and lives on Turtle Island on Treaty 1 Land that is the territories of Anishinaabeg, Cree, Oji-Cree, Dakota, Lakota, Inuit, and Dene Peoples, and on the Traditional Homeland of the Métis Nation, in Winnipeg, MB, an inflexible colonial city mired in the still damp clay bed of a proglacial lake created during the Holocene Glacial Retreat.


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This blog is written and produced on Turtle Island in Winnipeg, MB, on Treaty 1 Land that is the territories of Anishinaabeg, Cree, Oji-Cree, Dakota, Lakota, Inuit, and Dene peoples, and is the Traditional Homeland of the Métis Nation. All material, unless otherwise noted, Copyright © Todd Besant. All rights reserved. Header photo credit: darkday. on
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