It’s such a beautiful day. The sun is shining, the fields are green and the trees are standing tall, full of leaves. The birds feed on the insects while the insects feed on the leaves; the mammals feed on the fish while the fish swim in the streams. All is against and acting with all, spinning perfectly round in its sync. The clouds are cleaved obtusely, by the mountains which stand beneath them. The water falls down to soil, making homes in streams and oceans. The foliage is fighting for sunlight, and the earth is moist, verdant, and brimming with life. The wind is whistling above, and humming songs for everything here. It’s such a beautiful day.

Paul is fucking late; again. As he rushes down the descending order of cubicles marked 10, 9, 8, 7 and so forth, Paul nearly whips a stack of papers off cubicle #5’s cluttered desk. As he fumbles to button the last four holes in his shirt, he nearly bumps into the occupant of cubicle #3, and after arriving within his own cubicle, cubicle #2, he takes a long final look in the mirror, fixes his tie, and plops down in his discount priced genuine leather chair. Finally at ease, Paul begins his daily routine, starting first with his arms by pushing them out in front him. He interlocks his fingers and strains further and further forward until 8 cracks could be heard emanating from his knuckles. He works on his neck and back next, twisting himself upon his chair and pushing his chin up parallel to his shoulders. The satisfying snaps pops and crackles of his bones finally subside, and upon hearing this frequently performed ‘Paul-style’ ritual, Paul’s boss Mr. Mark (Just Mark) leaves cubicle #1 and knocks on the wall of cubicle #2.

“Hey Paul.” “Oh, hey Mark.” “Late again?”

“Oh no, no. I’ve been in the office for a while, it’s just that that coffee maker in the break room wasn’t working so well this morning.”

Paul snorts and spits into his wastebasket. “Alright. Just try not to be late again, okay?” “Yeah yeah I got it. Thank you Mark.”

“Of course.”

And so it went. After Mark leaves and returns to his own cubicle, Paul sits back in his chair and decides to boot up his computer. He wants to see what is in the news today.

Bob had found his newest passion. He was showcasing such a degree of skill with bagging groceries lately that he began to wonder if it could possibly be his next big career. Before the items even rolled down the conveyor belt Bob knew which bag to sort them all in; hot with hot, cold with cold, boxes for side support and bread or eggs on top. It seemed to him that he possessed a natural talent for the hidden order of grocery bagging, and this filled him with so much glee that he knew he would soon be known as the ‘greatest bagging boy in all of town.’ He could see it now; customers standing in his checkout line for hours just to see the magic sorting flow wildly out his fingertips. A book deal, a subsequent signing tour, talk show host spots and a constant presence at the center of attention. Maybe he’d even get his own tv show! The possibilities were endless, and as Bob drove on autopilot down the streets back to his mother’s house he could barely contain his rabid excitement. Upon his arrival back home, he burst into the door and fervently discussed with his mother this newfound moxie for the ways of the bagging boy. Beth, his mother, tried her hardest to echo this enthusiasm; but, despite her finest efforts, all she could muster saying was

“Oh, okay.”

Martha was frantically busy getting Dorothy, her prized miniature doodle-dachshund-retriever mix, ready for the initial judging stages of the 11th Annual Pulhooney County Dog Show. She was going over almost every inch of Dorothy with her brush, triple checking for clumps, cowlicks, split ends or otherwise unseemly patches of hair when Jodi, one of Martha’s competing buddies, came up to her table with her purebred malamute, Bart.

“Hello Jodi.”

“Hello Martha. Is that your little star for today?”

“Why yes, yes. This is Dorothy, she’s my miniature mix of doodle, dachshund, and retriever. I see you’ve brought Bart again.”

“Yes, yes. I’m hoping he pulls a clean sweep again this year; no offense to your Dorothy of course.” “Of course, none taken. He’s certainly a handsome boy.”

Martha continued brushing Dorothy. “Where did you take her to get trained?” “Oh, I took her down to Pete’s on 76th St.”

“Oh really? I’ve heard Pete’s is just wonderful; my Bart went down to Sebastian’s on 13th.” Martha continued brushing.

“Well, it was nice to see you. Best of luck.” “Thank you, you too.”

As Jodi moved Bart back to her prepping table, Martha noticed a security guard standing next to her. “Excuse me, Miss?”

“Yes? What is it?”

“I’m sorry to bother you ma’am, but is this your child?”

Jane had spent the entire day tidying up the house, making sure everything was perfect for her husband, Mark. She was nearing the final stretch of this cleaning when, suddenly, she heard the front door being clumsily unlocked. Mark had come home early! She ran up to the front door, draping her arms round his shoulders while he placed the perfectly wrapped package he was carrying very carefully on the ground. “Hello sweetie!”

“Hello darling.” They kissed.

“How was work today?”

“The same as always. Look, I brought you something.” “Oh my! Thank you sweetie, I’ll open it right away.”

Jane tore off the wrapping in a flurry, revealing a brand new food processor.

“Oh! It’s a brand new food processor! Thank you sweetie, it’s wonderful. I love you so much.” “I love you too, darling.”

Again, they kissed.

“I’m just about done cleaning the house, while I’m finishing up could you start making dinner?” “Of course. I’ll get right to it.”

They tenderly separated, with Mark going to the kitchen and Jane to her cleaning. After a brief bit of silence, Mark called out to Jane.

“Oh, honey!” “What is it dear?”

“You forgot to sort the fucking spice rack again!”

Millie always felt like there was somebody missing. Multiple times during conversations, hangouts, club meetings or even dentist’s appointments she would idly pass a glance over her shoulder, peering through vacant doorways and long deserted hallways in anticipation of her unknown visitor’s arrival. This habit had a particularly distressing effect on many of her friends, due partly to her routine of leaving an empty chair available at any table she happened to sit at, accosting anyone who attempted to sit in the vacant space with a brief

“Hey! That spot’s saved!”

Her friends would always ask

“Millie, are you expecting someone?”

To which Millie would reply “I hope so!”

But this visitor never came. Still, Millie never gave up on trying to attract her visitor, and her friends, for both their sake as much as her own, tried to alleviate this farce through minor teasings of Millie’s habit, asking her

“Oh, your visitor didn’t arrive today Millie? Have you thought about hanging up ‘lost visitor’ signs all around the block?”

Millie always laughed at these teasings, and usually replied with “Yes, yes; I guess you’re right.”

But still, her habit never went away. Finally, after about 4 months of watching their friend yearn and glance and hope for this always absent visitor, Millie’s friends pooled their money together and bought Millie a dog. And, for a while, it might’ve helped her a bit.

Kevin returned to work today, feeling a little bit better after his recent week off. After arriving in his cubicle, he noticed an abundance of sticky notes splayed across his computer screen, all with differing handwriting, styles, and notes.

“You’ll get through this!”

“We’re with you man, don’t give up!” “It wasn’t your fault!”

“Don’t lose hope! It’ll get better!” “You are stronger than you think!” “I’m so proud of you! You’re the best!” “Don’t stop! Keep going man!”

“We need you and we love you!” “I’m so sorry.”

“I’m always here if you need me!” “You can do this! Stay strong!” “You’re doing your best!”

“You are such a great guy!”

By the end of his shift, Kevin was crying in his cubicle.

Smilin Sally walks out onstage in her usual colorful flowy attire and a brand new pair of sunglasses, followed by the seven members of her Marvelously Sunshine Smilin band. The crowd roars in response to her appearance, clamoring with random screams, hoots, whistles and applause to showcase their extreme enthusiasm. Smilin Sally smiles back at this colorful response, and motions towards her Marvelously Sunshine Smilin band to start up the very first song of their set. The lead guitarist smiles back at Smilin Sally, and strikes the first chord on his signature double necked guitar. The crowd can’t believe it! Smilin Sally and her backing band are opening with their brand new hit single, Sunshine over Los Angeles! They once again begin to scream, hoot, and whistle towards Smilin Sally and her band, and Smilin Sally laughs back in a childish sort of way before the rest of the band joins in with the guitarist. The tune goes perfectly, with Smilin Sally nailing almost every note of the new song while the band members behind her basically over perform, causing the audience to go into a state of aggressively loving hysteria. More screams, hoots whistles and applause are thrown at Smilin Sally, and while she stands at the microphone, dancing, singing, grooving and, of course, smiling, she takes a moment to look out over the crowd and bores holes through the eyes of her sunglasses.

Harold was stuck in a nightmare. In it, he was hanging off the side of a bare sheared back cliff face, with little clumps of soil and slight outcroppings of rock falling every so often into an immense void below. He began to drag himself up the cliff face, grasping for what little handholds he had for a few hours until he rested for a second, and looked down to gauge his overall distance. He was closer to the top than before, but upon looking down he noticed all the others, climbing just as he had, innumerable figures with the silhouettes of their frames struggling for a hold over a definite shape. Harold resumed his climbing, climbing even more and more and more until finally; at long last he had reached the summit.

He pulled himself up, stood along the thin edge and looked down at the immense void and all the shapes struggling below. Then the cliff groaned. It shuddered its whole tricky frame with an incredible and unexpected force, whipping off its weakest climbers like a cow’s tail to a fly. Harold was able to keep his balance, just barely; but he couldn’t prepare himself for what came next. Now the cliff roared, twisting its frame now backwards upon itself while crumbling under the weight of its movement with all climbers now being thrown into the void and the clumps of soil and stone were thrown with them as well, the air below Harold now clogged with dust rubble the faceless shapes the screams and the unbearable whooshes of gravity’s ripping hold while the cliff, still folding backwards, backwards further and further until finally collapsed its frame ripping Harold down down into the void while the rotten earth funneled around him now tumbling down while his thoughts began to tumble too the specters of life’s denial haunting him as he fell further and further down down down down until finally he found his end; the assemblage of shapes earth stone and soil at the bottom of the void where now all memory and thought are stolen from him. When he awoke, he pitched himself forward in his bed, shoving his hands into his mouth to keep himself from screaming. He would have to change the bedsheets in the morning.

Jennifer had spent the entire day with them, passing through grocery stores, department stores, gas stations and the occasional library. She enjoyed being by their side as much as possible, and happily bounded to each and every one of their spontaneous wishes and whims. Now, Jennifer and them were alone, relaxing in their living room after unloading all their supplies. Jennifer thought this was it, this was the closest she would ever get. So she sat in silence for a bit, agreeing along with them while she prepared a script in her head; and finally, when a silence came, Jennifer summoned up enough courage to turn and begin her confession to them. But it all came out so wrong. The script she had so carefully prepared fell apart as she spoke, and she began to stutter and blubber out incomprehensible pleas and fears. Her nose and eyes began to run, which, along with the stuttering and blubbering, turned Jennifer into a snorting, choking, sobbing, shivering, vulnerable human being. When she couldn’t stutter anymore, her eyes were counting cracks in the ceiling, a jets flame of snot soaked all the way through her shirt while her makeup ran in streaks down the length of her neck. She gave a few more chokes and snorts, still dwelling on the whole ordeal when suddenly she realized they were still there, watching her with a sympathetic expression. They playfully jostled her leg a little bit, and Jennifer weakly turned her head, meeting the eyes she had tried to ignore. They hesitated for a second, with that reassuring smile on their face, until they broke contact with her and began looking forward in space. Their smile began to waver, and, once that smile was all but gone, they let out a sigh and turned back to Jennifer.

“I don’t know.”

Joni walked through the aisles of the department store, searching for a 24 pack of Crayons. She passed through the deli, getting a ½ pound of provolone, a pound of baloney, and a ¼ pound of swiss. She passed through the grocery aisles, getting a jar of pickles, 2 boxes of cereal, a large sized loaf of bread and a 3lb bag of apples. With her groceries taken care of, she began to move towards the arts and crafts aisle. On the way, she got a new dish towel, a bottle of bleach, toothpaste, 2 toothbrushes, floss, a pack of new sponges, and a 24-pack of water, just in case. Once in the arts and crafts aisle, she looked over the art supplies until she noticed the yellow packaging. It was a 36 pack, and it didn’t have her favorite color; but that was okay. She placed the crayons in her cart and looked over the rest of the art supplies. She felt a weight rising within her, a long shiver down her body. She felt her eyes dry out, her throat fall in, and a deep longing in her fingers. She closed her eyes and found her cart. She pushed it out of the aisle, opened her eyes and started to walk towards the checkout line.

“I think I have enough.”

It’s such a beautiful day. The sun is shining, the fields are green and the trees are standing tall, full of leaves. The birds feed on the insects while the insects feed on the leaves; the mammals feed on the fish while the fish swim in the streams. All is against and acting with all, spinning perfectly round in its sync. The clouds are cleaved obtusely, by the mountains which stand beneath them. The water falls down to soil, making homes in streams and oceans. The foliage is fighting for sunlight, and the earth is moist, verdant, and brimming with life. The wind is whistling above, and humming songs for everything here. It’s such a beautiful day, and the seasons will always change. The sun is still shining, but the fields and trees are threadbare. The birds flew away while the insects froze in dirt; the mammals hid in their holes while the fish slept in currents. All life is in stasis, waiting for months to turn. But the clouds join up together, in the overcast skies above. Ice forms over the streams but the water flows underneath. The earth is hard, frozen, barren and torn, but life is there waiting, praying for warmth. And while the bitter wind is cold, for its friends are no more, there are evenings when it rises, singing hymns for all below.

It’s such a beautiful day.

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