Giant Steps

Giants fill the firmament.  Good or bad, they go unseen.

1970s rain falls on a 1950s apartment house – a gawky kid watches the rain fall.  Still in high school and devoted to the Velvet Underground, he walks past the Stop & Shop.  A radio’s on, music streams from an open window, and he hears snatches of songs mixed with the falling rain – it sounds better like that and he hardly notices how wet his clothes are getting or how his sensible haircut’s plastered to his head at awkward angles.

Gawkiness suits him, he says.  He doesn’t mind.

It’s cold outside, walking about with no real aim – Massachusetts always gets cold at this time of year but he’s in love with Massachusetts, all that old world he grew up in – it’s his parents’ world, really, but he still loves his parents and wants to keep his place in that old world of theirs.  It’s a reassuring place to go back to, now and then – but whether he can or not is maybe another matter.

Traffic on Route 9 sounds bleak and nearly dying.

But the modern world’s not so bad.  Suburban trees provide some shelter from the shower – huge drops of rain roll off the leaves and splash down, making him shiver when they fall inside his collar.  It’s not pleasant but at the same time it’s a little bit pleasant.  He looks up at the soaked branches, notices the moonlight streaming through.  It’s late – how long’s he been wandering – can’t say?

Moonlight hits the puddles and he splashes through it.

The moonlight looks ancient and modern at the same time – it helps him feel less lonely late at night, picturing all the ghosts from the old world who went splashing through that same sidewalk moonlight, once.  Though ghosts don’t stop and chat or hold you, much.  So, when a girl in an avocado coat hurries by, trying to keep her hair dry by holding her purse above her head, a decision’s got to be made – try to pick up girls and get called an asshole?  Or stay alone, eat health food back at home?

Ok, decisions aren’t his forte.

The girl in the avocado coat disappears round the corner while he watches her go.  Each breath he takes mists in the rain for a second and turns to nothing, like most of the decisions he makes – he shrugs, doesn’t get it.  You know, sometimes it’s like twenty-eight misguided souls struggling to get control inside that sensible head of his – but one day it’ll get easier, right?  Right.  And if you can’t find any friends, well, you can always try to form a group – another rock’n’roll band?  Or some cult that gathers round you?

Giants fill the firmament, good or bad.

 ###

This piece of flash fiction was written in response to the Fairytale Prompt #34 at Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie, in which all the stories relate to giants. I don’t normally do a lot of explaining after a story, cos it is what it is, but in this case I’m inclined to make a bit of an exception. Presented with a fantastical prompt, and having written lots of fantasy characters since I started blogging, I felt like writing about mundanity; then I didn’t fancy writing about my own mundanity cos, y’know, that’s too mundane; so, since I’ve been listening to The Modern Lovers debut album a lot recently, I thought I’d write about the character in those songs. And that’s the reason for this little explanation, since the story paraphrases snatches of the lyrics throughout, and credit where credit’s due. It’s a great album, by the way: the (nearly lost) link between the Velvet Underground, Iggy & the Stooges and the Ramones, Talking Heads, etc. So, here’s a song.
 

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6 thoughts on “Giant Steps

  1. I thought this was great (and I’m psyched that now I have a music rec to check out tomorrow). Sometimes, most times, finding the magic in the mundane is the key to living 😉

    • Well, I think mundanity’s probably the best place to start looking, simply because there’s so much of it 🙂

      And I hope you enjoyed the Modern Lovers – I’ve been listening to it obsessively this last week – that sound just lures you in…

  2. And I’m off to YouTube after this to check out the Modern Lovers 🙂

    This was a great piece of writing — seeing the marvelous in the mundane — so many haiku-like moments in here, with the big raindrops splashing into his collar and the girl in the avocado coat slipping away in the rain. (Had to laugh at the avocado coat though — yup — 1970s!)

    Very interesting — this one begs to be read several times 🙂

    • Well, I adapted the avocado element from the song “Pablo Picasso”, which is both unique and hilarious.

      As I put this together it did occur to me that it’s probably my first piece of haiku influenced fiction – present tense, small moments, even a version of the phrase/fragment. Nice that you noticed it, too 😉

      • The change has been subtle — gradually, more and more of these haiku-like moments have been trickling into your prose — and it’s really remarkable. It adds a certain richness. 🙂

        Honestly, I’m going to explore Modern Lovers on YouTube — but tonight I’ve been on a Johnny Cash kick. 🙂

      • Really? I hadn’t noticed until this story. Bound to happen to an extent, though. And that’s good – nice to see different angles – as long as you don’t get too caught up with ideas about form.

        Then again, I think the fiction I’m about to post is a bit of a reaction against all those tender haiku moments 😉 Mindlovemisery had a prompt about death’s instructions, so some nihilism seemed in order. If I had a dungeon it would be shoved down the stairs..

        Well, a Johnny Cash kick is always in order. As you said, it’s a bit shocking that he hasn’t graced BIOLI yet 😛

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