Paper Bags & Napkins




Project 365



More Than Melancholia

You threw darts and handfuls of dust into the mouth of the abyss. It only opened wider to feed on more of your resistance. You tried to appease it by submerging only your feet, but it was a hungry problem that always begged for more. Soon you were shoulders deep and barely keeping your chin up. The pressure bore holes in your resilience and gushed through like water erupting onto the decks of an already sinking ship. You went down, swam the depth of the blue, and never came back up.

Cuts and Scrapes

The advice makes it seem as though ripping off band-aids is noble. Children everywhere peel the coverings from wounds in single swift motions and call it bravery. But there are injuries meant to be left undisturbed until the pain is forgotten and only slowly unwrapped even then. Sometimes most of the courage lies in waiting.


They took pictures of the famous faces and stood in line for autographs. At the end of the day you would find posters and other paraphernalia marked ‘special edition’ in their bags.

They clapped hands against backs, congratulating each other on a good day of chasing idols who wear sunglasses — shading their eyes from a world too bright with admiration. Or perhaps closing their eyes for a moment behind those black screens, counting the ways in which they would be pieced up and tossed to the adoring masses for collection.

Tomorrow they will continue to cast themselves at the base of the pedestals, as though they are kneeling in pews, prostrating at altars. And there will be no answer to the question of whether it is the lovers or their beloveds that are the victims.

trapdoorcity replied to your post: I still flinch when you handle cutlery.

God, this was powerful.

Thank you. It is so rewarding to hear that I’ve managed to convey a feeling with impact.

zaedilux replied to your post: The Sound That Killed Him

you’re writing again! hurrah!

Let’s hope I can keep it up!

I still flinch when you handle cutlery.

There is an art to making an action look sinister. The boy who lived across the street from my childhood home had it mastered at only six years old. Walking home from school, I would often see him sitting on his porch steps turning a rock over in his hands. He never did anything other than roll a pebble around his palm, but it conveyed to me only the beginning of a much more dangerous movement.

I learned how to sense a threat, but not how to prevent it. So when I noticed a similar tendency in the way you held your glass, taking a drink over the sink, or the way you spun your keys before unlocking the car door, I did nothing. The neighbour boy I had always escaped by stepping as quickly as I could towards my front door. Where could I hide from you in a house we shared?

I convinced myself instead that love made all the difference.

Not a storybook diner girl.

She was always eating pan-fried dumplings at the dim sum place below my apartment at odd hours of the night. And she always seemed tired as hell — with smeared war paint for dark circles and a voice that sounded like a perpetual yawn when she placed her order.

At least once a week, she would be there, flipping through a black notebook in the corner of the restaurant, her eyelids bobbing up and down sleepily. I thought sometimes about starting up a conversation with her, romanticizing the idea of two regulars developing a friendship, but it wasn’t as though Hopper had painted us into Nighthawks or anything.

Besides, the only thing I would have had to say to her would be to ask why she didn’t just go home and go to sleep.

Fault Line

I saw her walking over to a quieter corner of the room with her new circle of friends. She had her hands behind her back, opening and closing the clasp on her wristwatch. The fiddling told of a mind that was already on other things.

Moments after they chose their territory, I watched the conversation split down the middle. She stood there in the center, not choosing a breakaway group to join. Her mouth twitched as though she was going to say something whenever a phrase in either side of the divided chit-chat piqued her interest. But she kept vigil almost religiously in silence. And no member of either party seemed to notice.

As far as they were concerned, the earth itself had torn in two, and she had fallen into the cavernous darkness that swallowed up all things that no one cares to acknowledge.


If you turn the volume down on the world and put on a good song, everything starts to look like a comedy — one where the rehearsals were cut short. Strangers and disasters are easier to stomach as characters and plot twists.

I knew someone who walked around with a tune in his ear almost all of the time. He had gotten a taste of the performance and liked it a little too much. They called him a laughing maniac, but I reckon he was having a much better time than most of us.

It must have been easier to forgive a world where the words were all scripted.

The Love of Fiction

His shoes had filled with water from letting the ocean spill into his soles. The long walk along the beach was meant to clear his head — it always seemed to help the protagonists of moody indie films, so why not give it a try? He found the thought process that had led him there unconvincing now, as he undid damp laces and took off his socks.

So many of his behaviours were lifted from movies, and even though he recognized their inauthenticity, he never gave up the catchphrases or gestures that he had learned in cinemas. Sometimes he wondered if he had just done a cut-and-paste job of creating himself. Nobody else ever thought anything similar because they only ever noticed little pieces of the collage: a familiar way of saying hello or posing for pictures.

But here he was with sand under his toenails and no closer to making an important personal decision. He had piled on layers upon layers of favourite characters’ habits and quirks, and somehow lost his own opinion on everything in a fold or pocket that was now out of sight.