Reading Flight Patterns

[i]I’m a young woman who just graduated from college, so this is a prose piece about my attempts to “assimilate” into the “adult workforce” while still maintaining my identity.

I’m open to all forms of criticism. [/i]

Maybe I died yesterday.

Sometimes I think like that. Sometimes I think, what if I died at that moment, there, and God reset it all? What if I walked out in front of those cars:

“Watch out!”

And died instantly, my cellphone flying from my hand and landing beside my body.

But instead of going into that blinding white light, I went back to right before I died and started over again; this time without those fateful three steps.


Other times I think that I am composed of more than one person. Rather, there’s me and then there’s ten other me’s that I’ve created.

You should’ve seen the way he looked at my chest. It was disgusting. Two years ago I would’ve felt awkward and self-conscious. Three years ago I probably wouldn’t have noticed. But I’ve grown more of a backbone now and more of an awareness. I’ve also connected more to my anger and to my own self-entitlement.

Like a candle, she lit up inside of me. Together, we got onto the Metro; he followed.

In a half-empty car, I sat down in a seat, and he sat next to me. Because I was her, I felt a spiking rage overtake me then. I could hear her inside of me raining insults upon him. In another world, in a pocket of my brain, she was standing up in my seat, calling him a pervert, exposing his antics for the whole car to hear.

But meanwhile, in the world he and I were physically a part of, the real me was calm. I flipped open my phone and started scrolling through my texts-- my facial expressions carefully schooled to look uninterested and undisturbed.

In another place, away from there, another part of me wondered just what sick creations lay inside of his own brain. The questions fanned the flames of chaotic rage rampaging through my own.

When the metro stopped at my station, I closed my phone with a sharp “snap.”

“Excuse me, please,” I said to him, looking straight into his face.

He didn’t look back, just moved his body slightly over, indicating he wanted me to walk over his lap.

“I don’t think so. You’re going to have to get up,” I said to him.

He obeyed immediately, sullenly going into the aisle, and I passed him as quick as I could. I tucked my body between two other people to escape his line of sight. I then joined a mother and her children near the doorway where they were waiting to get out.

His face was gone, and the children around me chattered with innocence. The boys jostled the girls, and the girls talked back to the boys. As I stood in their circle, the cynical rage of my replacement dropped away and I ebbed back into who I was before.

With a sigh, I extinguished her existence, and with a step, I walked out of the metro-- me again.

Centuries ago, some of the greatest decisions of a Kingdom were decided by signs. People believed that the flight pattern of a hawk or the shape of a cloud had some sort of deep significance to their lives. If they could just read the signs correctly, they would know what actions to take to ensure victory.

Even today, people continue to look for things outside of themselves to confirm what they are feelings. They try to tie together reality and dreams to reclaim their confidence… Fooling themselves to hide their fears.

This is what a part of me believes.

It was five minutes after I had gotten off the metro, and I stood in line at the Metro Ticket Station. Behind me two black girls, younger than I was, were talking.

They spoke as if they were the only ones in the stations, the only ones in existance. I liked that. I yearned to turn around and talk like them, too. Just casually slip into their world.

They reminded me of my teenage days when I smoked cigarettes and laughed rudely about things. I remembered the sense of power I got, feeling above the world, above scrutiny. Just doing as I pleased and feeling confident enough in myself to get away with it.

A part of me did slip out and join them. She laughed and cocked her hips to the side as the real me remained stationary in line, politely waiting my turn.

“Next!” one of the girls shouted as a Metro Ticket booth become available for use. The old woman she addressed moved fast to comply.

I didn’t move a muscle in my face. However, inside, I was shocked by the young girls disrespect.

Then, as if sensing my displeasure, the girl began to sing to herself. Softly. Then loudly… Audibly. She sang in my ear, almost as if she were including me in her world of daring nonchalance, contradicting herself with her words and defying me to challenge her at the same time:

This burning heart of mine
It still hurts after all this time

A girl singing Vandenberg in line at a Metro Station… Was this a sign? Or just random oddness?

I didn’t have time to think on it.

“Next!” the girl said.

Everyday is like a balancing act to me. I’m learning as I go, attempting to juggle tasks and flash a smile. I don’t have time to self-consumed anymore. I don’t have time to take things to heart. I just stuff it all down then bring it out again when I have time: usually at night when I finally have a moment with my selves to recap.

Even if it’s false, even if it’s fantasy, I like to repiece my life and shape it into a story. I like to assume that everything is a lesson from God, who is trying to show me some new aspect of the world I’ve found myself existing in.

And as we keep building these new worlds: physically, digitally, mentally-- I try and keep my senses open. I ready myself to gobble up more information, and attempt to sort through things correctly-- interpreting the flight patterns of people’s faces and moods, the situations and the sums… to know when to attack and when to retreat. When to pick my battles… and when to let them go. And to know which face of mine I should expose, which me I should present to a moment-- and to know when the right situation allows me to show my real self. And to know how to pluck it out safely,

From all the rest.

a) This is really well written. I mean really well – I thought I was reading a short piece in a magazine.

b) I would have loved it even more if you ended the piece with the ’ “Next!” the girl said. ’ There is too much explaining and summing up done in the next section (even though I like parts of it) which, in all sincerity, just goes against my own personal tastes. The whole in and out between the narrator’s interior and exterior as she goes through the day left me at the edge of my seat. The last part bored me. It’s not even that it bored me, but the writing lost the thrilling narrative pace that carried the other parts, which made the last part very stale in comparison. Plus, it just feels right for the “Next!” the girl said. line to be the ending because it captures the quickness of contemporary life, the inability to finish or conclude these facinating interior monologues, and not only that, but if you end the piece there, you’ll cut right into the reader who has been following the narrator all along and can feel that conflict between the internal and that pesky external world that continualy intrudes, interrupting that last final poetic moment of the heart. The song, poetry, raises the reader to a height, and if you end it right after, you cut right into the reader before they’ve come down. That hurts. That’s remembered.

Whereas, the extra paragraph just tells readers in a dry fashion what you’ve already shown and hopefully made them feel. " I don’t have time to take things to heart." I can tell that from the other sections. You’re spelling it out here for us, but in fact, your writing was good enough to show this. There needs to be a bit more trust on your part for the reader. Trust that readers will understand what you’ve shown them, in fact, I’ll argue, there should be a bit more courtesy to readers by assuming that they’re keen and smart enough to have understood the story without the author going at the end: and so you see I spend all my days alone eating spagetti, more and more spagetti, this is because I am depressed. I already know that Mr. Murakami, because all you’re doing is eating spagetti by yourself in an apartment all alone. You don’t need to tell me at the end that you’re depressed. Same goes for you. This critique goes for most of the concluding section (some parts, if you’re really attached to them, I would recommend weaving into the other sections).

See, even here, you’re doing all the thinking for the reader: " And to know which face of mine I should expose, which me I should present to a moment-- and to know when the right situation allows me to show my real self. And to know how to pluck it out safely, "

Final analysis: a great piece of writing. But, imo, cut the whole last section for the reasons offered. Glad you posted. I’ll eagerly read the next one.

I think this is excellent, jiffer. Excellent. I might agree with TUM’s comments about the end, but truthfully I didn’t mind the summing up. The entire piece seemed very natural, very real. Never forced. It seemed conversational and I felt as though it was being read to me, rather than me reading it, if that makes sense. It had a strong voice, in other words.

Hope you post more here.