This is a ~3000-word piece, with deliberately stylized writing. Is the style of this piece successful or gimmicky? Does it read smooth or choppy?
He sat on top of the highway. City on a hill. He was looking down at the cars, but not at their metal chassis. He was concerned with their existence, and their heavy weight in our perception of time. The cars moved so fast, they didn’t intake information at the same rate as he, standing still. Their time moved much too fast to see details. He got thinking— people down there only spent a split second of their life ever in that exact spot he was watching. Speeding past the overpass that out looked a sublime mountain range. Metal was hiding wood, concentration was hiding beauty. Not that they noticed, no, their eyes were on the road. He could slowly breath in and out, but the cars would keep on coming, pouring down the highway, each speeding like the one in front of it. When did they take a break?
His mind would jump through his thoughts, looking about randomly. They were serious thoughts, but still subject to the decay of fresh crisp air. They sort of sat in his head, sometimes turning into words, and in the slow process of permeating into pure emotion, fermenting in his mind. Then he switched to the mountain range again, the one the drivers would never see.
This is how his story began. This is how his story ended. Staring at the mountains, but of course, he wasn’t actually seeing them, because he was not really looking. He was preoccupied. Stuck in his thoughts, his time was much slower than normal. Opposite the cars, that moved too fast to look around, he was moving too slow. He was in the past; a whole different dimension than the present trees his eyes were perpendicular to. He would look at the trees, but really they were an afterthought. To his head, they were a mere green projector screen to watch, letting him take his thoughts and see them outwardly.
His head was busy rewinding previous memories. The screen went dark, and he visited the episode at his house earlier that day. He saw his mom’s deep blue eyes, and straight blond hair. He could smell the air, and remember would it felt like to stand on his front, un-mowed lawn, which was reaching up and itching his ankle. He could zoom in on his mom’s shirt and see the texture of how the ink lay on the cotton if he wanted to. He could see the gritty dark red of his roof if he wanted. This was all in his memory.
The details were mostly blurs though, such were the nature of details. Mostly, he was watching the content. He was watching the visualization of the words, and the face expressions that was created from them. “You will not sneak around as long as you live in my house” she blurted. This contorted her face, so it looked like she was thinking, as if it were a hard math problem, where she scrunched her eyebrows closer together, and created extra wrinkles above her face. Emotional, frustrated, she looked as if she knew she’d get it wrong, transfixed with enlarged vivid eyes, and complete with a frown. From the tip of her nose, she was holding a downward wrinkle that spilled the frown around her lip and under her cheek.
She had been thinking so hard, he was sure that she barely saw him leave. Her thoughts had glossed over the usually attentive glare in her eyes. She was so emotional, her view had blurred, and she hadn’t noticed time slip past her. The sky darkened, and he had left the house, unable to deal with his mom’s outburst.
His mom’s outburst had been loud. The neighbors could hear it. Of course, realistically every family has tension, so out of courtesy, they looked away. They could clearly hear it, yet their face would hold purposeful neutrality. Out of courtesy, they did not hear it.
Why is everyone letting themselves be so blind to the truth? He remembered what he had been looking at. “You will not sneak around as long as you live in my house”. He had dodged his moms eyes, and had looked at the grass. The vivid green had reminded him of the colors of his adventures. As his mom slipped into her own world, so did he. He mentally closed the door to her, and recalled the lit blunt, and watched the smoke dance upward. As he followed the smoke trail up, He went from the green of the grass, to the trees, and then finally the sky. It hazed and dazed and dazzled, synergizing into a dizzying ride. His head was spinning, but his eyes were enjoying the colors too much to stop. He looked at the blue sky, and saw it darken. The darkening snapped him back into the conversation with his mom. He had snapped back a few minutes too late though, her mom had already dazed out of her anger. She now held a subdued anxiety. He tried to stay for dinner, but that wound him tighter, he needed to leave.
Why is no one grasping the present? What are they avoiding? His mom knew what he was up too. She found a bag of it in his room when she had gone to clean. It had been messy too long, and she was trying to be motherly and help. She knew he would not tell her about it if she didn’t ask, and he would probably lie about it if she did ask. Suddenly she saw the reality of parenting. She was mad, and had scolded him heavily, but then she had glossed over and let him go. It didn’t matter what she soliloquized, he was going to crawl around her back, no matter which direction she turned. In the reality of it, she was mad that her kid was lying to her, ruining his future, ‘But we can’t stop them, can we?’ she thought. She had stopped talking to her son. She just stood still. And thought. Son gets older every single year. She was not necessarily thinking words, only melancholy waves of sadness regarding her sons maturity. Her mind would slip in and out of old memories. All until she woke back up into the mud field of the backyard. She was stuck, trying to view him as a kid, malleable, and open to advice. She was stuck, not ready for him to grow older. ‘that’s usual, right?’
“You will not sneak around as long as you live in my house”. His mom did not even consider how he had felt. He doesn’t like sneaking around. He doesn’t like hiding, and ducking. Still, to the same degree, he’s a person, and he will make his own decisions. He will sneak around in her house, as it is his life that is inhabiting her house, not her possession. ’Does she hate me?’, he wondered. He wished he could tell her the truth. She was his mom, she should comfort him… but it didn’t seem right. Why was she suddenly mad now? Oh, so she found out he was not at the friend’s house he said he’d be at. In an unsettling way, he was happy to be punished for that mistake, as he had made others, and was scared she had found out about the more pressing details.
The neighbors saw it get darker, they had been watching the television near their front window. In fact, that had seen him as he walked out of his house, a little after dark. He walked with his arms a little too tightly crossed, which gave off a dark, negitive aura of energy that was wound up and tangled in him. His hood was clear over his face though, so they saw no expression. After hearing loud burst earlier in the day, they wondered if he was running away from home. They waved at him, to see if he would show some warmth, but he didn’t even notice them in the window. He kept walking straight.
There on the grass, overlooking the highway, was his friend. As he stared at the highway, thinking of the cars, thinking of the trees, she also thought. She was dizzy trying to remember the night before. She had been coughing, she was spinning. Her time was moving slowly too. She hugged herself, out of fear she would suddenly disappear. She was looking at, but also not really seeing, those distant trees. She was watching the lit blunt too, and she re-watched it go into her mouth. She coughed. She was having a mal-reaction. This was not supposed to happen. The Asthma was getting in the way. Was it, was it really happening? Was she just nervous, and doing what she thought would happen, or was the weed really what was causing her asthma attack? At first it wasn’t that bad, but after being encouraged to continue, the actual attack started. She was put in her own world. She tried not to over think, but her efforts made her over think about over-thinking, and then anxieties started choking her before her breath did, and then they harmonized, hitting at the same fear, the same nerve in her brain: hopelessness. Isolation. For a full lifetime, she was alone. She didn’t see him look at her with an abyss of concerned. She didn’t notice how hard he was fighting his high to leave his world and enter hers. She didn’t notice him grasp her, and comfort her. She was coughing, maybe even too her death. Her head was spinning, and things were not happened as they were supposed to. She couldn’t breath. She couldn’t grasp. She couldn’t see. Her eyes were watching nothing. They were not registering. Her senses were stuck attending her lack of breath. They were—
Then they had gone home, separately. Both, completely scared of what happened, both, thinking they would never try it again. “You will not sneak around as long as you live in my house”. As his mom said that, she knew how incorrect it really was. He had probably tried some of the weed she had found, probably seen how it felt, and probably liked it. He will probably keep doing it, right? Could she stop him? It’s his choices, right? She felt so clever, as if she had seen it all. She saw so clearly what she was sure happened, it filled right into the details. The details were wrong. She was so clever, so sure of herself, she didn’t bother to notice her son’s phased face, and delicate body language. He had jumped when she told him not to sneak around, she didn’t notice how vulnerable he looked at that moment. He solemnly said “ok, sorry”. Maybe she would not understand the depth of what that meant, but she could have picked up on the fact that it had meant something. She didn’t really see that though. She did not notice.
“ok, sorry” he said. It wasn’t necessarily directed at any one, but more to everyone. He had encouraged her to try the stuff, and he had freaked out his mom, by telling a bad lie. Maybe he had made her hate him. ‘Does she hate me?’, he wondered. He had let his reality slip out of his hand. He saw what should have happened, and yet somehow it didn’t. On the brink of a total asthma attack, her inhaler did not bring down the adrenaline as it did her coughing. He saw what should have been a calming evening. The two conflicting pictures stayed dissonant in his mind.
He loved her. Though he felt sorry about that too. Sorry that he had to risk a solid friendship. He wanted so bad to hold her, to calm her down. His touch was fire, he never knew when he was going to outstretch his boundaries, and when she was going to melt. When she was going to wonder why he was always touching her, and when she was going to feel uncomfortable about their relationship. She was in equilibrium with him, they were both friends. He didn’t want to break that, scared that it would shatter.
She, of course, was blind. When they were together, she rarely intersected eyes. They were good friends, and they had interesting, flowing conversations. While she was thinking, he was sweating, searching her eyes for recognition of his existence, but she never looked back. She was always looking out into the distance. “I didn’t mean to” he wanted to say. She would probably not respond to that, how could she? She wasn’t even sure what had happened.
“I didn’t mean to”. His mom though, would dismiss this. Of course he meant to, right? He needed a way to get off the radar for an exciting night, right? He needed space, chance to be a kid. He must have meant to lie. At this point, time would speed up for his mom. She would go inside, and continue making dinner. She would continue her day, trying to ignore the white elephant in the room, her kid is doing things. He is doing what he will, and she can’t stop it. He is growing up. That’s what she would see all through dinner. He wasn’t so hungry, so he put his plate in the sink and left the table soon after dinner started. He’s growing up so fast isn’t he? She thought this, and then kept eating undisturbed. After dinner she did the dishes, and did not see him again that night.
In the morning, his mom looked better. He was happy to see his weed where he left it, untouched, undisturbed. He was in the clear then, this would all just fade away, right? He tried to call that happiness… really, it was just a minor relaxation. He still had a lot to fear; many things broke that night. He felt as if the whole incident was his fault, how could he even talk to her again? His lies felt so piercing, to both himself and others. “no mom, I’ll just be out for a bit, I’ll stay safe” “don’t worry about it, Emily, you’ll be ok, nothing bad happens when you try it” “no, everything’s ok, I’m fine, thanks for asking”. He was not fine, though this is not to be over dramatized. He felt no sense of impending doom, nothing was gettingworse. It was just that, nothing felt good, nothing was right. Everything was in its wrong place, and he felt powerless to fix it.
The mistakes were not even big enough to need fixing. He could not outright bring the subject up, just think about it. Just think about and know others are doing the same. Always thinking, until the thoughts turn stale, and go south. Its the worst fate: to have to guess what everyone else needs, to guess what they are seeing, to not know. ’Does she hate me?’
His mom had collected her thoughts. She would keep letting him go on suspicious sleep overs. He would continue to do what he wanted, and he would find the consequences that it would give him. “You will not sneak around as long as you live in my house”, his mom thought of that. She had cooled down, and knew that it would not stop.
No, he was sick. He was so sick, he had to excused himself from dinner right away. He could not eat calmly, when he kept seeing her cough. He kept remembering that gut wrenching feeling, not knowing how to help, watching her unable to breath. He needed fresh air. He got up, went to Emily’s house, and brought her up to the lookout on the highway, where they had smoked the day before. It had all gone wrong. “It had all gone wrong” he said to her, while watching the cars. But of course, everyone was in their own world, blind to everyone else. He looked at the cars, at the trees, but what was there to see? The cars moved so fast, he could barely see their color, and so many of the trees were identical. He could just make out the outline of each tree. It was more of a green screen, then a forest. He could not see really see the trees, even though he had all the time in the world to look at them. So maybe he was no better off than the driver, just as blind, just as occupied. They were driving, he was thinking, he was worrying, he was crying. Tears rolled down his face, blurring their shapes. Why was he crying, he didn’t really know. He felt like he was being so over dramatic, and yet, still, he cried. Sitting next to him, Emily didn’t really notice. She was thinking about how much it hurt to cough. She had not even heard his statement. He repeated it. “It had all gone wrong” to which she calmly replied. “yea, it did, didn’t it?”. They both separately looked at the trees, and sat in silence. “You will not sneak around as long as you live in my house”, he thought of those words, he thought of that day, the overgrown green grass, the dancing smoke, the texture of his roof, time and space. He thought of her, the neighbors, his mom, himself, the hundreds of cars passing by. It was all so claustrophobic, so many people, all with a place they want to be, and a place they think that others are going. All focused on the road, not taking a second to look around. He thought, and then took a breath of fresh air. In flowed a new breath, and then he let it all tumble out of his lungs, out of his windpipe, and finally out of his mouth.