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Beyond Names

May 15, 2020

A Breakfast Joint

Deep beneath the frozen city lived one of the only places which contained movement, life. The Deep Life's name was very accurate, for even though it had nothing to do with what it was - a breakfast joint - it was deep beneath the ground, beneath the frozen world, beneath the lack of life. And it was full of life - people chatted together, ate together, and held hands. In a frozen world of isolation, people held hands.
    "Wow, these pancakes are good," remarked Benjamin Shawnson.
    "I wish I could say the same thing about the waffles," said his husband, Roger Shawnson.
    "Let me taste them"
    "Not your whole dish, just a taste."
    "You can have it; I don't want it."
    "Oh, fine." Ben took a bite, and exclaimed, "Bad waffles? These are even better than the pancakes!"
    "Let me taste those pancakes."
    "Okay, here you go."
    "Not your whole dish. Just give me a little taste."
    "Oh, fine."
    Roger ate the taste, and said, "Well, they are a little better than the waffles-"
    "Here you go then."
    "I still don't want the whole dish. I'll just have one, and that'll be pushing my tolerance to the max. You can eat the rest."
    "Oh, fine. You never think anything is very good."
    "That's why I have you to correct me."
    The couple smiled at each other, and held hands. They ate the rest of their breakfast and lived happily together, until it was time to leave the land of life, and return to the land of technology, the land knowledge, the land of safety, the land of success, the land of failure, the land of argument, the land of chaos, the land of desperation, the land of ambition. The frozen world.

A New Smartphone

    "Does this situation sound familiar?" the advertiser was saying. "You're in you car, and just remember that there's a really important email you need to send."
    "Stupid ads," Alex snorted.
    "You pull over, write your email, and try to send it."
    "Nope, definitely never been in a situation like this before," said Alex, rolling her eyes.
    "But, when you click the send button, you get a message: no wifi. Hopefully you saved your email.
    "You try to turn on cellular data, but you've used it all up, and need to pay a fortune to get more. Why is it so expensive? There has to be another way, right?
    "Introducing the Jove 2. All cellular data is free. Now completely waterproof."
    "I bet it's a piece of junk."
    "No, I actually have it right here, Alex."
    "Seriously? You actually bought it?"
    "Uh-huh, and it is so good. I can use it anywhere I want - even in the water!"
    "Alexa, you sound like the advertisement."
    "Well, I'd say I'm a better advertisement than the one we just saw."
    "See, you're convinced to buy it, now aren't you?"
    "No, I never said that."
    "How come we always argue so much, even though we're twins?"
    "What do you mean? I thought you knew. That's what twins-"
    "Be quiet! The advertisements are over. It's starting."

An Eyeglasses Store

    "I wish I could go out into the world. I need some inspiration, some open space, some fresh air."
    "I can't believe they would arrest you. All the evidence shows you're not guilty."
    "But they all wanted me arrested, the judge, the jury, the lawyers. That made them unstoppable. I wish there was something I could do, besides entertaining myself inside."
    "Your new glasses are ready for pickup, at the Electrical Spectacles down the street."
    "Emma, you know I can't walk out into the yard, let alone across the street. Go get them yourself."
    "Come on, Al, maybe if you were disguised, no one would recognize you."
    Al shook their head.
    "Alright, fine, I’ll go, but you need to do something for me in return."
    "What am I doing, now?"
    "You're going to help me fill out my job application."
    "No way."
    "You're an amazing writer."
    "So amazing that anybody reading my writing would recognize it."
    "Well, I thought you were good enough to make your writing sound like somebody else."
    "I suppose I could..."
    "Then help me. I'll be doing most of the writing anyways, you'll just be giving me tips."
    "Seems like an terribly big favor in return for just walking down the street and back, to pick up my glasses."
    "Do you want your new glasses, or not? They're state-of-the-art, you know, electric. They automatically adjust to your vision. And this is the only store that sells them. Of course, its really a chain now, but-"
    "I can't bring myself to care. All I want are my glasses, but if I have to do your job application to get them-"
    "You don't need to do-"
    "Oh, so then why don't you go down the street and get them already?"
    "I can see why all the 'Wanted Dead or Alive' signs for you are posted everywhere. Your impossible!"
    "You know why they're up: because I'm a dangerous person. Or so they say. Really they just hate me because I'm... Well, anyways, you're about to see just how dangerous I can be without my glasses."
    "Am I now?"
    Al pinned Emma to the wall. "Get me my glasses."
    "I'll report you to the police-"
    "And get arrested for hiding a criminal in your house. Just get my glasses."
    "I hate you so much."
    "So you're one of them now."
    "I am not! You know, if I can't get a job, how will I feed you?"
    "You won't. I have other ways of getting food."
    "As illegal as getting food from you."
    "If you're not going to help me with a job application for me getting your glasses, then what will you help me for."
    "I'll think about it if you get me my glasses."
    "Fine, I'll get your stupid glasses."
    "Stupid? I thought the were state-of-"
    "Don't push it."

A Dog Pound

    I shivered as I walked through the empty, silent hall of Bones. I know dog pounds to have a good reputation, but this one was worse than I expected. My dog Lilly whimpered.
    "I know Lilly," I said "But how bad can it be? I can barely take care of you. Maybe somebody else will adopt you, somebody who can take care of you."
    Lilly whimpered some more.
    "I'll miss you too."
    It felt like decades passed as I carried Lilly down the hallway. I felt older by the time we reached the door at the end.
    Behind the door was an office. "Come in, come in," the person at the desk said. "Are you turning in your dog."
    "Well, I guess that's one way of putting it, but-"
    "Good, good." The person took my Lilly, and said, "Wait here." The person went through another door, and when they came out, they said, "Alright, you may go."
    "That's it?" I asked.
    "Yes, now go," the person said said, almost grumbling.
    All was silent except the whimpers of my dog - my former dog Lilly. Something felt wrong.
    "Can I see her?"
    "You may go," the person said again, so I opened the door and looked in. I only got a glimpse before I was pulled away, and I saw a bunch of cages, one with my dog Lilly, the rest with either corpses of dogs or piles of bones.

A Highway

    "Alright, were going onto Route 61-"
    "Hey that's prime-"
    "Harry, I don't care-"
    A car's horn beeped.
    "Hey! You have a red light, you-"
    "Cade, they can't hear-"
    "Can't you just stop arguing? There are more important things to do. Oh, and this is the Ancient Ghost Trail," Emma said, almost at a whisper.
    "Come on, you don't seriously believe-"
    "It's true, Harry."
    "Tell us more Emma!" said Cade.
    "Okay. A long, long time ago, this highway was a huge farm."
    "Really?" asked Harry skeptically.
    "Yes. The farmer and his wife had two children. One day, their children went missing. The farmer and his wife found a mysterious trail on their land which they hadn't seen before. They went along it, and meanwhile, they're nosy neighbor watched. Then the neighbor heard a scream, and went down the trail, only to find the farmer and his wife dead. Legend has it that it was the children-"
    "AAAHHH!!!" Cade shrieked.
    "What's wrong-"
    The car crashed, but only the airbag in front of the passenger seat came out.
    "Is everybody okay?" asked Emma from the back seat.
    "No, absolutely not!" Harry cried. "Cade's dead!"
    "You can't be serious!"
    "I am-"
    "Wait, I know why. It was the ghost of the farmer and his-"
    "No, it can't... Wait, what's that?"
    Slowly, Emma turned around.
    "Duck!" Emma whispered loudly. "Wait no, they're the ghosts of-"
    "There's no such thing as-"
    "Yes there is! They're the ghosts of the farmer and his wife. They're looking for children, not adults like us."
    "Or maybe they're live humans trying to scare us before taking our lives."
    "No, they're ghosts. They're going away. See, there they go down that trail."
    "What would a trail be doing on the side of a highway," asked Harry. "Wait, never mind, I know why. It's that trail-"
    "that the farmer and his wife went down," Emma finished. "Let's go follow them. I'll bring Cade. Maybe they know something about bringing the dead back to life."
    "Are you sure this is a good idea?"
    But Emma was already marching down the trail with Cade in her arms, and Harry had no choice but to follow.
    "Look, Harry there they are!" Emma whispered, this time loud enough that it echoed through the forest. "We come in peace!" Emma called out. "We were wondering if you know how to revive the dead."
    "When I was young," Harry mumbled, "I would look out the window and see the forest on the side of the highway. I wasn't very bright, I thought somebody had planted it, didn't suspect somebody had made a highway in the middle of the forest. Never thought I would actually see it up close, let alone be inside it."
    "Well, you are now, and for a good cause."
    "A good purpose not cause. The cause was the car-"
    "Shh! The ghosts are whispering."
    Emma and Harry listened, but couldn't make out a word the ghosts were saying.
    "You know," Harry began, "they don't look much like-
    "Of course they're ghosts," Emma snapped. "They're transparent, and-"
    "adults," Harry finished. "They look more like-"
    "children," Emma whispered. The ghosts made eye contact with Emma and Harry.
    They're screams could be heard by the police, who had just arrived at the seen of the car accident, only to find it abandoned.
    "It came from that way," one said.

An Island Resort

    "We could stay at the Palm Tree and Me Resort," suggested Abby.
    "Absolutely not," said Emily, exasperated.
    "Come on, we never go anywhere," protested Rory.
    "You can leave-"
    "And where would I go, Abby? You know why I rent a room from Emily. Same reason you do."
    "I know, but-"
    "Stop arguing!" said Emily, even more exasperated. "Or I'll have to kick you out!"
    Silence. More silence. The silence seemed to go on for hours.
    "You know, hmm," said Rory,"I think it's time for me to go to bed." He went away to his room.
    "But," Abby began, "it's only-"
    "Let him go," said Emily. "In fact, I think it's time we all go to bed."
    "Come on, I don't want to-"
    "Then you can leave."
    "You know I can't-"
    "All right, it's settled. We're going to bed."

A New Constellation

    "Hey, come over here!" called Bates from the other side of the field.
    "What is it?" I asked, running over to where Bates was with her telescope. "Did you find something?"
    "Here," she said, showing me her notebook. "I've sketched out some specific stars in the night sky. I've connected them, and outlined the shape. Can you see what they resemble?"
    I studied the sketch.
    "A teacup, or mug," I said.
    "Exactly. Now look through my telescope. Can you make the image out in the sky?"
    I peered through her telescope, and almost instantly saw the teacup. Funny, I'd never noticed it before, yet now that she'd pointed it out, it was impossible to miss.
    "Yeah," I answered. "It's a constellation."
    "And a knew one too," she said. "I looked through the complete record of constellations, and this combination of stars to make a teacup isn't mentioned."
    "You think it will become official?"
    "Who knows? I mean, it's pretty noticeable."
    "What will you name it?"
    "Umm, how about, 'Teacup?'"
    "I d'know, that's kind of a boring name."
    "Ooh, I know! 'Miller's Magic Teacup.'"
    "Don't name it after me!"
    "But 'Bate's Magic Teacup' doesn't sound as good-"
    "But you discovered it!"
    "Well, I'll sleep on it. Hey, look, the sun's rising."
    "Time to get a good day's sleep."
    "See you tomorrow."
    I walked home, and dreamed of what it would be like to have a constellation named after me.

A Pet Polar Bear

    "Izzy!" whispered Anna.
    "What Anna?" Izzy answered, annoyed.
    "Come, quick!"
    "Does it have to be now?"
    "It does, while Mom and Mama out."
    "Anna, what have you been hiding."
    "Follow me."
    Anna led Izzy to the closet in her room.
    "What's in there?" asked Izzy.
    Anna opened the closet door to reveal a small polar bear.
    "Her name's Gabriella."
    "Why is she here?!"
    "I found her outside. She looked lost. I just had to take her in."
    "If Mama or Mom find out-"
    "They won't find out, because you won't tell them."
    "I know I won't tell, but they could look in the closet and see for themselves."
    "And why would they do that?"
    "Maybe because they'll be able to here the polar bear making a ruckus."
    "But Gabriella's a quiet polar bear."
    "Well, maybe Gabriella'll leave the closet and wander around the house. Then they'll-"
    "You wouldn't do that, Gabriella, would-"
    "Hey sweeties! We're home!"
    "It's Mom and Mama!" whispered Anna frantically. "Quick hide-"
    "Wait, Gabriella isn't here," said Izzy.
    "Look," said Anna, "she's going through the door."

A Nail Polish Color

    "Would you like your fingernails, toenails, or both painted?" asked Tobist.
    "Both please," answered Mistil.
    "And which color?"
    "Blanket Green," answered Mistil matter-of-factly.
    "Never heard of that. Why don't you look at the options. Maybe we call it a different name."
    Tobist led Mistil to the colors, and Mistil said, "None of these are Blanket Green!"
    "Well then, which one would you like?"
    "None of them! I want Blanket Green! Where I come from, every decent place has Blanket Green!"
    "So what shall I paint your nails with?"
    "Nothing! I want my money back!"
    "There are no refunds allowed."
    "This is a scam!"
    "No, this is a place to get your nails painted, for real. Just because Curtain Green or whatever you call it-"
    "Blanket Green-"
    "isn't here, doesn't mean you can call this a scam."
    Mistil almost said something, then stormed off.
    Soon, the sun fell, and tiny specks called stars could be seen in the sky. "Sheesh, what a day," Mistil and Tobist said at the same time, each at their own house. "What a day, what a day. All because Blanket Green wasn't there. Blanket Green, Blanket Green."

A New Butterfly Species

    But oh, you may ask, could it actually talk? Could the Talking Butterfly utter words wiser than the owl, the tree, the Earth? The answer is not an easy one, but one thing is certain: the Talking Butterfly is very wise, but of course, you probably could already guess that by looking at it. I suppose I don't know much more about Talking Butterflies than you do, for I have only looked at them.
    I'm sure you have something to learn from me, and if not me, than the Talking Butterflies themselves. Watch, hear them speak if they truly do, and be mystified, but learn too. Nobody but them know the deepest secrets of the universe, of life. They know more than you and I will ever know. No matter how hard we try, we cannot be as knowledgeable nor wise as the Talking Butterflies.
    For one thing, the Talking Butterflies live in a completely different place than us, a place that they knew we would take a long time to find, though they already knew about us, no doubt. They are always infinitely many steps ahead of us, and no matter how advanced we think we are, we will always be below the Talking Butterflies. They teach each other better than we teach each other, and while we have nothing to teach them, they have infinitely many ideas and lessons to teach us. They are what we wish to be, but cannot be, and we must accept that. Only then will they bother teaching us anything, and even then, we might have trouble learning, as our minds are so small next to theirs.
    One thing we can learn from them with no trouble is their superiority in wisdom, knowledge, learning, teaching, communicating, feeling, all we wish we were good at, think we are good at. All we have to do is look at them, see their masterfully created colors on wings and body, and see their optimal shape. If we are wagons, then they are huge ships that can be flown into outer space, can travel almost as fast as light, can compute better than our best supercomputers, and are inhabitable for months, years, really as long as you wish, or more likely, they wish.
    Another thing we can learn from these amazing Talking Butterflies is the power of happiness, other positive emotions, and friendship. They can always be happy, content, and get along with each other like we never can. Again, it is easy to see this by their looks, and by the way the fly around so gently, so kindly. We could never take their place; we would go crazy, for we would grow extremely bored of our lives, extremely tired of everybody else, and we would want a more that doesn't exist. That is why we are down here while they are up there, and though we've finally "discovered" them, we will never appreciate their full greatness like they appreciate the full greatness of life.


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