Exile from the Grey City

She visited the city while sleeping, and discovered that it had rearranged itself once again, like a giant Rubik’s Cube. Like a Rubik’s cube, certain central parts of the city always remained relative to each other: Thus the cathedral was always north of the university and the green glass towers that rose on spindly stilts above the central park, while the ocean always lay to the west. The train lines switched around quite a bit–they couldn’t be trusted, and while she had tried to map the stations in her waking hours, every time she returned, they had reordered themselves to some arcane algorithm and she had to learn them all over again.

Gloomily she recalled the first Rubik’s Cube she had destroyed as a child. Her father had given her one to solve, left it with her after giving it a dozen or so twists one morning, and promised her a treat if she had figured it out by the time he came home for dinner. She turned it around on itself for hours, but it only grew more disordered, not less. “Entropy,” her older brother said, watching over her shoulder.

“What’s entropy?” she asked.

He tried to explain it to her but failed, and settled for, “It’s like getting messier.”

“Oh,” she said. Messy she understood.

He took the cube from her.

“Hey!” she said. “That’s mine. Dad’ll give me a treat if I solve it.”

“You can tell him you solved it,” he said. “I won’t tell.”

“It’s not the same,” she protested.

But he fiddled with it for only five or ten minutes before getting bored and tossing it back to her. And then it was just before Daddy would come home, and she hadn’t solved it. Even if she got two or three sides fixed up, the other sides remained a mess. All he had to do was turn it round to see the messy entropy-ridden backside. No treat, and a disappointed look.

So she carefully pried up the stickers on the recalcitrant sides, and then tried to restick them on. But the stickers tore coming off or wrinkled and bubbled going back on, and it was too obvious that she had given up. It was even worse. Ashamed, she pried apart the Rubik’s Cube and buried it in pieces in the rock garden.

But you couldn’t do that with a city, and she was wary of breaking the city. Wary of forcing it into ways of being. So she never tried to make the stations stay put, even though it was a horrible inconvenience.


Don’t Sell The Dreams You Should Be Keeping

Prompt: Take a line from a song that you love or connect with. Now forget the song, and turn that line into the title or inspiration for your post.

Ginny cursed under her breath. Last day of the month meant rent coming due and her CD racks were as bare as her bank account. Her classic vinyl had long gone, shortly followed by her decks, and just last month, she had sold her CDs to make rent. She reluctantly hefted her stereo, wondering if it was pawnable, covered in stickers and beat up as it was.

“Fuck,” she said. 

She couldn’t borrow the money. Her parents lived on disability checks and were in near as dire straits. Her friends, what few she had left in this city, were already owed more than smiles and promises. No way would Ramon give her an advance on her paycheque. Stingy bastard.

So that left Angela. Fuck.

She had promised Angela last time, that was it, never again, and Angela had smiled and said, “Sure, Ginny, I understand. You know where to find me if you change your mind.”

Which was why Ginny found herself taking the Muni down to the outer Sunset, running through opening gambits in her mind, reminding herself not to seem too desperate. Of course, it wouldn’t work with Angela–it never did. If you were selling to Angela, you were desperate. It was a buyers’ market.

Angela lived at the far end of Taraval in a squat white-walled house with barred windows and a dirty iron-grilled gate. Ginny buzzed the doorbell and shivered. Even though it was summer, the winds off the ocean were able to whip up perpetual mist, and even when it was sunny downtown, it was often grey out here. Angela liked it, although she made enough money that she could afforded something nicer, Ginny was sure.

She waited five minutes and was about to walk away, more than a little relieved, when Angela’s door creaked open, and Angela herself descended the stairs to meet Ginny at the gate. She looked amazing, thought Ginny resentfully, as she eyed Angela’s draped jewel-toned top and tailored slacks.

“Hi, sis,” said Angela with the wide insincere cheerfulness that was her trademark. “What brings you down this way?”

Ginny bit her lip.

Inspiration: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6myNbk15sMs