Stories

Cocktail calculus


“What have you got there?”
It was too early in the night – two drinks in – for him to be surprised that she was leaning on the end of the counter, chin in her hands, watching avidly as he poured the contents of the shaker into his glass. Her fingernails tapped out a message, the contents of which he’d be wondering about for days.
He tried to concentrate on the canary-coloured half-rainbow spilling into his tumbler, a parabola restricted before its peak.
“Whiskey sour. Want to try it?” By habit, he offered it to her before taking a drink himself.
The dimple at the center of her upper lip, a local minimum, quirked delightfully as she mulled it over. He could make cocktail after cocktail to watch her mouth do that.
After an almost-too-long moment she made her approval known through the shifting xyz coordinates of her body shifting towards his, a nod and a clever flash of teeth. She deposited the glass back on the counter before him, remarking, “I didn’t know that you could make cocktails.”
“I can make you one.”
“Thanks, but I’m already double-fisting.” Droll, she pulled, from somewhere, a half-full bottle of beer and a glass of water topped with ice. The ice cubes, perfectly square, rattled against the sides.
There was a derivative to be taken somewhere in her words, but he was struck by the familiar sense that he was the only one present doing calculus.
He would have liked to make her a cocktail. He drank his whiskey sour from where her lip chap had left nigh-invisible smudges on the rim.
Advertisements

Beer matrices


She rolled a 5×5 matrix around on her tongue, and it was harder than watching her with a lollipop.

Is your boyfriend picking you up? It was unnecessary, so he didn’t say it.

Instead, “You’re drunk,” he pointed out, not un-humorously.

She leaned back into the couch, and stretched her arms upward with a wince, with evident satisfaction. The matrix glimmered on her tongue as she laughed. Her eyes were sleepy and contented, like a cat’s.

He imagined that she was imagining the arc of a satellite launched up and out into orbit.

“Not really!” she retorted. But she had water rather than beer now, and while she looked faraway in that sleepy, contented way, her expressions also made the two of them closer than they appeared. There was a half-cushion’s worth of couch between them. Rows and columns rattled against the edge of her glass as she drank, the sound like an ice cube.

“You can always stay here, if you want. We have room.” The couch. His bedroom.

The party had died down too much for anything they said to be confidential. Her gamine smile hid the numbers in her mouth, and her utter comfort in the curves of the couch was evident even as she put her glass down on the coffee table, and stood up.

CONDITIONAL HOLIDAYS ARE ALWAYS LESS THAN WHAT THEY SEEM (4/4)


Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

It felt like an age had passed while I was in the restroom. Yet it hadn’t been long enough. The older I get the less these conditional holidays seem like holidays at all, and more like work in disguise.

Lalantree?”

Reluctantly, I turned towards the voice and the mountains. Either it was my imagination or the twilight on that side of the plaza was deepening; shadows darkening the flowers among the scrub, and far above them, the pines and the crags. Someone had seen fit to leave a stone table on the grass not far from me, and its weathered scrollwork, and cracked surface, managed to convey forlornness amid the rest of this zytocoke1-fueled fantasy.

Mavind was sitting there, waiting for me with her cream self perched upon the faded grey, feet off the ground and legs swaying slightly. The table might as well have been placed for her. A creeper was growing up one leg. (more…)

CONDITIONAL HOLIDAYS ARE ALWAYS LESS THAN WHAT THEY SEEM (3/4)


Part 1

Part 2

I forged a path toward the washroom through the thinner bits of the crowd, conscious that my newfound powers in clearing away knots of people were 100% due to the Junoesque figure following me. And this, I realized, was one of the most exciting things that had happened on any of our CLPFC days; the expressions around us were awash with curiosity, shock, and delight. Everyone here would know that Ibrander’s date had jumped ship to Lalantree before lunch was served.

Trying to scan as many faces as possible without making eye contact (now this is a true art) I almost bumped into Loddi’s mum. This in spite of her neon floral mumu. “Oh, hello Lalantree. Loddi isn’t with you?”

No…” Mavind had come up close behind me, and Loddi’s mum did a double take. (more…)

Conditional Holidays are Always Less Than What They Seem (2/4)


Part 1

Nonchalant and all that, I waited until the last moment to look up at the welcome interlopers.

Ibrander,” said a poised, throaty, laughing voice, “won’t you introduce me?”

They stopped in front of the bench, my third cousin Ibrander1 (who detests Loddi, making me instantly suspicious of his coming over) and a tall, glossy person who was all rich brown hair and expressive mouth and hand gestures. One hand was on Ibrander’s arm but she still managed to be gesturing with it. Her clothes were nothing less than dashing – a wide hat and a one-piece dress suit in cream, its tailored A-line skirt skewing physics by ending in a sway. This was one case where I didn’t have to worry about the polite game that people played of trying to guess-without-guessing whether someone was visiting in-holo only. She was most definitely in person. (more…)

Conditional Holidays are Always Less than What They Seem (1/4)


Loddi Frisket is a black hole of neuroses. His very existence centres on an unstable singularity, which sucks in anxieties, crises, and the most outlandishly negative possibilities. From prior experience I can attest that his event horizon fluctuates around a diameter of approximately 15 metres. Sometimes the emotional debris which gathers on his accretion disk is an accurate enough warning that I can reverse course, and get away before his attention fixes on me. Sometimes it is not enough.

To give you a sense of just what I am dealing with, Loddi once asked me if I would rather lose my heart (and dignity) to a psychopathic baker, or flee the civilized world, giving up everything from clean pillow shams to NutriPills, only to waste away in boondocks replete with SABs1 and smugglers.

In my humble opinion, the baker of Loddi’s bipolar love was not psychopathic (I still buy rolls there), but merely possessed of poor judgement, seeing as she countenanced his Gothic style of flirting in the first place. Furthermore, it is well known that the Carwallian smugglers (the only smugglers within 50 lightyears to whom Loddi could have possibly been referring) live very well in their off-planet colonies, though the latter are admittedly remote places. Politics may be laissez-faire over in the Esten Economic Zone but they still don’t want blatant crime polluting the fine views and real estate values of the elite.

(more…)

Orison


Offer prayers to dispassionate gods, with the ground you walk and the blood you trade. Hear, in the calls of the night and the sighs of the snow, the silence in their answers.

I was fascinated; silence as a measure of something, or of nothing at all.

But Sato was shaking his head. “You have a strange sense of humour Gen, if you were trying to be funny. That is not a book I like.”

The worn cover might have indicated otherwise, but I closed the book and folded it into my lap. Beneath one hand I still traced the sword upon its bindings, thin and crude when compared to the graceful characters traced on the pages. (more…)