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People watching with embellishment: 10 small fictions about 10 real people
More magic & less realism = More hope for humanity
We’ll never really know who the strangers we encounter really are (or even ourselves, all existences are self-rationalizing). I can tell if I’m in a good mood or a wicked one by how kind the micro-stories in my head are as I pass people I’ll never meet. So on a scale of Mr. Scrooge to Mr. Rogers, here are ten miniature biographies I made up as I went along.
I’m not saying it’s healthy, I’m just saying it happens.
Regarding the Lady In The Huge Straw Hat who is angrily muttering while hauling out her overloaded trash bin:
She has poisoned three husbands, none of them hers. The stress of possibly being arrested has made her grind her molars down to nubs, and she sleeps with a stolen axe popped against her nightstand.
Regarding the Extremely Tall And Pale Child who is furiously whacking a tree branch into a fire hydrant while waiting for his bus:
He has secretly peed onto every houseplant his mother ever bought and she blames herself when the leaves fall off.
Regarding the Hippie Who Wears Huge Crystals who is walking her one-eyed dog in a weather-beaten stroller:
She was born with a tail and wiggles it to disco music on OnlyFans. She has made almost a million dollars and has used some of the money to clone that dog twice already.
Regarding the Leathery Bearded Man who is feeding crows peanuts on his front porch:
He took a vow of silence twenty years ago after he jumped out from behind a tree, yelled, “Surprise!” and triggered his nephew’s fatal heart attack.
Regarding the Preposterously Beautiful Jogger who is navigating the world like an adopted swan:
She has a genetic glitch that will enable her to live for almost two hundred years, and even though she looks about twenty-five she’s actually sixty-four. Her resting heart-rate is twelve beats per minute.
Regarding the Hunched Men Holding Hands as they plod through the park:
They met while train-hopping across Kansas in the seventies and became internationally famous tattoo artists until arthritis-mandated their retirement during the first Obama administration. They share all their clothes.
Regarding the Man On His Laptop who looks like the anthropomorphism of stress-induced insomnia:
He doesn’t know it yet, but his wife’s frail and favorite aunt bought fistfuls of Amazon stock in 1997, and soon he’ll be able to write the incendiary resignation letter he’s been composing in his mind for almost a decade, at which point his IBS will be instantly cured.
Regarding the Windowless Van Driver who ran a red light and then flipped the bird at the pedestrian he almost smeared into oblivion:
His only child is silent in the back of the van, bleeding brightly from her injuries. The hospital is a quarter mile away, and nothing will stop him from being the kind of Dad he always wished he had.
Regarding the Shopping Cart Pusher who sets up camp in the woods:
Her art was exhibited in the Guggenheim—she dipped her breasts into acrylic then pressed them repeatedly onto massive canvases to spell out various unspeakable truths—and she’s been proposed to eleven times by various titans of art and industry who ached to possess and tame the energy that illuminates her. She feels she dodged eleven bullets, but still feels their sting.
Regarding the Nervous Flower Buyer who is fidgeting in the self-checkout line at the grocery store.
It’s taken him seventeen reincarnations and almost a thousand years, but he’s finally found someone who not only automatically understands, but also frictionlessly adores, the soul he’s got stuffed behind his sternum.