Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Missed Opportunities of Days Gone By

“Hello?” I said into the phone, accepting the call from a number I didn’t recognize.

“Hey,” the feminine voice on the other replied, as though I should know the sound of her voice.

At a loss, I said, “Can I help you?”

“It’s Brooke.”

Her name stopped me. It couldn’t possibly be her. We hadn’t spoken in years, a decade perhaps. “Brooke?”

“Yeah, Brooke Baker. This is Mark, right?”

Jesus Christ. It was her. “Yeah, it is Mark. Brooke. Wow. How are you? It’s been a long time since… well… since anything.”

“I know.”

“So, how are you doing?”

“Okay, I suppose…” Her voice belied her words, though. Something was up. “I… It’s just been so long and I guess I wanted to hear your voice.”

“I don’t think I had a number for you. Ever. I offered a couple of times, but…”

“I was a brat back then.”

And that’s how a random phone call turned into a two-and-a-half hour catch-up session. We spoke of everything under the sun: people we still knew, how different we were, how the same we were, how everything had changed. We both admitted to each other a long lost desire for one another, a fire that had burned out. It was a heat that was long past.

We spoke of our relationships, where we were now, both married, neither with children, myself divorced.

The conversation ended abruptly in a way that was beyond my comprehension. “Damn it,” she said. “Chris is here. I’ve got to go.”

“Chris?”

“My husband.”

And without so much as a customary goodbye, the line went dead.


The rest of this story is available in the collection "Cupid Painted Blind" available on Amazon for the Kindle.






Once in a Dream

You've told me many times before
that we're nothing but "just-friends" anymore
But I dreamt of you last night,
and it was the sweetest thing I've ever seen.
We were running from someone,
arm in arm.
He was after you, your beauty, your virtue, your love,
but you couldn't surrender it,
not to him anyway.
And so there I was, just a friend.
But I loved you anyway and there we were.
He called out to you and we ducked under an outcropping,
thick in the fog.
We were pressed against each other,
keeping from his sight,
trying our hardest to stay quiet.
And I could feel your heart beating so close to mine
that your "just-friend" just had to do something about it.
Softly, on your lips I kissed you,
knowing full well that I shouldn't have.
But you kissed back and for five brief seconds
I was in bliss.
But it was all just an impossible dream.

I woke up and could still feel your lips on mine,
and it broke my heart when I realized
my dream might never come true.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

God Bless You, Mr. Vonnegut

In honor Kurt Vonnegut's memory on this, the second anniversary of his untimely death, I wanted to share with you guys a letter I wrote to Vonnegut but regret never sending.

Dated February 18, 2006, it was written just over a year prior to his death. I typed it up on an old Corona typewriter.

I've also submitted this and accompanying column to the Huffington Post. Here's the link to that article. (For other Huffington Post columns of mine, click here.)

Also, It'll only be another day or two for me to be posting a new short story. It's being a little bit more troublesome than I'd like.

Mr. Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.,

My name is Bryan Young and this is the second letter I've written you, but only the first I've sent. I read the first letter I wrote to you and crumpled it up and threw it in the trash. What it had to say was this: I'm 25, I've read almost your complete library every year since I was 15 and respect, admire, and cherish you and what you have said in the last 60-plus years, using only idiosyncratic arrangements in horizontal lines, with ink on bleached and flattened wood pulp, of twenty-six phonetic symbols, ten numbers, and about eight punctuation marks. In it, I also mentioned that you, your books, and your overly infectious ideas are what gave me the courage to pursue a career in documentary filmmaking and writing screenplays.

I didn't quit my day job.

The overall point of my first, unsent, letter was to give you some solace in the fact that youth isn't entirely useless. (Not the state of being youthful, merely those of us with less experience and wisdom as you.) There are still those of us who care about history and Abraham Lincoln and reading newspapers and Mark Twain and Sacco and Vanzetti. There are some of us who still type with typewriters and send letters (see, you're holding the proof in your hands!) and care about those around us.

Sadly, my last letter lacked eloquence. So far, I don't feel this one does either, but it's much closer.

The point that I wanted to make with my first letter, but failed to do so, was this: Your work has made a difference. Maybe it didn't change the world, but it certainly changed me (and those whom I force your books upon). Your message will be carried on by those of us courageous (or foolish) enough to carry it.

Before I go, I want to apologize for the familiarity with which I write this letter to you. I've read your novels (and short stories, anthologies, and plays) so often and have for so long, that they're like visits to an old friend (or a late night drunken phone call to old buddies from school.) Although we've never met and never communicated, I feel as though you're sort of a father figure, or a very old friend.

I hope you are well. Perhaps you'll publish another anthology of essays and I'll be able to visit my old writing buddy one more time.

Sincerely and with all the respect in the world,

Bryan Young