This bedroom had a hopeful air. His bedspread was dark red, with neat hospital corners and a sort of Courtyard-by-Marriott feel.

It was not of a piece with the rest of the house, where children had made their mark in every corner: raw macaroni in the corners of the kitchen; a Star Wars lego set; a sign-in sheet on the girl’s bedroom door. (He had laughed when he told her that neither he nor his sons signed in, and she had made a mental note that when she finally met the girl, who was 12, she would definitely sign in. Sign-in sheets were serious business.) 

Yes, this bed was very neatly made indeed. It had certain expectations. It is the sixth date, this bed said. Shit is gonna happen now.

“Carve out some space next to you. It doesn’t have to feel like loneliness.”
Her therapist’s words. It was a little annoying to have such a hot therapist. She had two kids—three and five—yet she was always wearing something lovely and gray in a size 4, from Banana Republic. Always dressed like she had a real office to go to, not just dealing with neurotic 35-year-olds in bourgeois Brooklyn Heights.

She always shut off the overhead light, and shut the curtain so she couldn’t be seen, at therapy. How mortifying to be talking about feelings and crying while across the courtyard some asshole neighbor in a wifebeater watched her and ate Golden Grahams. 

Carve out some space. It was helpful advice. She’d pictured The Future Man’s vague outline, like a scene in CSI Miami. The shape of the body on the ground.
It was a big bed—king-size?—and she noted happily that everything he owned was to the right. Alarm clock; water glass; glasses. He slept on the left. A relief.

Light on or off, he asked, rolling down her tights, turning her on her side. 

Lights on.

She woke up at 4, as the radiator howled. The brownstone had one triple-pane window, over which he’d placed no curtains. They framed the trees and moon like a Japanese screen. 
—Madeleine Bell

This bedroom had a hopeful air. His bedspread was dark red, with neat hospital corners and a sort of Courtyard-by-Marriott feel.

It was not of a piece with the rest of the house, where children had made their mark in every corner: raw macaroni in the corners of the kitchen; a Star Wars lego set; a sign-in sheet on the girl’s bedroom door. (He had laughed when he told her that neither he nor his sons signed in, and she had made a mental note that when she finally met the girl, who was 12, she would definitely sign in. Sign-in sheets were serious business.) 

Yes, this bed was very neatly made indeed. It had certain expectations. It is the sixth date, this bed said. Shit is gonna happen now.

“Carve out some space next to you. It doesn’t have to feel like loneliness.”

Her therapist’s words. It was a little annoying to have such a hot therapist. She had two kids—three and five—yet she was always wearing something lovely and gray in a size 4, from Banana Republic. Always dressed like she had a real office to go to, not just dealing with neurotic 35-year-olds in bourgeois Brooklyn Heights.

She always shut off the overhead light, and shut the curtain so she couldn’t be seen, at therapy. How mortifying to be talking about feelings and crying while across the courtyard some asshole neighbor in a wifebeater watched her and ate Golden Grahams. 

Carve out some space. It was helpful advice. She’d pictured The Future Man’s vague outline, like a scene in CSI Miami. The shape of the body on the ground.

It was a big bed—king-size?—and she noted happily that everything he owned was to the right. Alarm clock; water glass; glasses. He slept on the left. A relief.

Light on or off, he asked, rolling down her tights, turning her on her side. 

Lights on.

She woke up at 4, as the radiator howled. The brownstone had one triple-pane window, over which he’d placed no curtains. They framed the trees and moon like a Japanese screen. 

Madeleine Bell

Gil could never be alone. No matter how hard he tried, people—or the evidence of them—followed him everywhere.

In an empty room, he could smell body odor and perfume; spot the depression in the cushion where the most recent visitor had sat. In an empty street, he navigated around the fresh expectorations of passersby. On and around doorknobs, he could see oily fingerprints, smudged by movement. He imagined all of the microscopic flakes of skin—casually sloughed off by everyday friction or scraped off by nervous fingernails—covering every inch of the landscape, every upholstered surface.

Gil knew that he was surrounded by pieces of other humans, so it seemed that there was very little space between him and them. The potential for contamination repulsed him.

He thought he’d succeeded in Saran-wrapping his life. In the three years since he’d moved into his one-bedroom flat, no one had entered it but him. And for good reason: it had taken long enough, and a great deal of rented equipment, to make it worthy of his things.

The ringing phone that morning was an ear-piercing alarm. A phone call was never good news, and as soon as Gil heard it, he knew he was about to get the air knocked out of him.

The landlord had gotten right to the point: “We got bedbugs in the building. That hippie college boy that just moved in musta brought ’em home from Thailand or the frickin’ ashah-ram or some shit,” he said. “I don’t know what the hell he’s on about half the time. Or why he thinks I give a goddamn ding-a-ling.” Ralph always spoke this way to Gil, even though the garrulous chatter was in no way reciprocated.

Now, to prevent an invasion from the tiniest of Trojan horses—these vermin with bellies full of the blood of others—his sanctuary would be violated. He imagined all the pairs of work boots that would track in the fragments of others. Soon his empty apartment would be overcrowded, and Gil already felt the suffocation setting in.
 —Adele Azabache

Gil could never be alone. No matter how hard he tried, people—or the evidence of them—followed him everywhere.

In an empty room, he could smell body odor and perfume; spot the depression in the cushion where the most recent visitor had sat. In an empty street, he navigated around the fresh expectorations of passersby. On and around doorknobs, he could see oily fingerprints, smudged by movement. He imagined all of the microscopic flakes of skin—casually sloughed off by everyday friction or scraped off by nervous fingernails—covering every inch of the landscape, every upholstered surface.

Gil knew that he was surrounded by pieces of other humans, so it seemed that there was very little space between him and them. The potential for contamination repulsed him.

He thought he’d succeeded in Saran-wrapping his life. In the three years since he’d moved into his one-bedroom flat, no one had entered it but him. And for good reason: it had taken long enough, and a great deal of rented equipment, to make it worthy of his things.

The ringing phone that morning was an ear-piercing alarm. A phone call was never good news, and as soon as Gil heard it, he knew he was about to get the air knocked out of him.

The landlord had gotten right to the point: “We got bedbugs in the building. That hippie college boy that just moved in musta brought ’em home from Thailand or the frickin’ ashah-ram or some shit,” he said. “I don’t know what the hell he’s on about half the time. Or why he thinks I give a goddamn ding-a-ling.” Ralph always spoke this way to Gil, even though the garrulous chatter was in no way reciprocated.

Now, to prevent an invasion from the tiniest of Trojan horses—these vermin with bellies full of the blood of others—his sanctuary would be violated. He imagined all the pairs of work boots that would track in the fragments of others. Soon his empty apartment would be overcrowded, and Gil already felt the suffocation setting in.

 —Adele Azabache

I tense my body, and hold my breath, as if by doing so my skin would retreat a few inches. Tiny black holes forming within my ribcage, spiraled galaxy knots in my back, my heart and stomach shrinking, all to make more space on the outside of me. A sisyphean attempt to make space for chests, backs, arms, elbows, hands, hair, coats, handbags, briefcases, backpacks, umbrellas, packages, carriages, tablets, phones, devices. Wishing I could pull my ears into my head to make space for voices. Squeezing my eyes shut to make space for all the faces, as my lungs are invaded by eight million exhalations.
Maybe if I just fold and fold and fold into myself I will become two dimensional like the boot printed papers on the floor. Nothing remarkable will be done with the space I’ve left because there will always be another person to fill it, like spheres of lipids on the surface of water. I wonder how many people just fold out of existence in this place, without notice, blowing like papers in the wind.
And so I think of stars and how when stars die they expand; consuming all of the chests, backs, arms, elbows, hands, hair, coats, handbags, briefcases, backpacks, umbrellas, packages, carriages, tablets, phones, devices, voices, faces, exhalations, lipids, papers, planets, satellites, comets and the whole of everything. Expelling fiery emissions into the infinite universe in a devastating and glorious gasp of proof, that here, once, was life, was a star. Within me, and the black holes forming within my ribcage, and the spiraled galaxy knots in my back, and in my burning heart and my shrinking stomach, are the particles of stars which in a completely disorienting and unlikely series of events, traveled across the infinite universe and were a countless number of other things, but right now they are me, and I am the proof that here, once, is life, is a star.
So I expand.
—Emily Taylor

I tense my body, and hold my breath, as if by doing so my skin would retreat a few inches. Tiny black holes forming within my ribcage, spiraled galaxy knots in my back, my heart and stomach shrinking, all to make more space on the outside of me. A sisyphean attempt to make space for chests, backs, arms, elbows, hands, hair, coats, handbags, briefcases, backpacks, umbrellas, packages, carriages, tablets, phones, devices. Wishing I could pull my ears into my head to make space for voices. Squeezing my eyes shut to make space for all the faces, as my lungs are invaded by eight million exhalations.

Maybe if I just fold and fold and fold into myself I will become two dimensional like the boot printed papers on the floor. Nothing remarkable will be done with the space I’ve left because there will always be another person to fill it, like spheres of lipids on the surface of water. I wonder how many people just fold out of existence in this place, without notice, blowing like papers in the wind.

And so I think of stars and how when stars die they expand; consuming all of the chests, backs, arms, elbows, hands, hair, coats, handbags, briefcases, backpacks, umbrellas, packages, carriages, tablets, phones, devices, voices, faces, exhalations, lipids, papers, planets, satellites, comets and the whole of everything. Expelling fiery emissions into the infinite universe in a devastating and glorious gasp of proof, that here, once, was life, was a star. Within me, and the black holes forming within my ribcage, and the spiraled galaxy knots in my back, and in my burning heart and my shrinking stomach, are the particles of stars which in a completely disorienting and unlikely series of events, traveled across the infinite universe and were a countless number of other things, but right now they are me, and I am the proof that here, once, is life, is a star.

So I expand.

—Emily Taylor

Can’t get that sci-fi novel you’re writing off the ground? Is it weighed down in too many charts, statistics, words, and pages? Then just upgrade your prose with some well-placed innuendo! Your geeky little textbook will strip itself into a jaw-dropping bombshell of a bestseller that editors will drool over. If that doesn’t compute, here are some examples showing how easy it is to spice up your next sci-fi adventure.

Before:
Chris was on his way to the planet Jupiter. He was going to dock at the space station and perform a dangerous spacewalk, but he knew his years of training would protect him from the perils of space.
 After:
Christina was on her way to the seductive planet of Jupiter. She was going to dock at the space station and perform a dangerous spacewalk, but she knew a bunch of hot firefighters-turned-astronauts were going to do it for her. Oh, and space is perilous or something.

*** 

Before:
“It seems the energy leak is coming from this reactor,” Dr. West said. “I’ll have five minutes to go inside and deactivate it before the entire Moon base is destroyed.”

“But you could die out there!” his assistant Barbara exclaimed. “Let me come with you.”

“It’s too dangerous for you, Barbara,” West cautioned. “You’d be much safer here.”

After:
“It seems the energy leak is coming from this reactor,” Dr. West said. “I’ll have five minutes to get inside and deactivate it before the entire Moon base is destroyed.”

“But the reactor has a sex swing!” his assistant Barbara exclaimed. “Let me come with you.”

“It’s too sexy for you, Barbara,” West cautioned. “You’d be much safer here. Also, for God’s sake, please put your clothes back on.”

***

Before:
AlphaBot X-2000 lowered its head to get a closer look at the organism writhing on the ground. It was an uncategorized species, certainly, but what kind? Carbon-based? Silicon-based? X-2000’s data processers whirred with excitement. Not only was this a discovery of a new life form, but potentially that of a new kind of life altogether!

After:
AlphaBot X-2000 lowered its head.

—Chester DeLish 

Can’t get that sci-fi novel you’re writing off the ground? Is it weighed down in too many charts, statistics, words, and pages? Then just upgrade your prose with some well-placed innuendo! Your geeky little textbook will strip itself into a jaw-dropping bombshell of a bestseller that editors will drool over. If that doesn’t compute, here are some examples showing how easy it is to spice up your next sci-fi adventure.

Before:

Chris was on his way to the planet Jupiter. He was going to dock at the space station and perform a dangerous spacewalk, but he knew his years of training would protect him from the perils of space.

 After:

Christina was on her way to the seductive planet of Jupiter. She was going to dock at the space station and perform a dangerous spacewalk, but she knew a bunch of hot firefighters-turned-astronauts were going to do it for her. Oh, and space is perilous or something.

*** 

Before:

“It seems the energy leak is coming from this reactor,” Dr. West said. “I’ll have five minutes to go inside and deactivate it before the entire Moon base is destroyed.”

“But you could die out there!” his assistant Barbara exclaimed. “Let me come with you.”

“It’s too dangerous for you, Barbara,” West cautioned. “You’d be much safer here.”

After:

“It seems the energy leak is coming from this reactor,” Dr. West said. “I’ll have five minutes to get inside and deactivate it before the entire Moon base is destroyed.”

“But the reactor has a sex swing!” his assistant Barbara exclaimed. “Let me come with you.”

“It’s too sexy for you, Barbara,” West cautioned. “You’d be much safer here. Also, for God’s sake, please put your clothes back on.”

***

Before:

AlphaBot X-2000 lowered its head to get a closer look at the organism writhing on the ground. It was an uncategorized species, certainly, but what kind? Carbon-based? Silicon-based? X-2000’s data processers whirred with excitement. Not only was this a discovery of a new life form, but potentially that of a new kind of life altogether!

After:

AlphaBot X-2000 lowered its head.

—Chester DeLish 

Topic #10: Space
It was Lenny’s first summer at camp, and she hated it. Most of the other kids had been coming to Camp Ossipee for years, but this was her first time. Her parents had just separated, and her mom said she “needed some space.”
So here she was, poor fourteen-year-old Lenny: brace-faced, chunky, unathletic, completely in denial about her budding boobs—and sharing a room with six other campers, none of whom were remotely acquainted with the virtue known as modesty. At any given moment, there was a half-naked girl lounging around. It was so embarrassing, thought Lenny. But then, everything was embarrassing to a girl like Lenny, who was used to silence and order and being left alone.
And then Matty happened. She didn’t even like him at first, truth be told. He was loud and brash—exactly the type of person Lenny would go out of her way to avoid, but with the added terror of being a boy.
They were in arts and crafts, and the instructor had gone into the kiln room to investigate a shattered pot. The class got rowdier the longer the patchouli-scented lady was gone, so when Lenny heard tittering behind her, she didn’t dare turn around. What if they were laughing at her? She continued to fuss over her vase, trying to imagine the bubbles and flares that the heat would create in the paint overnight. Maybe a beautiful handmade gift would cheer up her mom.
She felt something against her knee and looked down. Then she froze.
“May I shine your shoes, miss?”
It wasn’t just the nasally falsetto that knocked Lenny for a loop. Matty had folded himself up like a pretzel, legs behind his ears, and was scooting all over the room on his butt. He bugged out his eyes and set his bottom teeth in a pug’s exaggerated underbite as he looked up at her, reveling in his compromised position.
Lenny gasped and ran to the bathroom, where she cried at the realization that she’d just fallen in love. Because what else could she do?
—Adele Azabache 

It was Lenny’s first summer at camp, and she hated it. Most of the other kids had been coming to Camp Ossipee for years, but this was her first time. Her parents had just separated, and her mom said she “needed some space.”

So here she was, poor fourteen-year-old Lenny: brace-faced, chunky, unathletic, completely in denial about her budding boobs—and sharing a room with six other campers, none of whom were remotely acquainted with the virtue known as modesty. At any given moment, there was a half-naked girl lounging around. It was so embarrassing, thought Lenny. But then, everything was embarrassing to a girl like Lenny, who was used to silence and order and being left alone.

And then Matty happened. She didn’t even like him at first, truth be told. He was loud and brash—exactly the type of person Lenny would go out of her way to avoid, but with the added terror of being a boy.

They were in arts and crafts, and the instructor had gone into the kiln room to investigate a shattered pot. The class got rowdier the longer the patchouli-scented lady was gone, so when Lenny heard tittering behind her, she didn’t dare turn around. What if they were laughing at her? She continued to fuss over her vase, trying to imagine the bubbles and flares that the heat would create in the paint overnight. Maybe a beautiful handmade gift would cheer up her mom.

She felt something against her knee and looked down. Then she froze.

“May I shine your shoes, miss?”

It wasn’t just the nasally falsetto that knocked Lenny for a loop. Matty had folded himself up like a pretzel, legs behind his ears, and was scooting all over the room on his butt. He bugged out his eyes and set his bottom teeth in a pug’s exaggerated underbite as he looked up at her, reveling in his compromised position.

Lenny gasped and ran to the bathroom, where she cried at the realization that she’d just fallen in love. Because what else could she do?

—Adele Azabache 

Berlin is a city built on a river.  The Spree weaves through the center of everything, past the Norman Foster-ized Bundestag and the new presidential palace.  A cruise shows these up close, and also reveals the bullet scars in the Baroque buildings left from the fighting at the end of the Second World War.  The river was for a time a part of the Berlin Wall.
About a 90 minute drive from Berlin is the Spreewald, where the Spree lazes through a flat, forested area.  Although tourism is the main living for the area it isn’t especially popular with non-Germans other than the few who know that in Goodnight Lenin the mother’s favorite treat was a Spreewald pickle.  German reunification was the start of cripplingly high unemployment in the area, however it did mean that the Spreewald became a UNESCO biosphere reserve. 
One entry point to the Spreewald is Lubben, an old Prussian town not yet scrubbed of the Red Army memorials and boxy concrete construction from Communist times.  Given that the Polish border isn’t far away, it doesn’t come as a surprise that more than 80 percent of the town had been destroyed in the fierce fighting at the end of the Second World War. Only a few fragments of the medieval past remain. Men in wifebeaters lean out the windows of their apartments, smoking and watching the streets.
In the natural beauty of the park the freight of the past and the burden of the future simply fall away.  Paddling a kayak in Berlin’s river but in the midst of wilderness is a meditation, punctuated only occasionally by a canal lock that brings a group of boats either up or down into the next section of the park. 
Among the small number of houseboats along the river, a few have an imbiss, a little snack stand, at water level.  It is hard to describe what it feels like to paddle down the Spree with a hot pretzel, a sausage and a beer, except to say that sometimes life can be perfect.
—CK LeRossignol

Berlin is a city built on a river.  The Spree weaves through the center of everything, past the Norman Foster-ized Bundestag and the new presidential palace.  A cruise shows these up close, and also reveals the bullet scars in the Baroque buildings left from the fighting at the end of the Second World War.  The river was for a time a part of the Berlin Wall.

About a 90 minute drive from Berlin is the Spreewald, where the Spree lazes through a flat, forested area.  Although tourism is the main living for the area it isn’t especially popular with non-Germans other than the few who know that in Goodnight Lenin the mother’s favorite treat was a Spreewald pickle.  German reunification was the start of cripplingly high unemployment in the area, however it did mean that the Spreewald became a UNESCO biosphere reserve. 

One entry point to the Spreewald is Lubben, an old Prussian town not yet scrubbed of the Red Army memorials and boxy concrete construction from Communist times.  Given that the Polish border isn’t far away, it doesn’t come as a surprise that more than 80 percent of the town had been destroyed in the fierce fighting at the end of the Second World War. Only a few fragments of the medieval past remain. Men in wifebeaters lean out the windows of their apartments, smoking and watching the streets.

In the natural beauty of the park the freight of the past and the burden of the future simply fall away.  Paddling a kayak in Berlin’s river but in the midst of wilderness is a meditation, punctuated only occasionally by a canal lock that brings a group of boats either up or down into the next section of the park. 

Among the small number of houseboats along the river, a few have an imbiss, a little snack stand, at water level.  It is hard to describe what it feels like to paddle down the Spree with a hot pretzel, a sausage and a beer, except to say that sometimes life can be perfect.

—CK LeRossignol

This guy seems like another knucklehead. 
Not much better than Tim, Ted, Ned, Fred, what the devil was the fruitcake’s name before this one? I have no idea.
He’s still talking. What the hell is there to talk about? He could talk about why he didn’t manage to shave before coming to dinner. That would not have passed muster in his family, one of the girls bringing home some guy for the Sunday roast and him having stubble. He would have been thrown out in the snow. Asked to take a walk. Or maybe not, but this is where his head was going, which was not a good sign. 
His first daughter. When she was little he doted on her like crazy. He was in Vietnam when she arrived, so he had some catching up to do. First, he squashed a cockroach at the mother-in-law’s house in Long Island. Even at six months old the kid looked impressed. Eventually she started calling for him, not just for mommy, when she had trouble. He remembers the Central Park Zoo, buying her a pretzel the size of her head. God it seems ages ago. 
What is he talking about now? San Francisco? The hippies? Like I would care, fella. They protested me when I left and trust me, I wasn’t so happy about going, either. Jesus Christ now we’re on to his favorite type of food this guy could talk a dog off a meat wagon. 
At least the food is good. Deb stepped up. The steak is perfectly medium-rare for once and I don’t understand why he hasn’t touched it and my god is that bastard reaching for a slice of well-done? 
Everyone’s looking at me. I must have sighed aloud. Awkward. The meathead is talking again, what does he want? Salt? SALT? This dinner is perfect. 
“You don’t need salt. It’s bad for you.” 
He went back to chewing on his steak, eyeing the table like a feral dog. 
They would be his only words that first Sunday supper. His future son-in-law would never salt his food again. 
—Madeleine Bell

This guy seems like another knucklehead. 

Not much better than Tim, Ted, Ned, Fred, what the devil was the fruitcake’s name before this one? I have no idea.

He’s still talking. What the hell is there to talk about? He could talk about why he didn’t manage to shave before coming to dinner. That would not have passed muster in his family, one of the girls bringing home some guy for the Sunday roast and him having stubble. He would have been thrown out in the snow. Asked to take a walk. Or maybe not, but this is where his head was going, which was not a good sign. 

His first daughter. When she was little he doted on her like crazy. He was in Vietnam when she arrived, so he had some catching up to do. First, he squashed a cockroach at the mother-in-law’s house in Long Island. Even at six months old the kid looked impressed. Eventually she started calling for him, not just for mommy, when she had trouble. He remembers the Central Park Zoo, buying her a pretzel the size of her head. God it seems ages ago. 

What is he talking about now? San Francisco? The hippies? Like I would care, fella. They protested me when I left and trust me, I wasn’t so happy about going, either. Jesus Christ now we’re on to his favorite type of food this guy could talk a dog off a meat wagon. 

At least the food is good. Deb stepped up. The steak is perfectly medium-rare for once and I don’t understand why he hasn’t touched it and my god is that bastard reaching for a slice of well-done? 

Everyone’s looking at me. I must have sighed aloud. Awkward. The meathead is talking again, what does he want? Salt? SALT? This dinner is perfect. 

“You don’t need salt. It’s bad for you.” 

He went back to chewing on his steak, eyeing the table like a feral dog. 

They would be his only words that first Sunday supper. His future son-in-law would never salt his food again. 

—Madeleine Bell

Topic #9: Pretzel
This is the one about the women on the ledge between two cars of the L train.  They were on something, obviously, maybe only drinks, but dressed nicely, NYU students, so it seemed.  Deep in Brooklyn, the L train does not move in a straight line.  It jerks.  One direction, then the other.  They were out there, in the dark, singing, hollering, syllables lost in screeching train racket.  One danced, the one with her back to the subway door, and she would duck low toward the ledge she was standing on, so that from my vantage it appeared momentarily she’d fallen.  The other held the safety bars on either side of her, long hair frenzied over her face, and she looked toward the car and at her friend, but also at me, over her friend’s shoulder, as I stood inside the 9 pm-on-a-Friday crowd, leaning against the window in the door.  I decided she was an actress, they both were, and that this is what an actor did for thrills, standing in front of a crowd that was no crowd, projecting into a screeching void songs committed to heart and looking back into the crowded car you’d vacated to search for yourself reflected in the face of a boy inside and how much concern did he have, how much excitement, how much anger, and whether any of this was real, you must have wondered, y nada y nada y pues nada, OK, although he’ll probably remember that moment better than you, a swiftness to your step as you reentered the well-lit car and slipped out the door at the next stop but not without pausing in front of the boy and wavering a moment on your feet, to see if he would say something, would he say something? 
—Sir Calder McFalder III 

This is the one about the women on the ledge between two cars of the L train.  They were on something, obviously, maybe only drinks, but dressed nicely, NYU students, so it seemed.  Deep in Brooklyn, the L train does not move in a straight line.  It jerks.  One direction, then the other.  They were out there, in the dark, singing, hollering, syllables lost in screeching train racket.  One danced, the one with her back to the subway door, and she would duck low toward the ledge she was standing on, so that from my vantage it appeared momentarily she’d fallen.  The other held the safety bars on either side of her, long hair frenzied over her face, and she looked toward the car and at her friend, but also at me, over her friend’s shoulder, as I stood inside the 9 pm-on-a-Friday crowd, leaning against the window in the door.  I decided she was an actress, they both were, and that this is what an actor did for thrills, standing in front of a crowd that was no crowd, projecting into a screeching void songs committed to heart and looking back into the crowded car you’d vacated to search for yourself reflected in the face of a boy inside and how much concern did he have, how much excitement, how much anger, and whether any of this was real, you must have wondered, y nada y nada y pues nada, OK, although he’ll probably remember that moment better than you, a swiftness to your step as you reentered the well-lit car and slipped out the door at the next stop but not without pausing in front of the boy and wavering a moment on your feet, to see if he would say something, would he say something? 

—Sir Calder McFalder III