this is a brand new, super short story (like, micro-mini) that i wrote. just now. i borrowed two old characters that i used a lot in college. they may pop up occasionally in future things.
“Woolf and Wallace killed themselves.”
“Woolf and Wallace?”
“The two greatest writers of the 20th Century committed suicide.”
“Ah. Virginia and DFW.”
“Yea. What does that say about life?”
“DFW died in 2008.”
“So, he died in the 21st Century.”
“I don’t see how that is relevant. Two of the, arguably, greatest minds of the 20th Century killed themselves. That doesn’t tell you anything about the value of life? Or about the plight of our generation?”
“First, it is relevant that he died in the 21st not the 20th century because of your prior description of him as a 20th century author and subsequently, 20th century mind. Technically, he was a 21st century guy as well and will most likely be reflectively categorized as a turn of the century or ‘new-millennium’ author. Second, we’re 28,” Lenn lit a Djarum Black, inhaled deeply and blew a billow of smoke out through his nostrils.
“You’re not supposed to inhale those. And why does it matter that we’re 28? I know we’re 28.”
“Woolf would be around a hundred and thirty now. I don’t think we get to count her as a part of our generation.” He was still inhaling aggressively; there was already nearly half an inch of ash. “And really… DFW would be, what fifty? Forty-nine? I actually don’t think we get to claim him either. I think you’re stuck with Jonathan Safran Foer. He hasn’t killed himself yet, but here’s hoping.” He saluted with his dwindling clove and then ashed into a pot of pink geraniums.
“You’re hilarious. But really, don’t you think it says… something? That the most gifted and intelligent among us choose death over life?” Savannah was a little drunk and getting somewhat exasperated.
“Hemingway is the most overrated author of the 20th century.”
“And he also killed himself and not gracefully by drowning or hanging like your examples, he blew off his head with a fucking shotgun. Do you know what a pain in the ass that must have been to clean up?”
“So, he is overrated. He wasn’t a great writer or genius like your W’s and he too killed himself. Mediocre people also kill themselves. People die all the time and a good chunk of those deaths are self-inflicted. Is there some cosmic message about the value of life that Wallace and Woolf figured out that led them to off themselves? Probably not. Is there a somewhat higher incidence of mental illness and depression in highly intelligent and creative people? Possibly. You’re reading too much into this.”
“Why do I relate so much to these authors? Why do they resonate with me more than people I actually know? And Sylvia Plath. I love Sylvia Plath.”
“All artsy girls in their twenties love Sylvia Plath. Get over it. Woolf and Wallace resonate with you because you’re not stupid and they are good writers. Good writers evoke emotional and intellectual reactions from their readers. You’re drunk.”
Savannah was leaning against the corner support column of Lenn’s front porch, absent-mindedly stripping the peeling white paint off the underside of the banister she was perched on. She looked at the chipped, orange toe nail polish of her dangling, bare feet. “I’m not that drunk. And I would still say this even if I wasn’t drinking.”
Lenn smiled at her and raised his left eyebrow.
“I wish I could do that. Do you think if I had one side botoxed it would look like I was raising one eyebrow?” Savannah raised her eyebrows and then pushed the right one down with her hand. “My face muscles are too synchronized.”
“Sychronized Face Muscles. That would be a good name for an electronica band.” He brushed the tip of his clove back and forth between two bricks against the already ash-blackened grout and stood up out of the rusted, teal lawn chair. “Do you want to go back inside?”
She looked up at him. He was so tall, she had to actually tilt her head back slightly to look him in the eye. He had almond-shaped, blue eyes that were noticeably larger than average. They were really blue. He was the type of person who made an uncomfortably intense amount of eye contact during conversation. Piercing. In a romance novel, he would be described as having piercing blue eyes. “I don’t know. If we go back inside, I really will get drunk. Which is fine… but let’s do something. Let’s get drunk and do something rather than just getting drunk and lounging around like we do every night.”
He cocked his head to one side and looked down at her sprawled position on the banister. “I like lounging. You’re an excellent lounger. What do you want to do instead?”
“Let’s make a fire.”
“Yes. A summertime bonfire.”
“So we have something to lounge in vicinity of and are outside rather than our typical indoor lounging?”
“Yes. This is better. It’ll be fun.”
“Discussing-suicidal-authors fun?” He raised both eyebrows this time.
“I can’t promise that, but I’ll try. Do you have wood?”
Lenn’s eyes went wide for a second, then he laughed and walked down the porch steps and away toward the shed on the far side of the house.
Savannah was somewhat perplexed by his reaction. She remained slouching against the porch column, twisting and untwisting a strand of Hi-C orange hair around her little finger trying to figure out what was funny.
“Oh. Yea. That’s what she said.”