My goddamn internet was cut off! Ten days without internet, those sons of whore, dickhead bastards. Though without the internet on, I read six books - all of them being at least over 400 pages long - had the best nights sleep I've had for months, got some shit fixed, and finally got the sofa replaced. We're enslaved to the internet, don't deny it, and we waste quite a lot of our lives in front of it. And it's not like we can escape it. Even when we leave our computers' we have our phones with us, which aren't really phones and more teeny tiny laptops. We're chained to this technology. I'm not being patronizing, I'm as guilty as the next fucker, but could we just... I don't know, calm down with it? Not let it control us so much?
I know saying all this on a laptop is hypocritical but the last time I shouted something from a rooftop, I was shot down by a tranquilizer gun.
Why the hell is someone bouncing on my bed?
I groaned and rolled over, covering my face with my pillow, which was quickly ripped away from me and thrown at me. I sighed and cracked an eye open.
"Do you know how fucking annoying that is?"
"You've been awake for six seconds and have already sworn. That must be a record." Alice bounced once more than jumped off the bed. "Wake up, you have classes."
"No, I don't wanna go to school today." I pulled the covers over my head.
"I made coffee and there's bacon. Oh, and I need this," Then she ripped the covers off me and left. I huffed and stared up at the ceiling.
"I'm going to feel so sorry if you ever pop out a sproglet. That little bastard would have a tough ass childhood, and I'm talking to myself." I looked out the door. Tough choice, bacon or sleep? Bacon or sleep? I rolled out of bed, bacon winning easily, and followed the smell. Hitting my knee on the edge of that fucking table, I limped the rest of the way and leaned against the counter, taking my coffee.
"Table again?" Alice asked, bending over and looking in the fridge.
"I'm telling you that thing hates me."
"Yes, the whole world is out to get you." She passed me a plate of bacon and pancakes and then took hers in the living room. "When does your class begin?"
"Uhh... ten, I think." I sat in my inflatable chair and flipped through the channels, stopping on Comedy Central.
"You better hurry then; it's 9:30."
"There's plenty of time, it takes ten minutes to get there." I ate my pancakes, watched Fraiser and then decided to get changed. "What do you think?" I finished tying up my shoes, Green Day replacements, and grabbed my old messenger bag.
"Didn't you wear this the day you fell down those stairs?"
"Different shirt." I grabbed my keys and kissed Alice. "See you later."
"Love you too," I shut the door behind me. That ten minutes was a load of crap, it taking twenty minutes to drive through the traffic to Broadway, then getting there I couldn't find the class so that was another five minutes.
"You, girl!" The ginger guy up front pointed at me as soon as I stepped through the door. He was a bear sized bastard, the entire lower part of his face covered by a beard, and his long face was red. Not the red you get from drinking your body weight but the kind of red you get for staying out in the sun too long. "Why are you taking this class?"
"Uhh..." I glanced to the left to the twenty odd people looking at me. "Because I wanted to take that bartending course but they were full so I went for this instead since most authors turn out to be raving alcoholics."
"No! It is because you love the written word and want to embrace their wisdom." He spoke passionately, using his hands a lot. Okay, this guy definitely loves his job.
"No, I think it's more my reason than that."
He smiled and beckoned me forward. "What is your name, girl?"
"Bella Swan?" I almost felt like I said the wrong answer. He nodded and furrowed his eyebrows. Yea, I think I answered wrong.
"There is a spare seat in the back, Bella Swan." I nodded in thanks and took the desk at the end, next to the steps. "To continue, I will not give you a book to read this week. Instead, we will discuss few of the books that were controversial and even banned by the US and other countries. Henry Miller. Why do you think he wrote Tropic of Cancer and then later on, Tropic of Capricorn?" His eyes darted over ever face in the room. Someone in the front row raised their hand. I couldn't see much, just the back of their head, and it was either a chick or a guy with long hair. "Yes, you?"
"Perhaps Miller needed an outlet for his troubles and having sex was one of the things he felt most comfortable in." The guy said, lowering his hand.
"Good answer, if not basic. Anyone else?" I raised my hand. "You, girl?"
I shrugged. "Maybe he just really wanted to brag about fucking all these French whores but had no one to do it to."
He chuckled and turned to the blackboard, wiping off his name – Lawrence Baxter – and wrote down the two answers. "Interesting view, girl." He turned back to us. "An outlet or bragging. Anyone else have an idea?" A couple more people answer before Lawrence latched onto one. "What is your name, girl?"
"Lois," The girl three seats down from me answered. "I think he wanted to shock. It was written during the '30s where most of the world was prudish, America being the front runner. He was born and raised in America and then he travelled to this new place that was candid and public about its sexuality. He had this new freedom and he took full advantage of it."
"Henry was a sexual man by nature." The guy in front of me agreed. I think his name was Bobby. "His mother was very dominating which could've helped matters, but the fact of the matter is he was a very sexual man and he was a writer. It's only natural the two would link."
"That's such a simplistic take." A guy at the other end in the front row turned around. He wore glasses, had a thin moustache that looked on its way to becoming one of those old Chinese master moustaches, and could only see him wearing a tank top.
"Of course. Tropic of Cancer was Henry's diary that he decided to share. That's why he was brutally honest with his day to day life, and sex." I leaned back in my chair and waited for this to unravel. "If you wrote in a diary would you be coy to yourself?"
"Literature is never so simple. He was married five times, the book could be a way to make them all jealous."
I chuckled. "Sorry, but I gotta agree with Bobby and Lois. Why would you put in all that time and effort of writing just to make someone jealous, someone who might not even read the book? It's like when people read too much into art, reading between lines that aren't there. What if he was just a horny bastard that wrote down his experiences and that's it?"
"Why would he write them down instead of going out and experiencing more?"
"Memories aren't always picture perfect. He said himself I have no money, no hopes. I am the happiest man alive. Why wouldn't you want to write down memories that gave you such happiest?"
"I have no money, no resources, no hopes. I am the happiest man alive." Lawrence walked around his desk and wiped the board clean. "Nearly right, girl. You too Lois, well said." He sat behind his desk. "Class is almost finished. I wanted to talk more but nevermind!" He jumped up and started writing on the board. "I said I wouldn't be giving you a book to study but I changed my mind. All of you are to pick a book that had been banned and write 3000 words on it. That is a small amount so do not complain. If you do not know a book that was banned look on the internet and find one. Write your opinion on the book, on the main character, write why you think it was a controversy and or banned and I want it handed in by Friday." He grinned and opened the door. "I will see you all tomorrow!"
"I didn't know a person could be that into literature."
"I know," Lois walked passed me and stopped on the steps. "My brother had him and said he was really excitable and eccentric at times." I nodded and picked up my unused bag. "You have a simple outlook on things."
"Not all things but definitely books." I let her go through the door first. "Do you have any idea what book to go for?"
"I'm going to the library to look. Do you want to come along?" She twitched her laptop case and bag to her other hand.
"No, I'll just pick something from home." We stopped by the elevators. "Do you have anymore classes?"
"French in an hour. Do you," She hesitated and tucked a bit of hair behind her ear. "Do you want to get a cup of coffee?"
I glanced at my watch. 11:05... Alice would've started work by now, Jasper was probably still in class, and I didn't really know anyone else. "Yea, okay. I could go for coffee but I haven't found a really good shop yet." We got into the elevator, having to push a few people back, and I went to the spot I always go to when entering an elevator; far left corner.
"I know a great place." Lois pressed the button and stood next to me. "What made you sign up for college?"
"I was bored and it was something to do. You?"
She laughed as the elevator came to a stop and half the people piled out. "It was the next step. I recently graduated high school and wanted to throw myself back into learning."
"So, you're 18?" I followed Lois out the building and down Olive street since she knew where everything was.
"19. And you are what, 24?"
"22, but thanks."
"Sorry, I've never been good at guessing peoples' ages." We turned left down Boyston. "How long have you lived in the city?"
"A couple months. I moved here from a tiny town nearish the coast, before that New York."
"I was born and raised here." I nodded and we continued walking. The coffee shop looked busy, a couple people sitting outside, a person sitting in the window with her laptop. There was also a tattoo parlour next door. "This is a great place. It's cheap and many students go here." We took a table behind three people studying. I glanced at my watch twenty minutes later.
"Look, Lois, thanks for buying me coffee but I really gotta go." I finished my coffee and grabbed my jacket.
"I need to get to French anyway. It was nice talking to you, Bella. I'll see you tomorrow." Lois squeezed my arm and left. I drove to Downtown Seattle and searched for the Gucci store.
"Hey, Alicat." I found her adjusting a green dress that looked like someone shot it with paintballs. "So, you dress up life sized Barbie dolls and get paid? Not bad."
"Hi, Bella." She kissed my cheek. "How was school?"
"Yea, it was alright. I gotta write something but I'll use what I used in high school. Do you get lunch with this job?"
"Isn't that classified as cheating? And yes, but not for another hour."
"Maybe technically. When do you get off?" I followed her to a counter and leaned against it, rolling a ring between my fingers.
"Not until five. I'm sorry, Bella, you're going to have to entertain yourself." She took the ring off me. I huffed. "Go find Jasper, he doesn't have any classes today if I remember."
"Okay, I'll visit the homo. I'll see you at five." I gave her a kiss and squeezed her hip. I drove to UW, still not entirely sure where the hell it is, and stopped outside a café. I rang Jasper up. "Hey, homo."
"Bella. I've missed your deep voice."
"It's not deep, you bastard."
"If you say so. What do I owe this call? Is the government after you? Have you slept with someone's daughter, sister, wife and or mother?"
"I'm going to remember that for when technology is so great that I can punch you through a phone." I picked a table outside and played with the salt shaker. "Do you want to get some lunch?"
"Yea, you know lunch; the thing you eat after breakfast but before dinner."
I heard him sigh. "Where are you?"
"Uhh," I looked around. "I'm on University way, there's a bus stop across the street... I think there's a couple of people fucking in that window."
"If I'm ever lost with you, I'm in charge of navigation. I'll be there soon." I was drinking a can of Coke and poking at a cheese and ham sandwich when Jasper walked passed.
"Homo, I thought you knew where this was." He stopped and turned around, taking the chair next to me and dropping a satchel with a heavy thud.
"You didn't give me clear directions. How have you been?" He took my sandwich.
"Fine, usual. How 'bout you? How's you and Embry? Adopted a pair of Himalayan whistle kids yet?"
"What are those?"
I shrugged. "I don't know, but I always imagined adoption is like going through a catalogue. I like that one but not in the caramel colour."
"Oh, lord, shut up before you get run out of town."
"That's funny and you know it, you just want to be politically correct." I took my sandwich back and took a bite. "Jasper, I say this as a friend, what the hell are you doing with a satchel? Just because Indiana Jones had one doesn't make it manly."
"You're not able to pull rank with that bag of yours."
"What's wrong with it?" I grabbed the strap and held it up.
"It has an X made from duct tape."
"Well, it'd look stupid with just the one strip."
"I at least use mine. I need it to carry these books." Jasper opened the flap and fuck loads of books, a laptop and a notepad spilled out, pushing my can to the edge of the table.
"Fuck, how many times can you rewrite 'all your problems come from your parents and you're fucked'?"
"I'm not surprised you're a Freudian. He blamed everythin' on his parents, his mother mostly, and connected everythin' to sex."
"Yea, that sounds like me. Jesus, how can you remember all this? Introduction to psychology, A guide to crisis intervention, Heath psychology, Understanding psychology, Psychology: the science of mind and behaviour, The blank state." I picked up the thickest book and went to a random page. "The bodily changes follow directly the perception of the exciting fact, and our feeling of the same changes as they occur is the emotion... what? What does that even mean?"
"It means our emotional experience is the result, not the cause, of bodily changes. We're frightened because we run, we're angry because we strike."
"That... makes no sense. I've hit someone because I'm pissed off, not the other way around." I leaned back and tapped my nails on the table.
"Not nervous, just... you can read me like a book now. Know my body language, know what I'm thinking, know what I'm hiding just from what I say or don't say."
"Bella, I can already do all those things. The only difference is that I'll soon have a degree for it." He packed up his satchel and put it back on the ground. "Why are you worried about Alice?"
"What makes you think I'm worrying about Alice?" I crossed my arms.
"You crossed your arms; defensive. You've never cared what I thought of you or knew what you were thinkin'. You don't want me to know there's a problem."
"Can you fuck off with that shit? You've been studying this for a day and suddenly you know how the whole world works."
"I've been studyin' for five months and I only know how you work from experience. Why are you worryin' about your relationship?" He asked again, taking my sandwich.
I sighed. "I'm still... Well, first, I can't believe we're together and actually living together. I'm just worried I'll fuck it up or something will happen."
"Bella," He moved his chair and put his hand on my knee. "Don't doubt yourself and don't be insecure. You've passed your first year and are now livin' together, you're still happy and aren't ready to kill each other. I'm sayin' this as a friend and not a psychiatrist; if you stress over somethin' that's not happenin', you will cause problems and destroy the relationship yourself."
"You're saying I'd sabotage my own happiness?" He nodded. "That's such... ugh," I sighed. "Fine, I'll relax. Now tell me, if I dream about eating a muffin does that mean I want sex?"
I don't know how to feel about this, maybe 'cause it's the first chapter.
What do you think of the title? To explain, the 'official' title is The Animals Are Gone because it was the song I was listening to when I started, a good way to name something, yes? But whenever I talked to people in PM about this, I always referred to it as sequel thingy.