The Written Word

The Creative Meanderings of S. Brown

Emma & Emmit: Ceilings, the Multiverse and Silly Animal Videos, Oh My!


The coffee shop ceiling wasn’t really very interesting, but Emma found herself staring at it all the same. For all intensive purposes, she wasn’t really looking at the ceiling, she just needed something to fix her gaze upon that wouldn’t stare back and think she was some kind of crazy stalker person while she thought about life, the universe and everything. She would have fixed her gaze upon Emmit, who didn’t care so much, but he would inevitably begin making funny faces and thus break her concentration. He was currently sat next to her on their favorite couch in the corner of the shop, sipping his coffee and staring at his smartphone. She never could understand what was so extremely fascinating about that tiny glowing object besides the photos of her family on Facebook and the silly animal videos that Emmit would send her–of which there seemed to be an endless supply: the chihuahua growling at Fergie, the cat too fat to jump off its chair, the cats scared of cucumbers, to name a few.

She smiled, There are realities inside that smartphone far different from what exists outside of it, she thought to herself. And just like that her mind wandered from silly animals to philosophical questions and fantastical queries.

It’s like the multiverse theory, she thought to herself, What if the strands of information that exist on the Internet are not just webs of information in our universe, but exist, in fact, as universes in their own right? Instead of quarks, there are bits, and instead of DNA, there’s HTML. After-all, it can be argued that nothing on the internet accurately represents the universe we live in, and if it isn’t representing the actual universe, then it could be argued that it exists as its own universe, or it’s own multiverse; albeit man-made, with man-made digital rules.

Emma kept her gaze fixed on the ceiling as she continued to ponder. Social media is a perfect example. Social media apps exist as places in which things operate and turn out differently from what occurs in the actual universe. Instagram, Facebook, Twitter: they neither portray reality, nor portray complete lies, but instead show reality as it could alternately exist within the confines of digital coding. In other words, Instagram and Facebook are alternate dimensions!”

“Interesting”, she pondered, “that man saw the need to create their own multiverse. What does that say about what we think of the actual universe? We’re always dissatisfied with what we have and who weare.  It’s a good thing we can’t control the actual universe the way we can our Instagram.  I mean, we can’t even keep our self-created, alternate universes with our alternate selves free of sickness, stupidity and suffering, and that really tells you something.”

Emma had the sudden sensation that someone was staring at her. She finally looked down from the ceiling and met with Emmit’s eyes.

He had one eyebrow raised:his typical concerned/confused face. “Em, you do realize you’ve been talking out loud to the ceiling for the past five minutes, right?”

“Uhh…” She turned a bit red.

“Starting with the phrase, ‘Social media is a perfect example!’”



“Oh,” she fiddled with the straw in her iced coffee, “so you heard about the alternate dimensions?”


“And the controlling the universe thing?”


“Hmm,” she nodded and continued to fiddle with the straw, “So, if I explained it all again…”

“I might have to shove this pillow over your face.” He took the green couch pillow between his fingers.

“Got it.” Her straw made a loud squeak as she pushed it into the coffee.

Emmit saw the disappointment on her face. “But…” he hesitated, “Do you wanna enter into an alternate universe of silly animal videos with me instead?”

Emma’s face immediately lit up, “Ooo…Can we watch the one of the chihuahua growling at Fergie while she kills the national anthem?”

A large grin filled Emmit’s face, “Let’s do it!”


Emma & Emmit: The Spaghettiverse


Emmit looked around the small Italian restaurant that had become one of Emma and his favorite haunts. He was waiting for his spaghetti to cool down a bit and had pulled out his phone to browse his instagram while he waited. Emma was doing what Emma usually did: staring intently at nothing in particular, and thinking. She gripped her fork, which was stuck into her own plate of spaghetti, but she hadn’t tried to take a bite yet. Emmit smirked, shook his head and looked back down at his phone.

“Hmm.” Emma pursed her lips and put down her fork. She was staring down at her plate of food now. “Hmmm.”

Emmit kept one eye on his instagram, but out of the corner of his other eye, he could see Emma begin to push her spaghetti around her plate.


Emmit waited; she would let him know what she was thinking about eventually.

“What do you think, Em?” She was still staring at her spaghetti and was in the process of placing her meatballs in very specific places.

He placed his phone on the table and picked up his own fork so he could stir around his noodles. “What do I think about what?”

“Do you think the Universe is infinite? Or do you think there is point at which it ceases to exist?”


“I mean, if the Universe is infinite, then there is an endless number of galaxies and endless amounts of energy, right? That means there could be other life out there. Or maybe it just means that the statistical probability of life existing on a planet in the Universe is one out of infinity. And that’s just insane to ponder! But what if there is other life. I mean, the galaxies we already know of are vast. There’s the Milky Way, of course” she poked a meatball, “Andromeda,” she poked another, “the Sombrero, the Whirlpool, Black Eye, Messier 81…” she frowned a bit; she’d run out of meatballs. She looked up at Emmit.

“Uh-huh,” he was eating a large bite and nodding at her. Before he could do anything to stop her, she snatched a meatball off his plate, “The Triangulum galaxy…” She grabbed another, “the Pinwheel…”

“Hey! Those are mine,” some spaghetti sauce flew out of Emmit’s mouth as he spoke.

“Then there’s the Large Magellanic Cloud…” She went for another.

“Now you’re just making up names! Would you stop it?”

Emma folded her arms and stared at him in indignation, “I am not making up names. It just so happens that there is a Large Magellanic Cloud out there in the Universe, along with dozens of other galaxies, solar systems, nebulae, star clusters, pulsars and quasars. Did you know that using the spitzer space telescope, scientists recently discovered seven” she held up seven fingers, “earth-like planets in a solar system that exists 235 trillion miles away!”

Emmit pushed out his bottom lip in thought, “Huh, that is pretty cool, but,” his eyes darted to his stolen food, “Can I have my meatballs back?”

Her face was already hovering over her food again. “Don’t interrupt my train of thought. You put me off my original question.” Emma was spinning her plate around, staring at the meatballs as though they had really transformed into galaxies right before her eyes. “What if the Universe is not infinite? What if it just appears infinite, and all those galaxies and planets are just an illusion? That could mean, that like this plate, there exists a boundary; a point at which the Universe ceases to be. What if all those galaxies that we think lie far into the beyond are just light waves travelling towards the earth and nothing more? But what would cause such a thing? And what does that say about the earth? Could we really represent all life?”

A loud slurping noise snapped her back to reality. She looked up.

Emmit had almost finished eating his spaghetti, but stopped and studied her plate for a moment. “Hmmm, interesting.”


He raised an eyebrow in curiosity as was his habit. “Can I see the Universe for a minute?”

“Sure,” she pushed her plate toward him with a jolt of excitement, “What do you think? Come up with any theories?”

“Uh-huh…” He nodded in serious contemplation. “Which one was the Large Magellanic Cloud again?”

“That one,” She pointed to one of the meatballs she’d stolen.

“And, the Triangulum galaxy, which was that?”

Emma pointed to another of the meatballs.

“And the Pinwheel?”

Again Emma pointed.


Emma watched and waited patiently.

Suddenly, Emmit snatched the three meatballs in question off her plate and popped them into his mouth.

She looked almost horrified. “Hey! Why’d you do that?!”

Emmit held up a finger as he chewed down the meatballs, and as soon as he swallowed, he snatched up another meatball and tossed it into his mouth before she could stop him.

“Hey! That was the Sombrero galaxy! What are you doing?”

Emmit shook his head, “I thought you knew about space?”

Emma’s brow furrowed in aggravation. “Of course I do, what do you think I’ve been talking about all this time?”

“Then I’m surprised you haven’t figured it out.” He looked very grave and shook his head again.

“What??” Emma was beside herself. Had she really missed something?

“Well,” he frowned, “part of your Universe just got consumed by a black hole.”

Emma groaned and planted her face in the palm of her hand. But upon reflection, she sat up and smiled in spite of her ruined Universe.

“You wanna consume Messier 81 too? There’s too many galaxies here for me.”

His face lit up.

Emma could never stay annoyed at him for long; in a Universe that may or may not be infinite, there was nobody else quite like her best friend.

Emma&Emmit: Puddles of Depravity

emma and emmit


She stared for a long time at the drink in front of her, watching every drop of water as it ran down the side of the plastic cup and sank into the puddle on the table. As she stared, the drops became people, the puddle became the filth of the world, the cup became the heights of virtue. Her imagination exploded and everything connected in her mind. Her thoughts all verged on the imagery before her. Deep thoughts. Life-changing thoughts. Here was inspiration and despair. Here was passion and death. Here was….


She’d almost forgotten that Emmit was sitting next to her.

“What are you doing?”

Emma could tell by the way her friend elongated and enunciated each word that he was giving her that look again. The look that said: Have you finally cracked? She looked up, and sure enough, it was there on his face.

“Oh…I was just pondering the depths of depravity that mankind sinks to in their neverending search for power and prestige.”

“By staring at your iced coffee?” His right eyebrow raised as he asked the question.

“Ummm, ya,” she looked back to the coffee, and the drops were just drops of water again.

“Well, any more pondering depravity and all your ice is gonna melt.”

Emma looked aghast and turned to face him, “What do I care of ice melting, when one considers that there are horrible things at work in the world. Maybe that’s your problem Emmit. You get so focused on the here and now and never stop to wonder at life and think about what it all means. Ice melting is nothing when compared to considering the terrible lives people live and what drove them to become that way.”

“Uh-huh.” He took a long sip of his own iced coffee.

His big brown eyes continued to stare at her, one eyebrow still raised. He chuckled as she crossed her arms, sat back in her chair and look away from him annoyed.

“I don’t know why I bother, Emmit, you just don’t get it.”

Emmit paused from drinking a moment and tried to see her face better. He felt a very slight tug of guilt and sighed. “Okay, okay…So, why are you pondering the depths of deprivation that someone sinks and whatever it is you said? Sounds cheery by the way.” He smirked. Emma hated it when he got snarky, but at least he was trying.

She sighed in exasperation and turned back to him, “Depravity, not deprivation; and it just so happens to be an important topic of life to think about. We don’t always have to think about cheery things you know. It’s important to think about topics like depravity. I mean we see it every day don’t we? Someone starts off as a person of true moral character and principled judgement. They might even have been raised according to virtuous principles, but the minute they get a taste of power or fame, it can become their downfall. The taste of power sends them on a journey that becomes beyond their control. The more they seek power and prestige, the faster they slip away from all they had once believed in and stood for. All the virtue they once had gets left behind, until one day they fall into so many lies, and dirty tricks and greed and filth, that they drown in it, and can’t even remember the person of character they once were.”

Emmit stared at her, still drinking his coffee and made a loud slurping noise. “You got all that from staring at your iced coffee?”

“Well ya, I mean, I was just imagining that the drops of condensation were people sliding down into a puddle of filth and despair, and one thing led to another.”

Emmit stared. His dark bushy brows now furrowed over his brown eyes.

Emma stared back. Her blue eyes a stark contrast to her now red face.

Finally, Emmit dropped his head, shook it slowly from side to side and smacked his hand against his forehead.

Emma shrugged her shoulders and went back to her contemplations. She finally picked up her own iced coffee. A small ring of water was left behind. She was about to take a sip when a waiter walked past, “Let me get that for you.” Before she could say anything, he wiped the puddle off the table along with several crumbs that had been left behind from other customers.

Emma frowned.

“Hmm.” Emmit leaned toward her and was staring at the spot on the table that had contained the puddle just moments before.

“Now, what?”

“Well, your problems are solved aren’t they? Your puddle of depravity just got wiped off the face of the table by the waiter,” he slurped up the last of his coffee, “Finally, justice made its move.”

It was Emma’s turn to drop her head in her hand. She let out yet another exasperated sigh and then took a long sip of her own iced coffee.

“Oh man,” she revolted from the cup in her hand and put it back on the table, “this is disgusting! It’s so watered down!”

Emmit laughed, “I told you!” he had that mischievous glint in his eyes that Emma both loved and hated, “That’s what happens when you focus on puddles of depravity for too long!”

“Oh shut up,” she sunk into her chair and pursed her lips.

“You miss out on the taste of coffee!”

Just One

One sound
Can change a melody
To a cacophony of noise.
A single note can spawn a symphony
And bring beauty into darkened souls.
Like incense at the altar
A sound can cure life’s dissonance
Turn malady to harmony
And create a musical fragrance.

One word
Can set the stage for change,
Make chaos or start order.
Drive silence into darkness,
And mold how all men think.
A single syllable of passion spoken
Can start the war that splits men apart.
And when written on the books of life
Creates a library of art.

One idea
Can cause an echo
That reverberates through time.
It can fill the gaps of ignorance
With either truth or lies.
A single epiphany, can cause a ripple
That becomes a tidal wave.
In its wake can come destruction
Or the birth of needed change.

One person
Can make the world succumb
To death or victory.
A single solitary figure,
Within the folds of history
Can stand for all who traverse there,
As an omen for the future,
A reminder of things past,
And a signpost of what should be Today.

One moment of truth
Can ring louder,
And determine more of life,
Than all the world’s experiences
Even yet to be combined.
A single moment amongst a million others
Like the shining Northern star
Can make the difference between salvation
And a silent enduring despair.

The Madness that is Pain and Pleasure

There are dreams the world will never see

An endless cavern of lost hopes and fruitless pursuits

But as I wander through their possibilities

I wonder what the world would be

If every dream came true

Would it be this paradise

We praise within our minds?

Or would we find a hell on earth

Doomed to be our life?

Does every word become a poem?

Does every note become a song?

Not every dream finds existence

Not every wish becomes a memory.

What is it about this feeble race of men?

We yearn, we cry, we crave, we think we know,

But in the end–so often does it happen–

Our dreams become our nightmares

And we realise we know nothing

Of the madness that is pain and pleasure.

Does ice not burn the skin

When left there over time?

Does surgery not bring both cure and agony?

Not every pain is meant to be destructive

Not every pleasure made to be enjoyed

But this does not make all dreaming fruitless

Nor leave all hopes destined for a grave,

But as the shadow needs the sun

So darkness finds its absence

In the presence of bright dreams come true

And even in the darkness Shines a Light

For He is the one who touches every shadow,

And whose love crosses all despair

He is the maker of all true desires

And the bringer of hope to all the world.

For in Him all darkness becomes as day,

And every day is like the sun

In Him are selfish dreams exposed and left to die

And every darkest hour

Finds heavenly hopes are won.

Time Comes A Little Too Late

Hand of time

I’m drowning in letters and figures
Of this information age
There’s too much at stake and too little that’s really ours
We seem to learn as we grow old,
But after death is a little too late

Where is the fire that once burned bright?
Where is the passion that yearns for true life?
You lost your heart to words,
You lost your heart in dying embers
I found you lamenting over ashes
Of a life never really lived

I’m coming to an epiphany
That hurt a bit in coming
Nothing can outrun our guns to take the world back again
But when it’s won, we lost it all,
Learning what it meant a little too late.

Where was your soul when the earth was formed?
Where will you be when it comes crashing down?
You lost your will to a curse
You lost your will to endless work
You find your soul encased in a fading frame
That was never really yours to own.

I was swallowing your corruption
To make it go away
But I’m done wasting chances and throwing up my shame
But I know I won’t be brave enough, til I have the guts to die,
And that may be a little too late

Where was I going when all the chaos started?
Where were my feet when the line was drawn in the sand?
I was already lost
I was lost in an unwinable maze
That’s where He found me, looking for answers
In a life that was never really mine.

I’m revolving through the noise
And changing every song
I don’t need your money, or the empty charms you keep
I’m screaming songs of mercy
And hoping it’s not too late.

Where is the truth we stood for as we raged against all odds?
Where is the youthful song that began with every baby’s cry?
We lost it all to vanity
We lost it all to cheap tricks
You’ll find our children chasing shadows
Of dreams they were never really meant to fulfill.

I’m dying, loudly headed to the grave
Going back to where I came
I’ll spend my final hours, filling up this page with poems
Writing with my tears and blood of redemption
And a love that’s never too late

Oh, where is our hope as we scream for the dawn?
Where is Your life as we dream for more time?
We lost it to desire
As You lost your life for us
Time will find what we have forgotten,
And death will reveal what we never really cared to know.

Wandering Thoughts and Drops of Nachos

From Wandering thought and drops of nachos...

Several drops of rain hit my head and I wondered if I should go ahead and put my hood up to protect me. I had a love hate relationship with rain, especially the kind of rain that taunts you with slow drips and drizzles. So far it had been a productive day despite the rain, that is to say, I had lazed the morning away and then gone to two books shops in search of anything by Khalil Gibran. I’d just discovered his writing and immediately became enthralled. I had to read more. After a couple hours of searching and drooling over the hundreds of other books I hoped I would one day have a chance to read, I found a copy of The Prophet and now searched for the perfect place to sit, read and be inspired. I hoped that this crazy weather wouldn’t put a damper on an otherwise pleasant day. It was the one thing I had yet to figure out while living in Scotland. The weather was as moody as the people; so, I guess I hadn’t quite figured them out either.

As I walked to a nearby coffee shop (my second favourite thing besides books), I passed a young couple with their two little girls. They skipped behind their parents, pulling on their rain jacket sleeves and sang in defiance of the drizzles: “It’s raining nachos! It’s raining nachos!”, then giggled at the joke they made. It was a joke only childish innocence and silliness could understand, but I couldn’t help but smile; a small part of me wanted to dare to join in their chorus in defiance of my adulthood. I was reminded of all the things I used to do in the rain as a child, and wondered what people would think if I jumped into a nearby puddle of water and laughed at the world for no reason whatsoever. And that was it, I thought, how much had that little phrase destroyed the dreams of children and removed the innocence of how we once reasoned: “what people would think”. Or I should say, a fear of that phrase. Making decisions based out of fear of what those ‘other’ people would think has determined the rule of nations, caused love to end in despair and kept artists and geniuses from gracing the world with their feats and daring. What is it about that phrase? How can other people be so frightening? Maybe because we already know how much we judge others to realise how much others must be judging us.

But, perhaps there is a bright side to caring what others think, like the silver lining on the dark clouds that loom over my head. I open the door to the coffee shop, smile at the waiter, take my seat by the pastry shelf, and ponder. The social norms that guide our communities can bring harmony, and the wisdom of our elders can keep us from falling into chaos, but to fear the thoughts of others to the point of ceasing to live, only moves the chaos into individual hearts and minds. Yes, that silver lining could exist, but only in the absence of fear, only with that childlike innocence, that fearless daring that follows every young mind; a mind ready to learn, and ready to live, with the question “Why?” ever on its lips. Those minds tend to trust the voices closest to them, the voices that love them, more than they care about the ‘others’ they will never meet. Such a mind considers what other think and shrugs it shoulders when others say, “Shut up!” and then asks “Why?”; and waits for an answer that does more than command them to conform. They wait for answers that satisfy.

For a brief moment I lifted my head and thought, “Why not?” and was tempted to shout out “It’s raining nachos!” just for the heck of it, but thought the better of myself and preferred not to be considered a raving lunatic for the rest of the day. That answer would satisfy me for the present, but maybe, just maybe when I left I would jump into that puddle and see if anyone even noticed that I had.

Indonesian Scrabble

Untitled drawing (1)

Neal made himself comfortable on the couch and folded his legs underneath him. He had a sly smile on his face and his eyes sparkled with a bit of delight as he stared first at Elizabeth and then at his scrabble tiles.

The young lady shifted uncomfortably in her chair, took another sip of coffee and sighed. She stared at her scrabble tiles with a furrowed brow and poked one with her finger to move two tiles together. After a moment of serious silence, she groaned with dissatisfaction, and finally looked up from her tiles.  She stared at her opponent for a moment.

“I’m going to beat you this time,” she stated with newfound determination.


Neal sat with phone in hand and bit his knuckle as was his habit when trying to wait patiently for her to take her turn. His eyes still smiled at her.

“Gue harus menang (I have to win)” She pushed her tiles around with her finger again.

“I mean, it’s just not fair,” Elizabeth twirled her hair in aggravation, “You can’t always win, Neal!”

A long grin stretched across his wide face, “Well, apparently…” he shrugged his shoulders and raised his eyebrows.

Elizabeth glared at him for a moment, “Oh, shut up.”

The grin was still there and she couldn’t help smiling back.

“Come on Lizzy, just plaaaayyy.” He shifted in his seat and placed his phone on the table.

“Ok, ok,” with a groan she placed three tiles down on the board, “There, that’s…how many points is that?”

Neal leaned forward and pointed at the tiles while he counted. “Duabelas.”

“Only twelve!” Elizabeth shook her head then rested it on the table. “I’m gonna lose.”

Neal couldn’t help but laugh at her; his laughter was warm and low. For a brief moment he almost wished she could win this one time. They had gone through this same scenario so many times, and with the same outcome: she always lost. He ran his fingers through his black styled hair and stared at the tiles on the board. The brief moment disappeared. Neal saw the perfect play. It was gonna be fun to tease her when she lost yet again.

“Your turn, Neal.”

“I know, crazy.”

Lizzy took another sip of coffee as she drew three new tiles from the pile and found herself humming the song that echoed through the Starbucks.

I can’t feel my face when I’m with you…” she sang the words aloud without even thinking about whether anyone else could hear her or not.

“…but I love it,” Neal’s voice finished the melody, “…ya I love it.” He bobbed his head a bit as they both sang the next line together, and continued dancing as he placed a single tile on the board.

“Ummm…” he calculated for a moment, “thirty-one points.”

Lizzy stopped mid hum, “What?!” She stared at the tile until Neal thought her eyes would pop out. “But…”

The grin returned.

“But you…wait a minute,” she eyed the two letter word he’d made in suspicion, “What does Q-I mean? Is that a real word?”

“Yes, crazy, it’s a word”

“Are you sure?”

“Lizzy, it’s a word.”

“Ok, smarty pants, what does it mean?”

The blank expression on his face said it all.

“Ha! Lu nggak tahu ya (you don’t know),” she pointed a finger in his direction, “so how do you know it’s a real word?”

Neal let out a short exasperated sigh of disapproval and ran his fingers through his hair again, “Cause it’s a word!”

“Hm..” She folded her arms across her chest and tried to raise one eyebrow in disbelief. She looked a bit like a teacher who suspected their student of some form of mischief. “I’m gonna look it up.”

“Seriously?” He deadpanned.

“Yes,” she grabbed her phone and started typing.

Neal picked up his phone too but casually browsed through his Facebook while waiting for the verdict.  He knew the verdict would fall in his favor; he’d spent time looking at scrabble websites and how to best play the letters Q and Z.  But he let her search anyway. Lizzy could be incredibly stubborn sometimes.  It just made teasing her when he was right all the more enjoyable.

Neal glanced up at her serious, confused face and started singing the new song that had begun playing through the coffee shop, “Sugar, yes please, won’t you come and pour it down on me.” His voice squeaked as he tried to sing the high notes.  He successfully broke her concentration for a moment and Lizzy shook her head with a smile; a smile that quickly melted into shock.

“So? What does it say?” He’d paused his karaoke session.

“Q-I is a word?? For real?”

Neal groaned over-dramatically, “Yes, crazy, I told you!”

Lizzy frowned, set her phone down and sighed in submission, “Fine.”  She took a bite of Neal’s brownie.

“It’s your turn, Lizzy.” He looked back at his phone ready for a long wait and took a sip of Lizzy’s coffee.

She stared at her tiles deep in thought, then to the scrabble board.

“Aw man…for real?” her eyes flit back and forth several times.

“Apa? (what)” Neal looked up at her.

“Kenapa sih (Why)? Why does this always happen to me?” She looked over every square inch of the scrabble board.


“Somehow this is your fault,” Lizzy’s eyes shot up for a moment to give him a disapproving look, then back down to the scrabble board.

“Whaaaaat?” he pronounced the “t” at the end with emphasis and set down his phone.

“I have like three amazing words, and no where to put them.”

“Well, you could just put them…” Neal paused for a moment and Lizzy saw the playful glint in his eyes.

“On your face!” Lizzy said the words before he could get them out and laughed in mock triumph.  He laughed back at her; the playfulness was still in his eyes, “I was gonna say, up your nose.”

They forgot for a moment that they were in a public place and laughed louder and harder than their silliness merited. But it didn’t matter what anyone else thought because it made all the sense in the world to them.

“Ok Lizzy, plaaaay.”

“Ok, ok, ok…all I need is….”

The timing was perfect, the song Sugar was still playing over the loudspeakers, “…a little love and little sympathy…” Lizzy sang the words at Neal with a smile. He sighed and shook his head.

“Mainlah (play)!”

Lizzy stuck her tongue out at him, picked up three tiles and placed them on the board. “There, that’s as good as it gets.”

“That’s…sixteen points.”

“Oh ya? That’s better than I thought it would be.”

“Ya, except I’ve got like a hundred more points than you.” Neal couldn’t help himself, it was just too much fun teasing her.

Lizzy frowned over-dramatically, folded her arms and leaned back in her chair. She looked a bit like a moody teenager. Her bangs fell down across her eyes and she blew them away in exasperation.

Neal’s grin seemed to get wider than it had before, and that mischievous glint re-appeared in his eyes. “So, are you sure you’re a native English speaker?”

Lizzy’s mouth dropped open, “Yes!” But her gaping mouth of shock quickly turned into laughter. “Astagaaaa, (oh my gosh) this is so stupid,” she said between laughs, “How does this always happen? How can you always win?”

Neal shrugged his shoulders and stuck his bottom lip out as though genuinely confused, “Maybe I’m just better at English than you?”

“Eh?” Lizzy sat up. She felt a bit like punching him on the arm but he was too far away, “English isn’t even your first language, crazy!”

“I knooowww” Neal laughed; he was having way too much fun.

She stuck her tongue out at him again.

He leaned forward, “And what’s your job again?” He rested his elbows on the table and raised his eyebrows up and down to provoke her.

Lizzy tried to glare at him, but the truth of the situation was too ridiculous for her to be actually upset. “I’m an….” she mumbled the rest under her breath.

“Apa (what)?”

“Lu udah tahu, sih (Oh, you already know).”

“Are you sure you know what it is?”

Lizzy couldn’t contain her laughter, she and Neal laughed like school kids and thoroughly disrupted the others in the Starbucks.

“Yes, I’m sure!”


“I’m an English teacher,” she mumbled. Lizzy covered her face with her hands in embarrassment, but she was still smiling, “who can’t beat my Indonesian friend at Scrabble.” She shook her head in disbelief.

Neal sipped her coffee again and shrugged his shoulders, “Well, it could be worse.”

“Like what?”

Lizzy moved her hands away from her face; she and Neal made eye contact for a brief moment and they both knew what the other was thinking. “You’re face!” they said simultaneously.

Don’t Look Now, but There’s a Rebel in Here

I’ll give you a smile
If it’s what you really want
But don’t expect much laughter
From these messed up crazy thoughts
Like a zoo in one cage
Like the animals are crazed
These emotions run deep
These feelings are wild

I don’t want to interrupt
Your rays of golden sunshine
Don’t want to upset
Those phantom beams
I just want to expose you to the rain
It’s the rebel in me

I’ll say I believe you
If it’s what you really want
But your polite laughter
Isn’t reason enough to stave my thoughts
Like shades on your eyes
Like an overcast sky
Those deceptions run deep
Those pretendings are wild

I don’t want to interrupt
Your oscar winning drama
Don’t want to upset
Those phantom dreams
I just want to pause for the commercial break
It’s the rebel in me

I could say I don’t enjoy this
If it’s what you really want
But the smile on my face
Won’t disappear in second thoughts
Like a child having a scene
Like running to nowhere in a dream
These temptations run deep
These cravings are wild

I don’t want to interrupt
Your hallmark card apology
Don’t want to upset
That phantom poesy
I just want to make corrections in red ink
It’s the rebel in me

It’s my pent up, stubborn inner child
It’s my irony on madness gone wild
It’s the fine line between courage and stupidity with style
It’s the rebel in me

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