Two Fictions
Tao Lin


I'm driving; Chrissy's sitting passenger; we used to date.
"Where should I go in Tokyo?" she says. "I'm nervous."
"Candace," I think. I make a left turn that is wrong and irreversible; the drive to the restaurant is now ten minutes longer.
"What did you do when you went to Tokyo?" Chrissy says.
"What?" I say. I don't want to talk to this person, yet I have agreed to eat dinner with her. I feel strange.
"What did you do in Tokyo?" she says. "Where did you go?"
"I don't know," I say. "I feel strange."
"Did you eat in Tokyo?" Chrissy says.
"What are your twenty favorite foods?" I say.
"Why twenty?" she says. "Why not ten?"
"You have a passion for human psychology," I say.
She doesn't hear me; she is making a kind of noise that is very loud. I don't know what is happening. I have a passion for human psychology. I am the one with the passion for human psychology; not her. I am a good person. I hate Tom Hanks. I sort of hate Tom Hanks. I work at the movie theatre Candace works at.

I'm in bed at night. "Kafka," I think. I laugh out loud. The light is on; I want it off; I don't want to move. "An ant's heart is hard and soft," I think. "Hard and cold."
"I want a heart transplant with an ant," I think.
"Soy beans," I think. "Tofu. Seaweed. White rice."

I watch four hours of television. I drive around listening to music.
I drive to a shopping plaza.
I walk the aisles of this all-night supermarket. I touch cereal boxes. I bring a package of steak to my cheek; I feel its coldness. I lick it. I go to seafood. I pick up a fish. A real fish; two feet long. I am about to laugh out loud. I stop myself. I go to car. I am depressed. I drive directly to my apartment. I check my e-mail. Chrissy has e-mailed. I laugh out loud. "Wait," I think.

At work I sell tickets in the box-office.
"You're very enthusiastic today," my manager says.
"I am okay," I say.
She stares at me. "Remember to smile whenever a patron looks at your face," she says.
"I know," I say.
In my apartment I crawl to the kitchen. I eat four bowls of Frosted Flakes. I drink orange juice. I eat a box of cherry tomatoes. I am about to vomit. "Shut the fuck up," someone outside shouts. "People are trying to sleep." I stop moving. I am sitting on the floor by the refrigerator. I am about to lie on my bed.

I'm looking at the butter machines; my manager points me toward the box-office.
"You look like you're about to cry," she says. "You look disgusted."
I go in the box-office.
A woman stares at my face.
"Three for Pokemon," she says.
"Make the transaction," I say out loud by accident.
My manager enters the box office.
"Go on break," she says.
I go on break.
I walk to my car. I rip my side rear-view-mirror off my car. I carry the mirror and set it on another car's trunk. I grin. My break is over. I go back to the movie theatre; I realize my break is not over. I have used about 10% of my twenty-minute break, which means I have been on break for about two minutes, which is not true, which means I have to go back to the beginning to rethink everything, since any one thing affects every other thing, which also means something.

It's a Snowy Night in Virginia When You Are Born into the World

Wander the fields near your house. Spend too much time alone in your room. Lie awake at night; it is New Year's Eve. The professor looks bored. Decide to make a sandwich. Sara is in the living room. Something terrible is about to happen. At Kinko's try to remember why you came to Kinko's; look carefully around. "Can I ask you a question?" someone says. Step back a little. "Okay," the person says. "I'm thinking of a word. You're walking down a row. As you're going down this row, this path, people on each side are hitting you." Easter. Sara is in the swimming pool. You are in the swimming pool. Something terrible is about to happen. Your job is okay. Drive too fast. Consider this, if you want. Try to remember what you must do. Decide to make a sandwich. Spend eight dollars on a sandwich. Decide to make a sandwich. You have spent too much money and time on sandwiches. Something terrible is about to happen. You look bored. Lie awake at night; something terrible is about to happen.