Short Story: Another Failing Artist.

Short Story: Another Failing Artist.

(441 words) 28 August 2018

By Steven R.A. Markin

Most of his time in the spring had been spent walking trails and enjoying the outdoors after a long Canadian winter of school and a rough breakup. The paths where his refuge, walking meditation is what he would tell people who stopped him to chat quickly. He was friendly and nice, and many people seemed to enjoy chatting with him, but he didn’t care to talk too long. He often wanted to keep moving. Keep the thoughts going and experience as much of the environment as he could.

The hikes came to an abrupt end one morning.

And nearly three months later, he still can’t seem to ease his mind, even after getting back to the gym, eating healthy and sleeping on schedule, speaking with counsellors, and enjoying conversations with his family and friends again. But unable to go back, and unable to feel like himself, even during a walk throughout the day as the helicopter would often fly overhead, just as it flys above, over and over again throughout the days, the early mornings, afternoons and late nights, and even slowed down on his way from school, as if stopping above to look down on him, reminding him and making him feel even worse of a person, like he is someone who is not.

He was told to regain his life back, he thought. To live again. He knows it deep down that he must live again because they don’t know him as his friends and family do. They only go off of assumptions. Maybe trying to ruin him just like the media so easily did without any evidence, with two broadcastings, in the newspaper, and a goddamn tweet. But of course, the news moves on to the next. Everyone does, but only him, he is left to walk with these thoughts of desecration feeling like he is a nobody in a city until his case is resolved. Resolved, he repeated to himself. Then what? Maybe he’ll get to go to school in the fall. Perhaps he won’t, he thought. Maybe bankruptcy will be enough to finally create the art that had so wonderfully graced his depression. But who creates art to make money, he thought. Money, he laughed saying to himself. Money is all that they are interested in. He told the truth, and now the truth is, he would rather be another failing artist who escapes in his paintings, a recluse, than someone who makes others feel like shit. And maybe one day, someone will hang one of his paintings with a smile instead of the tears and heartbreak it took for him to colour the blank canvas.


his paintings

Short Story: Another train at Sunalta station

Short Story: Another train at Sunalta station

(815 words) Written April 2016

By S.R.A. Markin

I travel through downtown Calgary and up the rails in the S.W. raising in elevation. I look out the window while sitting tightly between two people. The train smells of cheap cologne over body odor and cigarettes.

“Next stop, Sunalta Station,” the intercom announced.

I dislodge from the pressure of the body’s and move through the overcrowded train, making my way to the door. I take a deep breath waiting for the train to stop. I image the train stopping short of the platform and the rails crumbling beneath me.

The door opens, and I walk out. People move past me, bumping me. I look through the crowd. I look for her. She said she would be here at 5:30 PM. What a terrible time to meet in Calgary. The rush-hour disperses, and the platform calms. I stand alone, and then I see her sitting on a bench next to an advertisement. The sign displays a help-line for domestic abuse.

She has baby blue painted toenails and fidgets with a sandal. Her leg vibrates. She sits wearing a beautiful yellow sun-dress looking straight ahead. I am nervous. Her dark hair moves in the light breeze. I approach her.

“Hello,” I said then clearing my throat.

She turns her head and looks at me. “Hi,” she said as if she was out of breath.

“Have you been sitting here for long? I tried to get here early, but you know how bad this city is after work.”

“No. It’s okay. You are on time.”

“Okay,” I said.

She turns her head looking past me exposing a dark side of her face. Purple eye-shadow runs down her cheekbone.

“Is that a bruise?”

She turns her head looking forward then down to her fidgeting feet.

“Yeah,” she said.

I sit next to her as I did four years ago in the summer rain when we first met. Instead of the rain hitting the ground, her tears do. Instead of me putting my arm around her and flirting, I sit quietly with my hands on my lap. Her body is different than before. Her skin glows, and her stomach seems full.

“He hits me,” she said.

I fight the urge to place my arm around her.

“He drinks often and blames me.” Her tears continued to fall.

I look at her leg as the dress sways in the wind, revealing more darkness. She sits folded over, deflated and helpless. I think of us that summer. I recall how she would drain the battery of my cell phone nearly every night. How I could find something witty to say to almost every remark she made. How full of life I was around her. I remember her running into my arms and holding her tightly never wanting to let go.

“I am pregnant,” she said, “And he doesn’t want me to have the child.”

I place my arm around her. She moves her head deep into my armpit, soaking my shirt with tears. I breathe profoundly looking at her.

“The child isn’t his.”

“Does he know that?” I said.

“No.”

“Then,” I say unprepared to finish my question.

“I am unsure who’s the father,” she said.

Another train makes its way to the station. People pushed out of doors and moved towards the exit and down the stairs.

“I have no one to turn to,” she said.

I think of the last time we spoke to one another two years ago. I closed the apartment door, and waited in the rain for a taxi, listening to her yell from the window above.

My cell phone vibrates in my pocket, and I try to ignore it. I know it is my wife texting me, probably with a grocery list.

“I am your friend.”

“I know,” she said perking up.

I quickly regret my words. She pushes her body in closer and places a hand on my thigh.

“I am married.”

“I know. I was married too when we met,” she said with a laugh.

I do not laugh.

Her ring finger shows a tan line, the same type of tan line I ignored four years ago. I place my hand gently on her bruised face and look into her bloodshot eyes.

“I want to get you help,” I said.

She looks at me and smirks with a youthful, broken expression of lost innocence.

“But, that is all I want to do,” I said. “I have a family whom I love.”

“Well, to hell with you then,” she said and got up. “Why would I have even thought that you would have cared about me. You are the one who left me,” she said yelling while walking away.

She does not look back. I sit on a bench next to the advertisement watching the door close behind her yellow sun-dress. I remember buying her that dress. Another train arrives. I watch the people leave.

 

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Flash Fiction: By the river

Flash Fiction: By the river

(429 words) 25 March 2018

by S.R.A. Markin

“I don’t want to go anywhere without you,” he said.
There is no response. The breeze blows over the river and rustles the branches causing a few debris to fall.
“I thought I would spend more of my life with you. This is too hard to go on,” he said. “I can’t help but think of you and how we were together.”
The features of her face show under the sun’s light in his mind. He thinks of them sitting together outside of campus under the blistering sun eating snacks. She would often bring almonds for him in a container that would hold a pear or an apple. She would even offer him a bite of the apple.
“I know it is over, but it is so damn hard,” he said. “Why did it have to end? I could have been better for you. I could have been patient, and-.”
He sits down on a log, with his feet in the snow. The current flows and decreases in size until each wave is a mere ripple in the water.
“And, I could have worried less. I spent my time worrying,” he said. “Such a waste of time. I could have laughed and enjoyed myself with you. It has been two-and-a-half months, and I have been getting better since we broke up. I don’t cry as much. I have found things that I enjoy doing. I do most of those things. Although some days are hard to get out of bed, I do eventually get out of bed,”
He laughs and moves his feet in the snow. The sun casts a perfect glaze onto the surface that becomes blinding after watching for so long.
“I know that we can’t get back together. It wouldn’t work for either of us. I wish I could be stronger, and a better friend. I could be your friend from a distance. I could help you when you need it, or be friendly when you say hi. I can be your friend as long as you don’t get too close for too long because I am still in love with you. I don’t want to ruin our progress. I don’t move on very fast.”
He sits by the river as he will for the rest of the spring and summer’s days. He knows that one day he will meet someone else and go through the emotions and lust of falling in love, but neither that will take away what he once had.

 

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Flash Fiction: Maligne Lake

Flash Fiction: Maligne Lake

(500 words) originally written: winter 2016

Edited: 10 March 2018

By S.R.A Markin

The stars above illuminate throughout the sky. Their intense twinkling is captivating out here in the open land. I lean back in the grass resting my head on a crooked tree trunk. I sit next to my best friend, and we both have our feet towards the fire. My damp socks steam from the earlier fight. Hers does too. I calmly breathe allowing my mind to finally clear. I think of very little, and the men across the fire speak to one another. They converse about their day’s rescue. A dog with a ringing bell chases a squirrel into a tree and stands at the base looking up while barking. The fire between the men and us blazes high and engulfs dry pieces of wood causing sharp crackles to shoot sparks up into the night. The flames cast dancing shadows on the men’s faces.
“I am happy here,” she said.
“Me too,” I said adjusting myself and gazing towards the glacier-fed lake.
I look onward thinking of how beautiful the body of cold water is, and how mighty the overlooking mountains are. I look towards the dock where three canoes are tied up. They bob with each wave that rolls under and reaches the shore of the bay. Much like the fire, the water here dances as well.
My tightly pressed jacket adds warmth to my fatigued body. My eyes begin to close, and the murmurs, the crackles, and the dog’s bark blends into an array of white noise, which lullabies as I slumber into sleep.
I take control of the canoe as the powerful frigid waves threaten us to dock. I paddle hard with one oar maneuvering obliquely and then parallel against each hit that floods into the boat, and she holds on directing us towards land. We align the boat 20- feet from shore slicing the waves trying to gain more distance towards our destination.
After four hours of paddling my efforts fade, and we are forced to dock into a log that protrudes from a hooked-shaped land mass. She ties the canoe to the log, and I jump into the cold water holding the boat for her. We walk to shore and shelter ourselves away from the tallest trees. She shivers. Lighting continues to illustrate the sky, which opens the dark clouds above with each strike. I dig into my rucksack. The rain fails to stimulate my skin.
We search for dryness and gather materials. I scrape a blade over magnesium causing sparks. I continue and more sparks. I scratch harder. The sparks collide with the kindling, and they are immediately extinguished. I shave wood and add wool from my kit. My fingers become more useless with each strike. She shivers while cutting wood into a pile of shavings. The raindrops moisten the land and thunder echoes throughout the forest. More sparks fail to ignite. She shakes profusely. And I awaken to wood crackling, faint voices, and a dog barking with a bell.

 

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Flash Fiction: blue light

Flash Fiction: blue light

(457 words) 9 March 2018

By. S.R.A. Markin

The light continues to flicker, and he can’t stop looking at it. All damn night, he thought. I have been laying here staring at that damn blue light all god damn night.
The illumination is dim and occupies a small space in the dark room. It would be missed if one did not appropriately know where to look and even what to look for, and even by chance of glancing, one would quickly mistaken the blue light for the rest of the darkness.
“Will you turn off that damn light. I am trying to sleep,” the man yelled knowing very well that no one can hear him. “Every night, I am damned to see this blue light. I close my eyes. I see the light. I open them, and there it is. Have some damn decency and turn it off. I have asked countless of times. I have asked nicely. Now for the love of god, turn it off before I smash it off,” he shouted.
The man did not get up for he is much too weak. Arthritis in his knees has contributed to his inert manner of sedentary life in isolation. Well, that is what he would have you believe.
The man aggressively rolls over in his bed. The springs protrude from the ripped sheets. He knows where to move as he adjusts himself back onto his back.
“I am very tired,” he said out loud. “I have had a long day, and all I ask is for that blue light to be turned off.”
The man has indeed had a long day. Although he has no recollection of the length of time of which he has been awake, nor does he know if it is daylight or nighttime, but the man, if there were light to see, would show great tiredness. If there were light in this basement room, one could see the sleeplessness in his eyes. His eyes would-be unusually red as if blood had dried and crusted. One would see blackness around his pale, almost translucent, skin under his eyes and splotchy bedsores scattered throughout his frail and atrophied body.
Although it would be unlikely to think of this man if one was indeed to see his outer appearance, the man at one time in life was an attractive young man. Life had not been kind to him, as it has been unkind to so many, and he is aware of this. And as he lays in his damp bed as he will until he dies in a couple of days, this man while asleep before then will dream of a woman who once loved him and cherished his company.

 

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Flash Fiction: Brain Gains

Flash Fiction: Brain Gains

(824 Words) 5 March 2018

By S.R.A. Markin

“I don’t care. I am not going to workout every single day. I am sitting at my desk, and I am doing my work,” he said. “Today is my rest day.”
“But we are required to workout. It is Chest day. You can’t just stop that is unsociable. Our bodies need to be continuously attended to every day with weights,” I said. “The Bit is not going to react kindly to this. We need our gains.”
“I took the Bit off. Mine was defective anyway. I will get my gains through reading and writing.”
“You did what? Please tell me you are joking,” I said forcing a laugh. “How did you – and why would you read? How did you even manage to take it off? Nevermind. Forget I am asking. I don’t want to know. This is highly irresponsible. Writing? Really?”
“Oh relax,” he said reclining in his chair at his desk.
The man is in great shape, and he has been my friend for the past ten years. My training partner actually, so that makes us great friends, up until now. I can hardly stand to look at him. He is going to lose what is most important, what is socially acceptable.
“Okay, you know what, I get it now. That is hilarious, but we have to get going if we are going to make it to the gym,” I said. “We have to get a bench.”
I walk over to the counter and crack into the vanilla iso-protein. It was on sale for $200 CDN for 4-scoops. I couldn’t imagine skipping out on this deal. I filled the container with premium Canadian Glacier water (to avoid all the estrogen contaminated water). Shook it, and drank it down for a low-carb, pure anabolic muscle surging pre-workout snack. I can feel the gains. Then I crossed an X on the calendar: right over International Chest and Bicep day: Bro Day. I still can’t believe it took until 2021 to change the days of the week to bodybuilding splits. My birthday is in four days on Shoulders and Arms day. I can’t wait. The best day, besides today, if Bro wasn’t being a dick and pretending to rest. Oh yeah, I will be turning 25-years-old, which is pretty amazing that my testosterone levels are still elevated high enough at such an old age to get gains.
I almost forgot to like people’s Instagram photos before I leave. Okay. I will turn on my Bit, scroll down, double-click. Some crazy physiques and butts. I can’t wait for Humpday; although, I don’t think I will train legs again this month. That was too much for me; besides, I think more Bicep days is best.
“Are you sure you aren’t coming, Bro?” I said. I look around the corner, and he has his face in a book. It isn’t even a mag? “Whatever Leg day did to you last month, I am sorry we trained them. I have my Bit on step mode, and I need my 10,000 steps, and I am only at 600. I need the couple more to the car and from the car into the gym, Bro.”
“Do you mind keeping it down.”
“Seriously, what are you doing with that book?”
“It is one of Huxley’s best works, and what I am doing is getting brain reps. Maybe that you will understand?” he said.
“Like curls?”
“Yes. I am curling to provide hypertrophy for the cellular integrity of my brain.”
“Bro, you should have told me. Give me that book.” I slammed the book into my head for a rep. “One.” I slammed it again. “Two,” I said. “How many again for muscle gains? Is it 12?”
“Yes, twelve.”
“Three. Four. Five.”
“Make sure you get the right amount of sets and feel free to do it in the kitchen so you can get your protein in right away during the anabolic window.”
“Oh, yeah. Six. Seven.”
“Oh and Bro?” he said.
“Yeah, Bro? Eight. Nine.”
“Remember to flex your brain muscles in between sets. You have to get the muscle surged with blood.”
“Ten. Eleven. You are so smart, Bro. Twelve.”
I flexed my brain muscles as hard as I could. I knew I was doing it right because my ears popped, and I got four more steps on my Bit. Oh shoot, I better get my scoops in before I can’t get my brain gains in. I drank the last of my iso-protein. I will have to finish my brain curls tonight. I love two-a-days.
“I can feel the gains,” I said.
I couldn’t hear him. He must have closed the door when I left the room. I almost forgot I have to get to the supplement store before I get my bench. Good thing I took out $600. Now I can get a serious pump.

 

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Short Story: bullies

Short Story: bullies

(1042 words) 27 Feb. 2018

By. S.R.A. Markin

I am a loner again. I am better off this way, and more used to it. Besides, I can’t stand people. I never really have gotten along with most people anyway. I still can’t believe how much I got picked on when I was in Elementary, I thought while waiting for the bus.

I would come home after school, puffy faced, and head to my room to cry in my pillow. I would soak that damn pillow for the first hour or two before being called for dinner.

Then mom would come in and sit down at the edge of my bed rubbing my leg telling me such kind things. Then if that didn’t work, she would say that she is “going to kick the shit out of those little fuckers.” I don’t know why I always insisted she didn’t. I nearly begged her not to go to school and hurt anyone. Even looking back, I question if I saved a couple of lives.

I was a chubby kid if you haven’t picked up on that, and I got picked on. So, I guess it was my fault? That is how it works, because kids who are polite, shy, and keep to themselves, are one thing, but if they are fat, well kick the shit out of them. Right? That is what I started to believe, anyway.

I had a few friends in school, and this pretty much stayed the same even until now. Although the faces change here and there, having one or two close people is often as much as I can handle. My friends in elementary couldn’t stick up for me. A couple of them have tried, but this lead to them being pushed to the ground or bullied as well.

One day, in particular, I recall being outside next to our trailer extension classroom in Chase, B.C. I was shoved by some guy, who was two grades ahead of me. Who I am pretty sure failed a grade, so maybe three years older? He had two friends, and they also exchanged unpleasantries. I wasn’t equipped with fast wit like they were for comebacks. Regardless, I took a couple of shots to the gut.

Nearly 17-years-ago, and I recall the bullies words:
“I bet a turkey dinner will come out,” he said before hitting me again in the stomach.

“And stuffing,” one of the other’s said.

The funny part, and what made me laugh was that their punches didn’t hurt. I mean, I was laughing while getting punched, and this must have pissed them off even more because more blows hit my chubby body. I was chubby, not very fat, so they should have been able to hurt me physically. The shitty part is that I didn’t know how to fight back. I couldn’t hurt them.

A few days later, and after years of bullying, my mom had enough. I am certain she would have done this much earlier if I didn’t hide the fact I got my ass kicked on a regular base from a couple of my peers.

Mom told my dad to teach me how to fight. We went for jogs that nearly destroyed my chubby asthmatic self. My lungs would feel like fire. They would burn as I wheezed into my inhaler trying to breathe in so the medication will help me. I wanted to go a little further because I thought this would help me to hurt those boys. I jogged as many times as my dad took me out, which was often.

My parents got me a bench press and a set of weights that look like they were straight out of the eighties. So am I, so I guess it works? They got me two bench presses. I am still uncertain about why two. Maybe they wanted me to hurt those boys as much as I wanted to?

I learned to push the weights from off my bitch tits, as they called them, and curl the weight with my fat stretched marked arms. I was getting faster and stronger, but I still didn’t know how to fight.

Eventually, I was put in karate to learn to defend myself. I am pretty sure this was my mom’s idea. My cousin was in karate as well, and she knew about my bullies. She was teaching me a couple of things about how to throw punches and kicks and what areas to hit. I wanted to be like Bruce Lee against those boys.

I remember being in karate class having to fight someone. Each punch and each kick landed on the padding over my chunky body. I was told to punch and kick back, but I couldn’t do it. This boy wasn’t my enemy like those bullies who I wanted to hurt.

The karate instructor came over one day after many failed attempts from me punching a wooden board. He brought a wooden board. We stood outside in the backyard. I would bow, then throw a punch like I was instructed. I never threw the punch very hard. He eventually left leaving the board for me to practice on. I remember bringing it up to my room and sketching dinosaurs on it. I painted a stegosaurus that was colorful and vibrant. Of course, the dinosaur was a herbivore and extinct, but large and in charge, and that is what I wanted to be. I sat the painted wooden board on my shelf above my bed.

I never did get my revenge on my bullies. I only thought of hurting them. One ended killing himself, and who knows what happened to the other two?

I got on my bus that arrived at university after a long day of school work and training in the gym. I couldn’t imagine what would happen to the two boys who may be still alive if they tried anything with me now. Why should I even care? I am creative, strong, fit, I have a couple of carrying friends who would stick up for me, and I am a sweet-hearted person. I am doing okay, but then again, kicking the shit out of those little fuckers would feel nice.

 

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