california gothic

anonymous asked:

so we've talked about southern gothic but what about northern gothic? is that a thing?

There wasn’t so we invented one!

Southern gothic is a conventional literary genre, but northern gothic fiction would just get encapsulated in the overall Gothic genre. BUT. Tumblr made a meme. Because of course we did. It’s here:

So far I’ve found Midwest Gothic: here here and here

Southern California Gothic, which is  popular (because of fucking course): here here here here and fuckin here

Northern England Gothic: here and here and here

not to mention chucklefucking Alaskan Gothic: really? i mean really?? fuck you. fuck you alaska.

And fuck me there’s even Gothic subgenres for cities that shouldn’t exist in the first place. Kansas City. Minneapolis. Small town Michigan Gothic?? Toronto? Yeah fucking Toronto.

In fact, there’s assorted Canada Gothic? There’s  so much hell-forsaken Canada Gothic, too fuckin much

International Gothic? Fuck this. There’s So Much Australian Gothic. There’s Finland Gothic. There is so much more and I want nothing to do with it.

But the worse, the absolute worse of the whole satan-forsaken toxic hellpile: Ohio GothicI hate OhioI am. fromOhioI was born thereOne day I will die there. I fear Ohio. Because in Ohio: “Holes in the sidewalk. Holes on the street. Holes on the freeway. Holes in your mind.” And Ohioans know: HELL IS REAL.

Pacific Northwest Gothic

• There’s no coffee shops where you live. You’re in a coffee shop. You see your driveway out the window. You want to go home. The coffee shop doesn’t have a door.
• You live surrounded by trees. There’s a tiny structure on your property. You’ve never opened it. Nobody’s ever opened it. No leaves fall on it in autumn.
• Everyone smokes pot in your town. There are three cannabis dispensaries within 5 minutes of your house. They’re always closed.
• There’s a bakery in town. The food is exquisite. There’s a strange bitter taste in the cookies, though, and you can’t see an oven anywhere.
• Your neighbor makes strawberry jam. It tastes like moss.
• The sun is nowhere. The heat is scorching. You can’t see the sun but your skin is turning red.
• There are brightly painted bear statues in town. You see them every day. They’re never in quite the same spot or position. You swear you saw one of them rooting through your garbage last night.
• You can see the stars from your yard. You never look south-east. The stars look angry there.
• You go to Crater Lake with your family. Nobody talks about the tiny boats by the center island. They’re covered with moss. You’ve never seen the island without them there.
• There’s snow on the nearby mountains. There’s always snow on the nearby mountains.
• The elk are watching.
• You talk to the trees around your house. You hear them whispering your secrets to your neighbors.

Southern California Gothic
  • "It will rain." they say. They say that every day. And every day, you wait. How long have you waited? You don't know anymore.
  • You stop at a dusty intersection. At all corners, there are people with fruit stands. The cherries are 2 dollars a pound. You see the sign saying no stands. You look to the police. They have one too. The strawberries are a dollar a basket.
  • You're walking in LA along Hollywood Boulevard. You walk along the stars. It feels like forever. So many and yet so many still. You eventually find your own name on one for film. You have never been in a movie. Or so you think.
  • "Let's go to In-N-Out," says your friend. Which one? There are no other burger places around. There is only In-N-Out. There is always only In-N-Out.
  • You walk past a person in a Dodgers hat. Not uncommon. Everyone owns one. Everyone you walk past wears one. You reach up onto your head. You are one of them.
  • You go to a restaurant with a friend. Everything is gluten free. You don't mind. Everything is. What even is gluten? You don't know, but you are horrified by it.
  • The beach is nice in the summer. The beach is nice in spring. The beach is nice. The beach is your friend, your overlord. You must respect it. Bow to it before stepping on its sandy shores.
  • You get onto the 405. Siri says you only go 5 miles before getting off on the exit ramp. It has been decades since she said that last. Your hands are old and wrinkled as they grip the wheel. Siri says you have 4 miles to go. It's faster than usual.
  • You park your car on the side of the road and get out. The beach. You look at the top of your car to find a surfboard. You don't own a surfboard. You do now and have accepted it as your new way of life. You go to put on your wetsuit.
  • Your friend says she has tickets to the next concert. You ask where. She laughs. It is everywhere. The Bowl. The Forum. Staples Center. It is everywhere at once. All concerts are.
  • You debate on where to go for summer vacation. The fight ensues. Magic Mountain, Knott's Berry Farm, Universal Studios, and Disneyland. They fight for your affection and your money for when summer comes. This happens every year.
  • The palm tree outside your window waves at you in the wind. The palm trees are your ever present, looming protector. They are always watching.
  • You hear the chiming of the elotero's cart. You grab your money and run out the door. There is no elotero. The bell still rings. It always rings.
California Gothic
  • there are many languages. for each you speak, there are three more you don’t.  occasionally, you are thankful you do not understand the one spoken only in hushed, garbled voices.  you are more thankful when you do not remember that one at all.
  • sorry i was late. traffic, you explain.  there is no need to explain further.  they understand.  you have all lost so very much to traffic. 
  • fusion food, they call it.  it has no other name.
  • housing prices are up.  they keep rising.  this is the deal of a lifetime, you think.  the broker agrees, with an easy smile and a nod.  “what would you do with all that blood, anyway?” the ink dries brown, and only now do you realize that you did not speak aloud.
  • 70 degrees is considered ideal temperature for humans.  all around you, you see others in jackets, sweaters.  so what, then, does that make them?  even now, you are starting to shiver.
  • do not touch unattended parcels and packages.  do not look at unattended parcels and packages.  and lastly, do not, under any circumstances, listen to unattended parcels and packages.  this is what they want.  this is what they have been waiting for. 
  • the mystery spot.  the winchester mystery house.  those, even the tourists know.  you have enough pity left for them that you do not speak of the rest.
  • you think the man on his cellphone outside the restaurant is in trouble.  you only catch snatches of conversation, quotas, sulfur prices, falling employee morale.  loss of faith in management.  new procedures for soul processing.  his skin is badly sunburned. you decide to walk a little faster.
  • there is graffiti layered in angry red on the overpass columns, raised thirty feet into the air.  who wrote them there?  what do they say?  why is it, that though you can’t read them, you know the words you are saying are not the lyrics to the songs on the radio?  the car horns beat in rhythm.
  • your headache is so very bad, some days.  you hope it is only caffeine withdrawals, and not due to the sigils starbucks employees drizzle in syrup on the bottom of your cup at the drive-through.  is this the price you pay for not supporting independent?
  • they say there are more cars than people, here.  how many more? soon they will not need you at all.
California Gothic
  • There is a cloud today, just one. You look at it with a faint flare of hope; It is pure white and holds no hope of rain. You get out your umbrella to encourage it. It’s an airplane trail.
  • It rained last night, and the entire town is hungover. Streetlights blink red, confusing every driver who dares to approach. Half your city is without power. Auto wrecks litter the sides of streets, but each only involves one car. “We really got soaked last night!” They say, smiling behind their sunglasses. There was less than an inch of precipitation.
  • You go into the Valley. You don’t know why you’re here. The road stretches on for miles in front of you, and everything is flat and dead as far as the eye can see. The speed limit is 55, but the truck you are behind is going 30. You pass a sign that tells you there will be a passing lane in 18 miles. The regret grows in your stomach like the piles of tumbleweeds crowding the fences. Free them. Free yourself.
  • You have been in traffic for two hours. None of the signs look familiar anymore, but you haven’t moved. Where are you? Where is the city? All the houses look the same, but there are no more exit ramps. You realize you don’t know what your Freeway number is, and you know true fear.
  • “Let’s go to the beach!” They say. “The beach is great!” It is March, and the water is too cold. “We’ll have so much fun at the beach!” You are already at the beach. The beach never ends. The beach is eternal.
  • You have been driving for nine hours without stopping. You are still in California. There is no escape.
NorCal Gothic

Cowritten with coloredink

  • You wake up to the sound of rain.  Excellent, you think.  You roll over and go back to sleep with the sound of water pattering against the window echoing in your ears.  In the morning, you step outside to sunny blue skies.  The pavement is dry.  Did you dream it?  Did it happen? 
  • You walk past an apartment with a FOR RENT sign advertising $1800 a month.  When you walk past it going the other direction, 20 minutes later, the sign reads $2000.  When you go back the next day, it’s gone.
  • You pass a vacant lot with a sign advertising a high-rise, mixed office use and luxury condos.  You can’t remember what used to be there before.  If anything used to be there before.
  • “I thought I was visiting California,” says the tourist, shivering, his pink knees exposed to the wind.  "I didn’t think I’d need a jacket.“  You pity him.  He doesn’t know about the fog.  He doesn’t know to stay away from the fog.  What lies in it.
  • Their speech is patterned with strange words.  Everything is "hella chill.”  You think that might be the case when hell freezes over.  Then, one day, you start saying it too.
  • The bus announcements are in a language you don’t understand.  To clarify meaning, the bus repeats its announcements in several more languages you don’t understand. 
  • The bulk bins are all filled with quinoa.  Pearl quinoa, black quinoa, red quinoa, tri-color quinoa.  "I love quinoa,“ says the glassy-eyed white woman in the aisle beside you.  "It’s so good for you.”  She scoops herself two pounds.  Everything in your shopping basket has turned into quinoa. 
  • Diversity Day is held at the local high school.  Every act is from Asia.  You are not sure what diversity means.  You clap anyway. 
  • You are waiting for the bus.  Google arrives.  Google leaves.  You are still waiting for your bus. 
  • Apple makes an announcement: they are selling the iThing.  Your coworker makes an announcement: they are selling their stock options. 
  • BART is, in fact, not a person. 
  • You are circling.  You are looking for parking.  You are circling.  You are looking for parking.  You are circling. 
  • “We’re just coming up on the Maze here,” the news helicopter says.  "It looks like there’s been an accident over on the right shoulder.” You don’t know where to look.  There are so many shoulders.
  • You buy pesto from Trader Giotto’s and ma po tofu sauce from Trader Ming’s and frozen tamales from Trader Jose’s.  Boy, that Trader Joe guy sure gets around.  You wonder where he’ll go next.
  • The Prius in front of you slams on its brakes, and you slam on yours.  The Prius behind you barely stops in time.  A Prius rolls up on your right.  A Prius rolls up on your left.  Their windows are all tinted.  They all have COEXIST stickers.  You hold your breath and wait for the light to change.
  • You go to the supermarket.  The fish stare at you.  You stare back.  In the background, you hear the sound of heavy knives chopping.
  • The Giants are victorious.  There is a parade.  Tall people do not feature in abundance.  The city goes up in flames that night.
  • “I don’t know how I ended up here,” he says.  He clutches his $4.50 fair trade organic artisan coffee.  "I swore I’d never live in the Mission.  But now my jeans are skinny, I own a collection of vintage records, and I’m hosting a bread-baking party next Saturday.“  He leans forward.  His eyes are desperate, and his beard is magnificent.  "You have to help me.”
  • The tea contains mostly milk, sugar, honey, and little round brown things.  You are assured that the little round things are boba, not something else.

* The seagulls are slowly inching closer. Judging by the glint in their eyes, they will not be satisfied with your lunch this time.
* Every day, one more spot in the vending machine has been claimed by Hot Cheetos. You aren’t sure what happens when they’ve taken over.
* It’s June, and the tourists begin to roll in. Everyone keeps their doors shut, and avoids them at the beach. We can’t shatter the illusion of the postcard-perfect town. Not again.
* Four surfers enter the water one night. Five come out.
* The mountains are alive. No one mentions it. They don’t have to.
* You’re at the county fair one night, at the top of the Ferris wheel. You look out over the ocean, and see something moving. Surely it must just be a surfer, right?
* While swimming in the Pacific one day, you feel something caress your leg. You pray it’s just seaweed.
* There’s an unspoken rule about going into the desert at night.
* You come back home from a night out to see a UFO hovering above your residence. You shrug, and leave to spend the night at a friend’s house. Better safe than sorry.
* You see what looks like a fire burning on the surface of the water one night. It’s too far to be a boat, but too close to be an oil rig.
* You lie awake, unable to sleep. The waves sound closer than usual.
* It rains, just a light sprinkle. The people are celebrating in the streets. It’s been so, so long.
* The hills above town are on fire. Ash fills the air and congests your lungs. No one evacuates, PE classes are simply brought inside for the day. Like everyone else, you simply wait, hoping it doesn’t cross the 101.
* There’s a loud grating noise from down the street. In the morning, you see that the landslides have swallowed your neighbor’s house again.
* Everyone awaits The Big One, the earthquake that will send California tumbling into the Pacific. For many, it can’t come soon enough.

Southern California Gothic

• you’re driving to work, you’re stopped at an intersection, there are people selling fruit and flowers on every corner. There’s a sign that forbids this. A police officer buys a basket of oranges for three dollars.

• you’re at the park, you blink, there is now a man with a cart in front of you. You don’t question this. You buy an elote.

• it’s cold, so cold. Your weather app says 67 degrees. That can’t be, it’s so cold. You see tourists in short sleeves, you exclaim to your friend that they must be insane! It’s so cold.

• you leave the doctors office, there is a Starbucks on the corner. It was not there when you went into the doctors office. You buy a latte.

• you’re hanging out with your friends, one mentions that they’re hungry and want in-n-out. You are so hungry. So, so hungry. You get a double double with animal fries and a pink lemonade. The restaurant was not there yesterday.

• they said rain will come this week, it will not. The rain decides when to come. You can’t make its choices for it. That would be rude.

• you’re finished with your shopping. You pack your things into the car and start to drive. You drive to stater bros. You’re not done shopping yet.

• you are driving, the radio won’t work. The only stations you can hear, faintly, are Spanish talk radio and Christian music. Sometimes in the static you hear the faint sound of the beach boys.

• you go to the beach. You don’t know the way. All roads lead to the beach.

• it was foggy today. Nobody dared leave their homes.

• you’ve been driving for two days. You are still in California.

• you’re falling asleep, something feels off. The train blares it’s horn an unknown distance away. You’re able to sleep.

• you hear the fireworks at Disneyland. You don’t live anywhere hear Anaheim. You simply turn up the volume.

• you’re at knotts berry farm, three yards away there is a cowboy holding a boysenberry cotton candy, you hear screams from the direction of silver bullet. You’ve been sitting outside the saloon for days.

california gothic
  • There’s a music festival in the next town over, someone tells you.  You drive for hours trying to find it and pass dozens of music festivals but it’s never the right one.  You can’t remember who told you about it.  You’re not sure if anyone did.
  • Tourists come to the coast looking for the sunny beaches and great surfing.  You ask where they expected to find a sunny beach.  No one has ever seen one.  You tell the tourists, “It mostly rains.”  Next you explain why there’s a ban on campfires.  “But it mostly rains,” you say as the wind blows sand into your eyes.  “What’s a sunny beach?”
  • The phone rings.  Hours later, after the tone, a voice tells you that your house has been determined eligible for solar power.  You can’t tell if the voice belongs to a human or a robot.  It leaves the same message every week.  The messages dissolve into the earth and leave you wondering if you’re truly as eco-friendly as your nonexistent idols would want you to be.
  • If you watch long enough, all the cars on the highway start to look like Priuses.  Nobody knows what you’re talking about but there are thousands of people in parking lots trying to remember which cars belong to them.  A mom stands outside a thrift store with her kids and her kids’ friends, wondering where her minivan is.  She knows she can’t fit six kids in a Prius, but she can’t remember ever driving anything other than a hybrid.
  • There’s gum under every desk in every classroom, but everyone you know shakes their head disapprovingly when they see trash on the side of the road.  The gum keeps appearing, but you don’t think anyone is putting it there.
  • Your neighbors argue over which water bottle design saves the most plastic.  You sit on the swing to wait for the recycling truck to come by.  It never comes, and as you swing you try to figure out where this playground came from.  Nobody has lived in this house for years.  You have no neighbors.  The recycling bin is empty.
  • You’re not sure what the ocean sounds like until you hear it, late at night, raising monsters from its depths.  You are afraid.  You wake up the next morning and go for a swim.
  • The cashier asks you if you want a paper bag for ten cents.  You can’t remember what you’re here to buy.  You entered this store six days ago and you keep hoping an employee will offer you help to your car so you can find the way out, but you’ve gone through this line so many times you lost count days ago and you think maybe the cashiers are mannequins.  Their smooth faces don’t seem to recognize you and they won’t look away from their endless kale smoothies.  The reusable bag full of reusable bags in your hand keeps you from asking if they’re allowed to have those at the register.

regional gothic

🌫 east coast: foggy piers. something large and unknown washing up onto shore. the end of the beach disappearing into the storm. shade of the forest, leaving patterned shadows and tricking your eyes. overgrown tombstones. old houses painted black, shuttered windows. an old outbuilding in the middle of the woods, the forest has moved inside. you know someone lives there. figures between the trees, whispering.

🏚midwest: abandoned farms, silos that are slowly turning back into the earth. street lights that flicker as you pass them. empty streets in the middle of the night, but you still hear footsteps behind you. someone looking at you from a curtained window, and then you blink and they’re gone. storm sirens at 2 AM and the sound of an old radio crackling on even though no one touched it. the endless fields know your fears.

🌾southwest: weather vanes spinning wildly even though there’s no wind. sunsets bathing everything in saturated light before all the color disappears. old homesteads leaning to one side, covered in cobwebs. walking in the desert alone, but you’re not alone, someone on that crest is crawling with you. waking up to the sound of a complete downpour but looking outside and it hasn’t rained even a drop. your walls have eyes, and they’ve seen.

🌄rocky mountain: standing next to a stream and over the roar of the water you hear a snap of a twig, when you look behind you, something has left a neat pile of rocks. night sky only interrupted by the silhouette of a peak, and glowing torches traveling down it. weather changing wickedly fast, and you’re caught without shelter in a lightning storm. old mountain towns, the residents weathered by time. and they know the secret about the abandoned house that sits at the edge. the one in your dreams.

🌊north west: when you leave your house, a sudden cold puff of air blows over you and all the hairs on your arm stand up. old fishing boats, rusted and bent out of shape, claw marks running along the sides. the forest is more fog and mist than trees and they’re listening. old circles of rocks and twigs, with an offering in the middle, you feel an overwhelming need to stand there. markings etched into the trees, growing more frequent as you explore. there was a settlement here. you hear voices. leaning into the rain cracked pavement, they grow louder.

Southern California gothic

  • You drive to In n Out for lunch and order a double double with animal style fries. But what does the animal style mean. Why are there animals? 
  • You get stuck in traffic on your way to work. You never get to work. You stay on the 101 forever. 
  • You turn on the sink to fill your cup with water but nothing comes out. The Arrowhead water bottles in your fridge are completely empty. Nothing exists in your pool except your pool cleaner, driving in circles around the dust. The drought has finally hit. 
  • Someone posts on Facebook, “going to Cali for spring break!” They never leave their home state. No one calls California “Cali” 
  • The fires are never ending. The exist forever in the hills, burning away the dead brush that is always growing back. 
  • Your neighbor is walking their dog down the street. But is it really a dog? It is very small with white fur and red eyes. It might be a rat. 
  • You eat fish for dinner on your back porch. A seagull lands on a tree a few feet away and stares at you, unmoving, until you have almost finished your dinner. That’s when it attacks.
Southwestern Gothic

- you’re on a lonely stretch of the freeway and running out of gas. you come up on a small town and exit. you spend an hour looking for a gas station. there are homes, a grocery store, a dentist, but no gas station.

- you’re ten miles out of a sizable town. you drive around a bend in the mountain and come upon a row of stalls. you walk up to one. behind a table covered in intricate beaded jewelry and beautiful stones sits a smiling Navajo woman. you comment on her work. she nods but doesn’t speak.

- you’re hiking. the sun is baking the back of your neck, and the ground beneath your feet slowly changes from brown to yellow to red and back again. you feel thirsty constantly, and every thirty or so feet a tower of perfectly stacked sandstone rocks tells you you’re going in the right direction.

- it’s night, and you’ve been dragged by your friends to a place the locals call “the narrows”, a slit in a canyon barely wide enough to walk through, horizontally. there’s a rock wall pressed to your back, sandstone beneath your cheek, and air leaving your lungs.
you look up at the sliver of black speckled sky and breath.

- you’ve been driving for three hours and have three to go. you don’t expect to see anything for miles, but you come up over a hill and out of nowhere a town appears. you pass old rusty trucks, a church with a crumbling marque, stores with broken windows, and houses with doors that move with the wind. a ghost town is being born.

- the air is hot, the skies are a stormy gray, and rain would feel cleansing to the dry ground beneath your feet. but it’s not going to rain. you know it’s not. To your west the mountain flickers red and orange, clouds rising from the wreckage into the swirling sky.

- you’re standing just in the shadow of a cliff, eyes glued to the structure in front of you. it’s a building, moulded like pottery from clay clinging to the cliff face. they’ve been her for centuries, weathering the desert, abandoned, and they still don’t know why.

- someone needs to pee. you all pile out of the car, and move the the edge of the road. you stare nervously at the sparse but paradoxically thick grass. Anything could be in there. gophers, lizards, crickets, rattlesnakes… you watch your friend anxiously as they step into the brush, then glance at your feet, praying you don’t learn what’s out there.

- it’s late, you’ve got fast food wrappers in your lap and the air outside is finally cooling. you’re driving out of the city, prepared for the next leg of your journey. you see a motel, the vacancy sign flickering, the song hotel california playing on the radio. you speed away.

- the air is different. you can feel the change in pressure. you watch the skies anxious, ready to smell the rain, and the desert when it rains. clouds roll in. the sky is black. but something is wrong. the air is too tense, charged, not rain you realize. lightning crashes on the mountains, thunder seconds behind, and the around you crackles.

- they call it goblin valley. hundreds of “hoodoos” cover the valley floor in different shapes and sizes. during the day it’s like a playground. but you came at night. it has one of the darkest night skies in the world. you stare up at hundreds of thousands of stars, but it always feels like there is someone watching you.

California Gothic (mostly SoCal)

• The Santa Ana Winds are coming and the dry air that smells like dust and heat is coming too. Going inside will not help. The wind will howl and bang on your windows and doors. There is a fine layer of dust on everything and it smells of ozone and something you can’t exactly name.

• The land oil rigs dot the ground. You tell no one that on dark nights they rise and move.

• Where are the Fresco Fruit stands from? The paint on the sign is dulled by sun, wind, and dust. Where is the fruit from? “Probably local”. How long have they been here? Since before my mother was a girl. Oh well. The strawberries there always tastes better than from anywhere else.

• The fog rolled in tonight. You can smell something like gas. You hope you are wrong as the wisps of white crawl into your vents.

• There is another flash flood warning and the hot, dry sky with the huge, glaring sun clouds over too quickly. The drizzle quickly turns to cold, fat drops of water intermixed with hailstones. It bites the skin exposed by your t-shirt and your bare feet go numb. Everyone says they should’ve thought ahead as they run from the sky.

• There is a hurricane going by Mexico. A tropical storm? The dark water becomes bright, light blue and the swells are huge. The sun shines and the water washes up shells and sea glass. Too many people don’t understand what it means when they are warned of shore breaking waves. Too many people don’t know how to escape rip currents.

• Everyone smiles as the drive through the hot, baking hills of the Grapevine. Everyone smiles as they drive past the abandoned houses, some with no more than a chimney left. No one remembers the houses.

• The sun is too red and the sky is glowing orange and green. It snows ash and the radio mentions strike teams. Everyone has surgical masks and red-eyed children smudged with black and white make angels on their lawns.

• Your neighbor smiles. Yup. He says. Gotta remember to water your lawn at night. Really helps the grass just soak it all in. His lips are cracked and dry. The air is made of static.

• You’re on the top floor of a building when everything starts to shake. You dive underneath a desk and cover your neck. You receive strange looks for the rest of the week. Surely someone else must have felt it. Your building is on rollers. You couldn’t have been the only one.

• There is a board repair shop by the beach. The salt has soaked into the wood. You don’t know exactly how long it’s been there. Every year it’s closer to the water. Every week there is more salt in the wood.

• There is something wrong with the kelp beds. You swear you see it moving. When you were young something pulled you into the water once and it kept pulling you down. You avoid kelp beds in the water.

• You are in the desert and your skin starts to itch. Your hair is standing on end. You are waiting for the lightening to start. It’s like this every night. You pretend it is a show, something to enjoy but you are certain somehow that it’s moving closer.

• You are trying to get somewhere important. There are rapids on one side of the road and a crumbling mountain on the other. As you drive the road narrows and curves, and narrows and curves. You must continue. It’s important.

california gothic

• You hear coyotes outside your door at 2AM. You are so scared they will drag you into the woods behind your house.

• Wherever you go, there is always always the sticky, hot, scent of rotting fruit. Grapes, strawberries, oranges, pears, mandarins, cherries; they are all decaying. Turning to mulch and mud. It is a smell that follows you everywhere.

• You can’t remember a time before the drought. Was it 5 years ago? 10? 20? Everything is dust and brittle vegetation. The fish show their pale bellies to the sky.  You have forgotten the sound of rain.

• Roadkill smears the roads for days; the large cracked body of a doe, the intestines of a rabbit, the dark misshapen shadow of a possum that you nearly hit before swerving.

• As a child, you hear stories about a giant loving under the cracked earth. You grow up with the shifting land. You learn to ignore it, until you can’t. Until the rumble doesn’t end but grows and grows and only leaves shattered piles of debris behind.

• The heat shimmers in front of you like a mirage, melting the skin off your bones, browning you a dark russet color.

• Spanish echoes in every street corner, every mini mart, every spotlight and storefront and restaurant. It is a confirmation for some and a static hum for others. The reverberations spread through the town. People are starting to speak Spanish instead of English. Is that really such a bad thing?

• The weather is different in every town. It is raining and then it is not. The sun beats down on your neck and then the fog kisses it. The wind cackles around you and then dissipates. No one has figured out what to make of this yet.

• Roads that don’t go anywhere. Roads that turn to dirt. Roads that keep on going forever and ever and ever. Roads that curve around mountains and feel like you could fall off at any second with the wrong move.

• Snakes on your front porch, your backyard, under your sink and dead by the side of the road.

SoCal Gothic

The Del Mar fair is coming to town, it just left last week. It just arrived last night. It’s gone by morning. The Del Mar Fair is coming to town. 

The sun burns on your back as you trudge through the parking lot. It’s Christmas eve and you’re leaving the mall. You have no packages. You have no idea what you went to the mall for. You’re so hot. You’re so parched. You’ve been walking through the parking lot for hours. 

A tourist asks you for directions to the beach. You only go a few steps before another tourist asks you for directions to the beach. They’re the same person. They’re always the same person. 

You wonder what you’re going to have for dinner. You blink and you’re sitting in the drive through at In-N-Out. How did you get here? How long have you been waiting? 

You whisper hurried prayers to the gods for rain. They aren’t listening. They never listen. The earth is so dry. It cracks with every step you take. You begin to believe that rain never existed. 

In the fall the air turns to ash. You walk slowly to your car packed for evacuation. You can’t remember packing it. The gods are cleansing the earth with fire. You flee. You don’t know where you’re going. 

You go to the Zoo. Tourists push past you to stare at the hippo. The hippo has been in the same spot since you were a child. Has the hippo ever moved?

You take your shoes off. Sand falls onto the floor. You haven’t been too the beach in months. Where has the sand come from? Why does this keep happening?

You get into bed. It’s 85 degrees. It’s always 85 degrees. 

The earth begins to shake. You do not move. No one moves. The windows begin to rattle. You wonder if this is The Big One. You still do not move.