Over – The story begins at the end of a long term relationship with the recognition by the protagonist that the legal ending has come long after the relationship was beyond repair. But when did it really end? Was there a moment? In order to answer these questions the protagonist seeks out old friends and family that had become distant during the long term relationship. What is found is a kind of frankness in conversation that comes when an intimacy with one person pushes other people from your daily life. The protagonist finds conflict between internal memories and perceptions, and those memories and observations of those once close friends and family. Reflecting heavily on personal recollection in context with the observations of these friends and family the protagonist is forced to face the inconsistencies in the internal story of experience versus the weight of the unified collective truth of the opinions he sought out in search of answers. The protagonist comes to accept and take ownership of faulty perception and poor decisions. This allows the protagonist to re-contextualize memories with the help of others’ input and come to the understanding that recognizing key moments can not be done casually in context, and possibly, can only be done through reflection. The story ends with the protagonists ability to release external blame for the failed relationship and to accept that too-high expectations for a person in an intimate relationship does not afford the same depth of understanding and leniency inherent in friendships and family dynamics where you tend to judge the other less harshly. With this change in thought, the protagonist can move forward with a more insight and the wisdom of experience in the wake of loss.
Fisher – The story is a day in the life of a Fisher in a coastal village and the fish that make for daily meals. The fisher walks out onto a dock where a barrel serves as a fish well (now empty), a box holds tackle and does double duty as a convenient seat, with a fishing pole leaning up against the barrel ready for daily use. The first part of the story is establishes this scene, while the second part of the story moves on to show the Fisher seated, pole in hand, patiently waiting for a curious fish to try the bait. Excitement builds when a fish is hooked and the play between the Fisher, working to keep the even line tension that will tire a fish on a hook, and the fish struggling to jump the hook leads to part 3. The Fisher has hooked a tire. Nonplussed, the Fisher places the tire on the dock and continues to fish patiently, line in water. In part 4 the Fisher’s fish well is no longer without fish.
Monster on a Hill – A town in a small quiet valley has growing concerns for a disturbing presence somewhere on a nearby hill (over arching story – find the monster and get rid of it). The townspeople do not directly engage in exploring and resolving this concern initially. Instead, as irritation becomes annoyance they start to in-fight about weather there is a problem, who should be responsible, etc. This has a polarizing effect on the town where folks begin to form cliques that become more combative (story 2, act like monsters). As the townsfolk become more insular in their groups there is an increase in “us versus them” mentality which focuses negativity on those who are seen as outside ones group or, in one case, outside of every group. The one case is a young orphaned child, living with an older sibling, who seems to live a largely dream-like existence, exploring the woods around town, making astute observations about the nature that make people uncomfortable when those observations are directed at their natures. The child discovers the monster’s home and, having felt the pang of being ostracized, decides that instead of delivering the news it would be best to observe, as is the natural way of the child. The child discovers a kindred spirit in the monster’s actions, which seem to be driven by curiosity, not ire or malevolence. The relationship becomes much like a friendship (story 3, explore and observe the true nature of things). When the townspeople discover the monster is real they turn the animosity from the child to the monster. The stories tie to together by illustrating the actions of the townsfolk are monstrous toward any others while the monster actions and the boys actions are driven by curiosity. The townsfolk find and destroy the monster, but remain themselves unchanged. The child, witness to the nature of the townsfolk grieves the loss and the knowledge that true monsters can look just like everyone else, it’s their motivations that matter.
Bubbles – Living in a transparent spherical shelter in order to be as close to nature as possible, the protagonist spends time writing observations about the immediate area. The time is in a future where humans have become so sensitive to the allergens of nature that they can no longer be outside. Indoor plants are in sealed terrarium spheres or “bubbles” that are self sustaining, but deadly if opened. Food is made from proteins and flavors that are combined on 3D printers, along with anything that might be needed. Everything is recycled back into printing materials. There are multiple bubbles for the protagonist to observe different landscapes nearby. Travel between them is by a sealed conveyance that runs on tracks between the bubbles. The conveyance goes through a decontamination process at every entry/drop-off point before a sanitary bubble seal is made. Several bubbles are shown with the protagonist in them making environmental observations. they range form normal landscapes to underwater to one where a flatland desert has been laid out with metal poles every few meters in an effort to attract lightning for power generation, like being in the middle of a lightning storm. The conveyance gets stuck in transit between to bubbles. The protagonist wonders if it is really dangerous for humans to go outside. It is. The protagonist dies of anaphylactic shock.
Camera – Grandfather was an accomplished hobbyist photographer. He spent a lifetime documenting trips to places far and near. He had a Nikon. I’m not sure which one, only that it was manual only and top of the line when he bought it, a real professional’s camera. When he got a new lens or flash he would give a show and tell about it before his next trip. Then, when he returned, he would give slide shows that showcased what the new piece was for and why it was the best tool for what was needed. He was very excited about a new camera body that was coming out soon, set aside money for the upgrade. We went to a lake to go swimming that summer. I was about six. He took pictures of me jumping off a dock into the water. I swam all day, loving the water. About an hour before dinner he called me in from the water. I was having trouble getting back onto the dock so he bent over to help pull me out. I didn’t notice he had set the his camera down on the dock. I knocked it in the water. A teenager fished it out for him. I was very upset, and knew my parents would be too. Grandfather told me not to worry, the camera was fine. For the next five years that held true. I didn’t question why he stopped talking about the new camera model. Until, I took my first photography class in middle school and he gave me the functional, but damaged camera from the lake to use as a beginner model. Instead of buying the new model he had purchased the same old model camera body so neither I nor my parents would be upset. He traded the “new” old model in for a better model after he revealed what had happened. We all had a laugh.