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SHORT STORY – AN AWFUL WASTE OF SPACE

I’ve been truly enjoying my dive into fiction. I recently contributed a short story for  Somesuch Stories titled “An Awful Waste of Space.”  Visit their website for more delightful stories.

AN AWFUL WASTE OF SPACE

BY SOPHIE SAINT THOMAS

Growing up on a farm in rural Iowa, water was something that came out of the faucet to quench his thirst after a bicycle ride down the seemingly endless, flat gravel roads, sweat soaking through his shirt. It was something slopping out of the dog’s bowl as she lapped it up with her long wet tongue. Water in the form of scenic ocean had been for the women lounging with suntans and bikinis on the posters of the travel agency on Main Street (which his mother would shield his eyes from as they walked past). It was the mysterious black mass that enveloped the ocean liner on that Twilight Zone episode. While milking cows as a child, he could not have predicted that his adulthood would fade into old age on a tiny island in the South Pacific, where he would compare the white froth of breaking waves to the bubbles created in his tin bucket after pulling a squirt from an udder.

But as for thousands more like him, his fate of becoming his father, the farmer, was disrupted by world politics. He didn’t sign up eagerly. He wasn’t seething with adventure or blood lust, nor did escapism or protest run through his veins. He simply went where he was told.

After the war was over, convinced by friends and feeling unusually bold, he’d put off returning home and traveled through Thailand with buddies from his platoon. He wasn’t the wide-eyed farm boy of a few years ago. The war had numbed him to exotic tastes, but he loved the warmth and the crash of the waves. Truth be told, it had been tales of prostitutes during bar banter that encouraged him to take the trip, leading to a single, guilty experience. And once in the dirty sheet-divided room, he was too burdened by shame to finish. Before the war, his life in Iowa had been small. An only child, home-schooled to make more time to help with the farming, he had been an accident – or a miracle, as his mother said. His parents were middle-aged by the time he came to this planet. While he was overseas, they both left it. His mother passed first, followed by his father a few months later – both in their sleep.

Without making a conscious decision of it, he stayed on the island. His buddies eventually moved on. Earl married a Thai girl then eventually settled in Chicago. Jack decided he’d had enough fast living for one life and returned to a Midwest town similar to his own, where the only guns were hunting rifles, and liquor and hookers existed primarily in the sin-fearing gossip of the church wives. Clint too stayed on the island, and created himself the perfect expat life – until he suddenly blew his brains out. That left just him.

His house sat on a hill on the north side of the island. More of a cliff really, as the geography was not that of soft grass and gentle slopes, but abrupt drops and jagged rock. Looking inland from a boat at sea, the house was the only light on that side of the mountain, its importance amplified by the absence of other dwellings. During his first seven years or so on the island, the man felt pride in being the only light on the north side of the mountain. He imagined the resorts and upscale condo buildings that would eventually come, and how he’d be the local the expats still in their honeymoon phase would invite over for dinner and tales of the good ole’ days, and how the teenage tourists would try to steal buds from his impressively tall marijuana plants. Perhaps, one day, some authority would try to take away his bushes while policing the neighbourhood’s new and noisy occupants, and he’d have to become an activist of some sort. But the reports and fancy condos never came. His side of the mountain remained ignored and his ganja bushes became overgrown and neglected.

Any gaze at the house on the cliff was not with the calm awe of a tourist enjoying a romantic boat rental under the stars, or a local stopping to sip a beer during a night-time fishing trip. Those who could see his home were stowaways, always illegal, sometimes sinister. Directly across from the north of his island was an even smaller island. It was uninhabited. Local rumour held the small island to be a halfway point for sheltering immigrants, drugs, or imported guns on their way to gangs in more politically active countries.

Such tales of local crime had ceased to interest him. His decline in wonder at living on the sparsely populated Pacific isle trod in slow descent alongside his ageing process. So slow he didn’t notice, just like the sorry slope in his bedroom ceiling. In his mind, it had always been straight as a board. He built it himself. One night, during the long hours it took him to drift to sleep, he noticed the boards had bent over time, creating a gentle curve like the hunch in his spine. He hadn’t grown old and grumpy, or even crazed. He had grown old and sadly indifferent. Utterly bored. Meaningless.

After a simple supper, it was his habit to sit on his porch until he grew tired, trapped in memories while staring across the sea from his rickety rocking chair. Every now and then he’d hear the splash of a large fish jumping, or spot dull flickering lights in sync with the hum of a motorboat. This night looked like any other. He was tuned into the sounds of local birds when something caught the corner of his eye. The rumours of the drug smuggling, human trafficking and pirates (perhaps he found them more interesting than he cared to admit) aroused intrigue once more in his fatigued heart. He saw a round white light dance across his vision along the beach of the small island. It paused near a patch of rocks, then sped, then zipped like a laser. It looked like it was going to smash into the beach.

Pausing, it shone a bright spotlight on the beach. Perhaps it wasn’t the light of pirates after all, but authorities after smugglers. Maybe the law had gotten off their butts and were on a mission to confiscate more valuable chemicals than his plants. The brightness pulled up to the beach and stopped, twinkling. A boat? One of those cigarette speed boats? Certainly not a simple fishing boat, the speed it had moved at. As he was contemplating boat mechanics, the light leaped off the water and shot in a diagonal line through the sky. The white ball stopped, changing from appearing as a jet to a helicopter, in that it could just stop and hover. It was directly above him, details emerging. It wasn’t a ball of light, but a metal craft with lights on its underside that spun around in a circle. The craft floated for a couple of minutes and then zoom – zipped off and joined the stars. The combination of being able to fly like a jet, propel like a rocket then hover like a helicopter intrigued him the most. From the war, he had learned about planes and he knew about helicopters. Yet he knew of no military craft that could hover like a helicopter and zoom like a jet.

The moment the craft left his field of vision, he was struck with a sadness that shook him to his core. When he was younger, he had a tendency to time travel (without the aid of UFOs) by pressing fast forward or rewind on the film playing inside his head. Oh, what a mundane film he had let it become: never interacting with fellow actors, ignoring all direction.

This hadn’t been a hallucination. He was stone-cold sober. There was a time when he used to spend his evenings enjoying a toke. He had never been a man of indulgence, but used to take pride in the preparation and enjoyment of his morning coffee, served black, always black. The afternoons had been for ginseng tea, with a pristinely rolled joint to follow at night. He hadn’t given up such harmless gratifications with conviction. He had simply forgotten about them.

The man had neglected his herbal worldly pleasures in the same manner he’d stop taking stock of those which ignited his senses: falling asleep to the sound of waves crashing against the rocks, the sound of heavily-salted air rustling through the palm trees, discovering grains of sand in his hair days after he’d been to the beach like microscopic keepsakes. He always used to have sand in his hair. No matter how big the waves were he’d jump in. He had never been someone who was careful with his life. Never reckless, he never felt the intense intentions Clint must have to put a bullet in his own brain. No, he didn’t want to die. He simply didn’t care if he lived.

“I want to believe,” he found himself whispering, and then grew embarrassed as he realized that wasn’t a line he thought up himself, but one taken from that X-Files show – a pale comparison to The Twilight Zone that he had enjoyed nonetheless. He could have created himself an entire family in the hours he had spent in his living room watching television shows as sunbeams checkered his floor through the deck of his island porch. He began to fancy himself as Fox Mulder, the protagonist, who was abducted through the course of the series. “They’re going to come back for me,” he told himself, with more anticipation than fear. Snapped out of his waking sleep, it all made sense. How he had survived the war with no bodily harm, why he settled in a paradise with such promise of an exceptional life only to live a horrifically mundane one. Of course, he wasn’t injured in the war; they’d need him able-bodied, he told himself. Thank goodness he was never inspired to find love or have a family; they’d need someone with no earthly ties. It all made sense – he was someone special, and that put a spring in his step. It was why the rich expats and the reckless tourists had never come to the north side of the island. His was meant to be the only light visible from above, a beacon pointing solely to him. It was all for him.

After the night, That Night, it became his routine to sit out on his porch not out of habit, but to wait for the ship to return. In excitement, he began to water his ganja trees again, watching green return to the leaves. He even scrubbed the mould from the cracks in his shower in case the space travellers were humanoid and needed to use the bathroom.

It had been about a month since that night with no sign of the ship. As he swept his long neglected floors while the ginseng tea stewed, the radio reported there would be a meteor shower tonight and said to look for shooting stars. Yes, tonight was The Night. He reckoned something was going on up there in the skies. As darkness fell, he grew so excited that he considered having a glass of whiskey he had hidden away in a crate in a closet – but no, he wanted to be clear-headed. An odd satisfaction overcame him: while other locals would be watching for shooting stars, there was to be much more in store for him.

The man sat down in his rocking chair with the pointed enthusiasm of a person in a theatre about to see a film they’d been anticipating for months. The stars shone brighter tonight; the radio reporter had been right. At every fleck of a shooting star or trail of light, he jumped out of his chair and ran towards the edge of the deck, grasping the railing with enough endorphins to near break the damn thing. Yet the only moving lights were those made by the meteors cascading in natural motion across the sky, and none shone with the intensity or the unexplainable technology of his craft.

And then it happened. He almost missed it at first, distracted by the star light, but there it was. The white ball of light dancing near the same group of rocks in front of the small island. “It’s time,” he whispered to himself. Eagerly, he stood from his chair, and moved to the railing, this time to never return to his seated position. As he predicted, the light shot in its laser-precise diagonal across the sky. He leaned over the railing to meet it. He fell tumbling, tossing, and thrashing – being pulled upwards by the unknown to space, or downwards by gravity to the rocks – it was too dark to tell.

ThePolyLife

VICE – THE POLY LIFE iPHONE APP HELPS POLYAMOROUS PEOPLE ORGANIZE THEIR BUSY SEX LIVES

I’ve got some more sex tech for you. Or, in this case, both sex and love because it’s an app designed for poly families. Unlike swingers or those who practice an open relationship, polyamorous families both date and love multiple people. I interviewed the family behind The Poly Life for VICE, click the link to read the Q&A in its entirety.

They’re still trying to reach their financial goal to make the Android app happen, so calling all poly Droid users, click here!

What advice do you give newcomers to the community, who could benefit from the app?
It’s not easy. If you’re not a good talker, polyamory isn’t for you. It’s a lot of communicating with each other, especially if we start dating someone new. Jealousy and making assumptions were our biggest hurdles —they still creep up. Jealousy is a bitch. When we were swinging, it was purely sexual with little jealousy for either of us because we always went home together at the end of the night. But when you start talking about having feelings for someone else and spending alone time with them, that was a swift kick in the ass. Understanding that we didn’t love each other less, and the other partner more, was our biggest struggle.

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VICE – FLIRTMOJIS ARE EMOJIS FOR DIRTY SEXTING FIENDS

For my latest sexy-tech reporting; I made friends, interviewed, and sexting with the creators of Flirtmojis, filthy emojis that encourage safe sext (and have more than one skin tone!) From VICE:

Traditional emojis have been criticized for their race problem. Does Flirtmoji reflect America’s diversity?
Katy:
That’s obviously a problem we’ve had with the present emojis. It’s taking an aggressive stance by just having one skin color. It’s not good for people. It’s not good for feeling like you’re represented. You can see that we’re thinking and using a variety of skin tones that we’ve developed. We have a light, a medium, a dark, and then this sort of alien option—this green option. It’s non-identifying; it’s open to everyone.

[Flirtmojis] we’re planning on launching soon are genitals and body parts, each one in every color. So you could go here, you could see [different colored genitals]—we have 20 pussies for example. There are different types of vaginas, there are different labial folds, and they’re in each color. And that’s really important to us—this idea that you could go to the site and you could find your genital that you identify with based on your anatomy and the color of your skin.

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Girl Talk: Dating As A Sex Writer – First post for THE FRISKY

For my first post for The Frisky, I wrote about what my poor boyfriends have to endure while dating a sex writer.

As a sex writer, I can attest to the usefulness of personal anecdotes in writing. (See: This article.) People tend to be more interested in learning about “sounding” (the practice of inserting objects up the urethra) when you can describe a British man exhibiting such a kink in your bed after a tea date than simply an interview with a sexologist on the practice standing alone. Less clinical, more relatable, with a punch of humor. “The truth is stranger than fiction” said Mark Twain, although I don’t think he was referring to pinkies up pee-holes. While the general population tends to appreciate such tales, the one reader group that grimaces, perhaps secondary to my parents, are my boyfriends.

Enjoy the article in its entirety here.

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Unicorn Hunting – THE STYLE CON

Is all you want for Christmas a threesome (watch the two front teeth)? In my latest sex advice post for The Style Con I gave tips on how to hunt down the perfect unicorn (sexy, single, bisexual woman down 4 3way) with your partner.

From the article:

Have the Woman Approach the Unicorn

The other day, in an antique store, a woman passing by turned to me and said, “You’re the most beautiful woman I’ve seen all day.” This happened over a week ago, and has still been the biggest ego boost I’ve received in a while. If she had been a man and said those same words, I likely would have made a stink face and felt annoyed by just some other cat-calling guy on the street. Women are hit by men with come ons from every which way all day long. It’s exhausting and causes one to revert to a state of defense to be seen as a whole human rather than a sexual object. For this reason alone, for couples, it often goes over better to have the women approach the other woman. For the third, the other woman can be the most intimidating aspect of a threesome. Is she going to get jealous? Is she being pressured into this by her boyfriend? If the two women bond first both can enter the engagement feeling more at ease and respected.

xo! SST

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VICE – Someone Finally Made A Condom for Your Giant Penis

#bigdickproblems journalism for Vice – read it here

“Nobody feels sympathy for a guy who complains about his big dick, but possessing a monster cock comes with its share of problems. A long (and I mean looooooong) penis can plop into a toilet when you sit down to poop; an extremely thick cock might have trouble fitting in certain holes. Most critically, many well-endowed men struggle to find condoms that fit them.

Like many sexual health issues, this problem is made more complicated by the government. Although American penises come in all shapes and sizes, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) only allows condom companies to offer condoms with a minimum length of 6.29 inches and a maximum width of 2.13 inches, making manufacturing or purchasing latex condoms for oddly-shaped protrusions illegal in the US. In recent years, controversies have erupted surrounding condoms—many sex-positive writers have criticized Measure B, a law implemented in 2012 that requires performers to use condoms in pornography filmed in Los Angeles county—but an FDA representative told me the agency hasn’t updated its condom rules since 1998.”