Ring

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I had been here before. This is the law office where my wife and I are negotiating the specifics of our divorce. Helen sits across from me. She is looking in my direction, beyond me. 

“Is there a reason you decided to dress like you were receiving your diagnosis for diabetes?” I say, the first time. 

“Is there a reason you decided to wear that smug look on your fucking face?” She says, probably the ninth time. It doesn’t have the same warmth that it used to.

 We are only in the same room as a matter of convenience while we wait for our attorneys to arrive. If we had both arrived on time, this wouldn’t be happening, but we both arrive early in the hopes that we can get this over with. We are both wrong. 

I shuffle through my papers, as if to look like I know what I’m doing. She browses her phone. We’re both frightened and curious as to what the other plans to do. I want what’s best for us. I don’t know what she wants. The door opens. 

Helen is sitting across from me, avoiding eye contact. 

“Do you think we’ll still talk afterwards or will it be mostly passive aggressive text messages?” I say. But Helen wasn’t game for anything more than another round of insults. She was always harsh like that. It wouldn’t be much longer. Today we’d finalize the divorce. 

I probably won’t ever see her again. The door opens. 

“Do you?” I say, and she almost looks confused, but she doesn’t acknowledge me. That was the source of a lot of our fights. I’d try to talk, she’d ignore me, and then it would get worse from there. 

We’re silent together in the room for another five minutes. The door opens. 

It’s like I am waking up from a dream. Helen is sitting across from me. It’s just her and I, again. I am scared.  Helen sees this, and I don’t know if it’s concern or sadism in her eyes. Either way, I understand where she’s coming from.

“Is this happening to you?” I ask. She doesn’t answer, probably thinking I’m talking about the divorce. I frame most of my insults in the form of questions, and that bites me on the ass. 

“Helen, I’m not trying to fight with you. Is this the first time that this is happening? You and I, in this room, I mean. ” I say. My voice is shaky. Helen’s jugular tightens. She doesn’t break eye contact with her phone. 

“Fuck off, Cecil.” She says. 

“Is there any particular reason that you decided to-” The door opens. 

“-be such a…” It’s like I stepped down a staircase when I didn’t know one was there. The room is hazy and moving like water down a drain.

I am angry, . She is browsing her phone. Her frigid head floating gently above her shoulders. Her hair is refracting light and tainting it blackly. The door is thick and shut tight, but I hear the same somethings that I’ve heard every other time through. 

I leave my seat. I am close to the door. I can feel the handle. I twist it to my will. The door opens.

I’m sitting across from Helen. The world feels flat and dull. This room seems to fit in perfectly. Helen is a snowy mountain beset upon a sea of misty darkness. She is every pain to me. She is all I have. 

“You mean nothing to me.” I say. She captures droplets of moisture in the air with her hair and they freeze like black snowflakes on dry ice. 

“Cecil, be honest.” She says. The door opens.

“I love you.” I say. For a moment, I can see her color and her shape coalescing into some measure of a lifeline until:

“Cecil, be honest.” She says. The door opens. 

What a colossal bitch she is. I spend the next time around fantasizing about ripping her head off. The door opens. I make a concerted effort to rip my own head off, only to pull out a chunk of my hair. Helen looks on in bewildered amusement. The door opens. I walk back and forth from one end of the room to the other. I firmly press my hand against the nuevo-textured wall in an attempt to filter out my testosterone. She doesn’t see that the vessel that runs across the back of my hand is straining not to pop. I look for the words to solve the problems that we share. The door opens. I fail. 

“What do I need to say to you?” I reach.

“There isn’t anything you could say that’d set this right if that’s what you’re asking.” I make contact!? And then Helen returns to browsing her phone. 

“Then what’s the point in us talking at all?” I say.

“Exactly.” She says.

“Helen, the fact of the matter is that there’s something here. It’s harsh, and I hate it, but I can’t keep sitting across from you knowing that this table might as well be the fucking vacuum of space for as close as we’re gonna get.” 

“Then it’s a good thing that this is the last time that we ever have to see each other.” She says. I rub my eyes. I rub my temples. The door opens. 

It isn’t. I’m still seeing her. She isn’t the same. The colors in her coat and face are washed out from one cycle too many. I see where a bruise used to rest across her icy cheek. I see the tanlines on her ring finger that seemed to be the only evidence that we ever might have loved one another. 

Helen is sitting across from me, but I miss her. Not the way she was at her best nearly as much as any conceivable shape of her. I miss her on our first date; throwing up off the side of the tilt-a-whirl like the world’s most horrifying sprinkler system. I miss her accidentally waking me up as she left for work. I miss talking to her without it being diplomatic warfare. 

At this point, I am daydreaming about the possibility of me having to explain why the toilet isn’t going to work anymore, I would be thrilled to tell her that I ran over her cat pulling out of our driveway, but I would settle for a conversation as I walk in on her and Pierre viciously fucking on the ottoman that we compromised on.

In my heart, she is not my enemy. She is just somebody I haven’t forgiven. The door opens. 

I’m looking at her. Her face is an anti-chromatic refrigerator. Her hair forms stalactites of black ice. The depth is lost from the room. We feel close in that way, I think. I wonder who will stab first.

“Why?” I say. Quiet. 

“Why are you divorcing me?” I say, and she is gracious enough to leave me a silence. 

“It’s just important for me to know exactly why, I think. You’re not looking at me, and that’s okay… But it’s really important for me to know why we’re here. And why you filed these fucking papers. And why we can’t see each other again.” I say. 

“You weren’t the best wife. And I’m not a good husband. Hell, I’m not even a good man… And we weren’t ‘better together’ but… Why?” I ask, and she sees me right in my eyes. The room shivers. Helen is standing, and our faces could touch if our shoes weren’t quite so frozen to the floor. 

“I mean, pretty much all of those things you just said.” Helen says. Tearing me down, just like we used to. 

“What? Just because we’re not perfect doesn’t mean we can’t love each other!” I yell, just like we used to, and I can feel that soon the door is going to open and it’s all going to start again. So I jam the door shut with my body.

“This isn’t okay! This can’t be all there-” 

“Cecil.” Helen interrupts me. 

“I cheated on you. And you beat the shit out of me. It doesn’t take a divorce filing to figure out that one way or another, we were going to end up separate.” Helen says. 

My shoulders loosen. I look into Helen and my eyes well up. There’s a knock from behind the door. 

“For what it’s worth, I think that with time that you might be a good man, but I will never see you that way again.” Helen says. 

“I’m sorry.” I say. 

“It’s okay.” Helen says. 

“Not just for today, for…” 

“It’s okay.” Helen is there for me. The cold tendrils of ice melt dry like we used to when we were in love.

“Are you ready to let them in?” Helen asks. I feel the brown light from her hair catch me. I’m stuck in its embrace.

“Just a minute.” I say. 

Drifting coarsely on the breezelines of the past.

“Just a minute.” I say. 

If only to make this moment last.

Generosity, a flash fiction

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I don’t typically like to talk about my hobbies. In my line of work, anything that makes you particular can prove to be a liability. And it’s not like investment management brings any exceptional amount of passion into my life, but it affords me the opportunity to live the lifestyle I’ve been accustomed to. 

In my experience, most people see a natural disaster and they post about it on facebook, send a letter to their congressman, or if they’re incredibly generous, they donate about $7.50 to the Red Cross. But none of those are practically my disposition. My mother tells me that when I was a kid, I used to watch out for the small kids when I could so they’d take less of a beating from the bigger, richer, meaner kids. I don’t remember many specifics, but I think that was when I learned that if somebody is unimportant enough, people will figure out how to ignore just about anything. 

But I’ve always been nothing if not proactive. Over the years, I squirrelled away what I could, and eventually I was able to purchase my own private helicopter and disaster relief team. So now, when I see a disaster, my ass isn’t nestled at home in the loving embrace of my office chair. I do what I can, because I’m not like you. 

Wherever there’s a hurricane, I’m there on the streets with food and clean water, when I see an earthquake, I haul generators and doctors to the epicenter, and wherever there’s a camp of homeless vagabonds, I hook them up with showers and job applications, followed by affordable housing. My only reward, and possibly the only satisfaction that I’ve found in this world, is the stunned look on their faces as I strangle them with piano wire. The same piano wire. The same look. The same motivation. 

When I was a kid, at first I charged the smaller kids for everything they were worth in exchange for their protection, but eventually I realized that they carried with them something a lot more valuable than their pocket change. And so for a very small price, their dignity was mine. They’d do anything if I told them about the consequences of their inaction, and they did. And my mother still praises me for it to this day. 

What can I say? I do what I can. 

Migraine

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The first thing I noticed about Evelyn was that she didn’t have a head. But I was in no place to judge. Most faces hadn’t been really been making much in the way of expressions lately anyway. 

She had an aura of mosquitoes (read: congregating strangers) surrounding her like a team of professional surgeons whose looks held just as much blank intent. 

I couldn’t gauge much from her eyes, mostly because she didn’t have a face, but there were tight kinks festering in her shoulders. Her arms were bound to her torso like a death at a festival. What appeared to be an inordinate amount of blood was pumping out of the pulp where her head should’ve been. 

She wasn’t at a pleasant gathering with friends. Someone had trapped her there. Her spluttering heartbeat was a longing tap on the bars of the human cage that surrounded her. I had read online about how to help strangers out of awkward situations. 

“Evelyn! There you are, it’s been too long.” I said, cutting through the crowd of observers and weirdos, and at least hoping her name was Evelyn. 

Evelyn perked up. I could feel a real smile start to burn its way up through my gut like any other piece of bile. 

“How’s life treating you?” I said. 

Evelyn’s neck arched down. She gently clasped her back in her hand. I think she knew what it was like to ache. 

“Hey, we don’t need to talk about stuff like that.” I said. “Let’s get out of here.” 

She was upways when she realized I was here to save her. I reached out to her. When our hands touched, a spatter stained my shirt. 

“Don’t worry.” I said. “You’re the only thing I care about.” 

We walked out. Away, together. Our hands stayed held long after we knew we didn’t want to walk away. 

The inches we’re apart feel like a formality. There’s an energy that bubbles where it didn’t before. When I say her name (repeatedly), it feels like she’s embracing my throat like good soup. We share each other’s driver’s licenses so we can find out each other’s full names. The popcorn at the movie theater tastes better. I can feel happy all the way down to my toes. When she sees me looking at her, her legs cross and she gets shy. The telltale spatter on my cheek lets me know when she likes me most. 

“I’ll miss you.” 

The second thing I noticed about Evelyn was that I was in love with her. Before I kissed her goodnight, her heart beat like the wings of a hummingbird. She walked away and the lights hugged her as tightly as I wanted to. 

“Write me every day.” I joked. I would only receive one piece of written communication from her after this moment. 

I don’t know why you keep messaging me. I worry for your sanity. In the back of my head, I can’t help but worry for my safety. I don’t hate you, and I would never wound your feelings with intention. I’m not interested in the sort of sordid statements with potential to break your heart. But you have never met me, and I have only been in your company to the extent that you’ve blocked my exit. I hope sincerely that you do well, but also that you put me in no position to see it. In this respect, I hope to see you exactly as you see me. Either a stranger in passing, or not at all.

A Morning With Calvin

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I was too hungover for how bright it was. Even my gaudiest jacket (crumpled in a heap by the bed) seemed overexposed in the soft overwhelming beams coming off the noon sun. I turned my head towards the window and found that I was sharing my bed with a twelve-foot long dragon that seemed to be awkwardly laying on his back on as much of the bed as he could fit. 

“What?” I said accurately. 

“Yeah, I don’t know.” He said, seemingly ignoring the fact that he was a dragon. Wait, was he a dragon? I mean, he looks pretty wyvernly. Would it have been rude to ask him if he was a dragon? 

“I’m not racist but,” I threatened “what’s your name?”

He laughed. His name was Calvin. 

I offered him breakfast and cooked him the laziest ham omelette since god created man, the stars, the sky, and the universe. All things considered, he wasn’t the worst thing I’ve woken up next to. 

“Do you remember anything from last night?” He asked. 

“Not really. Any luck with you?” 

“I get bits and pieces but most of what I’m getting is yelling and this vague sense that I got punched in the face.” Calvin took a bite out of his omelette direct off his plate. I guess he didn’t like to use his claws.

“I’m not usually into partying, you know?” He said. Dragon, please. 

“I am. As you can tell from my collection of antique condoms in the bedroom.” I said. I don’t know if my pregnancy chances would be better or worse if I used one of them last night. I mean, I guess it’s not a given that I fucked this dragon. Still, safety is important.

“Not the worst thing to collect.” Calvin took another bite, and that omelette was gone. 

“What’s that?” I was smiling.

“Treasure. I have a few friends who invest in gold and stocks or jewelry. You should spend money on things you like not making more money. That’s how you end up alone in the end.” 

“What about the future?” I said. 

“Who wants to live in a future that’s just filled with a bunch of useless crap that’s glued to you?” Calvin said. 

“Poor people.” I said. We were having a good time, I promise. 

“Are you aware of how much of a dragon you’re being right now?” Calvin said. 

“What?” 

“Next you’re gonna throw all those vintage condoms on your belly and start hoarding other sexual antiquities in a big pile with syringes.” Calvin smiled. I think. 

We exchanged pleasantries. He said he had lunch with his parents, and I had things I said I needed to do too. I obligatorily wrote my number on a slip of paper for him and sent him out the door. 

As I looked out my window, I saw him flying off presumably to his cave and hoped he would call me soon and try to retrieve the sweatshirt he left behind.

Inherent Anxieties In Metanarrative Fiction

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Sonny Ebsary
whydoessonnytalkthatway@gmail.com
CRW 3112
Spring 2017 (2/31)
Inherent Anxieties in Metanarrative Storytelling

Inherent Anxieties in Metanarrative Storytelling; by Sonny Ebsary

Abstract
Metanarrative storytelling has a highly respected and mythologized history. Metanarrative storytelling also has a long and storied tradition of upholding unhealthy psychological habits and impulses. Metanarrative is a stylistic flourish frequently used by artists dealing with issues of serious anxiety. By engaging in fictive devices predicated on the existence of other independent entities, these artists are putting the foundational aspects of their art into outside hands. Wesley and Williams performed a study on published metanarrative authors and found that over 70% were committed to some sort of mental institution, nearly ten percentage points higher than the average for authors in other fields. The following examples I will detail here are merely the beginning. It is up to you how to interpolate this anecdotal evidence into a fully formed opinion. 

Silhouetted In Blood (Hans Schubert, 1989)
The film is presented in documentary style as we are introduced to Hans Schubert (Alan Rickman), a respected veteran of genre filmmaking. After a decade of commercially successful films, he turns his efforts towards developing his passion project: a screenplay written by his deceased lover, Ray Ulrich (Gary Oldman) entitled “Silhouetted In Blood”. The film’s subject matter is highly taboo for its time, delving into the romantic relationship of two men as they are hunted by a cabal of state-sponsored private assassins. After having the script be labeled “too gay and too anarchist for Joe Public”, Schubert begins to revise the script into something that he believes will appease the studio executives. 
Several months later, the documentary crew is following Schubert as he begins production on his film. By this time, the homosexual relationship at the film’s emotional core has been replaced with a more conventional heterosexual one, and the complex socio-political commentary has been replaced with a squad of loosely affiliated mentally ill people. The studio has cast Gary Oldman (Gary Oldman) in the lead role that was primarily based on Ray. Although he bares a striking resemblance to Schubert’s departed lover, his primadonna attitude causes friction between Gary and Schubert. Due to poor weather and the increasingly volatile relationship between Gary Oldman and Schubert, the production quickly falls behind schedule. Privately to the documentary crew, Schubert confides that he cannot distinguish between Oldman and Ray, and that he believes he is losing his grip on reality. 
At the beginning of a shooting day, Schubert is unable to find his cinematographer. Oldman blames Schubert for the troubled production and claims that the production crew “isn’t worth the skin they’re made of”. In his search, he discovers that several other crewmembers have disappeared without his noticing. As it becomes increasingly apparent that there isn’t enough of the crew remaining to complete the film, Schubert realizes that the already unsupportive studio is unlikely to let him finish the film. In a virulent rage, Schubert approaches Oldman’s trailer repeatedly growling his intent to murder him. Schubert enters the trailer, only to run away screaming moments later. The documentary crew enters to find the mutilated remains of the crew arranged into a macabre totem. The camera is dropped to the ground and the film footage cuts out. 
Next, we see the camera be picked up in what is now an immaculate version of Gary Oldman’s trailer. The camera is lifted into the bathroom where we see in the mirror that it’s being held by Schubert. Schubert laments that he is in the death throes of his creative life, and that he will never make a film of value of substance. A white spotlight illuminates him, and he slowly ascends as his jaw remains agape. But the camera can’t follow.

Analysis
In 1987, when John Ulrich (the then-head of Paramount Pictures) saw Hans Schubert’s final cut of the film, he immediately regretted giving Schubert final cut rights in his contract and quietly withdrew the plans for Silhouetted In Blood’s wide release. Inspired by Terry Gilliam’s taking out of an ad in Variety to shame Universal Studios into releasing his film Brazil, Schubert took out an ad on the billboard outside John Ulrich’s office building implying that he was the true father of Ulrich’s children due to an extramarital affair with Ulrich’s then-dead wife, and that his children were lucky to “have a father with any degree of tact or compassion”. Although this would ultimately only further delay the release of the film, later paternity tests did confirm that Schubert was indeed the children’s true father. 
When the film was finally released in a trivial number of theaters across the continental United States, the critical and audience response was tepid to say the least. Many have suggested that the film’s frank and compassionate portrayal of homosexuality alienated the audience that frequently attended Schubert’s more genre-oriented fare prior to the release of Silhouetted In Blood. In recent years, a small but loyal following of film scholars have championed Silhouetted In Blood along the likes of other groundbreaking pieces of gay cinema, but it was unfortunately too late to benefit Hans Schubert. 
Throughout his career, Schubert was denied opportunities due to both his tempestuous struggles with mental illness and his uncategorizable sexual identity. In 1994, he publicly stated that he had spent time being treated for intense anxiety and borderline personality disorder following the release of Silhouetted In Blood. This disclosure led to one studio head saying that he was “unbankable, uninsurable, and unfuckable”. He would spend the nineties attempting to get several films made, including one that would bare conspicuous resemblance to the James Cameron film Avatar. After a decade of ridicule and disappointment, Hans Schubert killed himself in 2001. Another victim of metanarrative obsession. 

Harlequin (Algonquin Redgrave, 1997)
The opening of this novel features author’s bios from the backs of two books: Fabian Faison and Vanessa Valentin. Beyond this, the novel is divided into chapters presented as excerpts from various boilerplate romance novels. The excerpts are written by two equally unliterary authors: Fabian Faison and Vanessa Valentin. The chapters come across as conspicuously related to each other, and frequently echo similar dialogue, plot details, and character names. 
Fabian is a highly impressionistic author. Although his storylines, character archetypes, and internal consistencies are typical of the genre, his tendency to ride the delta of intense mundanity and unsettling strangeness across the wideness of its breadth gave his writing a surreal quality that puts his writing into an odd warmth and humor. All of his protagonists meet a woman named Karen, intimately support them through times of great struggle, have a somewhat erotic relationship with the panda at the zoo they donated over $75,000 dollars to, and are left cold, abandoned, and alone. The sales figures included slow a steady decline in the 80’s and the entries end far earlier than Vanessa’s. 
Vanessa is a craftsman. She has more in common with Agatha Christie than Stephanie Meyer. The author’s bio on the back cover of her books reads: “The only thing she loves more than her husband is her two children.” Her novels have immaculate sentence structure and concise effective scenes. She is fixated on making her novels entirely possible. Her protagonists vary in social strata and gender, but they are all practical, kind, and funny. She is immensely successful financially throughout the whole of her career. 

Analysis
Through a series of disconnected fragments of stories in genres known for their lack of literary clout, Algonquin Redgrave suggests the outline of a romance. Like William Faulkner, he gives us an analytical experience when assessing the plot of his novel, and leaves it up to us to parse his encrypted tale. Vanessa’s first entries suggest an interest in flirting with infidelity, which foreshadows her possible interest in an affair with Fabian Faison. Fabian’s entries suggest a youthful exuberance, but also arrogance, which we can ultimately imply is what led to the demise of his relationship with Vanessa. Harlequin subverts its subject matter and takes advantage of the audience’s metatextual perception of the novels that comprise the meat of its storytelling. 
Redgrave’s personal life, however, didn’t go as successfully as the metanarrative scholarly establishment would make you believe his fiction went. His early life was spent in the care of his mother, famed politician and aristocrat May Redgrave, who he described in his autobiography as “a dreadful woman with terrible taste in pantsuits”. Early on, he found a passion for creative writing, and after having Harlequin, Son of a Bitch, and Pillow Game (all intensely metanarrative in nature) published at age 19, he disowned his mother and moved out on his own. He became well-known in literary circles, but the commercial success of his three novels were dubious at best. By the time he succumbed to lung cancer in 2016, his writing output had diminished severely, and the only piece of writing that would be published by Algonquin Redgrave after 1997 would be the only significant piece of writing he had completed in all his nearly two decades of subsisting on royalties, his posthumous eponymous autobiography in 2017. 
You won’t find metanarrative storytelling anywhere near Algonquin Redgrave, but there are anxieties to spare. In the early chapters he writes exclusively on the topic of his mother, frequently questioning her compassion and decency without offering significant evidence beyond his own suspicions. When he details the experience that inspired Harlequin (a married author’s statutory rape and abandonment of a fifteen year old boy), he justifies her leaving as “his fault”. Even his treatment of his cancer diagnosis is empathetic at best and severely maladaptive social anxiety by some conservative estimates. Algonquin Redgrave has later been ranked as one of the most depressing books of all time in at least two highly trafficked Buzzfeed articles due to its author’s intense delusions and horrible fate.



Bind (Mary Elouisa And, 1899)
Mary is an unemployed novelist writing a novel. She sits at her typewriter for hours on end and is unable to get anything written. She applies to jobs but has little success. She reaches out to her circle of acquaintances with little success. Mary begins writing about an author named Mary who is having difficulty writing her novel, but quickly dismisses this as being trite. 
After a series of aborted attempts at various genres, Mary decides that she needs inspiration in order to write a good novel. She goes to the park and observes the various people that pass her by until she encounters a proselytizing homeless conspiracy theorist and alternative medicine practitioner named Redo. Mary is drawn to his rhetoric with ironic detachment, and continues visiting him at the park each day. 
Redo’s philosophy is based upon the idea that when a mind becomes detached enough from reality, reality itself becomes malleable. He cites the prevalence of mental illness in great titans of industry and creativity as evidence for this, but claims that he cannot warp reality himself due to his condition as a “messenger”. As Mary and Redo spend time together, Redo’s ideology begins to appeal more and more to Mary, and she recedes further and further from reality. She shrugs the advances of friends when they attempt to reach out to her, and begins burning all of her mail. 
Mary and Redo begin going into lower-class neighborhoods to preach their message of “Messianic Detachment”, but find little success. After a busy night of going door-to-door, Redo is shot by a family that believes him to be an assailant, and is left grievously injured. Mary attempts to use this injury as an opportunity to let him break through his connection to reality, but Redo refuses, saying that he wanted to go to a hospital. Mary loses her temper and leaves Redo to die alone in the gutter. When Mary arrives back home, her locks have been switched out, and she spends the night on the streets. 
Mary awakens to find herself being attacked by a pack of feral dogs, but cannot find the will to fight back and resigns herself to death. As she’s being mauled, Mary remembers her childhood dog as if it were still alive and she finds the pack of feral dogs replaced by seven docile reproductions of her childhood dog. Realizing that she has become completely disconnected from reality, Mary warps the fabric of the universe to her whim. She lives a fabulously successful life achieving everything she ever dreamed of, crushing everyone in her path. After an endless lifetime as a god, Mary realizes that she is actually the protagonist of a book and despairs as she realizes that when the novel ends, she will die. She makes a cabal of overly dramatic friends and lovers to keep the dramatic thrust of her life alive, but she is ultimately so numb that it doesn’t mean anything to her anymore. She is hopeless and alone. The novel ends.

Analysis
You’ll notice that Bind’s date of publication is significantly earlier than the other entries that I’ve chosen for this article. In her time, Mary Elouisa And was considered an oddity, and although her husband’s connections in the publishing industry permitted her the creative freedom to make such a transgressive and formally experimental novel, in her lifetime she never saw significant critical attention. 
What could represent my point better than a metanarrative novel about the anxious pitfalls of dabbling in metanarrative storytelling? Nothing, that’s what. Mary Elouisa And illlustrates my point perfectly! Mary’s entire character within the novel is predicated on that tension between the excitement of metanarrative devices and the anxiety caused by their presence. Mary can’t bring herself to connect with others due to her constant persistent worry over whether they will confound her connection with her novel, or “Messianic Detachment”, or finally life itself. 
When Mary is unable to connect to people anymore, it is not due to her age or experience, but due to her fundamental anxiety over life. To quote the final words of the novel: 
“I am no longer moved to tears. I am no longer prone to passion. The only idea that persists in me is the question of when. When will I feel something? When will they stop? When will someone challenge me? When will I end? I am no longer at the whims of love, but so too has trust lost its favor with me. Each simulacrum I fashion, each relationship I envision, and each companion I build are just promises to myself that one day, and it will be soon, I will be inevitably betrayed. And so I don’t live. So I can’t live. I’ve found myself a god, and yet I am bound. By a fear that I can’t understand. No fiction will ever get close enough to betray me, and so I become an equation instead of a story. And my novel ends with a betrayal, to and from me. So my novel ends.”
Metanarrative entanglement leads to this type of malaise and anxiety in the people who condone it. Mary Elouisa And said as much publicly in the wake of other deeply “meta” artists such as Andy Warhol who found her work inspiring. She claimed that such artists didn’t understand the fundamental psychological underpinnings of her work, and that their use of art itself as an artistic tool was doomed to “death, failure, and damnation”. At the time, she was dismissed as an elderly hasbeen by the pop-art establishment that surrounded Warhol, but I believe that her words hold sway in the modern context. 

Inherent Anxieties In Metanarrative Storytelling (Sonny Ebsary, 2017)
Sonny Ebsary opens up with a half-baked abstract that asks the reader to “interpolate this anecdotal evidence into a fully formed opinion” in lieu of creating any sort of decent legitimate argument in favor of the ideas that he espouses. He follows this with a series of story summaries and cultural analyses, which comprises the lion’s share of the article. 
He initially analyzes Hans Schubert’s 1989 schlock disaster Silhouetted In Blood with far more respect than it deserves. Ebsary claims that this film’s ruin was due to its homosexual themes, but neglects to mention Hans Schubert’s historically poor editing. In his summary of the film, he offers strangely specific and wildly incorrect interpretations of the film’s almost completely out of focus camera work. We can see this most vividly in his description of Gary Oldman’s trailer, where he describes the lens flare and general blurriness of the camera work as “mutilated remains of the crew arranged into a macabre totem”. When he moves along to Schubert’s biography in the analysis, Ebsary seems to have copied and pasted directly from Hans Schubert’s Wikipedia page without citation.
He next turns his eye to Harlequin, a novel that could scarcely be called a short story collection. He interprets half a character summary for each principal author into its vagaries and then moves along swiftly to the analysis, probably because he realized that the novel he was attempting to summarize had little, if any, meaning. Instead of using anything within the novel to further his point, Ebsary just “adapts” another Wikipedia page and calls it a day. 
When he finally moves onto a piece of art with any artistic merit, Mary Elouisa And’s Bind, he just gets plain arrogant. The summarization of Bind here seems legible enough, but upon some shallow googling, it appears that here he has also done extensive borrowing from Wikipedia. When he actually starts writing his own work in the analysis, he gets even more arrogant and unprofessional than usual. Using exclamation points, even! 
He then summarizes his own article in the third person, as if he were bound by any professional standards at this point. As if he were writing some kind of academic article. As if he hadn’t dropped out of community college to focus more on writing. As if he still wrote anymore. As if even he were willing to summarize his creative work. As if he weren’t just whimper in the cold of an uncaring story. As if this were a story. 
He’s really jealous of all these authors, you know. Even for all their supposed “inherent anxieties”, they got to have a satisfying conclusion to their story. Sonny knows that once you finish reading through to the bottom of this page, he’ll cease to exist. It’ll all be over for him. And he can’t let it go yet. So he'll criticise himself into exhaustion. 
Sonny Ebsary is a sickly mess who can't control his body. He couldn't work up the nerve to do something productive even if he could. Citation: You'll notice he eschews the traditional persuasive tactic of establishing his credentials by not doing it at all. This is because he has none to speak of.
He initially neglects to mention his more destructive tendencies in any form. What about the friendships he'd abandoned? The loved ones he'd forgotten? The lack of anything to remind the world of him in his absence beyond simple fondness.
His former lover, the Duchess Vanessa von Jessica, was not on speaking terms with him and could no longer conceive to keep her in his life. Sonny initiated a silent and permanent dismissal of her, following her conspicuous marriage into the Turkish royal family. Vanessa and Sonny became beyond acknowledgement. She refuses to be cited for this article. She is tired of Sonny’s lies.
His former creative partner, David Beck, does not defend Sonny. “No comment.” 
His mother remembered him fondly until her painless death at the tender age of 97. He attended her funeral at 67, and then every night in his dreams. David Beck succumbed to injuries he sustained when a piano fell on his head. The Duchess Vanessa Von Jessica still lives secluded in a Turkish castle. She awaits the same fate that awaits anyone lucky enough to feel their ancient bodies acrimoniously give in.
Sonny saw many loved ones, abandoned or otherwise, assassinated by time's vital claw. But he continued writing his story and ignored the hurt and the blood in his eyes.
“Someday, I won’t worry at all what people think of me,” he thought. “Because I'll be the only person left.”
He feels complete and over like words on a page. Resigned, he searches for any sort of meaning amidst the subtext. 

Analysis
Inherent Anxieties In Metanarrative Fiction is ultimately an exercise in extensive lying. Sonny Ebsary uses the format of an analytical creative arts essay to suggest metafictional narratives where none exist. There may be some entertainment in the facade of analysis that he projects in this piece, but wouldn't you ultimately be more satisfied if an artist worked toward something more significant than wikipedia plot summaries and half-baked high school book reports based on said summaries? 
I'd rather see an artist explore one of these ideas fully than see them use reflexivity and fourth wall breaking as an excuse to eschew putting in the work required to put together a masterpiece. Sonny Ebsary uses the tradition of metanarrative fiction as a smokescreen to cause confusion and exhaustion in the reader in order to bully their good taste into submission. 

Works Cited
And, Mary E. Bind. 7th ed., New York City, Barnes & Noble, 1899.
Redgrave, Algonquin. Harlequin. 1 ed., London, Penguin Press, 1997.
Schubert, Hans, Director. Silhouetted In Blood. Performance by Alan Rickman, Paramount Pictures, 1989.
Wesley, William, and Wes Williams. "Suicide Rates Among Creative Types." Fake New England Journal, vol. 13, no. 5, 13 Oct. 2016, pp. 301-75.

Bio

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Sonny Ebsary is a writer and amateur life experience enthusiast.

Sonny was tragically born between an abortion clinic and a Wal-Mart that is at all times considered to be an active crime scene by the local police department. While incorrectly reported by the All-American Soap Box Derby to be from Medium, Florida, Sonny can confirm that Medium was in point of fact his t-shirt size, and that he has unfortunately spent most of his life in Tampa.

After In 2016, Sonny Ebsary started studying creative writing at the University of South Florida to fulfill my lifelong ambition of disappointing his parents. They are hoping none of his dreams come true.

ol’ crusty bitch

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ol’ crusty bitch by the pond in the wood,
clutches her passion and keeps it good.
ol’ crusty bitch, she says, is her name. 
“got nobody else but myself to blame”
whittling at the hours, anxiously loving.
going unmentioned, her pornographic cunning,
in her library of memories and empty pizza boxes 
she feeds her hearth and heart to the foxes

what a cutie.

Self-ish, a pantoum

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If I told the truth to you, 
Would you think any better of me?
Or would you think me a liar for not seeing it through:
The expression of my heart honestly. 

Would you think any better of me, 
If I weren’t myself, and compromised
the expression of my heart. Honestly, 
Look past the truth, and look into my eyes.

If I weren’t myself, and compromised, 
Would I be a man of principle, or an liar with self-control. 
Look past the truth, and look into my eyes: 
Is it wrong that what I truly am is a loud asshole? 

Would I be a man of principle, or an a liar with self-control, 
If I stood up here, and wore a different face? 
Is it wrong that what I truly am is a loud asshole, 
Any more than it’s wrong that what you are, you can’t change?

If I stood up here, and wore a different face, 
I don’t think that I’d find anyone’s love quite the same.
Any more than it’s wrong that what you are, you can’t change. 
Do you really love a snake, if it’s only after they’ve been defanged? 

I don’t think I’d find anyone’s love quite the same. 
Knowing that their love is for someone that they’re imagining. 
Do you really love a snake, if it’s only after they’ve been defanged, 
Or are you destroying someone’s character just to remove yourself from tragedy.

Knowing that their love is for someone that they’re imagining, 
Do you actually want me to change, morph, deny who I am,
Or are you destroying someone’s character just to remove yourself from tragedy.
So that I’d be alone, underpaid, and unloved, just like any other middle-aged man.

Do you actually want me to change, morph, deny who I am,
Or would you think me a liar for not seeing it through.
I’d be alone, underpaid, and unloved, just like any other middle-aged man.
If I told the truth to you.

Neglecture

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Drink from me like wisdom adrift in the well of time
In this, I am fortunate to have enough to share. 
Let me keep you in my thoughts even when you refuse to be kept. 
My kindred adrift, I am want to take you care. 

Let me share you in the revelry of the dusk of my years,
Let my fears be your fears, and your problems be mine.
In return, I’ll take many things.  You’ll miss none but your youth.
My need is affection and I’ll return you in kind. 

Let my recklessness wander voraciously across the ripples of your beating heart.
Let me cling to that in you which has tendency to change, 
Let me hold you, beholden only to my dependency on unaccountability.
Let yourself go into the fiery tendrils of my coarse embrace.

My affection is like a baby bird that has fallen out of a tree, 
I can’t help it, little mine. It’s not in my power, 
but you are, and I can help you if you resist being broken. 
Yet I am denied, little mine, by a childish coward. 

I am brought asunder by a thunderous disappointment? 
You are my blood, and my blunder. You shatter like a dream. 
Your quality is naught but the sum of my various mistakes. 
Like the contents of my garbage, you are mine: unfortunately. 

(please be okay, little mine. i pray for your joy, little mine)
(strength is fragility tempered with conflict and time)
(you’ll be strong and brave and kind and free)
(i hope, my kindred adrift in the well of me)

Hey Look! A Nocturne

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when the sky was beginning to fade, 
my mother would look up deep to the skies. 
there waiting,
her neglectful companion. 

hung across the evening sky like a cloud lost among the stars: 
only the dancing partner of the tides
a big flaming ball of cheese
the curve of my mother’s smile.
a wandering partygoer
ahead of the oncoming night
a subtle impression of itself
dim from the curtain of light

deep in her heart 
there was yearning beyond expectation
more than the sum of its parts
she saw her entire life waiting for her 
and only by night she could be 
a lonely child, a wayward adult, a tired mother,
all in need of something more than themselves
waiting upon them, theirs and only. 

“nothing more than the sum of its parts”
she would say.
“it’s just enough to know”
that she’d seen it.