Man vs Nature

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MAN VS NATURE- A SHORT STORY by PEPPZ MAN VS. NATURE By Peppz I ran onwards as the light began to fade. There I was, just a black silhouette against a background of reds and oranges- like I always wanted to be. The dust kicked up above my sneakers, my breathing was becoming labored, my form slowly getting worse. Up ahead of me were miles and miles of trees, corn fields and quiet country roads. I passed barns – why are they always falling apart?, rickety wooden fences and the rotting
  MAN VS NATURE- A SHORT STORY by PEPPZ MAN VS. NATURE By Peppz I ran onwards as the light began to fade. There I was, just a black silhouette against a background of reds and oranges- like I always wanted to be. The dust kicked up above my sneakers, my breathing was becoming labored, my form slowly getting worse. Up ahead of me were miles and miles of trees, corn fields and quiet country roads. I passed barns –  why are they always falling apart?, rickety wooden fences and the rotting carcasses of roadkill. There was hardly a sound to be heard on this quiet Sunday afternoon save the sound of the wind passing through the trees and against the crops in the field. Every once in awhile a car would wheeze past me, but it would quickly be gone. I don’t know how many miles I had gone at this point, and I didn’t care. I don’t know what time it was, and I didn’t care. I didn’t want to care because I didn’t want it to matter. Tomorrow, after I’m finished with t  his little bit of running, it’s back to the world of rushing. Rushing to work, rushing to finish the work you have to do at work, rushing to  get back home. And then you rush to do all the things you wanted to do during the day but couldn’t do because you were at wo rk. I was past that, I was in another planet as far as I was concerned. Here there was no sound of phones ringing, of elevators beeping as they go from one floor to another, of coffee machines filling Styrofoam cups. Well yeah out there in the country as I was, running from one place to another for no good reason, there is no 9 to 5, no 1 pm lunch break so the rest of the day goes fast. But time does go by my friend out here. Now the sun setting was a beautiful thing to witness but as it did, so went my visibility. I took out my map while there was still light in the sky and started to trace where I think I had ran on this beautiful day. But as I was reading it, droplets of rain started to fall on the map. Then some more. Then some more. Then I saw what was left of the sun quickly disappear now, to be replaced with ominous looking dark clouds. And it all happened that fast. Just as quick was the thunder. Now the rain was falling hard, making the map all wet and soggy. Damn I should have gotten a laminated copy. So it was now dark and my map was soggy and being rained upon. I wish I had a flashlight but in my hurry to go out and see the beautiful countryside I had neglected to bring basic items like an umbrella and flashlight in my little bag. I couldn’t re ad the damn thing and it was becoming unreadable anyway. Where the hell was I? What state was I in? Call the cell phone? Not here, my friends. Maybe some of you fellow city folk didn’t know this, but there ARE parts of the co untry without cell phone service. So that was futile in helping me get back to my weekend country home. Anybody to ask for assistance out here? Hey, you hardly saw any people out here when the sun was out, what makes you think you’ll see anyone now. Uggh, it was getting cold because the bad weather had caused the temperature to drop a good 10 to 20 degrees. The rain and the cold weather made my hair wet and my body shiver. The rain in my hair pushed down the sweat that had been on my forehead into my mouth and I tasted it. As darkness and rain surrounded me I grew more nervous, which made me shiver more. I felt I had no choice but to keep walking because if I stopped, I would only grow colder. Maybe I would stumble upon a town or a grocery store or a house, something that could help me get out of here. Because that was my first response to this situation- not how do I deal with this, but how do I get out. There were now basically no lights at all ahead of me. Just vegetation of some kind or another. My God, these fields, which I had wished only a few hours ago to go on forever in some kind of earthy beauty, now just seemed to go on forever. Where is the farm house? Where does anyone live around here? The wind was now growing stronger and strong gusts were bending trees. I was so wr apped up in getting out of here that I didn’t even notice a large tractor -trailer was right behind me. I quickly ran off to the shoulder and resumed my journey back to civilization. All of a sudden there was light- but not the kind I wanted. It was just lightning quickly illuminating the whole landscape like a strobe light in a nightclub. I would quickly see the road ahead, the trees and the corn husks in a cold white light against a black sky. My clothes were all soaked now and I just wished I could call a cab and tell the driver where I was going. **** , I can’t even use my cell phone. Finally in the distance I saw a farmhouse by the side of the road. Well, maybe it wasn’t a “farm house” but to me any  house out here was. I walked past dilapidated and abandoned produce stands by the rows of corn and then quickened my pace as the house grew near. Well, there was no lights on inside, but anything dry was good now. I walked up the wooden porch with its old boards and peeling green paint. The boards creaked under the sound of my footsteps. I approached the door and started first knocking, then trying what looked like a doorbell. Nothing. Then I tried again, this time a little more frantically. Nothing. Then all of a sudden, as I was about to give up and walk away I heard the sound of a dog inside. It was barking loudly. So I guessed the owners are either asleep or on vacation. But that also meant the house wasn’t abandoned so I couldn’t go in there either. Not like I’d want to - probably inside there is the ghost of Aaron Burr or Leatherhead. I didn’t want to stay right there on the porch, even though there was an awning and it was dry. What if the owners saw me there? All these folks got guns out here, right? So I set off for their barn in the distance. I walked past what looked like soy plants and a few abandoned threshers or some such farm equipment. My sneakers were now filled with mud and it became hard to walk with the ground so wet. Under the barn’s awnin g was an old wooden bench. I decided then and there that would be where I would lay myself down for the time being until the rain cleared up. Then I would resume my search to find a way out of here.  And I gotta tell you, right about then, that old bench felt like a mattress with silk sheets. After running for hours in the sunlight and then being cold and panicky, my body just started to shut down. The last sounds I heard were crickets and an owl hooting. As my eyes closed, I saw the silhouettes of cows and, further away, the abandoned farm house. The next thing I knew, I was opening my eyes and looking out a beautiful rural landscape. The sun was now shining- holy **** I had spent the whole night and morning here. It definitely looked to be about 12 in the afternoon. It was now hot and my clothes were much drier. I got up and looked around for a second to see if anyone was here. There was not anyone to be found. I started walking back towards the road. As I approached an old tractor, a female figure emerged behind it. In a second, she caught sight of me, checked for signs of recognizance and then screamed. The screaming set me back to panic mode and I started now to run faster towards the road. The w oman’s husband or brother must have heard her, for he ran out of the farmhouse and towards her to see what was going on. The woman still screaming, pointed to me (who was now a small speck on their horizon). The man started running towards me but I was now too far gone and in any case, the adrenaline was pumping. I just ran and ran as fast as my adrenaline rush could take me. Finally, after getting some directions from a passerby, I got into a small town where I sat down for some very welcome lunch at a diner. In the bathroom of the diner I saw myself and, hell, I don’t blame that woman for screaming. I was now unshaven, my sh irt and shoes were filthy with mud and all torn up. My hair was unkempt and messy. I asked the waitress where I could make a phone call. She said I could use the phone right there in the diner. So I did and got the number of a local car service that could take me back to my country home many miles away. The price was high, obviously, but I just wanted to be back so I agreed to it. So I arranged for the car service to pick me up in this town. “Ok,” I said to the rep on the phone. “What time will you guys be here?” I wanted to get back. ****.    Man vs himself Charlie Fish The Man Who Married Himself 'Why not?' With those two words, my good friend Reverend Zatarga changed the course of my life. When he said them to me, he had just spent two hours on the telephone with Bishop Fleming discussing various sections of the Bible in excruciatingly fine detail. He pointed out that Leviticus warns Christians not to marry their sister, aunt, mother, mother-in-law, daughter or even their granddaughter (should they be tempted). But nowhere in the good book is there a rule against marrying oneself. So when I told Reverend Zatarga that was exactly what I wanted to do, he eventually conceded those two fateful words: 'Why not?' Of course, the Bible also neglects to forbid anyone from marrying great-grandmothers, tables or pet fish. I wouldn't be surprised to learn that Bishop Fleming ended up marrying his beloved French poodle as a result of all this. Or his blanket - after all he's been sleeping with it for years. Anyway, once I convinced the good Reverend to let me marry the man of my dreams, I had to convince my mother and father. I'd have to say that between an international religion, firmly established for two millennia, and my own humble parents, my parents were far more difficult to persuade. My mother just wouldn't take it seriously at first. OK, very few people took it seriously, but I needed her to know I meant it. She kept asking me silly things like 'Why marry - you can just live with yourself?' or 'What will you wear for the wedding?' And sadly, it drove my father quite mad. Literally. For years after the wedding he spent days typing up articles for a wide variety of news journals, record books and space administration newsletters claiming that he was the first person to have had sex in space. He seemed quite convinced, despite the fact that the closest he had come to space was the big button on his computer keyboard. When asked who he had allegedly had sex with, he would usually pause briefly for dramatic effect, turn his wild eyes towards you and yell shrilly: 'Myself!' I would have hoped that I could trust my best friends to be sympathetic towards my cause, but I think it was all a bit of a joke for them. They were often supportive, but after the wedding they just spent a lot of time making fun of me. Some of the wedding presents I received from them were quite demeaning: pornographic magazines, silk gloves, even a ceiling mirror. And I'm disappointed in them for not stifling their mirth when Reverend Zatarga recited the marriage vows: 'Will you keep yourself as a husband, to live as one in marriage? Will you love and comfort yourself, obey and honour yourself in sickness and in health, and be faithful to yourself as long as you shall live?' I swear one of my friends wet himself laughing. I had a great honeymoon in Las Vegas, gambling away all my savings with nobody to nag me about how much money I was spending. I had a penthouse suite in the Luxor hotel for the night of consummation . . . I had many reasons for getting married when I did, apart from the tax benefits of course (trying to make the tax inspector understand that I was my own spouse was hell, though). Ever since I understood the concept of wedlock, I longed for a partner that I could trust. I wanted to have someone with me always, to whom I could tell all my deepest, darkest secrets without having them laugh at me. Unfortunately, although getting girlfriends was usually not too big a problem for me, I tended to have excruciatingly bad taste. Then I realised that my perfect partner was closer to home than anyone could have realised. Altogether, I think the marriage was a great success for the most part. I rarely argued with my spouse; in fact I found myself to be the best conversation holder around. The few times that I did argue, I always won. And the sex was, well - it was whatever I made of it. There was some media intrusion of course, lots of cheap  journalists trying to cash in on this unusual union. I found some of their articles amusing, and others quite offensive, especially the ones dubbing me the most conceited and/or narcissistic man in the world. I don't think I'm such an egotist, I just happen to enjoy my company. I suppose it was a hormonal thing, a stage of life or something, that made me suddenly crave a child. The cliche is that I realised I was mortal, and I therefore wanted to pass on my genes. So after many days weighing up the pros and cons I decided to split up from my husband in order to find a wife. I had a chat with Reverend Zatarga, and he informed me that I couldn't just file for a divorce on a moment's notice. I had to have legitimate justification. Curiously, wanting a baby wasn't on the list of good reasons to divorce. As the good Reverend explained, I could only divorce if I had been living apart from my spouse for at least a year which would be difficult without major surgery or if my spouse had treated me cruelly or been imprisoned for at least a year. I wasn't particularly willing to beat myself up a bit or lounge around in prison just so I could divorce myself. That left one option: Adultery. I just had to have sex with someone other than myself; normal, straight, human sex, and I could be free from the bonds of marriage. And so it was that I reluctantly removed my wedding ring and started searching for a mate. My friends were cruel about it, saying that I was separating to stop myself from going blind. I think my mother was relieved when I told her that my relationship with myself was coming to an end. My father just paused for dramatic effect, turned his wild eyes towards me and yelled shrilly: 'Myself!' Maybe he really is on another world. I expected it to take me quite a while to find someone who was both willing to sleep with me and who hadn't read the newspapers enough to know that I was already married, but I soon found a plain-faced Malaysian girl who was relatively easy to seduce. The sex was, to be honest, rather disappointing. It seemed that she knew almost nothing of what turns a man on, whereas by that point I myself had become quite an expert. I suppose it wasn't great for her either - I wasn't practised in pleasuring members of the fairer sex. The divorce was easy after that. It seemed that the church was keen to split me apart, as if my marriage had been a big mistake. I felt quite lonely for several months after the break-up. At least the local psychiatrist (specialising in multiple personality disorders) stopped sending me his damned business cards every week. It took me nearly a decade to find a good wife who didn't think she'd be marrying into a threesome. Most of that time was just waiting for the media to forget about 'The Man Who Married Himself'. Meanwhile, I wrote an autobiography with that very title. Included in the book was a detailed account of my marriage to myself, including the ups and downs of living with myself, how I dealt with everyone's criticism of me and my husband, and some intimate details of my relationship. I think it was these sections that made the book a real success when it was published some years later. People were just curious to read about the implications of such an unusual marriage. I suppose it made people think. They would read my book and ask themselves: 'Am I easy to live with? If I had to live with me, could I do it?' They all stopped searching for their Mister or Little Miss Right for just a moment to ask themselves if they would ever make a good spouse for anyone. I didn't hear of any copycat self-marriages, which probably either means the media lost interest or the church is determined not to let it happen again. Anyway, that's all behind me now. My wife and I have just moved into a new home, big enough to accommodate our new child when he is born. I am happy now. In fact, right now I can't wipe the smile off my face. You see, our next door neighbours are Bishop Fleming and his lovely wife, the French poodle.  Man vs. Society Rules of the Game   by Amy Tan Waverly Place Jong is a chess prodigy living in San Francisco’s Chinatown with he r Chinese immigrant parents. She is named after “Waverly Place,” her family’s address and, therefore, their claim to the United States. Waverly is diminutively nicknamed as “Meimei” (Chinese for “little sister”), whereas her two brothers have resonant, vic torious names  —  Winston and Vincent. Waverly and her mother, Lindo Jong, have an ongoing psychological battle, each surreptitiously trying to gain the upper hand. Although Waverly was born in the United States, her mother has instilled in her many Chinese rules of conduct. One important rule is that one must remain silent to win. The story’s opening focuses on silence and on how controlling one’s emotions endows one with a secret strength like the wind. Once when shopping with her mother, the six-year-old Waverly longs for some salted plums. Because she fusses for them, her mother refuses to buy them. The next time, Waverly keeps her wants silent, and her mother rewards her with plums. Later, Waverly sets a psychological ambush for her mother. As her hair is being combed painfully by Lindo, Waverly slyly asks her what Chinese torture is. Lindo knows that Waverly is challenging her pride in Chinese culture. Initially, Lindo deflects her daughter’s question about the possibility of Chinese inhumanity, pointing  out that Chinese people are good at business, medicine, and painting. Then Lindo’s chauvinism overcomes her, and she adds, “We do torture. Best torture.” At a church Christmas party, the Jong children receive gifts, among which is a used chess set. At church, Lindo thanks the ladies, but at home, she sniffs proudly that they do not want it. Thus she socializes her children to exercise silence and  power over their true feelings; even unwanted gifts must be acknowledged as exceeding what one deserves. Watching her brothers play chess, Waverly becomes intrigued by the rules of the game. She does not understand these American rules, but she researches them in the library, learning the moves and the powers of each piece, and then easily defeats her brothers. When she stumbles on some old Chinese men playing chess in the park, she invites one, Lau Po, to  play. He teaches her more rules and tactics. Waverly soon wins neighborhood exhibition games, and her mother begins to take pride in her, although she still modestly disclaims that it is luck. When someone suggests that Waverly play at local chess tournaments, she is eager to participate but overpowers her desires and demurs, remembering the plums. Lindo lets Waverly play and win repeatedly. Now it is Lindo who wears a triumphant grin. With Waverly’s victories, Lindo changes the rules in the household. Contrary to Chinese gender roles, Waverly no longer does dishes. Proclaiming “Is new American rules,” Lindo relegates such chores to her sons so that Waverly  can expend her energies on chess. At nine years of age, Waverly becomes a national chess champion. Lindo is thrilled as the cover of  Life  magazine features her daughter, both challenging traditional male hegemony over chess and testifying that Chinese  people can do anything better. Sauntering through Chinatown, Lindo announces to everyone that her daughter is “Wave - ly Jong,” the chess prodigy. To Lindo’s Chinese thinking, Waverly’s success is their family’s success. To Waverly’s more American view, her su ccess is her individual accomplishment, and she resents Lindo’s appropriating it. Miscommunication between mother and daughter ensues, with Lindo concluding from Waverly’s reticence that she is ashamed of her mother, her family, and her race. When Waverly requests less ostentation and more silence from Lindo, Lindo calls her stupid. Waverly angrily runs away from home for half a day but returns when she realizes that she cannot survive independent of her family. Lindo exercises her power and gives her daug hter the silent treatment, pretending to ignore Waverly’s existence. Waverly retreats to her room and imagines her mother’s eyes as two angry, black slits directing the black pieces of a chessboard and routing Waverly’s white pieces. In this waking dream,  Waverly feels herself wafted aloft by a wind, detached from her family, and she remembers Lindo’s words, “Strongest wind cannot be seen.” In her terrifying yet exhilarating impasse, Waverly understands that to be herself she must assert her individuality but that she cannot do so without isolating herself from her family. Her dilemma is her next move.
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