terrariums in miniature

“Amphibious, darling. A real treat.” Our coterie of girls in exotic tailoring flashed through the wide avenues of the South Bay Mall and Acquisition Plaza. The LED ceilings rolled august with clouds and impossible sunshine. The Sistine Chapel? What a hoot.

“Hold your head back. Further. Higher. Imperious, honey baby. We’re going for a look.” I strapped my back brace — an affair of leather and lace — into a tauter, meaner fix.

“Like this?” but Alaria only scrunched up her nose. Not enough effortlessness on my part, as usual. She turned her attention back to the core power of her “FRENDs” from the app, bundled by social power to affect real change. At least, for those so bundled.

I used the ensuing moments of relative privacy (see: invisibility) to try and find better footing. The ostrich feather tights were ticklish but undeniably interesting. They also looked expensive and they were a definite win for my acqui. There were many ways to style one’s acqui. You could, for example, purposefully wear ostrich tights that were monstrously expensive but looked cheap and leftover from some pile at one of the outer markets. But that type of acqui game was totally beyond me. I had barely mastered the art of matching impressive taste with impressive pricing. My cousin Alaria was helping me there.

We approached a kiosk for flowered brooches. They were absolutely gorgeous, I thought. As lush as terrariums in miniature. And incredibly wasteful at 8.00.95gX for one single (albeit exquisitely arranged) micro bouquet that would almost certainly lose its lustre within the hour. But there on the stand, dewy, explosive and riotous colors from canary to fuschia, small pricks of desire quickly melted into an all consuming lust to make one your very own. The attendant too was lovely. She certainly knew how to hold herself imperiously tall, the way Alaria was trying to teach me.

Alaria’s new FREND Hatoii began her acqui. As was custom, the remainder of the group held back to give her both stage and audience. I stayed in the back so as not to upset any new hierarchies that may have already emerged in the group but I was curious to see how one of these high esteem buyers would style her purchase. I had a hierarchical thought of my own. Which girl in our group was the most interested in Hattoi’s performance? Me in the depths of my stupid inexperience? Or would it be whichever of these women was most experienced in erlili and the Ignoble Artforms? Was there a promising Superb Practitioner among us, just in her fledgling years?

Hatoii, while supremely confident, must have felt the pressure of being on total display. As she approached and made her voice haughty and low, I watched her elegant and silky erlili of gestures. I wished more than anything I could take notes, scribbling my observations in the margins in my brand new copy of The Ignoble Artforms which, of course, I had had to leave at home so as not to seem studious and immature. How I craved a smooth assumption into this decadent, beautiful social stream.

Six Corners

“It just isn’t very artful,” she noted, thumbing at her plastic champagne flute. A plastic champagne flute that was becoming dangerously empty. Sabotage.

“It’s a masterpiece,” the Art Director replied before pivoting violently away from her. He spread his arms wide to greet a corsage of older patrons packaged in waffled pastels.

She choked back the sweet champagne and found herself back at the gratis wine table.

“That’s two.” the table attendant remarked. He tapped his wrist where a wristband would be if he were the guest instead of her. She scowled at her own wristband and then gargled back the second pour of champagne.

“Graduate me.” she challenged the table attendant. He shrugged apologetically. No dice.

Outside the gallery the Chicago streets were slick from a recent downpour. The air was humid and fragrant with wet, mashed flowers. The sun slunk low on the horizon revealing inky, industrial silhouettes. She took out her phone and dialed a stand by.

“Hey. I’m getting destroyed. Six corners.”

Four drinks deep, they laughed and curled around each other, warm in the low evening glow of the woodback bar.

“How was the show?”


“So how are are you going to write it?”

She bobbled her drink glass. “In a haze. Comatose maybe.”

“Hmm. Sounds like the easy way out.”

She snarled at him. “Got a job yet?”


“Good.” She downed the rest of her drink and indicated that the bartender should find her a fifth.

“I think we should go home,” he hedged.

“If you like.”

“I’m thinking about your deadline.”

“I have but one deadline and it’s far in the future.”

“Not if you keep drinking like this.”

“Why don’t you fuck off?”

“You want me to? I can.”

“Sure. Get lost. Have a good time.”

“Alright then.” As he suited up his coat, she avoided eye contact and let him leave without a second goodbye.