Et tu, Chad? Now even Chad Simpson, author of the very first Origami Zoo Press book, Phantoms, is trying to enter our chapbook contest, even though it is not allowed. We know you love us, past Origami Zoo authors, and we love you, but we just cannot let you commandeer the contest.
(To those of you who aren’t former Origami Zoo authors, remember: today is the last day to enter our first ever chapbook contest, judged by the man, the myth, the great writer Matt Bell!)
December 30, 2012
I know you sent us that email saying OZP authors couldn’t enter this year’s chapbook contest. And I know you’ve already pretty much turned down Laura and BJ and Brian when they queried you. But I have this idea I think you should know about. Basically, I want to write a book of stories told from the point of view of origami animals, and OZP would obviously be the perfect place to publish it.
I’ve been working on the first story, and it’s about this origami giraffe. He’s a widower, and his two origami giraffe sons, aged 9 and 7, have cystic fibrosis. It’s the day before Halloween, and this giraffe dad, he’s looking across the street and sees his neighbor has carved these miraculous pumpkins. One of them, it looks like Jack Nicholson from The Shining. It’s perfect. The giraffe dad, he hadn’t realized it was almost Halloween. I mean, his kids, they have cystic fibrosis. Every day is this struggle. They’d brought up Halloween costumes in the recent past, but he’d looked right past it. Most nights, he wakes up around three a.m. to the sound of one of his sons coughing. He walks down to his sons’ room, and then pounds his origami giraffe hooves on his coughing son’s back, trying to break up the mucus in the boy’s lungs. It kills this giraffe dad to exert so much force on his son, but he does it anyway, diligently, five or six nights a week.
And then there’s this Jack Nicholson staring at him in the form of this Jack-o’-lantern. His mouth open in a mean smile. Pure crazy eyes looking back over where his shoulder would be, if he weren’t just a head and actually had shoulders. Our origami giraffe dad is looking at the Jack-o’-lantern and thinking hard about smashing it in the street, revealing what’s left of its pumpkin guts, letting them rot. It occurs to him that maybe his neighbors are being insensitive, displaying their pumpkin-carving skills like this, and he could knock on their door and strangle his neighbors with his giraffe hooves right there on their front porch.
Then, he hears one of his giraffe boys. They’re in bed. It’s nighttime, and dark, and they’d been sleeping before he stepped out onto his front porch, but now one of his giraffe boys is coughing. It’s loud. It sounds like it hurts. He turns on his giraffe heels and heads inside, calling out to his sons, asking if they’re all right. He begins ascending the stairs, which had been refinished just weeks before his origami giraffe wife passed away in her sleep. He is halfway up the stairs and the coughing is getting louder. It’s a thing he can feel in his giraffe bones. He cranes his giraffe neck back down the stairs, and through the glass in the front door, he can still see his neighbor’s pumpkin. It’s like some small world that has been carved by gods and then set on fire. It looks like a thing that might burn forever.
December 31, 2012
OK, so you don’t seem to have liked that idea I had about the origami giraffe dad and his origami sons who are suffering from cystic fibrosis. I’ll admit it: That’s actually the only story I’ve thought through so far, but I’ll come up with more, I swear, if you let me submit to this contest.
I’m thinking right now about an origami elephant sitting in the back seat of a car. His best friend’s mom has decided to take him and her son to Florida for spring break, even though she’s poor and can’t afford such a trip.
Our origami elephant, as soon as the car is pulling out of his friend’s apartment complex in Indiana, he knows they’re never going to make it to St. Petersburg.
I’m thinking about a stop they might make somewhere in South Carolina. They stop because the elephant mom needs a break from driving, because she needs sleep—she’s tired, and a little strung out, her elephant ears, they’re drooping—and then the origami elephant boy and his friend are walking along the beach and they see these seagulls floating on the ocean not far from shore. The elephant likes how peaceful the seagulls look lulling in saltwater, in the give and take of the waves, and his friend starts tossing rocks at the gulls, trying to scare them. The elephant doesn’t like this at all. He holds his breath each time a rock gets tossed in the air, hoping the gulls will remain safe, hoping his paper trunk doesn’t trumpet in fear, and for a while, the rocks thunk in the water and sink to the ocean floor, like nothing.
A little while later, though, while the elephant is thinking about the rest of the trip, the trek from South Carolina to Florida, the trip he’s pretty certain they aren’t going to end up making—because his elephant friend’s mom is going to meet someone, or because she is going to realize she doesn’t have enough money to keep going—his elephant friend is going to toss one of those stones into the air, and it’s going to land smack-dab on one of the seagulls. The seagull will buckle and then sink, and the whole thing will seem to happen in slow motion, and our elephant will stand there with his feet in the sand, looking from the stars emerging in the sky to the water, waiting for that seagull to re-appear, to come choking back to the water’s surface.
So now you what two of the stories in the chapbook might look like. Holla at me? I really can’t imagine publishing these stories with anyone but OZP.
P.S. I just realized it’s December 31. Happy New Year!