Sara Jaffe writes fiction and teaches our Fiction Writing Workshop every few terms. Here’s a post she wrote, including some samples from her class this semester.
This fall, we had the pleasure of welcoming fiction writer Lucy Corin to campus. In her most recent collection, One Hundred Apocalypses and Other Apocalypses, Corin redefines conventional the conventional definition of what an “apocalypse” might be; rather than the actual end of the world, it might be something that feels like the end of the world–or an opening to a new one. In response to Corin’s stories, I had students in my Fiction course write apocalypse stories of their own. Here are a few by Olivia Alsept-Ellis.
You don’t speak German but the girl across the table from you does. There is a German song playing on the radio and she is translating for you. She’s telling you it’s about love, that the German man is singing about loving someone. But even though you don’t speak German, you are pretty sure that she is wrong.
So you say, But what if you’re wrong? And she’s like, No I’m right, I speak German, I lived in Frankfurt.
And then she takes out her iPhone and she touches it for you and she shows you the lyrics on her iPhone that can access Internet web browsers and such. And she’s right, it IS a love song about a woman named Heidi and he loved her very much. She was right and she lived in Frankfurt and speaks German and you don’t.
But when the song ends, you swear you can hear the singer weep. It’s just a feeling you get from the tone. You think it’s a big joke, like maybe she can hear the German but she can’t hear the irony.
I met a man from ancient Israel and he didn’t know about Jesus because that hadn’t happened yet. And I met a woman from future Canada and she knew a lot more than me. After all, she was the one who had organized this event because they had time travel now. Time travel! At first, we were just talking about the weather. The woman and I got along wonderfully. They didn’t have time travel in ancient Israel but I thought the Israelite was playing along nicely with what we were saying.
Next thing I know, the Canadian pulled out a device and she said it was for recording us. We were here to be interviewed, I guess that was the deal.
So she asked me a simple question, how does it feel to live when you live? And I was like, oh, yes, I’m ready for this. I told her about the government shutdown and celebrity porn and how I broke my iPhone screen last month when I was really drunk. I told her about Jesus. I told her about my ex-boyfriend who still sometimes texts me. I told her about the internet and how it really prepared me for meeting a time traveling Canadian because there are lots of weird things that happen on the internet.
So then she asked the Israelite, and he started talking about these huge concepts, like real big words that didn’t make sense to me. He was going on and on and I was like boooring. But then the Canadian women was SOO into it and now I was the one left out. They’re talking with words that I don’t get and then they’re crying and I’m thinking woah woah wtf? And now they’re holding each other and so I take a picture of this because there’s no way anyone is going to believe this back home.