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Open Mic, Chapter FourPutting his pants back on for the third time that day - or maybe the fourth time - France pushed between America and China. He plucked the mic from America’s hands as if picking a delicate rose. Then he sauntered across the room.
“My brothers in arms,” he said. “And, my lover in bed,” he added, with a wink toward England. England scowled and turned away.
“I, France, the country of love and romance, will show you what to do with a microphone.”
“I hope this does not involve sesame oil, aru.”
But, much to China’s relief, that was not what France was planning to do. France snapped his fingers and the lights went dim. A single spotlight shone down on him, as did a rain of sparkles and bubbles. In a voice as rich and silky as liquid dark chocolate, France began to sing:
“Quand il me prend dans ses bras
Il me parle tout bas
Je vois la vie en ro-o-o-ose
Il me dit des mots d'amour
Open Mic, Chapter ThreeWhen the dust settled, America raised his arms over his head in victory. In his hand was the microphone. England pulled a hamburger out of his pocket and used it to distract America while he retrieved the mic.
“That’s quite enough of that,” said England. He set the mic back down in the middle of the table. “Let’s start with the first issue of today.”
“But of course,” said France. “The most important thing we must discuss is No Pants Day.”
“No Pants Day?” the other nations chorused.
“Yes,” said France. “This is following up from my proposition last time - ”
“No, you git!” shouted England. “I meant we need to talk about important things!”
“But Angleterre, this is important.”
“Honestly,” England said, sighing in exasperation to an empty space beside him. “Can you believe what I’m forced t
Open Mic, Chapter TwoRunning like a wild stallion, America tore down the hallway and burst into the room. He leapt over a chair, cleared the railing, and landed on the other side. Letting himself sink to his knees, he slid to the blackboard and tagged it with a hearty slap.
“First!” he shouted. “I’m the first one here!” This garnered a sigh of annoyance from England, who had been waiting for quite some time for the others to arrive. He was already halfway through his second cup of tea, and he had reread his notes so many times he had practically memorized them.
“Really, America,” England said. “Must you always make such a spectacle of yourself?”
America didn’t bother to respond. Instead, he plunked into the chair next to England. Then, he took a hamburger out of his pocket and began to stuff his face. England looked in America’s direction, raising a remarkably thick eyebrow. As he w
Open Mic, Chapter One“Time to review the plan!” Germany shouted at his troops. Japan and Italy straightened up and saluted.
“Yes, captain,” said Japan. “The plan I have devised to spy on the Allies is to put a sound transmission device into their meeting room. The device will pick up everything they are saying, and we will hear it on this machine.” Japan opened his hand toward a small wooden box with a dial and two speakers on the front of it.
“Good,” said Germany. “Italy, is your part of the mission complete yet?”
Italy looked up from a piping-hot plate of spaghetti. He slurped in the last noodle, letting it flick his face and leave a streak of tomato sauce along his cheek.
“Dammit, Italy! Are you paying attention at all?”
“Yes, Germany,” said Italy. “But then I was distracted by this pasta, so maybe you could explain it again for me.”
How To Be Awesome, Chapter TwelveCanada spent the rest of the morning sitting in his room. His heart pounded as he repeatedly relived what he had seen in Prussia’s basement. Could it be? Did The Awesome Prussia really feel as broken and lonely as Canada did? Canada wanted to say that it didn’t make any sense, but it made perfect sense to him. Replaying Prussia’s tearful complaints in his mind once more, Canada felt as though those words might have been his own.
“You know, Kuma-gelatinous, I feel lonely and forgotten too.”
The white bear looked up briefly from the book he was reading, and then looked back down.
“And other nations also treat me like I don’t exist.”
The white bear nodded, not taking his eyes off the page.
“And my own brother doesn’t respect me either.”
Canada leaned back, only to find more discarded hamburger wrappers and a handgun tossed on his floor. Scowling, Canada opened his bedroom door and kicked
How To Be Awesome, Chapter ElevenNot needing to pay attention to where he was going, Canada let his feet take him to Prussia’s house. He knocked on the door. He hummed to himself as he waited for someone to answer. After a few seconds, the door swung open. Germany was standing in the doorway. He blinked, possibly to acknowledge Canada’s presence.
“Hello, Germany,” Canada said. “Is Pru -”
“Yes,” Germany said, stepping aside to let Canada in. “He’s in the basement.”
Without another word, Canada made his way over to the basement door. As he journeyed down the stairs, he heard Prussia’s voice. It was odd though - it didn’t sound like Prussia’s tone at all. The raspy sweetness was there, but the voice came out quiet and sorrowful. Canada wondered what was going on. He heard the flow and lull of conversation, and he wondered who Prussia’s guest might be.
How To Be Awesome, Chapter TenWhen morning arrived in earnest, Canada opened his eyes feeling calm and lucid. He hadn’t returned to his dream from earlier, but he felt as though there were some sort of resolution as he slept. When he opened the front door, ready to greet the day, he was not surprised nor disappointed to see that Prussia was not there waiting for him.
“That’s okay,” Canada told himself. “Prussia’s taught me well. I can be awesome on my own.”
He strode down the street, nodding and smiling at other nations as he passed them. Each and every nation returned a friendly greeting. When Canada arrived at the fruit shop, he saw that no one else was there. Rather than feeling relieved, the way his old self did, he was somewhat disappointed that no one was there. Canada examined a few granny smith apples, wishing for someone to come by so he could be awesome with them. It was no fun being awesome alone. When C
Teenage TaoismGiving birth is the closest I’d ever felt to dying.
Before that, my near death experiences had consisted only of my silent announcement of pregnancy—silent, being that my social media accounts were all deleted almost simultaneously and I never returned to school in the fall, saying without really saying that I had caught the malicious disease of “teenage pregnancy”. I’m sure the whisper spread in the hallways like the Bubonic Plague. That September, sitting at home on what would have been the first day of my senior year, I imagined friends I’d never talk to again saying “she was only seventeen, and so full of life!” at my absence in the cafeteria tables, as if they were attending my funeral instead of talking about me behind my back.
"Full of life," I had snorted then, folding a never ending stream of what had once been my own baby clothes. "Literally."
I walked around like a zombie for the months of my pregnancy, deciding t
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