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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
How To Be Awesome, Chapter NineThat night, Canada dreamt of walking forever in a lonely grey forest. From time to time, he caught fleeting glimpses of lights flickering somewhere in the distance, but they would always fade to darkness before he could chase them. After what felt like a thousand false starts, Canada fell to his knees and let the cold earth begin to consume him. He disappeared, as if vanishing into quicksand. When he was up to his shoulders, a comet blazed over head. Shocked, Canada leapt to his feet, leaving the hungry earth beneath him. He ran like lightning after the comet, which seemed to slow down as though it were asking him to pursue it. As Canada burst out of the woods, the comet morphed into a little yellow bird.
“Excuse me,” said a familiar voice. Canada opened his eyes. He startled. Kuma... Kuma... Kuma-junction was standing over him.
“What is it?” Canada mumbled.
“I need your help, Canadoodly-doo,
How To Be Awesome, Chapter EightBack in the shelter of the basement, Canada began to feel stronger. He and Prussia rearranged the room’s sparse furnishings to resemble a sort of restaurant setting. Then they made their way to the edge of the staircase and pretended they were entering for the first time. As they walked toward Prussia’s coffee table, Canada figured he should say something. He couldn’t think of a word to say, though. The awkwardness of practicing with Prussia was gone, but it was still hard for him to imagine his dear friend as a stand-in for anyone else. Sensing that Canada was struggling, Prussia started the conversation for him.
“So, Canada,” he said in a lilting falsetto. “What’s your favourite thing to do on the weekend?”
“Um... I guess I like... Wait.” Canada stopped in his tracks.
“Can you please talk in your normal voice?”
“Okayyyy,” Prussia said
How To Be Awesome, Chapter SevenDay Two of awesomeness training began bright and early. Canada had been awakened before dawn because Kuma-journalism was making a racket. The white bear had tried to make himself a snack in the wee hours of the morning, and had caused all the pots and pans to fall out of the cabinet and across the kitchen floor. Not only did Canada wake up much sooner than he’d wanted to, but the first task of the day for him was to tidy up. He didn’t bother to reprimand his pet, because he knew his words would go unheard. Besides, it was hard enough to remember the name of that Kuma... Kuma... Kuma-jazzy.
After a frustrating morning involving a shortage of toothpaste, a shower drain clogged with white fur, and an ill-placed leather bomber jacket with a “50” on the back, Canada stumbled out the front door. He was surprised to see that Prussia was outside his house, waiting for him.
“Prussia?” Canada asked. “How long wer
How To Be Awesome, Chapter SixSoon, the two were back in the relative security of the basement. Canada observed Prussia once more, although, by now, everything seemed to have gone back to normal. Before Canada could figure out if there was something he should say, Prussia took the lead.
“Time for more training,” he said. “Pretend I’m Taiwan.”
Prussia crossed to the far side of the basement and struck a pose. He shifted his weight onto one leg and rested his hand on his hip. Tossing his hair, he turned to face Canada. Canada clapped his hands over his face in embarrassment.
“Yoo-hoo!” Prussia called through pouty lips.
“Taiwan doesn’t act like that.”
Prussia dropped his pose.
“Well, what did you want me to do?”
“Just be normal.”
“Okay,” said Prussia. “I’ll try to take it down to normal levels of awesome.”
Canada smiled as he watched Prussia be awesome for
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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