The camera was huge in your little hand. It was magical as far as you
saw it. Like an accessory Link would pull out of a big chest to
celebratory music, one that made his continuing journey through the
dungeon, and the world surrounding it, a relative breeze. That was you
now, equipped with this techno-wizardy, heavy in your hands, handed to
you by your teacher. Do what you wilt.
The sun mirrored your joy in the glass of the sky. You felt like an adult. Excited to film your masterpiece and show all your classmates and your teacher. Your little window into your little life, the one you knew so well, laid up on the glass of the AV room’s tube television, rolled out into the middle of the chalkboard for the festivities. But all your classmates had been given cameras just like you. That meant tight competition and a fire beneath you, pushing you to make your film memorable.
you got home, you greeted your smiling mother and received from her your
daily hug, which she kneeled down benevolently to give you, capping off
a perfect day at school. She smelled like flowers. Her body was always
so soft against yours. She asked you how your day was, and you said
good, leaving it at that, too shy to mention the camera that you left on
the shelf and the movie you were supposed to film with it.
she left into the deeper reaches of the labyrinth that was your house,
you grabbed your camera and went about that labyrinth, first filming the
living room. “This is the TV,” you would say, “where I watch the Ninja
Turtles and Spongebob. And this is my mom’s book. It says ‘Pride and…
pree joo dice.’ She really likes reading it on the couch,” and you’d pan
over to get a shot of the couch, which was dressed with silk covers and
a pair of sweatpants. Then in the kitchen: “here’s the stove. I’m not
allowed to touch it. My mom bakes cookies in it and mac & cheese on
the top. And here is our bowl of fruit.” Two ripe oranges sat next to
each other in it. “And here is mom’s banana.” It sat half-eaten on the
You went downstairs to film your Nintendo 64 with Legend of Zelda sitting on its throne in the slot. You brimmed with pride at that one, thinking it would be the centerpiece of your film. “It took me a long time but I beat the Deku Tree,” you explained with pride. “Then you get to go to a big world and fight skeletons tha come from underground.”
You went back upstairs, filming the steps as you did, and your mom’s pink sock which fell from her laundry basket on her way upstairs this morning. You went to your room, bypassing the sound of the shower through the bathroom door echoing through the hallway. The camera, having just adjusted itself to the dark of your hallway, readjusted itself to the soft sunlight and baby-blue walls of your room. You filmed your Ninja Turtle bed covers with pride. And then you filmed your Ninja Turtle action figures, all four of them, standing side by side with fully articulated limbs and their signature weapons in their hands. “My favorite is Michelangelo,” you said, “he’s the funniest,” you giggled.
You headed back through the hallway, passed the bathroom door, which was now barely containing the muffled sounds of a hair dryer. You went into your mom’s room, the soft sunlight less prominent, and her walls a soft beige, where clothing had been laid down flat on the bottom half of her bed over her brown bedcovers. “My mom is going to a fun-raiser tonight,” you explained. “Here is her shirt. And her dress,” you said, as you panned from right to left, slowly “and her undies. And her socks.” You showcased her perfumes and deodorant on her dresser, and in the background of the shot, you stood in the mirror’s reflection. You sprayed one of her perfume bottles into the air, the mist barely registering on film. “It smells lie flowers,” you said. You then filmed her nightstand and her bedside lamp, underneath which sat another book. “Vin… vin duh cay… cay tee ohn? Vin duh cay tee uhn.. of the… Rights… of Women.” You smiled behind the camera, proud you were able to say it. “At least I think that’s how you say it. Mary… Wole stuh… stuh. Mary Wolston… craft?”
turned around and headed back out into the hallway. You had filmed so
much. But you knew you needed more. You needed more if you were going to
blow the socks off your classmates and teacher. What you had so far was
already so great. But Timothy had a swingset in his backyard, or so you
heard from the other kids. You needed more.
As you thought
about what it was that would push your work of art over the edge, your
mom was singing in the washroom. “The raindrops keep falling on my
heaad. That doesn’t mean that I would soon be surely dead. Duh duh-duh
du-duh duh-duh duh.”
And then it hit you!
“Because I’m freeeee”
Your Ninja Turtles toothbrush!
“nothing’s worrying meee.”
You ran toward the bathroom door with your camera in front of you, and you tugged quickly at the handle.
palms were sweating, your knees were weak, and your arms were heavy as
you stood in the front of the class, 27 sets of dead eyes looking up at
you as your teacher hooked the camera into the VCR. Your had sat through
20 other videos that day, each one pretty good, but Timothy’s being
heads and tales above the rest, just as you feared. His swingset, and
now slide, which was a big surprise to you and everybody else in class,
as his film’s centerpiece.
You had to beat him. It wasn’t
your fault your mom couldn’t afford a swing and a slide for you. And
both Anthony and Becky owned a Nintendo 64 with a Legend of Zelda. And 4
others owned Sony Playstations. Half the kids owned toys just like you
did, and Jonathan showed off his fully functioning Batman utility belt
and his train set. The competition was more stacked than you thought it
would be. If you were going to come out on top, it would be your Teenage
Mutant Ninja Turtles toothbrush that would do it. It can happen.
“I think it can. I think it can,” you mouthed to yourself. You gulped.
looked over to see your fresh-faced teacher, an ancient man to you, no
older than 30 when viewed by a more discerning adult mind. He was
smiling as he stood up, his right thumb on the play button of the camera
you had brought home only yesterday.
You looked out at the dead-stares of your peers. You gulped again.
“…yes.” you said.
He hit play.
image of your living room exploded onto the screen. Your two separate
worlds, the one at home and the one here at school were united as one
now. The dream-like dividing line between them had been erased, leaving
only the chalk-like smears on the board between that distinction
internal to your understanding.
Your own voice eerily echoes from the TV: “This is the TV, where I watch the Ninja Turtles and Spongebob. And this is my mom’s book. It says ‘Pride and… pree joo dice.’ She really likes reading it on the couch,”
You looked out at your audience. Their eyes still dead. Were they like that for all the other videos? Or was your video particularly boring? You shuffled around uncomfortably, your teeth almost chattering in your mouth. Luckily nobody could hear that over the sound of, of all things, your own voice.
“It took me a long time but I beat the Deku Tree, then you get to go to a big world and fight skeletons who come from underground.”
Your viewers took no joy in your explanation of a
game that half the class already played, and the other half took no
interest in to begin with. You felt like the walls were closing in on
you, and the roof, was about to fall in on top of you, straining to hold
up the weight and the momentum of the fallen blue sky. You looked over
at your teacher. He was yawning. He gave you a little thumbs up through
the yawn. A token gesture you knew better than to take as a good sign,
even in the naive notions of youth.
“My favorite is Michelangelo, he’s the funniest.” The peanut gallery stood (or rather sat), unimpressed at the pieces of plastic the TV-You held in his hands. Those same hands up on the screen hung now at your sides, trembling.
“My mom is going to a fun-raiser tonight,” You looked over at your
teacher. He was yawning again. As if he were trapped in the same yawn
you saw him in the throws of last time you looked at him. “Here is her a
shirt. And her dress. And
her undies.” Suddenly, your teachers eyes narrowed mid-yawn. “And her
You heard a strange noise to your left. Startled, you looked
over to see your classmates giggling. It was the first laugh you heard
all day. No other videos got a laugh. You tried to hide your smile,
feeling it tug at your cheeks and the corners of your mouth, and you
crossed your restless arms, trying to keep them still and inconspicuous,
even as electric currents ran through them, from your wrists to your
shoulder, all up and down and back and forth.
“Vin… vin duh cay… cay tee uhn? Vin duh cay tee uhn.. of the…
Rights… of Women. At least I think that’s how you say it. Mary… Wole stuh…
stuh. Mary Wolston… craft?”
“That’s right,” you heard your teacher say from behind you. “Mary Wollstonecraft.”
You bit down on your inner-cheek to keep your the corners of your mouth from betraying your pride.
then watched your TV-hand put down the book. And the TV-You walked from
inside your mom’s room back into the dark of the hallway. Then there
was nothing but footage of the hardwood floor and your right foot for 10
seconds. You heard one of your classmates yawning, and you looked over
to see a phalanx of dead eyes yet again, as if the laugh you heard
earlier was a product of hallucination like one of your semi-annual
fever-dreams. You gulped. Your mom’s singing could be heard in the
background, muffled by the bathroom door.
“Because I’m freeee, nothing’s worrying meee!”
Suddenly, the camera is jerked back upwards, so suddenly it startles everyone in class, including yourself. And down the hallway TV-You goes, towards the bathroom door. And your TV-hand grabs it, turns the handle, and pulls the door open.
The sudden light blinds the camera, making it strain to mechanically adjust itself to its new context.
“Hey sweety!” you hear.
Suddenly, the camera finishes and achieves its goal of complete naked clarity.
Suddenly, from behind your head, a cacophony of full-bellied laughter erupts.
“Hooollly” your teacher starts, “Ssshhhiiiiii-”
stands upright so suddenly, you almost jump back. His chair slides out
from behind him and falls over. It was as if he tried to lunge at the
screen. But he just stood there. And when he notices, or remembers, you
standing there, just below the screen itself, he looks down at you and
gives you a thumbs up. “Good job,” he says reassuringly, before lifting
his chin back up quickly to view the screen.
That, and the sound of your classmates heavy-bottomed laughter had your cheeks feeling red and your chest feeling warm.
“What do you want, babe,” your mom asked as she tended to her face in the mirror.
“Why?” she asked. “It’s not bed time yet, silly.” She didn’t make eye contact with you once, even through the reflection in front of her. If she did, she would have seen the camera you held within an inch of your face. But she never saw it.
“I just want to see it, mom.”
something off the counter in front of her with her left hand, bending
over slightly to do so, and she handed it back to you, palms up, over
her left hip. “Here you go,” she said, still not seeing you, only
feeling your presence there. “It’s Michelangelo, your favorite.”
You held the toothbrush up for the camera, which would struggle to focus on it, making the black of your mom’s buttcrack go blurry for seconds, before auto-focusing on her ass again. The TV-You tried to fix it with movement as your classmates laughed.
“Big bum-bum” somebody yelled.
“Oh my god,” your teacher barely-said and, more, breathed out. “God damn. Uhhh. Perfect, just perfect.”
You looked back at the TV and you watched as your mom walked out of the washroom. Your teacher exhaled heartily as she walked. And then she was gone around the corner. You filmed her as she left and the hallway was empty. You panned the camera back to your toothbrush. The camera could finally focus on what you thought would be the magnus opus of your film. “And here’s Michael Angelo.” He was standing there on the neck of the toothbrush with his nun-chucks, twirling them. Your classmates were no longer laughing, though some stray giggles burned on like embers after a housefire, even while you waved the toothbrush around and made kung-fu noises with it, the moment you were most excited for.
from out the bathroom and you pointed the camera into your mom’s room as
she was ducked inside her nightstand’s bottom drawer, with her butt up
in the air as trinkets slid audibly over the wood floor of the drawer.
Your class was in an uproar again, and your teacher jumped out of his
seat again. Noticing that you were startled, he reassured you again.
“Great video. Great work.”
As TV-you walked down the hall and
through the kitchen to your backdoor. Your teacher got up and shut off
the video. You were shocked. You still had the tour of your mom’s garden
and the gazebo to show off.
“Wow, great video,” he
exclaimed, with the TV-static framing his head like a halo. He pulled
the tape out of your camera. “I’m just going to take this and make a
copy of it, okay?”
You didn’t know what to say.
“I’ll give it back when I’m done.” His eyes were wide and wild.
“Big ole Bum-bum,” you heard the class clown say and the class laughed.
you can sit down now. You guys be quiet for now, okay? I’ll be back in a
minute.” And just before he disappeared into the hallway he looked back
and said to you: “great video. Really good work.”
You went back to your desk, right in the middle of the sea of smiling and giggling faces. Sitting back down among them was surreal. Suddenly, 70 degrees to your right you heard “Big ole bum bum. Big. Big. Big!” and everyone around you started laughing as if they never stopped. You bit the insides of your cheeks to keep from smiling as you vibrated in your seat. Nobody had ever gotten a reaction like that for anything in your class. Nobody ever would. You were the king of the world in this moment. The king of the universe.
“Dude, why are we watching this?”
“Just give it a bit, it’s almost here.”
“That’s what you said 10 minutes ago.”
“We get it! You’re proud of your students. I was too in my first decade teaching, before I got sick of the little shits.”
“Oh, am I ever proud, just you watch and see why.”
“Come on! My wife’s making lasagna. I want to get home.”
“Your wife has nothing on this.”
“Is he your favorite student or something?”
“He is now.”
“Can you fast forward it?”
“Just wait one fucking second. It’s almost here.”
“Ugh…. Is that his mom singing?”
“My wife sings better.”
“I’ve seen your wife. No way she’s better than this.”
“Okay, I can deal with you wasting my time, but now you’re just being plain disrespectful. Don’t think because you’re younger than me I won’t-”
“Shut the fuck up!”
“No! Why don’t you shut the fuck up! I don’t appreciate being dragged here by you and I don’t appreci- ……..
“I told you.”
“… I never doubted you for a second.”
“Would you like a copy?”
“Yes. As a matter of fact, I would.”
“Just make sure your wife doesn’t see it.”
“Ah, fuck her. My wife can get fucked for all I care. Give that thing to papa.”
“Wow! A rainbow sticker! My little man.”
“Yeah! Nobody else got a rainbow sticker.”
“Wow! That must mean you did real good. Was it a test?”
“No, it was a movie!”
“Wow, my little Steven Spielberg. Did you use a camera?”
“And you filmed it with your little friends?”
“Oh? With who then?”
“What did you film?”
“What!? Really? How come I didn’t know.”
“Because you weren’t looking, Mom.”
“We must have a really cool home if they gave you a rainbow sticker.”
“Did you show them your toys?”
“Yeah…. And my toothbrush!”
“Whoah. No wonder you got a rainbow sticker! Did you show them you kung-fu fighting? Hiya! waa!.”
“Like this? Pow! Hiya! Judo chop! Hey where are you going? Are you ticklish.”
“Stop! Stop! ha ha ha.”
“Do you know him?“
“Yeah, I went to grade-school with him.”
“He’s so weird.”
“Yeah, he’s a real freak.”
“He was walking by us in the hallway and Timothy pushed him into the radiator, hard, and he just went all red and walked away like nothing happened. He didn’t even make eye-contact.”
“Yup. You want to see something funny?”
“Don’t push him. I’m one more point away from being expelled.”
“I won’t. Hey! You! Yeah, yeah, you know who I’m talking to! Did he get red like that when Tim pushed him? Yeah, you! Where’s the tape! Where you going?! Tell your mom I said Hi!”
“Oh my god, what a pussy. What tape were you talking about? Was it anime porn or something?”
“No, I’ll tell you later.”
“Can we watch the tape? Or, do I even want to?”
“I wish we could. I don’t know if he has it anymore. And yes, you’d definitely want to.”
camera was small. Much smaller than the bag you were carrying it in.
You were going to add it to your collection of little cameras. Small and
cheap. A brave new world you were living in. The whole set was less
than 200 dollars total. Everything is smaller and cheaper these days.
On the bus you held your new goody close by as you played your Nintendo
64 emulator on your phone. You had just beaten the Forest Temple, but
your mind was elsewhere. You had a herculean task ahead of you. And
unless you had hopped onto the wrong bus, you were on a one-way track
You got off at the stop and walked in the direction you needed to go, as if you had no choice in the matter. In some ways, you didn’t. When you got to your mom’s place, you left your bag on the shelf as you greeted her. She stood up on her tippy-toes to give you a hug. “How are you, sweety?”
“Good, how are you, mom?”
“Good as always. How was work?”
“It’s good,” you said, somehow convincingly.
“Good. There’s nothing better than loving your job.”
“I agree.” You looked out into the living room as you leaned on the inside of the kitchen doorway. Everything was the same as it was last week. The same as last month. The same as last year. The same as it was 16 years ago. Only The Handmaiden’s Table was on the coffee table. “I’m just going to use the washroom.”
You doubled back around to grab your bag.
opened the bathroom door. Still the same as when you last stood with
your arms in the vent, standing on the same chair that sat in front of
the mirror now. You placed the bag on the sink and pulled out the box.
“Eye Spy” it said on the shiny cardboard.
I got the vent. The phone charger cam is still here. My shaving pouch is still here and my pen camera is still… yeah, it’s still inside the pouch. And the camera in the floor vent is set up. I just activate that one by remote.
You opened up your box. You laid your finishing touch on your mom’s washroom, the same washroom you grew up with, by placing your new camera in your mom’s bath-scent bottle which sat at about waist level, at almost at the exact altitude you stood your tallest at when you stood there with your first camera 16 years ago.
You placed the rigged
bottle back down on the edge of the Jacuzzi. You activated all the other
cameras, manually or through remote, and you left the washroom of your
youth, closing the door behind you.
“Would you like to stay and eat, sweety?”
“No thanks, mom. I have to go.”
“Oh come on. Just stay for a bit.”
“I’d love to, but I really have to go.”
“Oh, is it a hot date?” she asked slyly.
You just stood there, smiling. Not lying to her directly, but making her think you really did have a date to look forward to.
“Have fun!” she said with a smile.
You left the house. When you looked back to get one last look at your mom, she was grabbing a towel from the closet.
you waited for your bus, you thought about the only girl you ever had a
chance with. The only one who could look past the stuttering and the
blushing and shaking. The only one who knew there was more to you than
met the eye.
As your bus pulled up and you were swallowed by its shade, your mom entered her bathroom.
You met this girl at work. She would always needle you in conversation and push and try to get you to give a little more of yourself than you were used to giving. She wanted to dig passed your surface. And it was uncomfortable and scary. But you liked it. For the first time in your life, somebody cared about you other than your mom.
then one night, the night when you thought you’d finally get to
experience your first kiss, if not more than that, you got drunk in the
process of trying to kill the anxiety, and with inebriation came emotion
and a naive gravitylessness, and you told her that the only moment in
your life that you felt anything like you felt when you were around her
was when you accidentally filmed your mom all those years ago and showed
your whole class. You told her that you knew your teacher made copies
and you knew he still had to have some, at least you hope he did, but
you didn’t know where he was now. You told her that if you had that
footage you would show it to the boss at work and every guy you hated,
just to spite them. Just to say I know you think you’re better than me. I know you think you have me pegged down. You have no idea. No idea. You’d do it just to see the surprise on their faces.
that, the energy in the room changed. And it never went back to where
it was. She cut the night short, saying she had things to do the next
morning. And then she stopped returning your calls. And she wasn’t there
Monday morning. She had apparently transferred. She had been offered a
transfer to a more convenient location months ago, but she stayed
because of you.
And then she knew the real you, and she had no reason to stay any longer.
She was right. There really was more to you than met the eye. But she
underestimated how much more it was. She took a gaze down your well and
was shocked by what she found down there. Down where light can’t even
reach when the sun hits it directly at no angle.
It was a
well whose first shovel stroke happened on that day 16 years ago. Before
then, you lived a completely dry life. No color, no electricity, no
cool water. Just a patch of dirt. And then voila, with just one pan of a
dusty AV-Room camera camera, you became somebody. Your mom’s ass was
special. You got a nice big rainbow on your assignment that day. It was
the only video the class wasn’t bored watching. The only one your
teacher took to the AV room to copy. The only one he showed his friends.
And judging by the way the teachers and janitor looked at your mom from
every parent teacher then on, It was the only one he showed the whole
And after that, your peers would tell your story. And the teachers in
the higher grades liked knowing you. Just the novelty of having you
around, knowing that what you gave them by accident was a one in a
million flash in a pan. Knowing you were your mom’s violating eye and
loving you for it, just for a period of ten seconds. 9 seconds more than
the necessary minimum. 9 and a half seconds if she and the camera were
still. Just one still would be enough. But you gave them that ass in
motion. That alone made your birth worth it to them. That alone made you
a factor among your peers. You had no swing-set or utility belt. And
when you got older, you would have no body anyone would want to cherish
or appreciate for its own sake, by virtue of the fact that you were born
the wrong sex for it. Your mom gave you nothing you could show off,
materially or genetically, physically or psychically, except for what
you accidentally caught within your borrowed lens’ confines. That was
the only worthwhile thing you inherited. But it was worth more than the
inheritance of princes.
Your mom’s ass was so fresh in those
days. How you would love to see it. But it was gone. It slipped through
your fingertips, just like all the good that came with it. Your mom’s
ass was still there. Different, but there. But you eventually became too
old to burst into your mom’s bathroom while she was undressed. And when
you were young, you had no camera to fill the frame with her. You had
missed your opportunity, and missed the joy that came with it. The only
joy you ever had. The only moment of color in what was otherwise a gray
But you were returning the color to yourself now, the only way you
knew how. You could feel it seeping in through some crack in existence
itself. You sat on the bus with each bump and rattle manifest to your
senses, and exciting and dear to you. The smell of fresh air and flowers
and even exhaust wide in its appeal and nuance. You sat amongst other
faces, dry wells or patches of dirt with not so much as a dent in them.
None of them knew how deep down your well went. Or could hear your mom
whistling down there in the dark, the cool waters halfway up her
They never knew about your former glory or how you
were in the process of reclaiming it. How this bus ride, nothing but a
teleportation from point A to point B for them, was your travels to
providence and milk and honey. They never knew what your mom looked like
naked, nor what she looked like to know that they should desire to see
what she looks like naked. They didn’t know she was naked right at that
moment, and she was being chiseled into stone tablets by digital hands
for all history to marvel at and with.
They didn’t know about the only girl you ever loved or had a chance with and the boss you both hated and the joy you were going to feel when you showed your boss those tablets. The look on his face when he sees those stone tablets on his electronic tablet. They didn’t know that your mom’s ass was the type they saw on this bus, if they rode the bus every day, only twice a year, if that. They had no idea your well hid such treasures. They had no idea all they had to do was ask you and you’d gladly pull up the cool waters of that well and give them a fulfilling taste, any more than they knew that they could ask the woman beside them for the Rothschild fortune and she would give it to them. That was the sole sum of your worth. But what a large sum it was. And you knew it.
knew just how much you were worth as long as your mom was still
attractive, and now that your laptop was receiving multiple wi-fi
transmissions saved to video, you’d always be worth what your mom’s
nudity is worth now. You’d be worth everything.
And it was surprising how little your virginity bothered you under
that light. It was surprising how little regret you had for that drunk
night. She could leave you, but she could never stop you. She could
never stop you from what you were doing now. Just like your boss could
yell at you and make you work all the unpaid overtime in the world, and
he could never stop you from showing him the videos of your mom’s naked
body. Wait til he sees how deep your well goes.
invincible. Invincible like your mom’s beauty. Like her ass. Why throw a
ladder down to her when you could keep her down there forever? If you
listen close, dip your head inside, you can hear her.
Raindrops are falling on my head
And just like the guy whose feet are too big for his bed
Nothing seems to fit
Those raindrops are falling on my head, they keep falling
So I just did me some talking to the sun
And I said I didn’t like the way he got things done
Sleeping on the job
Those raindrops are falling on my head, they keep fallin’
Because I’m free
Nothing’s worrying me
And nothing would disappear from the internet, which is where you
would upload all your footage. You had to. And no censoring out your
mom’s face. It wouldn’t be right. Why half-ass greatness, especially
when it would take less effort to go the whole way?
coming up now to your stop. You had our arms crossed to stop your
trembling, and you bit the insides of your cheeks to keep the corners of
your mouth from lifting maniacally. That was the last thing everybody
on the bus wanted to see. The one person on the planet smiling. Smiling
as if he were the sync absorbing all the happiness they lacked, keeping
it all for himself. No, you had plenty happiness to share around. If
only you could approach them and show them. But social customs were
weird. It would have to random strangers on the internet looking for it,
and your boss who will just barely give you enough time of day to show
He’s seen your mom before, he only needs to see her walk
into frame, fully clothed, which will happen the moment the cameras
turn on (they’re motion sensitive), and he’s hooked for the rest of it.
Especially when he sees the towel in her hand. And even with all your
incompetence, you’ll be his number one employee.
And your mom will be his. His to enjoy. His to show off. His to show what a freak you are, and how happy he is for it. His to pause, fast-forward, and rewind, like his little toy. His to slow down, to capture every nuance of her that she coudln’t even know exists. Have a omniscience of her body she would never be capable of, existing within it and not without it. Within it in actuality, without it in thought. Which is the complete opposite of everybody else in the world.
that was your well. That was you. Your inner-mind’s eye. Shaped like
your mom. Glorious and beautiful like her. Preserved in amber like it
through this video stream.
So thank your mom for your rainbow. Life just wouldn’t be the same without them.