He did not! Yeah, and then he told her he was totally single. He did not! And then what did she do? We’ve got a final in genetics coming up next week. I’m so not ready for this. What were you doing in lab last week? I was trying to obtain an extract from a tolerant strain, but my lab partner was hungover and fucked off, and I guess it corrupted over the weekend. But that’s not your fault! What were you supposed to do? My parents want me to drive down this weekend, but I wanted to see a movie with Caleb. So what? Go see the movie. Yeah, but they’re worried about my GPA, and if I don’t, you know, check in with them once in a while, they say that spring semester’s gonna be on me, and I’ve already been turned down for a student loan, so I don’t know how I’m supposed to have a life in all this.
The students’ voices all blur together. I can’t keep track of who’s saying what, but they’re not talking to me. I probably shouldn’t be listening—I mean, not that it’s interesting—but there’s just so many of them all around me. New school year at the college and the shuttle bus is standing room only. I was lucky enough to get on at an early stop and find a seat, but that just means a variety of butts in Lycra and denim and a dozen brands reinventing the backpack crowd around my head. I shove my wireless headphones into my ears, select some trance/ambient, and watch the landscape float by.
It’s like a movie when I do that. I wonder if it sets the mood for the day. I’m listening to some keening, mopey Scandinavian band that sounds like what I imagine heroin feels like: comfortable, slow, soporific. I wonder if I should dial up some electronica to put myself in a better mindset for the day.
In no time at all we’re already on my remote campus, far from the glamorous and main body of the university. The bus lurches at each of several tops, all the thick and thin thighs heaving forward in surprise every single time, as dollops of students unload at intervals. My stop is the final stop, and by then there’s just a couple panicked-looking Asian students and three old women who seem to know when to wake up. The driver takes her time coasting to the stop, and the doors, badly in need of maintenance, groan and spasm into an opened state. The Asian students take off, floating up the sidewalk like little birds, and the old women cautiously step out of the bus. I follow them out, swing my backpack on, pat my jeans where my office keys should be (they are), and I make my way up the sidewalk.
Just another Monday. There’s the student center, already full of freshmen and sophomores grabbing a quick breakfast. There’s a row of cars, parents who live close enough to campus to drop their kids off, to the kids’ embarrassment. I cross the street, and one of these parents, having delivered their payload, leaps through the intersection to skedaddle on out of there, nearly clipping me. This isn’t the first time this kind of thing’s happened: I lean down to the driver’s window and shout “WHAT THE FUCK” as they pass. There’s the customary surprised, horrified expression, and then they go zipping off, impelled by their own guilt.
I don’t think anything of them, and I’m sure they’ll forget about it by lunch, and I head toward the building where I work. Before I go in, like always, I look up and wave at the giantess who looms over our city. Her long legs, wrapped in tons of cotton and dyed in incalculable thousands of gallons of bluing, rise into the haze of morning condensation around a hundred feet in altitude or so; her arms swing like dreams so much farther above. Her face is only suggested, darkened dimples in a familiar pattern across a vast shield so high it makes me a little ill to look at. That is to say, she’s pretty, I know she is, I’ve seen the photos. But when I look all the way up her looming, swaying body, some sympathetic part of my imagination places me upon her shoulder and I nearly collapse with vertigo.
Anyway. I wave up at her. I have no idea whether she can actually see me, I’m sure I’m less than a speck among specks, but it makes me happy to do. Like, hey giant lady, nice to see you again. I hope you’re doing well. Please don’t kill us today.
I’m the second person in my office today: I can see pale yellow light down the hallway. Between me and it, dim bands of blue glow beneath the doors of closed offices. I’d be happier if no one were in right now, just because I love the quiet. I like the moment I realize how quiet it was, when the ventilation kicks on and then the office sounds like a passenger jet when everyone’s asleep. I like starting up a pot of coffee while my computer boots up, though I’ve yet to be acknowledged for my efficiency. And when I have my coffee and while my browser struggles to open my bookmarks, I like to stand at my window and watch the giantess.
Right now she’s just standing there. It looks like she’s fiddling with something up where I can’t see, because her knee’s bending slightly. “Slightly,” of course, where her slightest twitch covers a distance of yards to us. The knee, draped in tons of denim, surges forward as if straining underwater, pauses, then retreats like waves from the shore. She could be crocheting up there, for all I know, or maybe this is what the pee-pee dance looks like in slow motion. No idea. I just sip my coffee, with a flash of disappointment of how ashy it is, and I stare at where her mid-thigh begins to disappear into a low ceiling of clouds.
It occurs to me that she should be soaked all the time. Those clouds should dampen her fabric, and that would make them weigh more, so I guess by rights they should become so heavy they tear under their own weight, collapse upon the suburbs, and expose her towering, lean leg. That hasn’t happened yet, and I don’t know why, but I never took physics.
Actually, everything about her is incomprehensible. Where’d she come from? What does she want? When’s the last time she ate anything? Doesn’t she ever sleep? No one knows anything about her, we just all kinda accept the fact of her presence, or we’ve learned to over the last few months. She just showed up one day, striding massively across the landscape which must’ve looked like an unfolded road map to her, and she parked herself at the edge of our town, and she’s been there ever since. The military can’t communicate with her, and they sure as hell can’t get her to move. But she’s not doing anything against us, either, so she’s just kinda there and that’s how it is for now.
I check my emails. The person who was in before I was has sent everyone a photo of the darkened office with a date-time stamp, 7:58 a.m., a few minutes before I arrived. She has written an angry reminder, while making it clear she’s holding back her anger, that this office opens at 8 a.m. sharp so where the hell is everybody. I stir in a little more sugar to my coffee and reread the email. This is pretty audacious: she’s not in charge of jack shit, so that’s a really high tone to take with, say, the executive director. Then I check off on all the emails by people who can’t come in (getting garage door fixed or boiler installed, dental appointment, kids’ volleyball tournament, etc., etc. etc.), mark them as read, delete them, and the same thing with all the social media alerts and analytics on how our tweets are doing. Christ, who gives a rat’s ass? Our business isn’t on the bleeding edge of popular consciousness.
The door to the office rattles. Brass keys jangle angrily against the lock plate. One key growls its way in and the door swings wide. I can hear someone kicking the wooden door wedge into place, flicking on the front office lights. Yeah, all that stuff needed to be done by the peevish email sender who insists on us looking like we’re open for business. Guess I could’ve done it too, but I don’t care.
Email from a friend in student services, asking me if I read the news. I click the link he sent, and no, I hadn’t heard about this. Yesterday, late evening, it looks like there was a two-mile traffic jam down the southbound loop. I could just picture it, all the darkened vehicles revving their engines, honking their horns, inconsiderate assholes, one per vehicle because people are allergic to carpooling I guess. But it said the giant lady caused this gridlock: two kids were racing around in chop-shop sports cars, being a menace to traffic. The article included a video of highway CCTV footage showing a red car and a white car jockeying between lanes, cutting people off, riding people’s asses, and then this enormous object moved in from above and buried the two offending cars, a dozen other cars in the area, and six lanes of highway in the space of a second.
The giantess moved, last night. She reached down and poked her fingertip—I’m stunned to learn she could pay attention to traffic—and jabbed it right onto these two assholes. There wasn’t even anything left to dig up and bury. Cops have to wait for people to call in and say their friends and family never made it home last night, to begin to guess at the total fatalities.
That is to say, yes, this is tragic, but when I saw those jackasses racing around and threatening people’s lives for their entertainment, and watching her immense, perfect fingertip descend like judgment and absolutely eradicate them from existence… it’s like my stomach filled with a golden light that flowed through my body. All the tension in my neck went away, tension I’ve had so long I forgot about it. All sympathy to the innocent bystanders, of course, but watching that unstoppable, immense fingertip come down felt like justice was possible. It felt like there was a balance to the universe, and it a small way it had begun to right itself.
I turned in my chair and toasted the giantess, pastel and hazy in the distance. I wondered what I could possibly do, by way of thanks or appreciation, that she could possibly detect. I wouldn’t drive like an asshole, that was for sure.
My friend is horrified. He’s calling for a rebellion, but I don’t think the giantess is in charge of anything. I’m not going to fight him over email, but I think he’s wrong, and not just because I have a crush on this monstrosity. I’d miss her if she was gone. Is that weird to say? I’ve never talked to her, and a lot of people died when she showed up and planted those gigantic basketball sneakers on the exurbs, but she hasn’t moved since. And people continue to die, climbing up her sneakers and scaling her legs, badly overestimating their endurance and falling like snowflakes, but that’s hardly her responsibility. No one told those idiots to swarm over her like ants. And yeah, when that plane flew at her, when the jet was just taking off and headed straight toward her for no known reason, didn’t she try to dodge? Of course she did. She thrust out her butt and bent over and tried to let the jet sail beneath her belly, but then the idiot pilot (and the recordings confirm this) banked hard to the side and plowed right into her boob. Again, that’s really not her fault: he shouldn’t have flown at her, and once he did and she got out of the way, he should have continued on. Obviously my friend in student services doesn’t agree with this and thinks she should be destroyed.
“Even if we had a weapon that could hurt her,” I reasoned, “why would we do that? If we killed her, she’d just collapse upon the entire city, millions upon millions of tons of human flesh and blood and organs. We’d never begin to clean it up before it started rotting, and that’s the survivors’ work. And if we didn’t kill her, we’d just piss her off. Is that what you want?”
He frowned at me and said if I loved her so much, why didn’t I marry her. I’m afraid I got too dreamy of a look on my face because he called me a fucking pervert and left. I came back to my office to find he’d sent me a few right-wing articles on why the giantess should be destroyed and which nations probably sent her to destroy us. Sometimes I don’t know why I’m friends with him.
Lunchtime came and went. I just piddled around with business emails and endured a couple meetings where bright young things used words they didn’t fully understand and talked in circles until it was time to go. I know some guys in the office are terribly impressed with this, but not me. I stayed up late last night, drinking and watching a movie, so I forgot to pack myself a lunch, so I had to choose between one of three sad fast-food franchises in the student center. Good lord, what we put these kids through. They’re excited, because they just think “hey, pizza and burgers,” but they have no idea what they’re doing to their hearts and livers, and they won’t until they’re my age. Sighing, I pick up a fucking pizza and line up to pay for it.
Seriously, hoodies and black tights (they call them yoga pants, but no, clothes for yoga are loose and flowing) are the uniform here. Doesn’t matter how cold it gets, how much snow there is on the ground, nothing gets these kids out of their baggy hoodies and tights and sneakers with no socks. That’s the college uniform, obeyed without question or deviance. Some of these young women are nothing more than sticks in black tights, some have got their curves and I guilty check out their bubble butts and wonder where women like that were when I was that age. Maybe they were there, I have no idea: the past is a montage of a few happy moments and some regrets. Everything else is lost, I guess as it should be, because why do I need to remember every crappy lunch I ever ate or every piece of ass I hit on and missed out on?
I look away from these women who are basically children and stare at a clock on the wall until it’s time to hand over my credit card and eat my crappy personal pizza. Maybe this’ll take years off my life, but they’re the worst years, the ones at the end, and I’m cool with that.
From where I’m sitting in the cafeteria, I can see the ankle of the giantess. Somehow this is comforting, seeing where the yards of black canvas disappear into the meticulously recreated fading hem of her jeans, stitched with what must be industrial copper cable. Even just seeing this much of her touches my heart, for some reason. Just standing there, two huge feet in the same place since she showed up. I wonder what her ankle looks like, under that vast curtain of denim, way far beyond the trees and buildings on campus. I’d never go see, like, drive out to her and go exploring. That’s crossing a line, somehow. Granted, she’s the least private person in the entire world right now, but I feel like that’s what makes me more protective of her privacy. I could drive out to her right sneaker and climb up her laces and visit her leg myself. But that feels exploitative, somehow. She’d never know about it, and it probably doesn’t make a difference to her whether a speck of dust blows against her ankle or not, but still. I chew the crappy pizza like cud, steering my thoughts away from what the sausage must be made out of and toward the long, slender leg of the gigantic young woman towering above our entire city and surrounding territories.
I can’t help but overhear some students talking about her. They, of course, admire the drivers and their flashy cars, behaving as though they’re all living in an action film, so they take turns thinking of horrible things to say about the giantess until I roll up the last quarter of my crappy pizza in its cardboard box and get up to leave. I study them, five young people crowded around a four-person table, all laptops and mobile phones and artificial coloring and trendy anorexia. I try to memorize their faces in case they ever learn about my building and find my office and need my help for anything. They won’t, of course, I have nothing to do with the students and even other staff have no idea where our office is or what it’s for. Sighing again, I toss the pizza/cardboard roll into compost and sulk out of the cafeteria.
There she is. That impressive, imperious goddess above us. I can’t see her face, I can’t see what shirt she’s wearing, I can barely make out where her thighs meet, but I tell myself I love her. I wave up at her, and I hear some students behind me giggling. I don’t even turn to look, I just head back to the office, staring at that slightly bent, denim-clad knee for as long as I can.