Barbara Holm

Barbara Holm, stand up comedian

Another Walk

The grey sidewalk curled under my feet, cracked and covered in filth. There was so much trash spilling from the cans, spills of someone’s gargantuan hot dog oil splashed across the ground. The sidewalk was my insides, blurry and inconsistently visible as I stumbled along my path. People thought the city seemed attractive, or at least acceptable, but they were looking up. Everyone looked up at the lovely old buildings, the impossibly tall trees, the whimsical old lampposts glowing through the romantic comedy setting of a city. The tourists has their eyes trained on the horizon complete with ocean and fluffy clouds, while I kept my eyes trained downwards, avoiding the gaze of others, watching my own feet, pretending to be invisible, and taking in only the dirty sidewalk.

 

Trembling with the anxiety that accompanies being in a bar packed with human beings, it felt relaxing to be outside in the dark. I weaved across the sidewalk with uneasy feet. I passed men loudly yelling to each other in what sounded to me like anger, but could easily have been a friendly hug of the minds. I’m aware that I’m so sensitive to it that any display of anger or aggression or abrasive contrariness strikes me as terrifying and places me on the defensive. People who like being aggressive say that I fear assertive personalities because I’m emotionally repressed, but really I just grew up around anger and maybe I have a reason to be conditioned to fear that emotion. That night though, I was too drunk to really own my emotions, fear or otherwise.

Bus Ride

Belonging to both everyone and no one, I considered the seat mine for some inexplicable reason before I even sat down. I leaned back in my green linoleum seat, against the cold window. My eyelids drooped heavily down. The skin flaps swooped low over my throbbing pulsating globs of gook that oozed from my sockets. I wiped the snot from my leaking eyes and realized I had forgotten my glasses at home. I shrugged and curled into myself.

 

We jostled forward with a rhythmical rocking. The other passengers quietly huddled in their seats and looked at their phones. Some pulled out a book. I was too tired to reach into my bag. Across from me sat a woman with long blonde hair and black framed glasses. She was wearing lipstick, which seemed out of place. I never wore the stuff because it would inevitably get all over my coffee cups, water bottles, hair, bowties, sandwiches, leaving a sticky mess of sludge and make me feel like a dirty filthy freak. Nothing makes me feel more unclean and disgusting than a trail moist of apricot gloss on a clean white coffee mug.

Meeting the Folks

By Barbara Holm

Dennis walked up the stairs to Marcie’s house and stood on the white wooden porch for a second. The paint was peeling and there was an old jack-o-lantern several seasons too late at his feet. He looked at the white, round doorknob and for a fragment of time forgot what he was supposed to do. Then he remembered, felt stupid, and pressed the button. There was a loud sound of a church bell inside, that seemed too large for this tiny little button. Dennis’s thoughts caught in his mind in a swirly tangle and began to settle down on his throat, strangling him with nervousness.

The door opened and Marcie bounced in front of him. She appeared so suddenly that Dennis stumbled back, startled by the jubilant wave of smiles and blonde hair jumping up and down.

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Dollhouse

by Barbara Holm

The window was closed the roar of the garbage truck permeated the glass pane. Bright green and smelly, it rolled down the street with a monstrous growl. I peered over the sill and smiled with my lips, wrapped in two hoodies over my nightgown that made me feel secret and safe.

Behind me Edith watched in displeasure. It wasn’t her fault; it’s just her natural face. Or rather, it is her unnatural face because it is plastic and fake, obviously. I turned around and glared at her.

“Edith, stop staring at me, please,” I said with a harsh snap.

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Put Put Course

By Barbara Holm

Abby leaned against the metal railing and chewed on one of her pigtail braids. Go do something fun, her psychiatrist had said. Go do something for yourself. She sighed and grasped the cool metal club, rubbing it up and down her hairy calf that peaked out from baggy capri pants. They used to be called flood pants when she was in middle school. Now no one wore them but her. She pushed her glasses up her nose, watching the children laugh over bubble gum and comic books. Her lips parted and she scratched her arm. She could remember so clearly that idyllic temperament of childhood. Not joy, but a feeling of urgency and intensity accompanies youth. Juvenesence so easily slips through the thick stew of hot emotions and obligations surrounding her.

Spitting her pigtail out of her mouth, Abby stepped through the short fake grass, past the shiny clown faces and tiny windmills. Her flip flops smacked against the soles of her feet as she crouched in front of the four foot lighthouse. After dropping her pink ball onto the astroturf, she shook her head to try to loosen the happy chirping of tiny birds from her consciousness. Perspiration soaked her shirt in the uncomfortable summer air. She swung the club behind her back, far up into the creamy blue picturesque sky. The gleam of metal cut into the otherwise idyllic glass ceiling above her.

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Clean Up Time

Clean Up Time by Barbara Holm

 

The apartment was mostly empty, void of furniture, art, food, and everything that could potentially elicit an emotional sensation. The two boys sat on the grey couch. Al flipped channels rapidly on the tv. Steven fidgeted, rubbing his hands over each other drying out his skin, and shuffling his feet against the floor. Dust lay over the arm of the couch smiling in the dull light as dirt accumulated around the corners of the door.
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Dave the Plumber

Dave the Plumber by Barbara Holm

Dave the plumber stood in the stranger’s bathroom, staring into the depths of the toilet, trying to imagine them, the food they ate, their favorite movies. He smiled shyly to himself as he dusted off the counter, wiping two long stray hairs into his palm. The hair was wiry and black and long, moist with tap water. He reached into his tool box and got out a ziplock baggie and sealed the hairs up and nestled the ziplock back in his tool box with several other identical baggies.

On his walk home from work Dave stopped by Sandy’s Deli. He kept his eyes on the green and white tialed floor, letting familiarity guide him to the counter. Shyly, he looked up at the girl. She had brownish blonde hair that was in a greasy ponytail. Her pores were large and had bits of dirt collected in them.

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The Ring

Denise sat in the darkened room rubbing her hands against each other repeatedly. Her bedroom was cool and a breeze was reaching in through the window ruffling her hair. She rocked back and forth, sitting on her butt, with her arms crossed tightly over her knees. She rotated back on her heels to the same rhythm as her heart beat, a short punchy staccato. There were sounds of soft conversation, plates being moved around, and occasional abrasive laughter coming from downstairs. Denise rolled her tired deep set eyes and interlocked her scrawny fingers. She rubbed her thumb against the cold hard silver band on her middle ring finger. She slid the ring up and down the stem of her finger a few times, nervously twirling it. She then pulled it off her middle finger and shoved it onto her left ring finger.

“That’s not yours,” said a low whispery woman’s voice. Denise turned and saw a face half lit, half in shadow. One eye peered through the room at Denise, half of a smile curled across thin pale lips.
“Yes it is,” Denise whispered to herself. “It’s my ring.”
The face raised an eyebrow in the white fragmented light. “No, it’s not. You stole it.”
Denise shuddered and brought the ring up to her cheek. She watched how the light played against it and brought it to her lips.

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Night Garden

Night Garden

By Barbara Holm
Alison lay in bed listening to the clock tick loudly. Next to her, Greg wasn’t snoring, just laying silently. Sometimes she wondered if he was really awake and listening when this was happening. She quietly leaned over, careful not to disrupt the covers or shift her weight too much. Her long wavy blonde hair fell across her shoulders like a curtain. She placed her ear next to his head and held her breath, listening to his sleeping dreams. At first she didn’t hear anything, but she quieted her own anxious thoughts, closed her eyes and listened harder. She heard Greg dreaming of going to the gym, where only trees were allowed to work out, and he was trying to jog on the treadmill but one of the trees kept making small talk while asking him to name state capitols.Alison smiled at her sleeping friend with benefits/ boyfriend/ hook up partner/ human being she intercoursed with. No one really knew, or ever knows, what’s going on. People her age didn’t really date anymore in the city. They didn’t ask each other out or tell anyone they had romantic feelings for one another, or express vulnerability or intimacy. They just imbibed beer off their tits and intercoursed their friends of the opposite gender. If they did it like a few times in a row maybe they could consider that a relationship. And if they did it and one of them spent the night a few nights in row maybe the darkness in their brains would stop screaming long enough for the sea cows to climb out through their ears and butter their necks like burnt hairy toast. Alison didn’t care.

Walking Home

“Walking Home”

By Barbara Holm

Alex rolled over beneath puddles of starch sheets and put her head under the pillow. The blankets were scratchy against her skin like a crumpled up boring love letter. The room was dark but her sharp eyes could make out outlines and shadows creeping beneath the closet door. Her heart beat accelerated it’s rhythm. The throbbing rumbled deep inside of her like underneath piles of her flesh someone from the blue man group was play drums. She anxiously itched at her skin.

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