I had long wanted to write a story about Future Trunks, even before the creation of Things Were Better Then. I had had various ideas of what to do (some of which were done in Bitterly Bothered Brother), but one thing we never get to see in canon is how Future Trunks functions after returning to the future. It's a bleak future he's returning to, so it's almost a punishment as opposed to where the Z Fighters end up after Cell. There is no bringing back Future Gohan, Future Goku, etc (since, for some reason, Future Trunks doesn't seem to want to use the Namekian Dragon Balls, which exist even in the future timeline). At one time, my idealized story would have been about Future Trunks both dealing with his feelings of isolation and pain in the wounded future while also dealing with Babidi and Future Buu and stuff like that. I ultimately abandoned such a project when I realized I just didn't have the motivation to write about such a story.
Still, the idea of Future Trunks dealing with pain and isolation intrigued me. I knew it would be a short story, which was all I wanted to devote to Future Trunks. I wanted to just capture a snapshot of his life, as opposed to doing an expansive story about him, because I feel like his character works better like that (it's part of the reason why I didn't end up writing the longer story, too).
The above picture shows a very early character list for TWBT. Notice how Future Trunks is in the seventh position, aligned with Say It Ain't So. This was because I felt like his story would be one of intense pain and emotion at that time. However, I soon found better characters for story 7 (both Kuriza and Tien would have worked better than Future Trunks, in my opinion), and Future Trunks was pushed back to the sixth position, to align with Surf Wax America. I didn't ever have much of an idea for what to do for this song because "Surf Wax America" is my least favorite song on the Blue Album (and thus, the one I like listening to the least and don't really like to speculate about theme-wise as much as I do with the other songs). I wasn't entirely sure what to do with the plot of the story, either.
What basically happened is I used weezerpedia to investigate the song's themes (as I did for every TWBT song) and then combined the themes Rivers Cuomo intended with the song with what I also got out of it. The stuff about hedonism is certainly something I've known about this song for several years, and that was my main focus.
I got another idea shortly before I wrote this story - what if I only hint at Future Trunks' emotional state and what he's going through? One thing I've noticed about my stories is that I often have very emotionally-charged text, and I was a little tired of doing that for every story, as not only was it emotionally draining for me, but it made many of the stories uniform in that way. So what I did with We'll Never Feel Bad Anymore was, with only one or two exceptions, not say what Future Trunks was feeling emotionally. His emotional state was to be hinted at through symbols or metaphors or contrasts with others. In general, I try to do a mixture of this and emotionally-charged text in the story, but I thought it would be fun to go in one extreme direction for this story as an experiment. It was a new challenge, of course, and I like new challenges.
The above picture shows my early list for this story's theme colors. I settled on white initially, but after thinking it over, I thought white worked with story 1 better, so I switched it to yellow. Yellow is certainly a better color for a song about hedonism - that was a primary consideration in me picking yellow. Also, I interchange the color gold with yellow often in this story and that is no accident. I also consider gold a theme color; basically, gold/yellow are so close in color that they both work here.
The above picture shows that I had narrowed down the colors significantly by this point. Gold and yellow were separated at this point, but I would later combine them.
The above picture shows the finalized theme colors for all ten songs (yellow/gold ultimately was the theme color for this story but I didn't feel the need to specify both of them there, as yellow/gold are basically the same color).
Now as to why I chose yellow/gold, the simple answer is that color works best with the idea of hedonism. "Surf Wax America" is a surfing song, and the idea of a sunny beach locale instantly comes to mind while listening to it. That is why I originally thought white would work, but yellow works even better for such an image.
So the above picture shows an incomplete list of poems I was coming up with for each story. I wanted to start each story with a short poem (or an excerpt from a longer poem), similar to how I started Dragon Ball Z: In Requiem. I ultimately only came up with two poems - the one for this story, and the one for Midnight City before abandoning this idea. While those two poems do illustrate some of the themes in each story, I just didn't have the drive to find poems for all of the other stories. It was an okay idea, perhaps one that would have worked better had I come up with the poems myself (which I may do with my next one-shot collection, which, while not coming out until next year, already has all of its stories plotted out). The poem for this story shows the divide between happiness and despair and how Future Trunks feels alone throughout this story because no one else is grieving like him. That he is grieving reveals a lot about his character. The poem also talks about how going through grief will affect a character more than just having a good time. Future Trunks gets more character development and more more worldly perspective in this story because of what he goes through, because he refuses to forget the pain in his past even if it would be easier to. The partying, empty-headed, pleasure-based mentality just doesn't have much value, as so eloquently stated in the Hamilton poem above. And that's one of the big themes in this story.
Now onto the writing process. I took a several week hiatus from TWBT after completing Suicide Missionary, for I wasn't sure what to do about this story at first. After coming up with some of the vague plot ideas mentioned above, I just sat down and wrote the story. Almost all of it was improvised on the spot. I began writing at 12:12 am on May 3, 2015 and finished the first draft at 1:20 am. I then edited the story from 1:20 am to 2:51 am. Once I was done editing, I posted the story.
I remember writing this story from start to end, and it wasn't as smooth a process as it was with other Things Were Better Then stories. The editing process in particular took an hour and a half - longer than it took me to write the first draft of the story. I remember, after writing this story, I was convinced that it was the worst in Things Were Better Then, of the seven written at the time. I'm not sure if it actually is; we'll find out below. But I don't have good memories of the writing process because of that. It took me a long time to write, and overall, I thought it was okay, but nowhere near the exceptional quality of Suicide Missionary. Part of the reason for this was not having Future Trunks emote openly - an interesting thing to do, but not something I particularly enjoyed doing. For that reason, this story seemed more like a test than an actual story. But we'll see in the endnotes below if I still think that.
|We'll Never Feel Bad Anymore|
|Things Were Better Then|
|Written:||May 3, 2015|
|Released:||May 3, 2015|
|Theme song:||Surf Wax America|
|Things Were Better Then track listing|
This story's theme is Surf Wax America.
The sun was tucked away behind a cushion of rain and golden light falling light and fast. It was hotter out than Trunks had expected, leading him to remove his shirt as he trained. The rain was a warm rain, a summer’s rain, and it coated his body, running down his face and chest as he worked his muscles and moved about with superhuman speed. It was quiet, windless, save for the low beat of falling water. Trunks darted about the grassy summit of a hill overlooking a ruined city. There he trained alone while the sun rose higher and higher into the welcoming sky.
Trunks spent the greater part of the morning training without pause. Finally, he collapsed to his hands and knees in the grass, vicious breaths exploding from his heaving chest. He looked up at the half-destroyed city ahead of him when he heard a noise coming from his cream-colored training bag. With a quizzical look on his face, Trunks stood up and walked over to the bag before plucking his phone out of one of the pouches. Raising the device to his left ear, he spoke:
“Trunks!” the voice replied gleefully. “I’m glad you’re up. Are you coming to the party?”
“Huh?” he replied. “What party?”
“The one we talked about yesterday. You know, the celebration for you defeating the androids! Gosh, Trunks, you’re such an airhead sometimes!”
Trunks’ face went red. “Uh… okay mom. Sure, I’ll be there. Whatever you want.”
“Don’t forget, it’s at the beach, and it’s about to start! Hurry down as fast as you can!”
The half-Saiyan hung up and bowed his head. “Yeah, celebration… but Gohan, father, and Goku are still dead. And they’re not coming back.”
He returned to his training until the yellow ball of fire coloring the empyrean air reached the summit of the sky. The day grew hotter, even as the rain continued to fall. It was finally summer, Trunks knew. At noon, the young warrior stopped his training, stretched his muscles, and changed his clothes. Then, sighing, he glanced down at the city and the expanse of sea beyond – the aqua-toned water was so clean it looked almost translucent save for where it foamed and formed great white waves. Trunks thought he could see small figures surfing out there, and there were plumes of dark barbeque smoke rising from the white-yellow sands of the beach. Trunks’ stomach growled. He shook his head, slung his bag over his back and made his way into the city.
It had been sacked by the androids, but the buildings’ wounds were old wounds, more akin to scabs than bleeding cuts. Ever since Trunks had killed 17 and 18, people had poured back into the town. Every night he counted more lights on in the houses.
Making his way through a back alley filled with scurrying rats and decomposing garbage, Trunks caught sight of something dark moving ahead of him, but it was gone before he could tell what it was. He kicked a ruptured garbage bag out of the way, causing a mass of scavenging gulls and grey-feathered seabirds to take flight. Then, in their place, a blond-haired woman stepped forward. Her face was ravaged from drugs; Trunks could see her bones poking out beneath pale flesh. The woman wore far too much makeup, which was smearing in the rain. Her clothes were skimpy, revealing, like air. She stared at him with big blank eyes, bloodshot and old.
“Hey,” she said, stepping forward.
Trunks stepped back awkwardly. “H-hey…”
The woman smiled. “You’re cute. I bet you get lots of girls, huh?” Trunks shook his head. “No? Oh. Well, like what you see?” She twirled around, showing Trunks her full package. “You can have it if you want. It won’t cost you much.”
“Oh…” Trunks said, searching for the words to say. “I-I, uh… no thanks. I don’t… don’t want…”
“Shhh…” the woman replied, inching closing to Trunks. “Don’t worry boy, it’s okay. You don’t have to get all flustered. What’s a few zeni for a little fun?”
Trunks took another step back and scratched the back of his head. “No, sorry, please. I’m not interested.”
The woman wasn’t looking at Trunks; her eyes wandered off the path behind him. “What?!” Her voice was an echo, her surprise as forced as her appearance. “You don’t think I’m pretty?”
She began to sob, but Trunks could not tell if she really was crying or if she was merely using the rain to her advantage.
“H-hey…” he replied, stepping forward and grasping onto the woman’s shoulders as she lurched forward in pure hysteria. “Whoa… calm down, I didn’t mean to…” Trunks began.
Though the young man tried to console the wailing woman, she refused to give in, to say anything. Her sobbing was endless, like a torrent pouring out of a broken dam. Trunks didn’t know what was going on. But he didn’t need to. For as Trunks realized a bit too late, she had only been distracting him long enough for a willow-haired man to sneak up behind the boy and thrust a gun into his back.
“Drop it. Drop it! Don’t move!” the man screamed, his voice quivering.
Trunks turned his head ever so slightly to get a look at the man. He was lanky, unshaven, sweating, covered head-to-toe in a black jumper. His eyes were crazed; he was certainly on something. “Whoa man, what are you doing?”
“I’m takin’ all your things, okay?”
“You’re making a mistake.”
“No, you are! I swear, I’ll shoot you if you don’t drop that bag right now! I’m not joking!!”
“Do it!” the woman screamed lustily, jumping away from Trunks, her tears gone, her yellow smile wide and malicious. Trunks noticed how red her lips were, how her head was just slightly misshapen. “Listen to him, kid. You don’t wanna get shot.”
“You’re in this together!” said Trunks, in sudden realization.
“Drop the bag! You have five seconds, man! Five seconds and I shoot!” the mugger screeched.
“Okay, have it your way,” Trunks replied. Trunks dropped the bag.
Suddenly, the half-Saiyan disappeared. As the shock began to register on the two muggers’ faces, Trunks reappeared behind the man, kicked him forward, and then caught his bag with ease. The frail robber skidded forward into a puddle of mud and grime and rotten fruit. He spun over, spitting venom and screaming. “I warned ya, kid!”
He raised his pistol and fired. But Trunks was moving like lightning. The boy shot towards his bag and reached for something inside it. As the bullets buzzed towards him, Trunks spun around and smacked them aside with his sword in hand. The noble blade gleamed silver in the summer rain.
Shock covered the man’s face. He went to shoot, but Trunks knocked the pistol aside with his sword, sending it to the air in little broken fragments. The blond woman began wailing again.
“Look you two, is this really any way to live?” Trunks said angrily. “I mean, the androids were just defeated! For the first time in a long time, you don’t have to live like this. You don’t have to be afraid! Now things can return to how they were! How good they were! We were all in this together, and this is what you’ve become? You’re no better than the androids!” Trunks raised his sword over the man’s head. The boy’s face was flushed again, and a light golden aura was forming around his body. “I didn’t save humankind for people like you!”
“Please… please… let him live! He didn’t do nothin’ to no one!” the woman cried.
The man raised his hands. There was fear on his face, as plain as tapioca pudding. “Please man, don’t do it!”
Trunks stood there with his sword over his head for a while, unsure of what to do. Eventually, he sighed and lowered the weapon. He nodded to the two. “Get out of here. But if I ever see you again, I won’t be so generous.”
The two scampered off like a pair of gerbils, wordless and sniveling, crawling their way over garbage and filth and rotten food. A family of mangey rats cheered them on with impassioned squeals. Soon they were lost in the dark corners of the alleys. Trunks placed his sword back into his bag. He stood there for a moment, looking off into the distance, chewing his lip. Then he raised his head, closed his eyes, and let the warm rainfall wash over him.
“Smoke dope! Smoke dope!!” a Jamaican with a painted clown’s face shouted joyously as he ran across the sweltering sand dunes.
It was hotter than ever, the kind of heat that makes one feel alive. There was music blasting from large, cube-shaped speakers located around the entire beach, so numerous and loud that Trunks couldn’t hear himself think. He made his way over to some benches filled with food and conversing people and found his mother sunbathing.
“Hey mom,” he said, startling her out of her trance.
“Oh hey Trunks,” said Bulma, sitting up. “How long have you been here?”
“Oh, I just got here…” he laughed nervously.
“Typical! You’re just like your father, you know? Time meant nothing to that man! He’d be five minutes late to the new year if he could!”
“Ye-yeah,” Trunks continued to fake-laugh, “sounds like dad. Anyway, I’m going to get something to eat. Have fun sunbathing…”
Bulma sat back down in her chair and closed her eyes. “Just make sure you have some fun too, Trunks. We’re celebrating what you did after all.”
Trunks found himself a chicken kabob and sat down at a bench watching the other people have fun. There was joy on their face, elation, relief. Some were surfing the high waves as the sea foamed like a bottle of beer; others were playing beach volleyball. Trunks watched a girl dive for the ball as it came over the net, her breasts bouncing as she slid into the sand. He tore at the chicken with his teeth.
Next to Trunks were two boys making a contest of eating lemons. Tears streamed down their faces as they sucked on the sour rinds, refusing to blink. This went on for some time until one boy finally blinked when a volleyball hit him in the side of the head. After seeing what happened, the other boy screamed in victory, jumped off the bench, spiked his half-eaten lemon in the sand, and ran off with the speed of an adolescent cheetah.
A man in nothing but swim shorts and jet black sunglasses ran over to Trunks, jumping onto the table and whooping like a drunk Kentucky Wildman. He beat his chest and then gulped down a whole cup of golden beer before smashing the red plastic cup on his forehead and screaming. When he saw Trunks, he started shooting air pistols at the sky.
“Hey Trunks! Trunks, my man, my main man! Yo, yo, yo! Ya wanna go surfin’ with us?!”
Trunks looked perplexed. “Uh… surfing?”
The man laughed. “Yeaaaah, baby! Dude, it’s a riot! I promise. Come on, ya know how ride?!”
“I-I don’t know…”
“Hahaha, that’s okay, I’ll teach ya, dude!”
Trunks shook his head. “This might not be a good idea.”
The man stood up and patted Trunks on the back. “Nah brah! Brah, nah! It’s easy! You do know what fun is, right?!”
“Yes, of course.”
“Then let’s go dude, come on! We’re goin’ surfin’!” The man began skipping through the sand. “We’re goin’ surfin’! We’re goin’ surfin’! Let’s go!! Yeaaaah!!”
The man ran off. Trunks realized he didn’t like that guy’s face. The man couldn’t be older than twenty, which meant he was drinking illegally. He was the classic over-partying college boy. He was a tool, no denying that. But it wasn’t Trunks’ place to be the man’s keeper. He stood up, popped his neck, and stepped forward into the sand.
“I wonder what dad would do,” he said, looking up at the weeping sky. “Heh, he’d probably slap that guy across the face and sit back down.” Trunks laughed to himself and began walking towards where the beach met the water ahead. “But I’m not my dad, I guess. And they are celebrating what I did. I guess I should humor them.”
The sun was high in the air, shining its golden rays down on the kinetic sea. The air smelled fresh of salt and sand. People ran by him, laughing, playing, drunken. But as Trunks walked to where the dude with the sunglasses was readying him a surfboard at the water’s edge, the young warrior couldn’t help but feel he was still running from something, even though the androids were dead and gone.
- "We'll Never Feel Bad Anymore" is a lyric from the Weezer song Island in the Sun. I wanted to reference this lyric because I think it perfectly sums up the sarcastic hedonistic message in "Surf Wax America" which I tried to convey in this story.
- This story opens with a reference to the sun and the sky - much like the first few stories did. The symbolism of the sky in this story is very important to understanding Future Trunks' state of mind since I don't overtly show his emotions in the actual text very often.
- The image of the sun in the sky also references this story's theme color, bringing more attention to its importance.
- The warm summer rain in We'll Never Feel Bad Anymore is a contrasting symbol compared to the rain in Monster.
- Trunks' physical isolation from the city hints at his emotional isolation from the other humans.
- This story contrasts quite a bit with Monster. The contrast of light/dark, heat/coldness, and the different types of rain are just a few of the more overt comparisons. As to why I did this, the message in Monster felt like the one most relevant to this story, funnily enough. Of course, since the two stories contrast heavily, perhaps this is me hinting that their main themes are opposite or markedly different.
- I looked over quite a bit of dialogue for Future Trunks and Future Bulma to try to make their conversations as accurate as possible.
- "“Yeah, celebration… but Gohan, father, and Goku are still dead. And they’re not coming back.”" - this line hints at the central theme of this story. The insanity of hedonism can be overwhelming, especially when Future Trunks is trying to grieve for his dead friends and family. Everyone is just focused on partying now that the androids are dead - and they can't really be blamed for that. The androids had ravaged the world for years, forcing all of humanity to live in fear and misery for a long time. So I understand their need to party and I try to portray it complexly, but this doesn't discount Future Trunks' own feelings and his isolation from the rest of the people as a result. They are probably partying to not think about their pain, but Future Trunks isn't like that.
- The idea that summer has finally come is central to the feeling that everything is better now. Summer is associated with the good times, while winter is associated with the bad times due simply to the changes in weather. This idea that the weather can affect one's disposition is explored in this story. Notice how the day continues to get hotter and hotter, but Future Trunks doesn't feel any better as a result.
- The rain to me is symbolizing Future Trunks' desire to weep, but he can't bring himself to, which is why it's a summer rain.
- Both the sands and the sun are described as being yellow in color. Again, this references the theme color and brings attention to those things as symbols for Future Trunks' character arc in this story.
- I felt like describing the beach as beautifully as possible just because really pretty beach settings are fun to write about. I imagine the beach is located in a place that would look like a beach on Hawaii or some similar island locale.
- I remember adding in Future Trunks seeing the people surfing early in the first part so that I could foreshadow the importance of surfing in the second section.
- The barbecue smoke resembles smoke that rises from a recently-destroyed city. Certainly, Future Trunks makes this connection, especially with the half-destroyed city right in front of him. This likely brings back memories of the androids which further pains him, though of course he doesn't mention that.
- It was fun to show how life is returning to the city, how the wounds of that place are old wounds perhaps beginning to heal. This contrasts with Future Trunks' wounds which are not healing. Notice how Future Trunks saved the city from the androids, but he did not save himself in the process. This hearkens back to Yamcha's lament at the end of Bonetown Blues.
- Rats are another symbol I planned on using in future stories as well. I don't remember if I put them in Midnight City, but we'll see when we get to that story. Either way, rats symbolize the parasitic nature of the people in their relationship to Future Trunks, highlighting the darker side of him saving them. They also foreshadow the two criminals he meets in the alley.
- The gulls and seabirds reference both Ergo Sum and Suicide Missionary, theme-wise. The idea that the garbage is here in the back alleys where no one is seeing it, far away from the partying going on highlights how some of the themes in those stories relate to the themes in this one.
- The blond-haired woman references the theme color of this story. Her character is crucially important to seeing how Future Trunks' develops in We'll Never Feel Bad Anymore.
- The description of the woman is a nod to the half-destroyed city itself. Comparing the two is a thematic consideration.
- The woman's eyes wandering to the path behind Future Trunks hints at someone sneaking up behind the boy.
- Notice how the woman cries easily, whereas Future Trunks can't bring himself to cry throughout this story. The difference between them also contrasts their struggles.
- There's a reason why Future Trunks first focuses on the hair of each character when he sees them in the first section. Perhaps this relates to his own hair which he grew out when he spent time with his past father, and his Super Saiyan abilities.
- The woman's yellow smile highlights her physical decay and references the story's theme color.
- Future Trunks keeps noticing different physical traits about the woman; all of them are pretty unflattering. Why he keeps focusing on her appearance though is rather curious.
- The way Trunks drops the bag and then catches it before it hits the ground (after teleporting behind the mugger and kicking him away) references how Grandpa Gohan does a similar thing with the Four Star Dragon Ball in the last chapter of Ain't No Hero.
- Notice how the mugger slides into a puddle of mud and grime and rotten fruit. The mud part relates to Monster. The rotten fruit part references how in several Things Were Better Then, fruit (especially peaches and apples) are signs of innocence of naivety. That the fruit here is rotten shows how the muggers have gone wrong in their lives and have lost their innocence. Perhaps it wasn't their fault - perhaps the androids made them into who they are - but that doesn't mean that they are right in trying to mug Future Trunks.
- The robber spitting venom is a reference to the Modest Mouse song, Spitting Venom.
- Trunks moving like like lightning references the theme color in a subtle way and also portrays him as a superhuman superhero.
- "The noble blade gleamed silver in the summer rain." - this is my favorite line from this story. Very proud of this line.
- Future Trunks uses his sword primarily because he's angry and he wants to show off a little bit. This brings back memories of Frieza but he tries not to do to muggers what he did to Frieza because he's not bloodthirsty if he doesn't need to be. So this choice to use the sword says a lot about Future Trunks. The show-off part of it is not a positive trait.
- The woman crying a second time highlights how easily emotion comes to her, allowing her to serve as a foil for Future Trunks, who is burying his emotions deep inside of him.
- Trunks' face flushing is a hint of emotion coming from him as a physical reaction.
- Trunks nearly killed the two robbers. This highlights the problem with burying one's emotions. They can suddenly rear up out of nowhere, making it difficult to think rationally. That Future Trunks did let the two get away shows his mental strength - he knew what he wanted and knew what he thought was right and did the latter, even if it didn't feel good. Notice how that in itself contrasts with the name of this story.
- The way the two muggers escape is described similarly to how the rats were moving about in the alley earlier in this story. This is highlighted by the line, "A family of mangey rats cheered them on with impassioned squeals".
- The way the muggers come from the darkness and return to it (remember how the first mugger was first foreshadowed when Future Trunks saw something dark moving far ahead of him in the alley) refers to how evil these people are and how they are dream-like in that they appear out of nowhere to assail him and then just as quickly disappear into nothingness. This is later referenced in A Soundless Dark's second section.
- "He stood there for a moment, looking off into the distance, chewing his lip. Then he raised his head, closed his eyes, and let the warm rainfall wash over him." - these two lines hint at the emotions Future Trunks is feeling at the end of the first section. Again, rain is referenced - it's an important symbol in this story after all. But if you are wondering why Future Trunks seems to be chewing his lip or letting the rain fall on him, you have to think about his emotional state. This allows the readers to come up with an idea of what he is thinking and feeling, which perhaps is more effective that stating it outright.
- The main purpose of the two muggers in the first section is to highlight that not everyone Future Trunks has saved is worth saving. This is similar to how Roshi feels in Burning Man and how Yamcha feels in Bonetown Blues. There are no happy endings - yeah, Future Trunks saved the world, but he saved the bad people just as he saved the good people. To say otherwise would be ridiculous idealism. So now Future Trunks has to deal with the unexpected consequences of defeating the androids, and that was fun for me to write simply because it's not what one would expect when reading a story about this protagonist.
- The Jamaican in the second section is the future version of the Jamaican seen in Midnight City.
- The Jamaican saying, "“Smoke dope! Smoke dope!!”" is a reference to a man doing just that during a section of a live version of "Surf Wax America" seen on the deluxe edition of the Blue Album. This became so popular that now many fans will scream that during live renditions of Surf Wax America. However, it's also good for this story, as it highlights the humans' cravings for pleasure and hedonistic bliss, contrasting against the misery Future Trunks is feeling.
- The heat itself is serving as a symbol in this story. But it's also a tonal consideration. I consider Things Were Better Then to be a summer one-shot collection, and this story more than any other has that feeling of summer energy and heat in it.
- "There was music blasting from large, cube-shaped speakers located around the entire beach, so numerous and loud that Trunks couldn’t hear himself think." - this is an ironic sentence, because so far we have gotten no thoughts from Future Trunks in this story. He hasn't been thinking - or revealing his thoughts - up to this point. This sentence is mainly in the story to highlight just that.
- Future Bulma mentions Future Vegeta casually, comparing Future Trunks to him. This has the unintended consequence of making Future Trunks remember his dad and feel sad that he's dead, though Future Bulma doesn't seem to notice that. Future Trunks' pain can be seen by the way he fake-laughs throughout the conversation.
- Future Bulma implores Future Trunks to have fun, as they are celebrating him after all. I had her mention this because it's clear that Future Trunks cannot feel happy because revenge cannot bring back the dead.
- "Some were surfing the high waves as the sea foamed like a bottle of beer" - this line references a lyric from "Surf Wax America".
- Notice how Future Trunks tears into the chicken as he watches the girl play volleyball; he focuses on her breasts during this time. This hints at his sexual desires, which is a great contrast from how he didn't feel anything for the drug-addled mugger.
- The two boys having a lemon eating contest is based off my own life. My brother, my father, and I have had such contests before. I usually won them.
- The lemons are sour fruit - quite different from peaches - so there is an implied contrast between them there. The sourness of them is important for this story, thematically. Also, lemons are yellow, which again references this story's theme color.
- Notice how the boys have tears streaming down their faces - mainly because of how sour the lemons are. Future Trunks could not cry like this, even for a game. Of course, they aren't crying out of fear, but from a physical reaction. Them refusing to blink also highlights their stubbornness, which is similar to Future Trunks'.
- That one boy only blinks when a volleyball hits him ties the lemon-eating scene to the volleyball scene, hinting at how they are connected to one another and to the larger story.
- There is quite a bit of humor in this story, be it with the way the rats cheer on the muggers, or the mugger claiming her partner never did anything wrong, or the way the boy spiked his lemon in the sand like he had just scored a touchdown. This story is lighter than the others, not just because there are few overt emotions, but because I'm portraying the good with the bad in a more balanced way than I normally do in Things Were Better Then stories.
- The half-eaten lemon is similar to the half-eaten fruit seen in Glory and Suicide Missionary.
- The way the boy sprints off is described as being like a cheetah - and cheetahs of course have yellow fur.
- The Kentucky Wildman is a type of bigfoot seen on the ridiculous show, "Mountain Monsters". I find that show hilarious in how ridiculous it is, and I had been watching a lot of it around the time I wrote this story, hence the reference.
- The beer the man drinks is golden, referencing the story's theme color.
- I figured that the man whom Future Trunks converses with in the latter part of the second section would be an annoying frat boy, similar to someone I once knew. All of his actions highlight how obnoxious he is, but this also allows him to serve as a foil for Future Trunks, as the frat boy emotes openly.
- The way the frat boy talks is how I like to talk to Destructivedisk when I'm feeling lively. I had tremendous fun with his his dialogue.
- The frat boy asking Future Trunks if he knows what fun is was no accident. That Future Trunks says "of course" is even funnier.
- "“We’re goin’ surfin’! We’re goin’ surfin’! Let’s go!! Yeaaaah!!”" - these lines are various lyrics from "Surf Wax America".
- "Trunks realized he didn’t like that guy’s face." - this was one of the few moments where we get to see what Future Trunks is thinking. It's also a reference to a lyric from "Surf Wax America".
- Future Trunks thinking about what Future Vegeta would do to that frat boy gives him comfort, but it also is quite a sad moment, highlighting how lonely the boy is feeling.
- Surfing itself is a symbol for reckless detachment from reality in this story. It's a type of partying, a way to feel happy and have fun, and of course, this is necessarily foreign to Future Trunks.
- The last sentence is the first time Future Trunks is openly thinking emotionally in this story. He is, of course, running from something - he's running from himself, his own emotions, his own pain. He's surrounding by partying, by drunken happiness. But he's isolated. That he's taking part in the party at all is him running from his emotions, which he has been doing anyway, and that is at the heart of his character development in this story.
This story is a good deal more complex than I remember it being. It has rich symbols, themes, motifs, and character development. The little scenes with the muggers, the two boys eating lemons, and the girl playing volleyball were cool ways to highlight Future Trunks' emotional state without actually describing his emotions. However, this story's plot is slightly plain compared to other Things Were Better Then stories, made even more obvious by me not describing Future Trunks' emotions. I think the things he goes through are realistic and portrayed well, and are also written in quite a unique way. The story overall doesn't hit me as much as it would have had I described Future Trunks' emotions (at least some of them), so that is a negative. But this story isn't bad, and its complexity is rivaled only by some of Destructivedisk's stories on this site (as well as some of my own), so I'm happy with that. If I were to redo this story, I would add in Future Trunks' emotions, as I don't think the thematic implications of him not revealing them are better than if they would have been in the story. Also, I probably would have made the prose a bit more complex and done something more with the plot. Overall, I do think this is the weakest of the TWBT stories I've anthologized so far, but it's still one of my better stories. Overall, I'd give We'll Never Feel Bad Anymore an A+.
<---- Part 49
Part 51 ---->