Saturday, August 12, 2006

A Short Story: Part II

A hand moves across a foggy bathroom mirror, wiping the condensation from its surface. From behind the hand, through streaks and mist, two dark eyes emerge. A face comes into view and occupies the mirror. This was his face; this was his mirror. His vision was still blurry, so he began to rub them with his fists. The harder and longer he rubbed, the more itchy and dry his eyes burned. His firey eyes opened once more to see his mirror revealing a face. It was a face that was not unlike memories of his own, except the bright eyes he once knew where puffy and sagged with dark bags below them. The face he saw was a bit more weathered than he had remembered and was shaded with dense, coarse stubble. This was his face. Slowly, his gaze turned solid and detached. Memories flooded his head and played like a grand Theatre across the steamy mirror. A curious feeling had once again taken hold of him; it was a feeling that he had been struggling with for some time. Only now, in such a detached, subconscious state did he have time to analyze it whatsoever. It hit him immediately: He could remember who he was and had been, but had know knowledge of who he was now.

Donald remembered what had occurred earlier in the week. After dicovering two strings protruding from his arms he had cut them. This had led to several turns of events which were ultimately disastrous for Donald's social/economic status, but was that his life? Later on in the week, he had discovered two other strings, each leading out of his thighs and up into the ceiling. Where the strings led beyond that was not known to Donald. However, after much thought, he had resolved to cut them also, and he did. It was a truly frightening experience and he had not known what to make of it. In just a few days his life had completely changed. But he had noticed that it had been the first time he had actually felt anything since he was young, and that he wasn't chained down to somewhere he didn't want to be. He thought to himself of how we all have a dream of where we want to be, but how most of us never get there because somewhere along the way we become enveloped in our societal "responsibilities" and are completely crippled by economic circumstance. Donald had seen his strings and cut them... and there was no such other liberating experience that he had ever felt that could measure up to it. It was a burden off of his shoulders and a breath of fresh air. He now had his entire life infront of him. Donald had ended a torturous chapter of his life that seemed would go on forever and had started fresh, with a new sheet of blank paper.

Then Donald remembered the pain. He felt no fear, but only pain of past events and how many years he had spent rummaging through the remnants of his completely systematized life. He had actually taken a bite of what was being fed to him; a big, meaty piece. But there was no juice in this bite... there was no sweet flavor or aroma that made what he had been forever chewing on pleasurable. It was sour and dry and rotten. So rather than holding it in and keeping it down like so many others had needlessly done before him, he spat it out. Donald spat it back into the faces of his faceless oppressors.

The memories continued to play. Looking back on who he had been, he felt great distress and sorrow. All the needless fighting and hurt that resulted played back before his eyes. He thought of what he would be like in thirty years- an old man, with wife and children, sitting at the head and helm of every table and family endeavor. Still, he felt no fear. Donal envisioned a dark cemetary and an open grave. The grave was not empty, but bottomless. The headstone read "Poor, poor Donald. Never really alive, never really dead... until now."

He snapped suddenly out of his daze and looked around wildly. He began whispering, “Do not accept your anger… do not accept others’ hatred…” His voice grew louder. “Do not accept the social distortion, do not accept the dead end…” Louder still, his voice rose to a wild scream. “Do not live to die, or on your knees! Do not eat what they’re feeding you! Better yet, never buy what they’re selling you!” Now he was screaming. “Do NOT accept the system! Do NOT bow your head and swallow hard on your shame! Do NOT accept the idea that we cannot rise to great heights at any point and any time, because then and only then do you deny yourself the right to life! DO NOT ACCEPT TYRANNY! DO NOT ACCEPT BARELY SURVIVING SO THAT OTHERS MAY BE RICH! DO NOT ACCEPT COMPLACENCY! DO NOT ACCEPT THE SYSTEM! DO NOT ACCEPT THE SYSTEM! DO NOT BELIEVE THAT THEIR HOUSES AND JOBS ARE ALL THAT LIFE HAS TO OFFER! DO NOT FALL FOR THEIR “PEACE”! DO NOT LET THEM FOOL YOU! DON’T DIE BEFORE YOU’VE EVER EVEN LIVED! DON’T BECOME THE STEREOTYPE, THE ZOMBIE, THE LIVING DEAD! DON’T LISTEN WHEN THEY SPEAK, DON’T LOOK WHEN THEY’RE NEAR! AND THEY’RE ALWAYS NEAR!! DO NOT DENY YOURSELF THE RIGHT TO LIFE! DO NOT ACCEPT…do not accept…. do not settle…” His voice had been strained and now began to decrescendoe into a pant. His eyes were no longer firey, but filled with tears.

The following morning he was gone. His family had no idea of his whereabouts and he left no trace behind, save one hand-written note placed neatly on his pillow. It read as follows:

“If you listen only to the voices of others and not often enough to the one within, you’ll live to lay down. But one day, you’ll figure out that you have legs. And then, you’ll realize that you’ve got wings. When that day comes, don’t be afraid to fly away. See your chains and break them, before it’s too late.”

Leave your grave.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

A Short Story: Part I

Meet Donald. Donald is a twenty-eight year old man with a decent wardrobe, a modest apartment and a respectable job. Donald believes that he is going places. Donald believes he has a life. Above all, Donald believes in free will.

Donald is about to change.

The weekend was fun for Donald. He and his buddies had gone into the Big City for a night on the town. He had only arrived at his apartment a few hours ago and was exhausted. Donald knew he would settle in to bed after he had washed up; He needed a good night's sleep for tomorrow's day at the office, but something had been troubling him. Putting the foreign sensation out of his mind, Donald moved to the bathroom and undressed. The hot steam and water from the shower relaxed and put him at ease. He closed his eyes and began recalling his busy weekend. First, there was the afternoon at Lizzy's Lounge, downtown. What fun he'd had there, eating hot wings and watching the game with a few beers. No matter how hard Donald tried to reflect and focus on the memory, another memory kept interjecting. It was the memory of his boss. Donal's boss was an older man named Charles. Charles was very stout and pale, and had a very grumpy way about him. He would order Donald around and bait him along with promises of raises and bonuses and even threaten Donald with being fired. For some reason Donald could simply not put the thought of his boss's pale, sweaty face to rest.

Donald was lying in bed now, facing the ceiling in his pajamas with his hands crossed on his chest. He began thinking once again about the afternoon. After that, he and the guys headed a little further uptown to some bars. He'd kept telling himself how much fun it had been, but an emotion suddenly struck him. It wasn't any fun. Donald had not had fun. In fact, he had not felt anything in years. Donald thought once again of his boss and his day at the office on Friday. It was a regular day, nothing special had happened. He wondered why, then, did the memory reccur to him as strange. Ah, he remembered now: Donald had been on his lunch break and was heading back toward his office with a hot sandwhich and a cold drink. He had just turned the corner when he spotted a filthy, ragged, ball of cloth sitting infront of a garbage pail, coughing and swearing. Donald stood motionless with his mouth agape for several moments, just staring, until the unrecognizable, stinky heap began shouting angrily at him. Donald had never seen anything like that before in his entire life. He was shocked and appalled and very sad. He wondered how another person could actually live like that and simply could not fathom what it was like.

He had targeted his subconscious thought that had been on his mind and could now go to sleep. As he turned over on his right side he felt a slight tugging at his left arm. It did not hurt, but the sensation was like that of a fish pulling ever so slightly at a line. He stopped for a moment and shifted his eyes a few times back and forth surveying the room. Donald closed his eyes. The room had gotten slightly cold and Donald reached down to pull his comforter up over his shoulders. The feeling struck again: it was a slight tug on his left arm, just above the elbow. Now, more aware of the sensation, he began feeling a slight chaffing beneath his pajama sleeve. It felt as thought there was something coarse rubbing up against his arm. He pulled back his pajama sleeve and rolled up to his bicep. There was a thin, almost fishing-line looking string attached to Donald's arm right above his elbow. Instantly, as though it were a reflex, Donald grabbed hold of the wire and began pulling at it. He noticed now that it went up the remainder of his sleeve and exited his pajamas through his collar. He pulled at the string, but there was little slack. He looked up, but it was dark and he could not see where the string led. Immediately, panic and confusion struck Donald. All in one instant he hadn't the faintest idea of what to do! He ran out of his bedroom (after taking a few precautionary movements to ensure he in fact could go anywhere) and into the kitchen. He reached at a small, slender drawer, with shaking hands. He finally grabbed hold of the handle and flung the drawer outwards. He reached down into it and pulled out a scissor and frantically began snipping and cutting at the wire, which broke almost immediately. Upon the string breaking, the scissors fell to the floor and his upper left side went limp. "What is this?" thought Donald. He felt as though the weight of the world had been lifted from his left shoulder.

He woke up the next morning to find that he had overslept. This was a dire mistake. Where had happened to his alarm clock?! He was sure he had set it the night before. It was always set, right on time, every morning. How could this possibly happen?! Donald had a routine! His alarm clock would wake him up at precisely 5:30 a.m., he would then go to the bathroom to wash up. He would be done at no later than a quarter to 6, at which point he would begin to dress. Donal jumped out of his bed after a moment of bewildered contemplation and ran to his closet to put his clothes on. It seemed that his alarm clock had vanished clear from his nightstand and he hadn't a clue what time it might be. He swung open the doors to his closet and reached in to pull his shirt, tie, pants and jacket, but to no avail. Gone, they were all gone. All Donald had left were t-shirts and jeans, admittedly his prefered style due to its comfortability, however, neither of which could he wear to his office. He stumbled, naked, into his kitchen. Was it 5:45 yet?! That was time for breakfast!

OUCH! Donald had stepped on something. Almost as suddenly as he had felt the pain, he knew what had caused it: The scissors...

A feeling of intense anxiety overwhelmed Donald as he wandered over to a chair at the kitchen table and settled himself down in it. Carefully, he lowered his head into his hands and began gently sobbing. What had the world come to?! Was this maddness a reality?? Would he ever know what time it was again?! Donald sat back in the chair and tried to rationalize. As he reached across his face to wipe the tears from his eyes on his right forearm, there was a slight tug. This time it was more of a feeling of resistance. Donald knew what it was. In an almost violent fit of rage, he threw himself upon the floor and flailed across the kitchen toward the scissors. He grabbed hold of them with his left hand and jumped to his feet. Lunging backward on to himself, he grabbed hold of exactly what he had suspected would be waiting for him: another string. Ferociously, he hacked at the wire with the scissors until it snapped, sending him falling foward onto the cold, tiled floor. for a moment, he was at blissful peace.

Donald had seen his strings... and he had cut them...

To be continued...