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Fiction Drama

Recently, I’ve been having moments in my life where I forget things. Important things, the parts that make actuality concrete and certain. I become aware of the unstoppable cycle in life that we do not pay attention to, or care about. And there is not much to it, you’d think about it, maybe for a second, and you stop because that is just the way of life. There is nothing to seek for or think about if there is nothing there. That’s how it’s always been, that’s the normal. There are unchangeable patterns in how we live that make up reality.

You go on about your day and it is obvious, in every moment, that some people have more interesting and exciting stories than others. Some people are extremely successful, they do not have to follow a rule, they just are. They are always better looking, funnier, more talented, and a better person than you are. There are always others that are and will always be in the center of attention. And that is truly the simplicity of life. The comfort that you will never be, anything more than the watcher. The observer. That you don’t need to suffer or worry about becoming anything else because that is simply an impossibility. Out of your reach. Obviously.

I never think about it, it’d be pointless to debate life. However, against my will, when I’m with friends, laughing, having a good time, sometimes I’m eating, cooking, or doing nothing, I get a heavy feeling at the bottom of my stomach. In a fraction of a second, I get this feeling, as if I am gone from the world and the world is gone from me. I have become an observer of myself and others. An outsider. And the experience I have known of life comes to my head strongly, it fills my brain, my insides, my eyes. I look around me and all I can perceive appears so bland and empty. Void of color and brightness. My friends are sitting around me while they discuss another mundane and predictable topic for the 100th time. If I pay attention, the discussion always dissolves into complementing or reassuring the same person over and over again. As if life isn’t happening to them right now, they just keep going. Unbothered. Not a question about the absurdity of their lives in comparison to others. How is it that everyone in this table is so exactly the same except one?  Why must someone always be the ultimate, and best exception. One above the rest, though the same blood courses through our veins. We sit in the same flesh, but there must be a hierarchy! And live with it, with such little importance! And this feeling is so low, that it does not go away. It makes me want to stand and scream. Overwhelming and exhausting, it feels eternal. Every second, and everywhere I look, I see people, I see life, absurdity! 

I want to stand up but I can’t, I’m stuck to my chair, listening to their laughs. I want to run. I see it but I can’t do anything about it. This is the way of life! 

In avoidance, I look down at my lap where my hand lay limp. Shakely, I turn my palms up, and I see color. The patterns are mixed red and yellow. How they move under my skin, and I know I am alive. 

In a second, the feeling settles, and it goes away. When I look up once more, the world gains its color so magically. And I breathe in the normality of it all. The familiar feeling. As if nothing happened, in a moment. I go back to watching, to taking part in a story. And I am brought back in immediately. 

"Jen? You there?" Hannah, one of my friends, asks me with a big smile. All the girls turn their heads to look at me. Without thinking, I smile back and answer,

“Yeah, of course!”

"We were talking about what we're wearing for the party tonight! Everybody's going pink, what do you think?"

I lean my arms on the table, “Oh yeah I was thinking the exact same thing!”

“Great!”

And then our lunch continues as always. I engage and respond and laugh. I feel good. But in the back of my mind, the thoughts linger.

Today, it turned out one of the girls, Josie, of course, needed extra help getting ready; they decided they should all just go over to her house to help her out. I had work to finish so I went home. I wasn’t very close to Josie, so it was alright, it made sense. I wasn’t that important. So I went on with my routine as normal. I finished my work, I took a shower, and I put on my favorite show I watch every night, before going to sleep. Nothing in between.

Later that night, while I’m sleeping, I hear faint voices and noises coming from far away, I open my eyes in the darkness and look up at the brightness coming from my TV. I must’ve forgotten to turn it off. I reach for the controller on my bed but it’s already lost between the sheets. As I start looking for it, I lose my sleep and gain more consciousness. And I notice the noise is a buzz. It's a static sound, plain and dull. I look up at the TV and I see I was wrong, nothing is playing. It’s just a combination of white and black spots all over. Endless buzzing that seems to be getting louder and louder every second I keep my eyes on it. Its presence is consuming and irresistible, it’s like if I looked at it for long enough it would swallow me whole, like I'd known it my entire life. It brought in the feelings of familiarity again and it expanded eternally. Before long, I started getting that feeling at the bottom of my stomach again. And I felt my heart get heavy and sink. My lungs stopped working. The buzz got so loud I could feel it inside my head, my ears are bleeding. I open my mouth as much as I can but not a sound comes out. My vision drowns in the static of the screen while it slowly becomes blurry. Then it goes dark before I’ve even closed my eyes.

The next time I regain consciousness of myself I am driving to the mall after work. Like I always do. I have no idea what happened during the entire day or last night, but now, I am as if nothing has happened. The only remnant is the now permanent feeling in my stomach, I know something is so awfully wrong. After a few minutes of mindless driving I get stuck in traffic, a common occurrence. Then I am left to stare out the windows of my car, and all the cars around me, people passing by, some talking on the phone, some carrying flowers, others wearing suits. So random, yet so usual. I feel as if I’ve seen every single one of these people before, as if just by looking at them, I know they are just like me. What they are in this world and their place in it. Then the buzzing comes back, but it’s different this time. It’s so crisp and so clear. Like a whispering voice behind my shoulder, talking to me, leaving me a message. It now allows me to move and breathe. I feel the buzz like it’s in my blood, in my mouth. Urging and pushing me. And I need to escape it.

I get out of my car in the middle of the street, and I look up at the sky. How the clouds seem to get together in unison, and the sun starts shining less and less. I lift up my hand and feel the first droplets of rain, they get on my face, my clothes, and my feet. I can feel the rain on my skin and taste it in my mouth. My eyes start to blur as I behold the grayness tint of the sky. I had never known how rain felt! Where have I been all my life? I started sobbing. How could I have missed out on something so incredible and perfect? So magical and mystical! What is my life? What am I doing? 

As soon as it came, the rain started to stop, the clouds moved slowly to reveal the bright blue color of the sky. Between them, the great streaks of the sun started to seep through the edges, a preparation to its full glory. The buzzing stops, and I start hearing faint voices again like last night. I wait for the glow of the sun but the voices get louder. So much so they become distinguishable! I hear my friends speak and laugh. I quickly look around me but I find myself alone, surrounded by cars beeping at me and the voices stop. I get in my car and keep driving. 

The whole way to the mall, I try to remember that show I watch at night, and it’s resemblance to the voices strike me. When I get there, I find my friends sitting at the circular table. And in the middle sits my chair, empty. I slowly walk up to them and they all immediately greet me with smiles. I just smile back. 

“Hey you okay?” Hannah, of course, asks me.

“Yeah.”

“Why’d you get here late?”

“You know, just traffic,” I answer simply, knowing Hannah will ask no further questions before getting right back in the conversation. 

So comical that is all is. So predictable. Once again sat in the same place, at around the same time, doing the same things. I already know that later, the group will come across a slightly different and more challenging problem than the day before. However, it'll be alright in the end, because that’s all we do. All the while there is no room for movement, no uncommon event, nothing unpredictable. What is the possibility of that? It cannot be true that the existence of life can be so plain and uncomplex. That I must abide by the rules of the universe and stay here and discuss or ponder things revolving around the same person everyday, laugh at the same jokes, and live my life as if there is nothing important to it. Since when has it all been so shallow? Why is it that I cannot remember the most basic and necessary things about my day? Why have I never felt the rain? It is now that I notice the repeatedness and lack of free will in which I live.

I quickly stand up, my chair falling back. Everyone stops talking and looks at me. I look at their faces one by one, they are almost all completely identical to one another. I want to speak, to urge something to them. But, I realize, I do not know their names. I never have, because I don’t even talk to them, ever! Even if I wanted to, I never have! I don’t even know how we are friends! I don’t know how I met them or how I got here! 

Hannah, the only one I’ve ever spoken to, speaks up, “Jen?” 

I look at her, and I cannot recall a single moment where I have seen her speak with anyone else.

I take a deep breath, and leave. I walk straight out of the mall, to the outside, where the sun shines. And as I look up at the sky and close my eyes, I can feel the heat of it caressing my skin. I can’t name anything like it. 

It is true, I'm alive! I’m alive! 

Suddenly the design and perfection of every day I can remember is so meaningless. So questionable. The buzz comes back ever so slightly. And as low as it is, I know it calls to me. 

Before I go to get in my car, I look around me. The city, the buildings, the cars, the street. I know every single one of these buildings. I work in the building in front of this mall and my home is right next to it! I can’t help but burst out laughing. I’ve been driving so much for so long, but everything is right next to each other! Absurdity! 

I walk across the street without even looking at either side. The buzz gets louder. When I approach my building, and open the door, I immediately see my kitchen. All the lights on, everything is so neatly put in place even though I have no recollection of organizing or cleaning. There are bright yellow bananas on the counter along with a plate of oranges. I stare at them. I take a banana in my hand and instantly notice the lightness of it. Instead of peeling it, I break it in half, easily. 

My hands tremble, as I stare at the foam insides of it. I drop it and head for the fridge. I open it and it's empty. I open all the cabinets and they too are all empty. I press the microwave but it doesn’t turn on, I turn the oven handles but it doesn’t light up. I feel like I could swear I’ve seen all these things work, like I cook my dinners everyday, like I bought plates and cups, like I’ve eaten those bananas. 

I go to my room, everything is so neat. The buzzing gets incredibly loud in a second and the voices come back. I can hear my friends as if they're right next to me. Laughing and talking so loudly I can’t even think. My ears feel wet, my cheeks feel wet, I feel like my heart is beating in my throat and every breath I take pains me. I go to open my nightstand drawer, but I freeze when the TV turns on. 

Its static consumes me immediately. I stare at it, and It appears to move towards me and get louder per second. It takes over my full senses, it overtakes the voices and I can’t see and hear anything else except the static. I can see it beyond what it is, through the grainy screen, and the blue and green pixels, I see myself. I see my friends, my home, my car. Slowly, I put my hand to the screen. And they touch, and intersect, and it pushes through. It is an escape.  

July 27, 2023 16:20

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3 comments

Hannah Abrams
21:09 May 29, 2024

Very interesting. Doesn't exactly feel like a ending. Love it. Wish there was more.

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Ken Cartisano
17:15 Aug 13, 2023

Crazy. Strange. Compelling. The resolution is about as satisfying as it can be, for a fictitious character, who seems to be a doll. All you can give her is a way out. Which you have done.

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John K Adams
22:50 Aug 03, 2023

You tackled a difficult prompt this week and did an admirable job grappling with it. For my taste, it is a bit abstract. But going with the story you've written; I think you captured that emptiness a character would feel not being tethered to concrete reality. Of course, it's abstract. It is all imagination. That said, this is kind of a horror story. I think you did it well.

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