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Creative Nonfiction Contemporary Speculative

He worked at a Japanese restaurant, in Arizona, which felt ironic given how far from any ocean it was and how the food served was almost exclusively seafood. Most days he worked both the lunch and dinner shifts and in between the two the restaurant was closed for two hours, from 3:00 o'clock to 5:00 o'clock. This always left him an uneven amount if time, uneven in that it was too long to stay and wait for it to re-open, but not long enough to walk all the way home and back. He could have, but the time it would’ve taken to make both trips would've made it a waste of an effort.

So, he spent his two hour break every day at the library, a much quicker walk, and sat and read for the two hours a day that he had free. His favorites were Haruki Murakami and Vladimir Nabokov, his library card was long since overdrawn, but he liked this better anyway, it forced him to spend his lunch break there in an odd way. There was a slip of paper in his wallet that kept his place instead of a bookmark, as he never took the books with him. It read; Sputnik Sweetheart chapter 3, Despair chapter 7, Ham on Rye chapter 5, and so on. His wallet always seemed to have more slips of paper than it ever did money, his book mark out of time, an interchangeable ATM receipt to keep track of his meager account balance, and usually at least two phone numbers or appointment reminders.

It’s a normal, but by no means a bad life, which is strange because for a man like him normal is normally the worst possible thing that someone could be considered to be. His life had recently had more than enough of the abnormal, or at least more than enough pain, for a quiet and boring life to be enough for him. Only a couple months before he had been sitting in a small dingy apartment in Chicago holding a syringe in front of his left eye, threatening his reflection that he would inject crack into his corneas. His life routinely swerved in and out of total insanity, which normally he reveled in. But after everything that had happened the last few months he was content to live a normal man's life, and he planned to do so for a year before leaving Arizona for Seattle, Chicago, Denver, anywhere that wasn’t a small town, that wasn’t so normal. 

One can only stand so much normality, and there comes a time in many men's lives when they must search for at least a small measure of madness. For him this time came generally every couple of months, but as was stated he would need longer than usual to recuperate this time. It is very essential for some writers to have a healthy dose of “strange.” He firmly believed that there is nothing more boring than the life of the average American citizen, and doubted that any decent book could come from such a person.

Still though, remembering what things were like when he wasn’t pretending, when he was himself, he closes his eyes and allows a memory from a few months before to seep in. He was in Chicago, he had just been robbed by a crack outed junkie near Pulaski Ave and he was sitting in a train station shooting up what remained of his stash. He wandered around for hours, he had spent too much time trying to find the tweaker that robbed him and so he had missed the train that could’ve taken h home, it was three in the morning. He ended up getting on a bus to downtown, waiting in a train station till the sun rose, at which time he took what he could from an ATM and bought back about the same amount which had been stolen from him.

He ended up meeting a homeless man, and they became “friends" although the truth was he just didn’t feel like being alone. He bought the man breakfast and the both scored dope together, he sat and ate with the other man, who smelled and had nothing interesting to say. He just didn’t feel like being alone anymore, the creeping feeling of loneliness was starting to seep into his brain.

Instead, he turns his minds eye to a more recent memory, only taking place a few weeks before. He was outside the library, exiting the building, and saw a girl with pink hair sitting on the steps. It had been raining, and she sat on the one segment of the steps that were still dry. He wanted to talk to her, but as usual, whether out of shyness, self consciousness, stupidity, or merely not wanting to be the creep who goes up and bothers a girl sitting alone, he didn’t. A few minutes later his sister came to pick him up, as he got into the car saying “that girl was looking at you, go get her number.” But still he didn’t, now thinking that he would look even more like a creep if I had gotten into a car, gotten back out, and then approached her.

As usual, he didn’t truly appreciate something until it was gone, the simple, tragic nostalgia of that moment surfacing every once in a while as regret. She wasn’t what most men would think of as pretty, but he had a very different take on appearance than most men. Most would have called her “cute" but to him that was the most beautiful thing a person could be. The stereotype of the girl next door was always what seemed to floor him, not the fashion model kind of pretty, but the more alternative, shy looking, warm smiling, authenticity of a some women he found much more beautiful.

She was skinny, and had a face that made her look like she was contemplating something, even if she had been staring off into empty space. She had a backpack, and clothing of mostly dull brown colors, which made her bright pink hair stand out even more.

He opens his eyes. 

He is in the kitchen of the Japanese restaurant, he’s been working a long day but isn’t tired yet. He just learned that his coworkers are just as much of nerds as he is. They all watch anime, and talk about it at work and he has something to talk to them about. He imagines how, when he moves into his new apartment, he could invite them over to watch whatever episode they are excited about that week. He feels a little bit more comfortable at his new job.

He thinks to himself that writing has always prepared him to lie, in a strange kind of way, perhaps its best he continues to live halfway inside of a white lie. For some, the ones who live their lives like hurricanes, pretending to be someone else is occasionally the healthiest thing they can do.

August 14, 2021 23:49

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