14 comments

Sad Contemporary

You want to learn how to knit.

Why? You have no clue.




Okay, that’s incorrect. You do have a motivation that marginally makes sense.

The reason is this.




Actually, to know the reason, you have to go back to Stage 3 of whatever this funk is, somewhere between Day 133 to Day 152. You have to sit and marinate in the stew of emotions before you can try and fail to put it into words.




Ready? No.




Stage 1 is denial deception.

It’s fine, you’re fine, everything is fine.

You respond to texts asking hey, how are you? with utterly fallacious, exuberant, positive replies of doing great! how about you? You wonder if there is such a thing as too many exclamation points and pull the corners of your mouth up like suspenders, only to let them drop to your ankles when no one is around.

You might not be entirely fulfilled, but that’s okay because you are happy. You are fortunate, and you are grateful, and treasonous thoughts suggesting otherwise are despicable.

Who knows how long Stage 1 goes on? After all, you are an expert at deceiving others, even yourself.

If you had to guess, this stage lasts 130 days or so.




Stage 2 is The Crash.

The Crash thankfully lands on a weekend, or else there would be consequences.

It starts at 7 pm on a Friday, when you go to bed after eating one two three donuts.

It ends at 4 am Monday morning when you finally drag yourself out of bed to do the work that’s due in five hours.

In between you do a lot of sleeping and staring at your clock in the fetal position.




Stage 3 is avoidance.

Avoidance of responsibilities, avoidance of people, avoidance of life.

Just

trying to escape from it all.

There are times when it feels like careening down a slope, out of control, like the panic you feel right before you slip on ice extended for eternity.

And there are times when all that exists is apathy.

Perhaps this is how wind-up toys feel, bursts of mania followed by numbness, a puppet of some external force.

You lose track of the days.




But one day in Stage 3, you come up with an absolutely brilliant idea

called online dating.




The euphoria wears off once you’re faced with the Sisyphean task of creating an I’m a desirable person profile and uploading not ugly pictures of yourself.

So instead you start looking up dating horror stories.

Dating success stories.

Couples married for 60+ years.

Those videos where people wear headphones and secretly say what they really feel to each other.

The whisper challenge.

Easy pasta dishes.

Self-care vlogs.

This will change your life. (It didn’t.)

Aesthetic DIYs.

Etc. etc.

At some point in your Stage 3 nocturnal internet browsing, you end up on a subreddit and read about how knitting helps someone calm the pixies in their head. Their words, not yours.




How unfortunate that there aren’t any pixies in your head.

There are alligators.




Eventually, you pull yourself out of the muddy swamp that is Stage 3 and enter Stage 4.

Stage 4 comes with the acknowledgement that your current lifestyle is unhealthy, but the energy to change it is sold separately.

Stage 4 is called Maybe tomorrow.

In Stage 4, you do useless tasks like counting the number of days that have passed since The Crash and looking up recipes you can’t cook.

You try to reorganize your closet but all you get around to doing is scattering your stuff out on the bed.

You should eat something.

You should wash your hair clean your room read the mail call your mom vacuum do laundry be productive be a human put your goddamn stuff back into the closet.

Maybe tomorrow.




Today is tomorrow, and you have decided you want to learn how to knit.

Why? Knitting is calming, they say. You could use a calming influence in your life.

Why? If you master stockinette stitch and follow this Easy Knit Hat for Beginners! tutorial, you could knit a cute little hat for your brother’s baby instead of scrolling through Amazon for something heartfelt yet affordable.

Why? Maybe you just want to see tangible progress somewhere in your pathetic life. Proof that you can make something with practical value, something that other people would want. Maybe it’s just you that you want other people to want.

The real reason?

Breaking out of this cycle Stage 4 would be nice.




You got lost on the way to the craft store, and it took a while to find the scissors, but finally everything is ready. You can tie a slip knot, and you’ve managed a short row of knit stitch. 90 Minutes of Soothing Meditation Music! is playing in the background. You’ve even lit a candle in the living room despite your worry that you’ll set off the smoke alarm and the neighbors will yell.




There’s only one thing you haven’t accounted for.




Knitting is hard.

The needles don’t go the way you want them to.

Knit and purl are hard to keep track of.

You’ve conveniently forgotten that your hands are ridiculously clumsy.

And 90 Minutes of Soothing Meditation Music! isn’t really soothing.

You lose stitch after stitch but you keep deluding convincing yourself to keep knitting, that maybe you can still save it, maybe it will turn out okay, maybe, maybe, maybe until you give up and unravel it all.

Take a deep breath.

It’s fine, you’re fine, everything is fine.

You tie another slip knot and try again. The yarn (and your patience) is a bit frayed from your initial attempt, and your needles stab the wrong places. It looks messy. It looks wrong.

You put the needles down.

The little scrap you’ve reknitted gets a little wet.

The alligators in your head get loud again.

You try to drown them out turn off the music and watch some TV instead.




The show is rather funny, and you laugh a few times. But you started watching towards the end and all too soon, it’s over. You browse for a while, but you can’t find anything.




The TV is off. The room is quiet.

You look at the yarn and needles.

Maybe tomorrow.

August 14, 2020 05:08

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14 comments

19:48 Aug 19, 2020

I meant to comment on this sooner, but was kind of feeling like this character most of the past week so I forgot. I love how your stories always play with structure, and like others have said, the use of strikethroughs is really well done. It's stream-of-consciousness meets poetry meets second person, and somehow you make all of those work together. This was my favorite line: "You wonder if there is such a thing as too many exclamation points and pull the corners of your mouth up like suspenders, only to let them drop to your ankles when...

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D. Holmes
03:22 Aug 20, 2020

No worries, please take care of yourself! Thanks so much for taking the time to comment. That's a gorgeous description that actually perfectly encapsulates the feeling I get when I read your stories, like the ones on ordering coffee and the baby in the supermarket. I'm really glad you liked that line! No explanation needed, just knowing you liked it is enough :)

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Jonathan Blaauw
16:34 Aug 17, 2020

My inner perfectionist shuddered at all the crossing outs. It looks so untidy! But, wow, the effect is a brilliantly clever story. It creates a strong feeling of the character correcting themselves along the way, kind of a peek at the internal dialogue we all have running in our heads. Even though you've written in the second person, it makes your character come alive and also becomes very relatable. I love the way maybe tomorrow is crossed out at the end, suggesting the procrastinator will procrastinate no more. Unless they decided to dela...

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D. Holmes
18:22 Aug 17, 2020

Ah, thanks so much! I'm really glad you enjoyed it. Honestly, while I was writing this, I spent around five minutes being like, can they even read the words if they're crossed out, haha. But like you said, I really wanted the deception to be visible, especially when the character starts falling back into it at the end. Who knows what he/she will do tomorrow? (That is a paradox. My gut reaction is that it's still procrastinating because even though you're not procrastinating on deciding whether or not to procrastinate, you're procrastinati...

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Jonathan Blaauw
06:42 Aug 18, 2020

But if you start procrastinating immediately you're doing something so you're not procrastinating. But the something you're doing is procrastinating, so you are procrastinating. But you're not. But you are. But... (ad infinitum)🤣 If you write it enough times, the word procrastinating comes to seem very strange indeed. Anyway, enough silliness. I have a new story, just released. I would really appreciate your learned opinion when you get a chance.

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D. Holmes
02:00 Aug 19, 2020

...yeah, that's a puzzle that won't be solved anytime soon, so let's procrastinate on it :) Sure! Just to lyk tho, I don't have any formal writing/editing experience - I enjoy this platform bc I get to practice and learn from better writers (like you!)

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Deborah Angevin
10:33 Aug 17, 2020

I love the use of the strikethrough in this story! I really enjoyed reading it! P.S: would you mind checking my recent story out, "Grey Clouds"? Thank you :D

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D. Holmes
17:53 Aug 17, 2020

Thank you, and sure!

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Rayhan Hidayat
19:13 Aug 16, 2020

I’ve never seen strikethroughs used this well before, awesome job 😆 Added a good dose of comedy at the protagonist’s expense. Also might be the most brutally realistic take on this prompt I’ve seen so far! Procrastination sucks, but that’s life 😅 Good stuff overall 👍🏽

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D. Holmes
02:13 Aug 17, 2020

Thanks so much! Haha, I'm glad you liked this use of strikethroughs - was trying to sort of mimic doublethink in 1984 on a personal level. Procrastination unfortunately exists in our world, but not in this character's...

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Aditya Pillai
06:17 Aug 14, 2020

This is great, haha. I love the use of strikethroughs to hide the real miserable feelings, it works really well. Painfully relatable stuff. Really good read.

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D. Holmes
17:31 Aug 14, 2020

Thank you! I'm so glad you liked the strikethroughs - I was worried they would be a bit much, but I wanted the deception to be visible.

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Masha Kurbatova
15:25 Aug 19, 2020

i love the structure of this, it's so original and contributes well to the overall effect. i like the humor and the slow unraveling of the protagonist!

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D. Holmes
02:29 Aug 20, 2020

Thanks so much! Glad you liked it!

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