Ten Is the Busiest Number I'll Ever Do

Submitted into Contest #74 in response to: Write a story in the form of a top-ten list.... view prompt

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Contemporary Creative Nonfiction

I can't believe it's almost the end of the year! I made a list of things to do this year and I doubt if I've completed any of them. The first thing I need to do is find the list...

Ah! Here it is! Right underneath this pile of stuff I've been meaning to throw out. I wonder if that's on my list?

Let me see here:

1. Throw out all the things I haven't used in over a year.

That would include a lot more than this pile. It would include most of my clothes. Which is fine, because I don't fit in most of them anymore, anyway. About the only thing it wouldn't include is food.

2. Finish that painting.

My god, I have forgotten all about that. There are several reasons I haven't finished it so far. I mainly haven't finished it because it's so hard. But that's really not a good reason, is it? Of course it's hard. If it was easy, anyone could do it.

The reason I give other people is that I have no motivation to finish it. The art gallery that I've been showing at is closed. Actually, they're more than closed. They're out of business.

3. Finish reading Scale by Geoffrey West.

I sincerely doubt that this is going to happen. I'm amazed that I managed to get 83 pages into it. I know that's how many pages exactly because I just found it in this pile. I'm tempted to pull out the bookmark and use it in another book. It's a very nice bookmark, leather and everything. My nephew gave it to me.

The reason I'm certain that I'm not going to finish it is because it's extremely difficult to read. And not difficult in the same way my painting is. Because at least I am a painter and I have completed other canvases before.

But the author of this book is a theoretical physicist. It's hard enough for non-theoretical physicists to understand these guys. I'm sure Geoffrey thought he was dumbing this down so that the average lay person could read this. I suspect he doesn't know too many lay people.

4. Go out hiking at least an average of once a month.

If I lived almost anywhere else, this wouldn't be that difficult. But I happen to live in a small desert community where this last summer we had multiple days of over 120 degrees. Well, "happen" isn't quite the right word. I live here because it's cheap. The reason it's cheap is that summer here lasts from May through October.

Some mathematically inclined person might think, "Well, just hike twice a month during the other six months." That's easy for them to say, unless, say, they have a speech impediment.

Recently, there's been another reason why I haven't been hiking, even since it's cooled down. My eyesight has gotten so bad that I can't drive far. Unfortunately, I can't just start hiking from my front door. No, that would be too easy.

While I consider this town small, it isn't small enough to just take off walking. Its population at the last census was 95,000. So I have about a half hour drive to get to anywhere scenic enough to enjoy hiking through.

I was happy to hear from my optometrist that my cataracts are now bad enough that they can operate on them. I had the right eye done last week. Unfortunately, I have to wait two weeks for the other eye to be done.

What this means is that my eyes are operating under different systems right now. In layman's terms, what this means is that I'm currently seeing double. Right now, I'm doing good to get to the grocery store.

5. Get a real job, dammit. You don't make enough with your artwork to live on and let's face it: you made all of $11 dollars last year on your writings and this year looks to be worse. You're going nowhere and the best that can be said about that is that you're going there fast.

Only I can get away with saying such cruel but true things to myself.

6. Since we both [both?] know you're not going to do #5, give up your lease, buy a tent and a good sleeping bag (not the cheap piece of crap you have now), and just take off. See the world, or at least the country. Camp out and you'll only spend money on food and gas.

That's just like me. Such a romantic and impractical thing to do. Obviously the idea of someone who reads too much.

Where would I get my mail? And how would I keep in touch with friends and family? I keep in touch with people by email and Facebook. It's not like I could plug in a computer when I'm out camping.

I'm not sure why people want to keep in touch with me. If I could take a vacation from myself, I'd jump at the opportunity. But people worry about me. I worry about me. All that proves is that I and others have too much time on our hands. If we kept busy enough, we wouldn't have time to worry.

7. Start writing your autobiography.

In a way, I have started this. Which is to say, I've come up with the title. I think I'm an Idiot is a great title. I'm pretty sure no one else has used it.

I don't know about others, but the reason I read autobiographies is to find out why people became the kinds of people they do. What makes them tick? How is it they made the decisions they did? My title explains everything.

The main problem is that I don't know how to make the book interesting without out-and-out lying. I've led a boring and unremarkable life. No one remarks on my life. No one says, "Huh! Look at that guy!"

So why write a book about myself? It would be a tremendous amount of work and for what purpose? No one is going to want to read about someone who's as unremarkable as they are. They'd be much better off writing a book about themselves. And they'd save the price of a book.

8. Become involved. Volunteer with some group who is doing some good in the world.

This is a great idea. People love volunteers, because they don't have to pay them. And because I wouldn't be getting paid, I could show up when I damn well please and only do what I want to.

Obviously, this doesn't pay the rent. But it does pass the time. Who knows? It might even make it easier to fall asleep at night.

It would certainly make it easier to read the news each day. I could read about all the things going wrong with the world and think, at least I'm helping to make things better. That's got to be worth something, right? Right? Don't all answer at once.

9. Finish this list. All lists should have ten items. I know it's not the law, but it is a good idea.

Damn. I knew there was something I forgot to do.

If I'm going to finish this list, or even do some of it, I'll have to hustle. I'm not sure what day it is, but I do know it's after Christmas, so it's got to be near the end.

What day is it? I'm beginning to worry now. I know I was keeping track of the days by making scratch marks on the prison wall that is my mind, but now I can't find them.

I stare at the wall. It is a dark gray stone wall, covered in moss and mold. It is cold to the touch and from somewhere water runs down it. Just a trickle, just enough to make the prison cell that much more uncomfortable. I could have a bumper sticker on my mind, saying "Just be glad you don't live here" or "My mind, a nice place to visit, but you wouldn't want to live here."

It finally occurred to me to use the Calendar feature on my computer. Boy, was my face red when I discovered it was the last day of the month. Not to mention the last day of the year.

How did I get here without having done anything all year? Well, that is a bit of an exaggeration, as I have done plenty of things, just not the things on my list. However, when I cast my mind back, it is hard to remember exactly how I spent the year.

Basically, though, I just wasted time. One of the things I'm best at doing is sleep, so I did a lot of that. And of course I ate. And of course I read, because man cannot live on food alone.

That still leaves an incredible amount of time unaccounted for. One of my new list of things to do is going to be to shoot my television. Is it any wonder that most of the things that have happened in history happened before TV was invented?

And don't tell me how wonderful an invention computers have been. I spend at least an hour a day just on Facebook alone. And computer games! I would have so much more time and money if I wasn't addicted to computer games.

I see now by the clock on the barroom wall that there's just ten seconds left in the year. Why, that's barely enough time to finish typing this sentence. And, if I count real fast, enough time to count down from ten to zero. But what good will that do?

Don't worry. That's a rhetorical question.

the end

December 28, 2020 20:23

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1 comment

I Sammy
00:26 Jan 07, 2021

Very interesting and humorous! I quite enjoyed this piece.

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