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Happy Inspirational Fiction

Mr. Magnusun stood very still.  It was difficult for him to control his hands.  It was not that he could not resist the urge to use them, to pick something up or deal with an irritation- because always when he began to stand very still an irritation would arise, an itch on his nose or hair caught in his shirt- but because his hands had begun to start moving on their own.  It was only a gentle tremor and he could calm them when he thought to, but he had to put his mind to it, a deliberate action which began in his shoulders and moved down his arms, like slow water.  Mr. Magnusun did not mind this overmuch, because it was all in his mind, like yoga, and the mantra which he repeated to make it happen affected not just his errant hands but every part of him.  It was neither a word, nor a sound, but a state of relaxation which he turned on, and turned on, and turned on, over and over like a faulty flashlight.  Sometimes, it felt as if he were being enveloped in a cool cloud and he wondered if that was what an aura was.  Forty years spent driving a truck, not over the road but from job to job, had not taught him much about spiritualism, but Mr. Magnusun had been a great reader.  He had read, Siddhartha.  He had read, The Call of the Wild and, Moby Dick.  The road was a boring place to be, the job sites worse, and after two weeks of listening to music while he worked, Mr. Mangusun had switched to audiobooks.  It was not a fresh discovery, Mr. Mangusun had grown up on audiobooks.  Back when he had begun they had been, books-on-tape, and sometimes when he downloaded them now, onto his phone, it was obvious that they had been converted directly from those old originals without any remastering, a voice telling him when to switch the cassette, or what disc he was on.  He knew that it wouldn’t be the case for anyone but himself, but just the idea of audiobooks had a calming effect on Mr. Mangusun, propelling him back into the hodgepodge of a cramped van, with three brothers, and cross country road trips along the eastern seaboard- North and South, never the other way.  There were relatives North and South.  Back in those days, the books had needed to be bought and were nearly always condensed, giving a breathless, Cliffsnote like, quality to the experience, like a story by Gibson, like, Neuromancer.  He remembered the first time he had seen Michener in the flesh… Space; it had been abridged to eight cassettes.  Eight.  The mind boggled.  Now, one never knew how long a book was going to be.  That was one of the things Mr. Magnusun liked best about downloading novels; it took away the last… he didn’t know what to call it, the last safeguard?  The last cheat?  If there were an inch and a half of pages left one could be reasonably sure that the main fellow would live, or that the bad guy would get away, but with an audiobook, a digital audiobook- if one did not look to see how many files there were, and Mr. Magnusun never had- one never knew just when it was going to end, which ploy might be successful, and which disastrous.  He remembered once, after listening to, Never Let Me Go, for a week, just when everything seemed to be getting wrapped up nicely, part 2, had begun...  That had been a long novel, but god, so good… so good.  Was it a waste of a life, driving around, listening to stories?  Some people probably wouldn’t think so, but Mr. Magnusun had never written one of his own, so probably.  He had tried, but the threads seemed to tumble away from him just as soon as he began, unfraying like a sliced rope.  Now, he spent his days standing against a light pole by the path in Lake Eola park, trying to be still, to not show and not think, trying to disappear.  Was that a waste of a life?  He was not listening to books anymore, he was not listening to anything.  He did not drive.  The people went round and round, circling the fountain, the cyclist and the rollerbladers, who shouldn’t be there, and the dog walkers, who should, their great, long haired animals panting miserably in the Florida sun.  Young girls in jogging outfits ran past him.  It was from them that he could gauge his visibility, if they ticked an eye in his direction or tensed up.  Young girls jogging in the park, their outfits as tight as their skins, needed to be extra careful.  Mr. Mangusun had no designs on them.  When they came near his lamp post he eased on his calming emotion, his wordless mantra, exuding peace and non-existence, letting the coolness flow from his shoulders.  Sometimes, he almost forgot himself, and when he came back the girl would be just a backside, moving away, flashing calves and bright sneakers.  Was that a Zen state?  Mr. Mangusun had never intentionally read books on spiritualism and had despised Walden; he had meanderings and opinions enough of his own.  At least, he had used to have opinions.  The older he got, the more rarefied his strong emotions became.  Mr. Magnusun had practiced loneliness, as his children had grown, sitting on the other side of the theater from them and their friends, thinking, one day, there will only be me.  Now he practiced disappearing.  Was he a part of the lamp post, the benches, the thick palm trees?  No.  If you were a part of something you had not disappeared.  Mr. Magnusun could feel his mental connectedness coming unfixed, and he thought, though he tried not to, that therein might lay the secret, if one there was, in the loosening of connections.  Electrons, slipping further and further apart.  Memories, floating off into bubbles, dissolving, rarefying, coming undone.  It seemed to him, sometimes, that he could only remember five or six things.  Perhaps he could do better, if he tried, if he focused, but would that be better... or worse.  It was impossible to tell if the road he was on was wise, or not, being on it.  Was it a slippery slope?  Was it the inevitable slope, the common chute of mankind?  He remembered his wife.  He remembered the idea of his wife, and, if he put his mind to it, could have remembered her face as well, by association.  But Mr. Mangusun knew this would be unwise.  The idea of his wife wrapped around him like another aura, a warm one.  The actual memory would only be pain, so why retrieve it from the darkness.  A young girl was jogging towards him, with a dog, a double sign, for the dogs of young, female joggers knew what they were about, but Mr. Magnusun did not care, and that was a certain sort of progress too.  He felt his hands trembling and he switched on, and switched on, and switched on.  She flicked her eyes at him and tautened slightly.  The dog trotted by with barely a sign.  Mr. Mansusun held the peace for as long as he could.  The dog had looked like Crackers, one of the many they had owned when he was a boy.  Eventually, they had stopped getting dogs.  It wasn’t fair to them, the old farmhouse having no fence and they living on a busy road.  That was life, this was… but that was fine.  The Lake Eola fountain sat in the middle of the water like the crown of a head, like a submerged giant, a robot, with its dusty green skin, silent and motionless.  It came on when it came on and the walkers, and joggers, and dogs would all stop what they were doing and look at the spires.  Until then it was invisible.  Mr. Magnusun spent hours, sometimes, thinking about the body beneath it.  In his youth he had been a great science fiction fan, Asimov, Anthony, Heinlein.  Well, Asimov mostly.  Bradbury was too moralistic.  Herbert; amazing, but only the odd books.  He had tried to reread Asimov, but found that he could not, as an adult, he was too sanitary, too, offensively G rated.  Had the world changed?  Probably not.  Had Mr. Mangusun?  Of course.  He breathed out and knew that he could quantify his life, but that he should not and so, did not, and the colors of his skin seemed to fade a little.  The breeze- it could not be said to be coming in off the lake, it was too small- touched on every part of him, as though he were wearing nothing at all.  He wished he were naked now.  If everyone were naked, no one would care.  His pockets were empty.  Mr. Magnusun had used to carry a watercolor kit about with him, after he had given up driving.  He did not know why he had stopped.  In prison, his wife had sent him colored pencils.  Those were a good medium for a condemned man.  Later, he had switched over to watercolors.  He liked that they worked the same way, a negative white which could only be preserved, never added to.  And, at the same time, that they were totally opposite.  The greatest artist in the world could never reproduce a watercolor painting.  It had life in it, the water and the paper interacting, and one had to just, work with the results, sometimes.  The more water, the less control, and often, as he had left his cherished pencils behind, Mr. Magnusun had just poured it on, let it flow, dashing the paint down into the the sodden pools, red; here! blue; there! the paper curing like dried meat, the next day a wonder.  Mr. Magunsun smiled; he knew that that had been his life, control… and release.  By the end he had stopped cleaning up the edges, trying to impose order to a chaos which, honestly, looked better without his interference.  Was that why he had stopped paining?  Mr. Magnusun couldn’t remember.  He liked Florida; green, and shades of green, light blue and yellow, and heat.  The sunlight glittered from the backs of the aggressive swans.  The joggers circled.  Lake Eola was only a quarter of a mile around and he knew them all by now.  Not from day to day, but, in the moment; the man with the beard and the pipe, so desperate to be a hipster, the skateboarders with their flat shoes and the girls, looking much more alike than they would probably care to admit.  They all passed in their orbits, ellipsing about the fountain.  Ellipsing?  Mr. Magnusun smiled again.  He liked to smile.  For years he had been angry.  He had chosen not to be anymore.  As a young man, he would not have believed that you could just do that.  As a young man, he had not believed in a great many things.  Now, Mr. Mangusun believed that he loved the way Cypress trees stood high up above the water, their thick roots reaching down to break the surface like the fingers of giants hands.  On a calm day they looked like Irish knots.  He was such a small thing- his own hands began to shake again- in the cosmos, in a world of titans, where robots lurked about beneath tiny lakes and tree giants clasped hands with their celestial brethren.  And that was… okay.  Mr. Magnusun felt the cool aura slip from his shoulders and realized that it had happened on its own.  The trembling stopped.  He felt sluggish, intoxicated and naked.  The joggers jogged on.  He could not remember a thing.  The Florida sun lit gold around the edges of the acacia leaves, gilding them, and Mr. Magnusun was enfolded in a wrinkle of color, one of the infinite variations which exist between every shade imaginable.  The dogs did not turn their heads and the girl joggers jogged on, for Mr. Magnusun had vanished, into thin air.

August 26, 2021 08:56

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2 comments

Dell Bell
03:58 Sep 02, 2021

Hey Ben! (Critique circle) At first I was pretty confused, but as your story went on I started to understand it more. I like the concept, but I didn’t realize he hadn’t vanished before until the end. Part of that is probably my fault, but it would also help if it was a little clearer. I think something that could help with that would be making separate paragraphs instead of one big block. As someone who grew up on audio books I loved your reference to them and I also enjoyed the snippets of life that we got to see through the story. Overall...

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Ben Rounds
12:40 Sep 04, 2021

Thank you for reading. If you look at some of my other stories you see that I normally use a more regular format, in this case I thought the one unbroken paragraph would give a monologue sort of feel to it. You might not have thought he was already vanished if you didn't know The Prompt beforehand ;) Thank you again for reading it, I value your feedback Ben

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