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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic

Featured Review on this writing by Vance Currie

Brian lost himself in his obsession.

It was beautiful to him, masterfully crafted. Everything was right where he wanted it. Almost everything. One small detail was itching at the back of his mind, nagging his subconscious. Something was missing. He stared, stuck in the rut of obsession, racking his brain in an attempt to pinpoint what felt so wrong. His concentration was interrupted by the sound of the garage door opening.

“You and your heap of trash!” his wife complained. He turned to look at her, almost startled. “I just got another phone call from your boss,” she continued. “She says you just sat in your office idly staring at your computer again. Says if you keep this up you’ll lose your job.” 

He sighed. “Karen, I…”

“You what?” she jabbed, raising her voice. “You’re gonna lose your job, Brian! That’s what!”

“You don’t understand!” Brian pleaded. “I won’t need a job once I win the Golden Fjord Grant for Artists!”

Once?” Karen shouted. “Once you win? What could anyone possibly see in that hideous pile of scraps? What did I ever see in you?” She slammed the door and stormed into the depths of the house until he couldn’t hear her any more.

He put both of his hands on the door and leaned on it, then put his forehead against it. He closed his eyes tightly as if to choke out the tears. Even with his eyes closed, all he could see was the sculpture. The twisted rebar, the dented pipes, and old car parts welded together in a well-calculated pattern of chaos. Chaos, Brian’s only sense of comfort, of security. This work of art was a reflection of himself. His wavy hair, his clumsiness. His desire to escape the hell of conformity, to find meaning in the ruthless madhouse the others call society. He turned to look at the sculpture, the image blurred by his poorly repressed tears.

He loved Karen. He hated himself for not doing what was best for her, wished he could make her happy. He longed to express his true feelings but didn’t know how. He had to prove his worth, win her over. Win. Ten thousand dollars in a government grant. For what? Doing what he loved.

Intoxicated with grief, his mind still knew something was missing. Something wasn’t right. What? And where? Victory was within his grasp. He just needed to fix that one gap, fill in that hole. He was sure he’d win the grant; all he needed to do was find the perfect object.

Just one month left until the deadline. One month and it would all be over, his mind would be put to rest. After the judging period, he’d be told that he’d won. He’d hug Karen, and she’d whisper “I love you” sweetly into his ear, tears of joy running down her face. He’d pose for pictures in front of his masterpiece with a giant fake cheque for ten thousand dollars, a massive grin spanning his face. The same grin he’d have while giving his boss two weeks notice that he’d be quitting. He’d be all over the news, flooded with deals from art galleries and blinded by the flashing lights of cameras.

All he needed to do was find that missing piece. He turned off the garage light and moseyed into the living room where the couch still grasped onto his blanket and pillow after yesterday’s argument. Karen was never like this. She used to smile through even the heaviest storms. Her smile was fading, weathered by the thunder and the gales of these arguments. He knew their arguments were taking a toll on her. He cursed at himself for jading her sweet smile. He was restless. Sleep never came.

Work the next day was a drag. Brian laboured at his desk, typing and thinking, desperately clinging to whatever energy he had left in order to keep his head up. By the time he was driving home, he was brain-dead. He idly stared at the road, fantasizing about what would happen if — when, he convinced himself — he won the grant. He thought about the missing piece, and what could possibly occupy that space. Once he could see his house, he noticed that his wife’s car wasn’t home. Odd, she finished work two hours before him. A realization crashed onto him. What if she was… No, she would never sink to that level. Would she?

He had to talk to her. Discuss. Make it better, even if it meant putting off the sculpture for another week. He had to tell her how he felt. Help her love him once more or at least just understand.

Brian hit a speed bump and was lurched out of his thoughts and back into the task of driving. He’d hit the bump too fast and could hear a scraping sound from underneath his car. He cussed as he pulled into the driveway. At least it had happened near his house. Still cussing, he got out of the car to assess the damage. The muffler was dragging. Angrily, he kicked it. It fell off. He cussed even louder, then suddenly stopped. 

He stared at the broken muffler and had an epiphany. The missing piece! He pulled it out from underneath the car and carried it to the garage. It was old and dirty. He tore the garage door open, revealing his pet project. His eyes were glued to a spot at the top. That was it. That was where it belonged.

It was just out of his reach. He scrambled to get a ladder and rested it on his creation. His welding mask on, muffler in one hand and welder in the other, he maneuvered up the ladder. In a fit of ecstasy, he rushed to start welding, longing for the euphoric sensation of completion. In a matter of seconds, he heard the door open. He stopped everything, and climbed back down the ladder.

“Where did you get that muffler?” she asked accusingly.

“I have a more important question. Where were you?” Brian asked. He instantly regretted his angry tone of voice.

She scoffed. “Oh, wouldn’t you like to know. Maybe if you stopped obsessing over your pile of waste you would!”

“Look, I’m almost done,” he said. “I found the missing piece. Once this is done, I won’t even mention this project. I’ll be ten minutes, then we need to talk.”

“You love that thing more than you love me!” Karen shouted, her voice shaky and delicate. “If you really cared, you’d talk now!”

“Well, I… I…” Brian stuttered. “You don’t understand!”

“You got that right!” Karen yelled, no longer able to stop the rain of tears. She stormed away, slamming the door.

He had to get it done, and fast. It wouldn’t take long. Just one more piece.

He kicked the ladder, cursing himself. Why did he have to talk to Karen like that? How could he expect to make anything better if he couldn’t even ask one stupid question right? He felt like a fool. He put his welding mask back on and went up the ladder. He hadn’t noticed how precarious it was balanced it until it was too late. He lost his balance and grasped onto the poorly welded muffler. It didn’t hold, and he was sent plummeting to the ground, hitting his head on the work table on the way down.

He didn’t feel what happened, but his wife definitely heard it. In an instant, he felt her by his side. He was dazed, confused by the concerned look on his wife’s face.

“Where… Where were you?” he asked, barely able to speak.

Karen started sobbing. “I couldn’t handle the arguments anymore, Brian. I had to escape. I wanted to pretend we could afford to live the life we fantasized about.” She grabbed his face, and they stared into each other’s eyes, a weak look of understanding on Brian’s face. Karen continued, “I found a beautiful home in the valley. It has a studio in the garage and a pond in the backyard. We wouldn’t have to worry about the drive to work.” She could barely hold herself together. “You could work on your art at home, and…”

The sobbing got the best of her as she pulled out a real estate pamphlet. Brian could only hear confused mumbles, plagued with grief. He was dizzy, unable to comprehend why she was crying so much, why his head felt like water was pouring out of it. Was it her tears? He moved his head to see the muffler on the ground, a spill of… Red… Paint? Whatever it was, it was advancing from where he was lying to the dented muffler. He felt Karen’s presence even more, as if she were his guardian angel.

“I love you,” she stammered. “I forgive you. Please don’t give up on me!”

She moved her hand to wipe the tears from her face. They were covered with that red substance.

He could barely speak. “I love you, too,” he managed. “Please don’t leave me.”

He felt as though his conscience was slipping away, being forced out of him. He struggled to avoid submitting himself into the oppressive slumber. He looked once more at his wife as his vision faded. Her frantic screams for help were becoming more and more distant as he fought to feel her presence for a few more precious seconds. He slipped away, finally calm, finally rested.

Submitted: April 25, 2020

© Copyright 2022 Bruvton. All rights reserved.

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Add Your Comments:



Well, that was an unexpected ending, Bruvton. Excellent description of how obsession can really take a person's life away.

Sat, April 25th, 2020 6:39pm


Thank you so much, Hully! Obsessions can be quite terrible things.

Sat, April 25th, 2020 10:57pm

Vance Currie

Very well written and deeply moving, Bruvton. A warning of how one can be blinded by obsession.

Sat, April 25th, 2020 10:40pm


Thank you so much, Joe!

Sat, April 25th, 2020 11:04pm

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