“Today would have been a much different day had I not woken up last night. I would have slept and avoided everything.”
With theses sentences finished, Ian grabbed his desktop lamp at the top in order to adjust its position. He felt a momentary burn before finally stretching out the flexible lamp to a 90 degree angle. He returned to stare at the pages in front of him, with his pen gripped tightly between his fingers. Nothing else was written. The word “avoided” turned over in his mind. He grabbed the lamp again and jolted the head up, aiming the bulb towards the ceiling. Satisfied, he went back to his writing:
“I would have missed the night: The night that had so much impact on today and which has permanently stabbed itself into me. Honestly, I cannot tell you how much my life has changed because I started this day awake rather than sleeping as I normally do. In a way, I think it might have saved me. Maybe this was a rescue. What happened is difficult to explain, and it's even more difficult to explain the consequences. I know that I cannot possibly do justice to the experience of the night’s looming effects, but I'm here to try.
See, I've never been much of a late-night person. This isn't to say I haven't stayed up past midnight. I do also subscribe to infinitely large club claiming a sleepless 48 hours . . . on at least one occasion. This club is generally filled with people only looking to call attention to “their struggle”. I say “their struggle” because it is well agreed upon that greatness requires struggle. I don't bend the rules to my favor here, as they do, so you are permitted to disregard my past sleepless era. But what I meant to say was that although I have gone at least a full two days without sleeping before, I am not the type of person to make a habit of re-defining life's naturally imposed bed time. When it gets dark, I generally accept that I should sleep. Last night was no exception, but when I suddenly jolted my eyes open a bit past 11 and decided to pull myself out of bed, it became an exception. Just understand that there is something very eerie about last night. Very out of the ordinary. I still can't exactly figure out why I had this urge to rise out of bed in the “middle of the night.” I was not exceptionally thirsty or hungry. I did not need to use the bathroom. I haven't felt depressed or restless for years. The decision to get out of bed was made for the sake of getting out of bed; I wanted to. (Maybe “pulled myself out of bed” wasn’t the correct term.)
With my sleeping habits already broken, I aimlessly (maybe even purposelessly) headed through the dark hallway outside of my bedroom. Looking back, it's crazy how fast my eyes adjusted to the dark. The time between my waking up and walking to the living room could not have been more than a minute, and yet I had no trouble navigating my way through a blackened hallway. I noticed my brother Andy at the far end of the living room; his legs sprawled over the top of the couch while his head hung over the armrest in a forced looseness. Andy was scribbling something on a floating notepad awkwardly held just inches above his face. His loose fitting pajama pants mirrored his wild hair, which was pulling restlessly towards the ground in order to make room for his pale, stressed face. His glasses were clenched in his hand and pressed against the notepad. A few sheets of paper, which had recently been ripped out of the notepad and been allowed to fall freely, were scattered across the shiny wood floor.
Let me explain this shiny floor. I am rather unfamiliar with the properties of things at night, and this floor deeply intended to prove that. It had never seemed shiny like this before in the daylight. The wood planks were each sucking in every bit of scarce light. Each tile’s rectangular boundaries were very clear, acting as the only contrast to the brightness. They were each independently fighting for that light, that small flicker of protection against the dark room, and they were clenching it tightly as if the other tiles, which helped make up this ghostly illuminated floor, were out to steal all of it. And they were. And Andy sat there alone, content with his position amongst the light: an enviable position for every one of those starving tiles. After about ten seconds of staring at Andy I walked over and picked up a paper. He made no effort to acknowledge that I was there, but there was (I thought) an understanding that he was aware of my presence.
The paper was filled with triangles and circles and formulas. Recently, Andy had spent much of his free time learning about geometry because he claimed that he “literally could not wait” to start college. I occasionally looked at some of the study notes he had jotted down. These shapes seemed different though. This was not a scholar's note page, but rather an applied sense of geometry and math that I could never imagine finding a purpose for in my own life. The equations were carried through and their solutions and implications were double, sometimes triple circled. The shapes were drawn with care beyond the usual proportional necessities. Each line was started at a specific point and concisely ended at another specific point. Each shape was perfectly executed. Each side was definite and cooperative in its duty. Andy appeared to be trying to work something out, and he needed a large bit of his notebook and some actual measurements to do so.
I was still staring perplexed at a series of circles measured against other circles when Andy casually murmured, “Ian?” He was surprisingly calm in his tone and there was something very odd about how he stopped and stared at me as he asked the question.
I looked at him for a few seconds without raising my head. He continued to watch me; his eyebrows slightly arched. He was waiting for a response, as I was waiting for maybe a follow-up question. Andy would very often have some sort of moral or philosophical question that he would throw at me in unexpected moments. The sincere oddity about the way in which he broke our silence just to call my name had me hoping, desiring for one of those moments.
“Yes?” was the only thing I could think to say. It's the only real answer when someone just simply questions your presence. And he knew I was there. He knew I had walked into the room and begun to examine his notes. And this “Yes?” that I replied with immediately restored him to his focused aura. He really had nothing else to say. He really only wanted to ascertain that I was there.
I shrugged it off and let the paper fall to the floor. I figured I ought to be thirsty, so I wandered over to the kitchen which was the source of light for Andy and the greedy wooden floor tiles. The radio, which my mother normally leaves on while she cooks and cleans, was lowly humming with violins and light percussion. Even with such a low volume it was strange to me that I hadn’t noticed it from the other room, since the night has such a sensation of quiet that is completely unachievable during the day. I left it on as I grabbed a glass and filled it to the top. The noise of the faucet was a sharp sensation to my ears; a clear result of the night outside the kitchen that allowed the start and end of the faucet's banter to sting this sense. The tune of the radio was the only thing to balance it out. I leaned against the kitchen counter with my free hand in my pocket. My mind wandered for a while and I suppose that I had barely drunk any of my water. The glass was still very full. Suddenly I saw a paper fly out towards the kitchen. Andy jumped up to grab it and sprinted off down the hallway towards his bedroom. I waited to hear the door close before pouring out my remaining water and leaving the kitchen. Turning off the light also ended the humming of the radio.
I decided, with the same sort of unidentified motivation that had caused me to be awake now, that I should grab my sweatshirt and take a walk. I closed the door on my way out as if not to disturb anyone, but with the silence of the night it is impossible for your ears to miss the shutting of a front door. And thus I began to walk down a grassy and decaying sidewalk; towards the small intersection we call our town’s center. It was a long walk, as is everything in my town; generally everyone was expected to travel by car. I’m not much used to walking. It isn’t an acceptable means of transportation, and I usually can’t even bother myself with such trivialities as an afternoon stroll. The smallness of my town is very deceiving. You may think of a humble town, where life is slower in comparison to cities. You may imagine the people to be of the kind that enjoy simple life and strive to work only for their necessities. You may imagine the typical small town, but you wouldn't be imagining this town. People work hard, long hours not only to feed their families but to afford their 50 inch televisions and their in-ground swimming pools. They need to travel far for their jobs, and generally this means that they all converge together at our small town center. The intersection here is the only way out of the town.
On my walk I noticed that shadows at night are just as common as they are during the day, but something about a shadow created by moonlight has a more intense and real quality. Shadows during the day are often refuge from the sunlight; a protective spot to sit and relax outside of the daylight. Shadows during the night are additional darkness; they are closer to the night than anything graced by the luminous moonlight.
Since it was a long walk I eventually sat down to take a break. I wasn’t necessarily tired, and certainly not bored, but I was definitely in no rush and had no objection to stopping. I sat down on a tree stump in between two sets of front steps. I fumbled around my pockets for something, only because it is habit for my hands to always need activity. ‘Idle hands’ is certainly not a phenomenon I would know from experience. My days are always consisting of a busy schedule, a stacking of events that consumes my entire day from my waking up until I can rest at night. I work, I research schools, I do whatever needs to be done, and I spend my spare time with Andy: playing games, riding bikes, or often discussing philosophy as he likes to do so much. The busy characteristics of my life lived through my hands, which now came across a book of matches. Without any attention, I began running my finger up and down the matchbook.
I would not even have noticed or remembered this insignificant activity had it not been for the night’s next experience. As I sat peering into the darkness and smoothing over the matchbook, a middle-aged man came noisily out of his house onto the steps next to me with a cigarette in his mouth and was patting around his jacket for a lighter. The man was in pajama pants that didn't quite reach his ankles, and was covering his thin wrinkled t-shirt with a light brown jacket. It seemed he needed a shave, or at least to groom the hair on his neck and chin, and his graying brown hair was pointed in all sorts of directions. He was tall, and although somewhat skinny, he had very broad shoulders. He couldn’t find his lighter, and he looked over at me and gave out a harsh laugh through his cigarette, which still rested between his lips unlit.
He pulled the cigarette out of his mouth while chuckling out, “Now this is what you call fate.” He was pointing the cigarette at me as if I was part of his presentation. His voice was raspy but wild, with a typical fake, small-talk excitement. “I came out here for a smoke and can’t find my damn lighter, and here’s this kid just sitting out here – god knows why- playing with matches!”
I tossed him the pack of matches without a word. He lit his cigarette, tossed it back, and thanked me. “Welcome,” I muttered. He took a few long drags of his cigarette and we sat in silence for a moment, just glaring out into the night, at the swaying trees, the chipping paint of nearby fences, the dull green bushes which were neither healthy nor dying. His smoke would penetrate the air, only for a few seconds, and then my vision would return and take hold on a falling leaf, some loose nail, or a piece of trash heavily entangled in the bush.
“Don’t you know not to play with matches anyhow?” he was chuckling again. I gave him a slight, forced laugh. “I’m just kidding man, you’re old enough. “Besides, matches ain’t bad. A little light for someone couldn’t harm anything!” He chuckled again, and I watched the flame of his cigarette blaze to a bright orange as he took a last long drag. He tossed the cigarette to the floor and, coughing loudly, retreated back into his house. The butt remained on the concrete, smoking out its last life.
This incident had eerily made me momentarily sick and encouraged me to continue my walk. Something about the man's necessity for that cigarette, when he had clearly been in bed, was disgusting to me. Still, I really should not have assigned my decision to that incident. It had made me feel ill, but I don't think that illness had anything to do with my desire to keep walking. In any case, while taking my first few steps away from the still smoking cigarette butt I realized that the lights of the town center were beginning to dominate my view. The area was glowing. Every store was clearly outlined, and in the light each of them resembled the shapes of Andy's papers. The whole scene was a sphere of penetrating light in the vast night of the town. Even the objects closest to me seemed to be a distant backdrop compared to that surge of light. These lights were the town’s over-compensation in the face of progress. The lighting project was a failure, because people here still mostly sleep at night.
Just like a bug, I was pulled towards this intersection. Really, there was nowhere else to go. The town had been constructed in such a way that to get anywhere, you had to pass through here. As I got closer and closer to the town center I heard less and less of the eerie noises of the night. The chirping of crickets died down, the rustling of leaves in the wind disappeared, and the crunching of the dirt in my footsteps evaporated. Everything was being funneled together until I arrived at the crosswalk and could only hear a faint buzzing. I seemingly had crossed that road and begun to descend back into the night so quickly that I had confused myself. I turned my head so that the corner of my eye could identify the enigma of everything I just walked by. I caught the sharp red letters on top of a convenience store, not flickering but vibrantly holding a constant image, and watched a man slamming his car door shut. This reassured me that I had actually passed through the intersection, but somehow everything had escaped me in that moment.
I kept heading straight. It was the quickest way away from the commotion that still somehow plagued that location, even at night. The road continued with only the occasional streetlight. I suppose the town’s aggressive brightening hadn't yet reached too far. On the other side of the road a ledge of about 3 feet in height separated the town from a lake. I had no urge to cross the road and admire the lake. This might seem odd to you. It seems odd to me. Gazing out at water is generally something I would expect to do on aimless walks or adventures. Great minds often narrate in detail how they looked out into the water (usually an ocean, but a lake would also work), how it captivated them, and how it strengthened or changed their outlook. I suppose I wasn't looking for this last night. My adventure really didn't have any such goals in mind, even at some sort of strange sub-conscious level.
What did catch my attention was the sight of another human being: a jogger. It was a girl, who looked to be somewhere in her early 20's, and she was running quickly, but she could not be mistaken for a sprinter. She came up from behind me and ran right by, paying no notice to me. She was very skinny, and her red sleeve-less shirt brought attention to her thin arms and bony shoulders. Her hair, tied up in a loose bun, was coming undone as she ran, and her large sweatpants were swaying carelessly with each step. I need to elaborate here. These sweatpants were not just large, they were huge. I could not at this time explain how they actually fit her body. Something very long and rectangular, which has no business fitting in one's pocket, was pushing against her pants and could have burst out at any moment; at any step. I wanted to follow her, even though she seemed very unattractive. And I did.
I followed her as she jogged to a three-way intersection. Of course, in order to keep up with her, I myself had to run. She made a left turn, which led us away from the lake. She was starting to slow down, and I was grateful. I know I've already told you that I occasionally bike around with Andy in my free time, but I am still very much out of shape. Actually, biking is an activity that I myself am not much motivated for. I know that Andy likes to bike, and I really don't know what else to do with my free time. It is my understanding that if a person is not motivated in an activity they are bound to get very few results from it. My biking experiences with Andy had no physical benefit for me now.
As she ran, the item in her pocket continued to pull at her sweatpants. I was too far away to figure out how her pants were withstanding such a force. Soon, she began to slow down. Barely running now, the issue with her uncontrollable hair had seized her. She took her hair-tie out and began the craft of knotting it back. There’s something mystifying about the way a girl does her hair in swift motions of familiar technique. There’s a lack of thought behind it. Girls have this art pegged down to a science that can be carried out quite easily, and much faster than it would take to explain. But their movements are not robotic or mechanic. There’s liveliness, a certain characteristic of untamed will that accompanies the procedure. As she pulled the last threads of hair she had completed the action and, now completely satisfied, began her run again. She came to a complete stop at the end of the long tree line we had been skirting, right before a clearing that gave way to moonlight. She turned around, and for a moment I panicked. There's no way of explaining or excusing myself. I was stalking her, and the fact that I was only about 15 feet behind her proved that I had invested a great deal of energy into my pursuit. She turned around abruptly and I was sure to be found out, even in that opaque, mystifying darkness. She would surely yell some sort of comment about my creepiness, ask me “why in the hell are you following me?”, or, worst of all, create some agonized, frightened look that signifies yet another strike against a girl's belief of innocent human intention.
The curious way in which she, after turning around, continued to jog, approached me, glanced at me, smiled at me, passed me, and kept at the same pace was just as maddeningly suspicious as it was incredibly relieving. It must have been that I was blinded during the incident, and what she really did was start to continue her run, notice me, fearfully cringe, and sprint off into the distance. But she didn't. The moment had really passed exactly as I had experienced it. So what would I do from here? I followed her. It went beyond my curious desire. It went beyond the luring smile. It went beyond me having to finish what I started. It went beyond me just feeling that I should. I don't know, I just followed her.
Our run, which I can now call ours, led to that same three way intersection. She was further ahead than she had been when we were running in the other direction. This time around, she didn't make a turn but was content with the surroundings there. She walked under streetlights towards the bridge. I had lost sight of her for a moment, and, reducing myself to a walk, I took some time to cross the road to approach her.
Before I caught glimpse of her again my mind had been stolen by two expanding rays from the sky. There were two streetlamps standing tall, slanted slightly towards their collective middle-point. The rays were leaning at each other, trying desperately to link and therefore swallow the night that kept them apart, but there remained that string of darkness which opened up to the sky, to the endless promise of space. My imagination produced a shadowy figure right between the lights: its muscular arms outstretched, hands barely above head level (as if it had been holding an incredible, weightless source of power), standing tall with a masculine spread of legs, and a head that stared straight up for embracing. The faint dim of light illuminated the perimeter of perfectly proportioned muscles and a hint of tan skin. I blinked, and the figure was gone, because it hadn't ever been there. And then I walked through the lights and noticed her, now sitting with crossed legs at the ledge of the bridge: outside of both light beams at her back and low enough to be completely unable to see the lake over the bridge ledge.
I mentioned earlier how shockingly rapid my eyes modified themselves to the darkness. The sensation was even more intense now, as I came to one of those dark corners that streets have a way of producing. Finally, as I approached her, I solved the mystery of how her engulfing pants were still hugging her figure. She had to have folded the waistline a dozen times. I was also granted the answer to the pumping nature of her pocket as she, with her gaze still forward, waved me over with a notepad. I sat down to her right and joined her view of concrete bridge. She scribbled something down on her notepad, which was too dark and far away for me to see.
The silence was officially unbearable. It was if we were trapped there in that position: As if our hands were tied behind our back and our heads held so that we could only stare forward at the blank wall with only faint traces of our shadows. The silence broke me, “So, why the notepad?” I asked. It was light conversation, but also genuine curiosity. She had fluidly gone from an intense night jog to a sustained writing position with the world at her back and a solid block in her view. I wanted to know why.
She looked at me quizzically, with her headed tilted like a dog who sees himself in a mirror, held the gaze for a few seconds, and then looked past me at nothing in particular. It was the first true glimpse of her face I had gotten, and I judged that she was indeed rather unattractive. She shrugged off her contemplative stares. “To write…or draw… I suppose.”
I laughed at what I thought must have been a sarcastically playful shot. She remained unaffected, so I changed my tone, “Fair enough answer. In the dark too. Can’t be too productive. So…umm...well…what’s your name?” This was the next course of action I could think of. This conversation was a struggle, but I can’t blame her for it. It might seem as if she had been difficult to talk to, very uninviting. Let me tell you that it wasn’t exactly that. It was me. I had no idea what to say. I don’t usually have trouble speaking to people, but this was a very new set of circumstances.
She sighed. “Please,” she said, in a tone that had me expecting her hand to fly up in an attitudinal halt as girls often do. “My name is, well, pretty unimportant. I think you should agree,” and then she smiled, not in a flirtatious way but in a mocking sort of ‘you don’t even understand that you actually understand’ kind of way.
I wasn’t giving into that, “Don’t you at least want to know my name?” She immediately brought pen to paper here, and remained immersed for a few minutes.
“No,” was her eventual reply. So I accepted it, because really, I had to. We sat in silence for a bit longer, and although an awkward situation had just passed, it was a very comfortable silence. A car passed by, and its headlights revealed a different clarity to her face than the darkness was producing. The sloppy features of her face, arranged with a wide mouth shifted to one side, over-thinned eyebrows, and blemished cheeks, had me trace her identity to the object of a bar-room fight. She seemed the type of girl that would cause a man, who was much too old to be with her, to break a pool stick as a threat to another man, who was much too young to be with her. She was their manly territory, and the young man would yell, throw middle fingers with an over-emphasis that proved his drunkenness, and the two would fight. The winner would have her as the prize, for about a week. And then the town would come to pick up its garbage, and, having been successfully convinced by the garbage man that his job had “all kinds of benefits and shit” she would be whisked away.
But the car with and its blazing lights passed, and so did this image. She was sitting there, writing, or drawing, or whatever, in the complete dark. “Why aren’t you in the light? It’s like, only a few feet back,” I asked, now with more of a condescending overtone rather than pure curiosity.
She shot me down, “What’s the point?” She wasn’t even mean, or sarcastic, or anything. She was leveling with me, “I could go over there, in that light, maybe have better vision of the actual paper. It’s not substance though is it? That paper? What I’m working on, it isn’t made from that light. I can do without it. I’m very much fine right here, thank you.” She went back to her notepad: her case made.
I changed the subject, trying to distance myself from the confusing situation, “Do you often jog at night, or just come out at night in general?” No reply for awhile, so I continued, “I don’t really too often. Not exactly sure why I’m here. Going to be tough to wake up in the morning. I have no idea what time it is, but I’m supposed to be getting up early for work.”
Finally she saved me from my boring soliloquy. “Not here, no.” There was a pause and she carefully drove the pen across the paper, “I mean coming out at night. Yes, I do, very often. Not always jogging, and not always here. Not always in this town even.” I felt disappointed for a second, but only a second. Then I realized I hadn’t actually cared much rather or not I would see her again, and I still didn’t really expect this night time excursion to become a habit anyway. “I suppose I could use your name now,” she stated.
“Ian. My name is Ian.”
Another awkward silence passed before she threw down her notepad, and stood up. The next events happened really quickly but I do remember them in great detail. I got up right after her, confused and alert. She began to run, fast. This wasn’t the same jog as before. She was sprinting. Definitely could not be confused with a jogger. So I darted after her. She was fast, pounding each step into the pavement. Adrenaline consumed me. She was running faster and faster. My strides were extended further and further. She had gained some distance from me. I tried running harder. But I was gasping. I was not in shape. She passed the end of the tree-line. She ran straight into the moonlight. I tripped. I hadn’t seen where she went for a moment, and then I caught her figure across the street: Still running, fast, in the other direction, back towards the lake. I propelled myself up and I was finally gaining speed. We came to the intersection. She ran right by the lights. She got to the bridge ledge and leaped; just leaped over the bridge, straight over in a swan dive, into the lake, in the night, with her shoes on, with her hair tied, in her sleeveless-shirt, in the cold, with no warning, with nothing holding her back, just leaped right over.
I stopped running somewhere along the way after I saw her leap. I walked to the ledge and looked out at the lake. I could probably have seen her swimming away, towards the beach at the far side. I’m not sure, I wasn’t really interested. She didn’t have to explain herself to me. I could not have expected her to. The event and the run had me in a strange set of mind. Following her was over. Her existence tonight for me was over. I was looking out at the lake. The waves were so much like the tiles of my living room. They were holding light; cradling it in with every dip and rise. What they lost to other waves they were gaining again in their next position. A constant stream of losing and grabbing light until they smashed up against the bridge and disappeared, died out.
I don’t know. I just don’t know the cause or meaning of anything that happened in those last few minutes. I plopped down to the ground, absolutely beaten with confusion. I wasn’t tired, even this late. How could I have been? But why was I here? What brought me to this place, at this time? Nothing I suppose. I was ‘just’ here, just as she had ‘just’ jumped. Still I felt I was ‘just’ beaten. Absolutely beaten.
Then I noticed the notepad, and of course I picked it up. Man, this will be the toughest part to explain; the toughest moment to actually capture. It was a drawing. A drawing of me. It was obvious because she had drawn my face and plastered it with my name. Not on the forehead. No, the forehead I would have expected. Right on the middle of my face: The “I” placed on the left cheek, the “a” scrunched down and placed between my mouth and nose, and the “n” on the other cheek. The face was bright, very well drawn, it looked just like me. But it wasn’t even the dominant aspect of the picture. It was the only clear, un-shaded part of the whole damn portrait, and I hadn’t even paid much attention to it relative to the rest.
What was dominant was the other 80% of my body. Well, maybe more. My arms, which had blurred and faded boundaries, seemed to occupy an enormous amount space without actually being out of proportion. I realize that doesn’t make sense, but the artistic style of that portrait had accomplished that ‘impossibility’. In fact, the arms even seemed to stretch outside of the notepad. I could imagine the drawing continuing and my arms diffusing into the night. They expanded and retracted at the same time; whatever way they wanted, with no regard for the face and its fixed, bright location. Everything about my body, from those arms to my chest, my legs, my feet, was so dark and shaded, and yet had an intense reality that my face, with “Ian” plastered across it, couldn’t hope to achieve in that portrait. This picture was me. Absolutely certain of that. I could have known that even without the face, even without the haunting label. The shadowy body that so clearly distorted my figure in the drawing still so much defined me, but with an undeniable possibility. I went into detail the arms and their expanding quality: Imagine that they were also my legs. The legs were themselves, with their own aspirations, empowered with the muscular extensions of a long distance runner, but they also embraced it all as the arms did. Spread amongst the entire page, my arms and legs truly engulfed the world. Everything in the picture contributed to the body: every inch was dedicated to defining the figure, the figure of me, but they all had their freedom, their desire. And yet, with an outward thrust of the chest, she had successfully constructed the torso, as tiny as it was, as the all important heart-containing king of the body. It’s tough to understand something like this as clearly as I was then. I can’t even remember the picture. I wish I still had it.
I have never seen myself so clearly until last night. I hadn't thought of my body this way. I hadn't supposed that my face could be such an unimportant entity. This picture had opened a new understanding of my limbs: the tools of my will. I had come here, in the night, away from the comfort of my bed in my house, for no actual purpose. There was no gain, no goal, and certainly no economic triumph awaiting for me in the darkness. I wondered “what brought me here?” and, really, I had my answer all along. The memory of this strange girl's leap made me smile. It made me proud of her, and happy for her.
I don’t know how long I was looking at that drawing, but it was a long time. When I allowed my head to lift I noticed the sun rising. I decided I ought to admire this. I must have tossed the picture into the lake at this time, because I don't remember holding it as the sun beams rose to my face. As my face grew warm my eyes began to squint, and the life of the lake began to fade. The sunrise was bullshit. This has to be the most overrated spectacle ever. It’s definitely a myth, has to be. There’s no way that people really believe in the inspiration of a sunrise.
Being let down in this opportunity, I walked away, towards home. I came to the intersection, where there seemed to be some commotion. A small, mundane accident had happened, I guess. ‘I can’t have any bother with this,’ I thought. But apparently I did have a bother with this, because I walked right by it to see what was happening. This intersection was a very well designed trap. I gathered just faint arguing and nonsense, no real news. A man in a suit, very well-dressed from head to toe, noticed me. His brown hair was slicked back and a few curly white hairs lunged forward. Taller than me, probably more muscular. Not sure. He said something to me and laughed, and then coughed. I said. “Who the fuck are you?” with a little extra emphasis on the “are” of the sentence, and then walked away from his offended glance.
I kept walking. It was getting hotter. I finally got home and walked inside. I noticed an ambient glow to the room and saw a hundred dusty footsteps all over the wooden floor, submersing their brilliant glow. My mother was in the kitchen, with the radio blasting some poppy upbeat song. Andy was eating breakfast, eggs I think, and watching the news from the couch. I had work, so I went and got ready. My mother hadn’t asked where I had been. I don’t think she noticed I had walked in just then. Andy had, but he only allowed me a momentary curious look.
I was done changing when my mom asked if I was ready to go to work. I said, “No, I don’t think I’m going” and she said that I probably should. So I did, very unwillingly. I came home and completed the usual activities. Cleaned my room a bit, and finished a school application. I felt strung along from chore, to empty space as filler, to chore, to this, and to that. Definitely average. I had gotten a lot done, but my heart wasn’t in it today. That’s the difference. Something had changed. No motivation, which I suppose is a problem. I hadn’t really cared today about anything. Maybe I never really did. Today a gust of wind carried me through everything, and I was dreadfully aware of it. What was all this work and school nonsense? All I could think about was the open night sky, and the comfort I may now find from staring straight into that concrete bridge. It occurred to me that maybe Andy could understand. I hadn’t really talked to Andy all day, but I really wanted to. I wanted him to ask me some crazy question as he normally does.
So my day went by, I never had the chance to talk to Andy, and now it’s late. I’m writing this all down in hopes-- Who cares? I'm writing it. I want to share the experience, but I can’t do so properly. My light is on and it’s only a matter of time before my mom walks by and criticizes me for still being up at 1am. I don’t care. What I want to express is that the night has much different properties than the day. I experienced it, and I was consumed by it. But it’s more than that, it really is. I can’t put it into simple terms, so I really had to tell my story, and to write it down. But even now that I’m writing it in this light and as I keep staring at it, I’m not sure if I’m even writing in straight lines. Maybe I’ll attempt to tell this story to a friend, someone I trust.. I’m not at the point, but that’s not important. This is flowing how I want it to, I can’t explain why.
The most important thing that has come from this is that I now know there are more hours in a day that the sun lets a person believe. I don't know why, but I’m not going to sleep tonight. I want the night. I want it.” Pulsing with energy, Ian slammed down paper and pen in a familiar dramatic fashion, slapped the lamp off, and ensured also that the light switch was flicked down. He hurried out of the room and the harsh sound of the front door echoed through the house.
Awhile later in the night, Andy walked by the bedroom and saw through the open door that the bed was empty. As the light switch failed, he felt around for the lamp and clicked it on. He was right, Ian was not home. He noticed the pages on Ian’s desk, sloppily plastered with words. Andy read all of it. After finishing the last line he smirked to himself, and dropped the papers to the desk. “Ian, oh what you have missed,” he whispered. He slowly shook his head as he left the room, and flicked the light switch off.
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Short Story / Romance
Short Story / Literary Fiction
Short Story / Literary Fiction
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