Fortune Cookie Flash Fiction – 24 august 2015

I was busy friday completing the outdoor cleanup and had no time between smashing, chopping, and hauling boards, and my evening out with a friend to sit down at the computer.  Other than accruing a series of strange insect bites I managed to clear the porches to such an extent that one could practice arnis without fear of tripping and falling to one’s doom.  And so I did.  The former, not the latter doom bit.

Now that the space is cleared I have room and a place to do my end of summer potting, something I hope to start tomorrow.

My bristling, mostly one sided fight with the city goes on, but at least I’ve made the place better for myself and kept the office Morlocks at bay for the foreseeable future.

And now, onto the wordly bits:

One must know that there is a path at the end of the road.

I hate it here.

At some time in-between now and when going out seemed like a treat it became habit.  Involuntary, necessary. Medicinal.

Most of everything seems too hard, I know it’s the pills.  Like a hundred invisible Lilliputian chains mooring me in place.  Sedation breeding sedentary habits until I cement into metamorphic, fuse to the bed, melt like mother of pearl into the sand and be dredged up to make stockade walls in Spanish Florida ports.  An anchor for other anchors.

Sometimes, the more I dwell on how miserable I feel the better it seems.  I’m not sure why, but embracing it seems so much easier than fighting against it.

So I don’t apologize.  I don’t take up my share.  I don’t take my headphones off first.  She never does, she always waits for me.  It’s always my job to start things.  She always accepts, but why do I always have to start?

So, for now we sit in our individual bubbles.

Nothing’s different.  If we weren’t fighting, if we weren’t mad at each other, we’d still be sitting this way.  We’d still be sitting across from each other, staring at screens.  We’d still message instead of talk because unplugging is still more work than opening a different window.

Even what I miss is not a greater connection, but the privacy and larger screen at home.

I’m not angry that she and I aren’t alone, I’m angry that my regular table is taken, I’m angry that I have to change.  I’m angry because the tendrils of habit I’ve been forming to lock me in place, to remove decision and to make life easier, have been snapped off by the mild current of an unexpected abundance of odd hour guests.

So now I hate it here, because I’m not alone, in that I have to share this public space with the public, and because I am alone in that I’m sitting at a table with woman who won’t speak to me, who lives in my house and sleeps in my room and feeds my cats and uses my shower but for now we’re pretending we’re strangers.  Worse than strangers.  Worse for her, I hate strangers, so for me it’s the same sense of banishment I get whenever I’m around more than a few people.

She never goes first, so it’s hard to know if it really is as bad as it is for me, or if she’s just more patient.

I know how the day will go.  I know that nothing I planned will come through.  I know that we’ll go home early, she having done something, me having done nothing.  She’ll get home and close the door to the bedroom and smoke cigarettes and I’ll lie down on the couch and sleep and try to pretend I still feel the righteousness about my anger I felt when we first fought, but it won’t come and I’ll sleep badly, with bad dreams, and I’ll wake, sweaty and sick, in the morning hours of the following day that still seem a part of the previous, and I’ll go upstairs and lie down next to her and apologize and she’ll role into me and sleep, and I’ll lie there, waiting for tomorrow.

I’m still working at clarity and implication, what I view as two of my greatest weaknesses.  I have the tendency to alternatively write too vaguely and to over explain myself.  I think I fell a bit into the latter with the narrator’s descriptions of his feelings.  This is the hardest mechanic for me to alter, as when I think to myself I give constant explanations; I understand the world through a series of them, so to simply say someone feels a way and to move on seems unnatural to me.

Often when I’ve tried in the past to leave motives and thoughts to inference they become unclear.

I’ve been reading Horns, I’m about 80 pages in, and I realize that the author, Joe Hill (Stephen King’s kid), never explains his characters’ feelings.  The narration doesn’t seem lacking, so I know one can have intelligible characters who don’t explain and reason their way through existence, I just need to become more comfortable with having them exist unexplained.

There’s always more on which to work.  As Gichin Funakoshi is said to have uttered on his death bed “I finally understand straight punch.” *

* Gichin Funakoshi is the founder of Shotokan Karate-Do and straight punch is one of the first strikes Karate practitioners learn. The learning process never ends, even for great masters.  Especially for great masters.