A Very Short Story

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He never knew why; only when. He couldn’t miss it when it hit. It was as though he was filling up inside with concrete, from the feet to the head. A slow, cold, creeping pain that he didn’t feel as much as experience. His speech slowed, his reactions all but stopped. He could stare, just stare, for hours. Why not? When he felt like that what else was there to do? Television was too loud, talking bothered him – especially when other people were doing it – and all he wanted to do was close his eyes, forget where he was, pretend he wasn’t.

But instead, it was as though someone had invited the world to watch him. Was he okay? People didn’t always ask, but he felt that they did. He rolled the answer around on his tongue and it tasted like “what the fuck do you think?” but, of course, he didn’t need to speak it aloud. Even when people did ask he didn’t answer honestly. “Sure,” he’d say, he was “fine!” and if they didn’t believe him then at least their eyes were working as they should be.

When the concrete inside had hardened, when the cold wetness had left him numb, he would start the task of chipping away at it until he was able to move again, to speak and to feel. What had taken just hours to set could take days to break free from. But it was possible. He’d done it a hundred times. And each time he did so he’d kick through the dust, piled upon dust from the last time, and see himself under it all. As long as he could see who he was in the debris then all was well. If it was ever the case that he couldn’t find the bottom of the pile, then he’d worry.

But it didn’t take long to see himself. Not so far, anyway. He wasn’t lost – wasn’t losing – just yet. And at least when it happened he knew how to deal with it. He had the tools in his head. All he required to chip away at the heavy stone weight that held him down from within was known to him. Sitting at home – in several homes – his chisels loved him. And he used that love like a hammer. So far, nothing was unbreakable except his belief that he was winning. Even when he wasn’t.

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