Chapter One

This is the official first chapter of a fictional series that I have been working on in my head as well as on pieces of paper for about nine months now. A previous chapter has already been published through this outlet. It is the previous post. Expect more and in a linear fashion.

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I’ve learned that some people don’t actually get any better, that they may think the prospects in life are improving, but in reality they will plateau at a young age and repeat the only trick they can perform much confidence or skill.  Some people don’t get any worse either, they lay like a wanton ship at a dock, gathering rust from the inside out. Some people don’t get any good, ever. But I’m pretty sure they are aware of that unfortunate fact. Some people think they move free, untethered, but they are in fact stagnant, playing human in some cosmic hallucination and are falling like wounded birds, one into a marsh, bruised and battered, staring listlessly at the fading stars with a blossoming smile of adoration. And I can’t help but think what a burden it must be to love one of them.

The phone would ring. Or it rang. I’m getting lost in tenses. Either way, the bottom line is that phone has been making noises and I haven’t been touching it. I stopped opening the mailbox, stopped checking my email and stopped paying the bills.  I’ve been regularly masturbating, working, reading and sleeping in no particular order. I will sometimes perform two of these simultaneously. Usually I do one at a time and is not very exciting. Some days I’ll go out and meet some friends at a bar. I’ll look around noisy and impatient, at the sea of smiling faces and complicated and swallow my two drinks intimidated by the circuits and volts of life, then quickly I’m behind the wheel going home.

Honestly, I’ve been staying busy. This isn’t a confession of my depression and my isolation, of a person admitting they are in fact very complicated and deep. I’m jovial, polite and slightly shallow. I see shows. I go to lectures. I listen to my professor. But these activities are too distant. I’m the recipient in these situations, not the acting, pushing and pumping agent breathing and teeming with life and experience. It’s odd. Giving really is much better than receiving. The calls were flooding in, and now I’m overflowing with advice, most of it good, but in such a heavy volume and it weighs me down, like a nation founded on good intentions. The mantra’s are slowly becoming the man. I am concerned. The wise words get floundered, misnamed and swallowed between brushing shoulders and exaggerated sighs, in those dark, uncounted places where strangers congregate and play human. The benefit is that I’m getting much better at convincing myself I am better. However, most people see through myself.

I am doing different things, to trick myself. When I’m getting antsy, I go for long walks in the woods as twilight approaches and get high and read poetry. Mostly Thomas and Tennyson. Berryman when I feel adventurous. I go out to dinner with friends, and I focus on them and our conversations. I am occupied and happy when I am given the chance to pursue what I want to do. The situation isn’t the same at work. I have entirely too much freedom, but not the kind I enjoy. The kind where you have to look over your shoulder to make sure you’re aren’t having too much fun or being watched. And when I’m not actually doing anything, which is often, I am vulnerable to this unending self-consumption, the fever dreams of my imagination. I become lost in the thicket of what isn’t and what may be, and that ball in my stomach reemerges. That’s why she told me to start writing this down – to let it out. Then I can relax. And I’m here again, the branches sway, the light catches the room, and my mind follows loosely like a bastard seeking the warm solace of to be held, and to be felt, and to be acknowledged, and the power of the following recognitions bask. I guess Conrad was right when he said imagination was the enemy of man.

There is another precipitatory concern in all this, there is a worry, that these new ways of living is the dawn of a new age of personal habits. The when, how and why of my drinking. The rationale behind my sleep pattern. My taste in art and the capacity it has grown to function as a diversion. My life could be considered a mess. I figure that the problem with habits is that you do not force them, cannot will them, you can repeat something often and religiously, but until it is unconscious and subliminal, until you hear and feel yourself doing it before you see and know, it is not a habit. It is a pattern. It is a habit when it becomes that sudden incalculable manuever. It is when intent meets nature, a black gauze becomes cast over memory, and the revelatory unknowable has become awakened to an unfortunate truth. Then suddenly I’m saddled with a ritual. At least I’m not smoking anymore.

Take my running for example. The urge began as this notion pulsating in my chest, quietly clamoring for motion. A mumbling voice repeating “You should go for a run.” I started on a treadmill with a coworker on a day we both had off, where the sun breathed in through studded concrete and the reflection of the pool held in the back of his apartment complex last summer.  I would be trotting hard and fast with heavy, full feet, like an elephant, pounding and trampling on the scrolling black tarp that forced away the dissenting voices. I couldn’t quit. My coworker couldn’t quit. That unbridled shame would be come public, a level up from that silent guilt that sticks within the tar of your chest when you quit in private. I wasn’t ready for my shame to be public then, at least not last summer.  I didn’t have a reason to quit either.

I started running on the street, something I never tried before. I didn’t know how to start, I stumbled and prodded like an awkward boy until my feet answered the questions and took me off at a brisk pace into the dusklight, between street lights, under an unconsistent canopy did my breath falter, but I continued on, like a strong willed soldier with weak judgment. And then the pain set in. I looked at the moon. I heard a voice remind me that Machines know me better that I know myself. So I breathe in, and relax, and try something different.

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