I was not afraid to die, and still didn’t became more aware of the mortality of my body than when I had paper in my hand in the age of moving pictures. Reading made me sick to my stomach. The truth is in the scribblings of men ideas were drawn out, kneaded, danced around until they no longer held any meaning. A good message is lost in his circumstance. If one would have tried to translate the average pompous brawn in to the common language, one would probably have realized that. The world is cruel and most of us are just resources. But immature concepts are hidden behind monumental formulations about which any scholar of literature could lose himself in perverse self-reflection sessions during solitary evenings. They just tickle your brain. Maybe tears will come. Whether this should be considered wise….
The world is too big to fit into one man’s concept. You can only tell stories and hope that something will stick – and the human; the human is too small not to be described easily. But the small world we create for ourselves, in which we are trapped or which gives us courage has to be enough for us. Many were blessed in what they had and what they appreciated. Life is truly not complicated if you do not stray from the path, or ask for it.
Like others, I too, had grown up among people of the same age who liked to make silly mistakes, but youth is usually forgiven. Like almost everyone who came before me and after. Don’t stray from the path, keep your head up.
Yeah, I’ve heard them talk enough too. The eternal platitudes against which even a simple question turns out to be an insult. Torn up by directions. I’ve met so many people who couldn’t think clearly from all the luck they’ve had. Each of them had moved in different directions, and I…I…must have done something wrong, because I had decided against all of them.
I finished my glass of whisky and looked down at the laptop, I had bought. It was cheap and it was useless for anything else but writing and surfing the web. It felt like it always felt when you did something for a while without anyone but you: empty. Without much importance. Good stories stick, but really good words, they make you feel not so lonely. That’s all I had ever asked of my muses, just a fight to the bitter death.
I was sitting at the desk in my one-room apartment. It was a shaky piece of mobile, but I had taken over the furniture of the apartment and if I hadn’t taken it, I would have had an empty room. No money to set up my own life. I had to crawl under someone else’s bed. It was a small boarding house. The woman who owned it, I talked to her a lot. She sometimes invited me to drink in the evenings and because money was running low at the end of most months. . . thanks to the welfare state. . . I lost a lot of weight towards the end. She saved my life. My food for the poor without any pity or remorse served.
She had lost her husband three years ago. She had no children. The rooms were all she had left.
“I have had everything, but I couldn’t share anything anymore,” she had said, “Taking care of things is the best way to distract yourself from pain.”
Sometimes she talked to him as if he was still there, she told me, I didn’t answer, but she called herself crazy on her old days and then we laughed before we clinked our glasses again.
I typed a few words into the computer. Pornography. What a great invention for those who had no effort to give in life. I did it in no time at all. I had no one to impress, when you play a solo it was at most a training experience. As always after masturbating, I was disgusted by it, and I opened the window to get some air. I sat back down. Looked up on the roof. The sound of cat’s charivari came to my ears. The wind carried it over the roofs of the concrete blocks.
That night I fell asleep. I hadn’t written anything, just the word “why?” on a blank page; Well, I guess truer than that it couldn’t have been. That’s how it was. We all die stupid about that. But my fear was more of dying without ever having lived. I hadn’t written that down, just done it and then I wondered what it meant at all. Happiness was not my thing, but still a good excuse when it came to explaining my life away in short words. It was not luck; much more timing was my problem. I did not roll the dice for Chance, unless it was about my place in the system.
“You knew the risk,” he said as he scraped the soles of his shoes on the living room table. He drove over it three times, then the bottom of his shoe was clean. I asked him why he was acting so terribly, but he said nothing. The whole night had passed. I had mastered nothing, only created a man who wanted nothing, could have had nothing, I could not stand and whose words brought me to the brink of madness. I had written myself into my story. . . why we narcissists can never shut up. The first thing I did when I saw the sun break into my room was to think about why I hadn’t just gone to bed, but I already knew theanswer: I wouldn’t be able to sleep.
Sleeping is for the balanced or those who have already given up. The only difference between them was what time they got up. I took my keys out of the bowl that was by the door. Threw a jacket over me. It was early December and I went to the bakery which was a stone’s throw from my room. I drank a coffee, hoping that the warm, bean spiced water would make me tired. Caffeine overdose didn’t seem to work for me. I was always awake. Always.
I fell asleep around 2:00 in the afternoon. I had gone back and before going upstairs I had fetched the mail. It was a stack of letters. I threw it on the desk and laid down on the bed. I must have stared at the ceiling forever, because the last time I looked at the clock, it was 2pm. What was I thinking about? I can’t remember. If there was anything that was worthwhile, you can be sure that I would have written it down. There were pieces of paper scattered all over my room. I couldn’t kill myself through a paper cut. That I didn’t pay attention to them though was the real tragedy. Sometime after that I fell asleep.
When I woke up, it was late at night. Children were playing outside in the glow of the cold winter evening blush and had woken me up. The fireball had just disappeared behind the horizon. Life went on, even in the shadows. It never slept, and if it did, we would all have reason to worry. I went to the window, opened it and yelled at the children to shut the fuck up. Little brats. They didn’t take me seriously and I closed the window down completely. It was cold anyway, but I liked freezing when I was sleeping, so I had mostly tilted it.
I went to the desk and sat down. I didn’t quite know what to do. The day was over. The night began. There were many people out there who enjoyed themselves and I envied them because I didn’t even have the strength to pretend to be like them. The letters were on the desk. There were a few from Social Services – Confirmations and information. Some of them were weeks old. I went over them. One at a time. Tore them open and read there insides. Going through them, there was one that caught my eye. Addressed to “Mr. Nathaniel Schradinksi” it said. My hands were shaking. I put it down and got up out of the chair.
I washed my face in the bathroom. I looked at myself in the mirror for awhile. The blue shinning eyes and the long black rings they threw. I tried to smile. Clown, that’s what I thought. Not even a very good one. I couldn’t even make myself laugh anymore. I could have told some stories, but they were really just sad. What would one more disappointment there I sat back in the chair and tore open the envelope. A simple letter fell out with an invitation.
“We would like to meet you, Mr. Schradinksi,” it said, “I think you have created something special.”
The next day and after a phone call with a secretary the appointment was set. I had not slept to be able to have the call in the morning. Only after I had planned to lie down.
“Is that a problem?”
“No, just quite unusual. Normally at this time of day there is no one else in the house”
“But I’m awake and well rested”
“Let me clarify this and I’ll call you back”.
Five minutes I sat around and starred on the screen of my smartphone. Some people actually use these things to communicate. People like me don’t get messages. No friends. No relatives. No one who dared to care about me. . . except. The phone rang. I answered it.
“This is Sarah from Lovely Life Literature. My secretary said you might be interested, Mr. Schradinksi. We are very pleased to hear about this. I love your story, it has so much depth and the way you write about the buds in the fields. . . when you compare them to counting heads…the cold shiver still runs down your spine. We will be very happy to represent you if you decide to let us do so and the late hours outside business hours should not be a problem in your case”
“Mr. Schradinksi, then I look forward to meeting you tomorrow. I’ll leave you back to my secretary. Tell her to explain to you how to get here”
“Then I wish you a wonderful day, Mr. Schradinski”
She put me through to her secretary again. I heard an automated announcement and after the recorded announcement thanked me for the first time for my patience, I was put through. She gave me directions and then I hung up. I just sat there for a while. At that table. Shouldn’t I be happy? Wasn’t that what I wanted? Finally be published? To finally be somebody and be able to go out there and give a description after my name of what I actually did with my time? It was an empty feeling, but well, it wasn’t real yet either. I rubbed my eyes. I was tired. I tore my clothes off. Put me on the mattress. My body sank in. I felt heavy. I pulled a piece of paper from my desk bending over from the bed and started to write a letter:
I’m at the fork of a road I don’t feel safe on. No matter which path I take, I am ready to face the consequences, and when I look at them more closely, my fear is not even that I am choosing the wrong path. all things are just alternatives to the next one – its advantages they got all somewhere; but what if it turns out in retrospect that all these thoughts I have had would never have made a difference?
Recently I feel free from the burden of having to think constantly. I guess in a way I’ve committed myself to my plan. It has precise steps to follow. . . but it feels fake: every day I have to convince myself that I am still on the way. I know the rules and the system I was raised in too well; I can sell everything but myself in words. Atrophy, as if I take a sadistic pleasure in seeing myself suffer. Masochism, I don’t call it, because I’m too far off track for that to not be able to observe myself. Fitting, cause I’ve somehow always spent my real life watching people. It’s almost like an addiction when someone sticks out of the uniform pap and I can trim the overhanging blade of grass down again; but even I wanted to be able to see the true face in them, I actually never wanted to be one of them.
Now these days I am concerned with one question above all: Imagine one could switch off the rationalizing voice in your head. The one that accompanies you everywhere: the one that lets you plan and reflect, and learn when you remember her sound or write it down, when you have her as well as me constantly in your ear. Imagine if I could see the relevant part of the 90% that I cannot consciously control. Of course, only talk about what you really want to control. The mist of inseparable confusion; that makes you act, dream, feel and crave for satisfaction; that makes you flinch; that terror drives the joints of your bones or accompanies you unsatisfied throughout the day,
And after all these years, I can’t. To claim that would be not only foolish but also arrogant to an extent that I hope I will never allow myself to say that. For nonetheless, if your future is set in stone, then it is only other people who will be decorating the runes. You stop reacting and just live in this limbo between plan and time, which passes while you wait in the standstill to pass the next stumbling block. What do the 90% have to do with it? Well, if it wasn’t for the 90%, you would be the most desirable woman in the world by now and I would be without a doubt the ruler of this cursed world. The influence of the 90% above which one should actually be exalted. I think to push this 90% part of us away, at the moment of need and in need of explanations, is not only foolish but simply failing to live up to what we basically call living. Emotions are nasty creatures that leave you defenceless. They live in the stomach, where 90% of the signals to our brain come from. Sharing them relieves them and creates new emotions at once; like a hydra; neither good or bad; it makes no difference to keep them to yourself, they haunt you anyway. Even if words can only be misunderstood, if not used enough, they affect emotions and how we understand and perceive things, how we get lost in each other’s eyes, in the moment itself, we feel ourselves. . . and sometimes, when they are very nasty, they even stay away from us completely and permanently.
I hope you found the voice again. I miss the fact that we care about someone. In that respect, I wish you a nice coming day. Have a magical day. The winter magic will soon have melted and then only the pathetic rest of snow will remain, the one we all try year round not to carry within our hearts
Yours dearly Nathaniel
I knew what I was missing, but I was ready to die alone. I was not scared of it. To decide, that was the lot of women. We men could only be honest and open in what we wanted. I wanted to be with a woman. Her name was Magdalena and it never got to be, because I never looked at myself and thought that I was good for her until I understood that it was all about being there for her. . . not for me anymore. . . she didn’t need me to be good, I only wished for that and good was such a disgusting word anyway; her narcissism was enough for me, what more did I want than her listening to her stomach choosing me? I blew the cigarette smoke out of my lungs.
Intestines. A string from head to toe. I could hang them on a flagpole and dry them, stuff them and we would be nothing more than an extremely exotic sausage. No wonder that the nerve tissue lies over the outer skin of my appendix and holds it in place. Whatever I can satisfy my stomach with, is good enough now. Just another organ matter piloting jellyfish that wants to consume this whole planet for what it is worth. Got a fresh hook for me?
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