Poignant Blurs

Creativity Works

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Location: Florida, United States

"Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark, in the hopeless swamps of the approximate, the not-quite, the not-yet, the not-at-all. Do not let the hero in your soul perish in lonely frustration for the life you deserved, but have never been able to reach. Check your road and the nature of your battle. The world you desired can be won. It exists, it is real, it is possible, it is yours." - Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Children's Stories 2

She sat uncomfortably in this house, which was one like in the television shows her mother frowned upon. The prime time sitcoms with families just like this one, except on TV they were always funny. This was just scary. She sat at the table which was a white linoleum card table with metal trim, like one would find at a diner only taller. The chairs too reminded her of a pizza hut or a buffet; chromed metal rising in a high arch at the back, attached to two lower arches on either side which made for legs. Legs that teetered back and forth like the chairs at school, except that these chairs were covered in a hard plastic in some audacious shade of orange. There was a rip in the seat of hers and she unconciously pulled at the foam which stuck through the hole. The man had a loud voice and long blond hair; not long, but too long for a man, and dirty. He drank Budweiser from a can and was trim and strong with fingernails that showed his occupatition. He wore a flannel shirt with a grey hood attached and no sleeves. The mother's voice sounded like grain, like oatmeal, and she resembled the bag it had come in. Her eyes were tired with stringy brown hair and an outfit which could be one piece or two; but shapeless either way.

This was Jody's house. Jody was her friend who brought garish makeup into school which they put on in the bathroom so they could prance around the playground like rockstars; way older and way too cool. The other girls said they were stupid but Jody didn't care and she didn't care because Jody was fun, and nobody else in her class was fun at all. Except the boys, but they still screamed about cooties and the only game they played with the girls was kissing tag, but when it came time for the kiss they were all too shy and she usually ended up punching them in the face to save them both.

Jody had hair like a rockstar, short and punky, spiked on top. Jody lived right next to the school, it was the first time that she had ever invited her over. She wished she hadn't come. The food was some kind of lumpy grey meat with gravy and what must be potatoes. She stared at the food and was thankful that they mostly ignored her presence. When Jody's father asked her a question she felt her throat tighten and she tugged at the unraveled strings on the vinyl chair and choked out the least response she could properly offer. Just then, Jody's father got up to get himself another beer. He happened to notice the floor under her chair. He roared, "Just what the hell are you doing to my chair there?".

She looked down and to her horror she saw little geometric foam droppings all over the floor. In her anxiety she had ripped the hole bigger and had torn much stuffing from the inside and let it drop about her like tainted snow. Jody apologized and told her father she didn't mean it, and Jody's mother tried to calm him down. Jody took her hand and they ran outside then, into the cool air where everything was funny again and they laughed and held their knees.

"What'd you do that for?" Jody asked when they had caught their breath. "I don't know," she said sheepishly, "your dad scares me." "Why?" asked Jody. She just shrugged this time, there was no right answer to that. Jody looked at her for a moment, as if trying to gauge the insult behind the remark, then she remembered the chair. "You're stupid" Judy said matter of factly, and grabbed her hand. Then they ran over towards the school and snuck through the fence and played on the swings, until it got dark and her mother came to pick her up.

Musings

The heat was unbearable, and a woman walked by too close. "This is my sidewalk square", she hissed internally, "This is my smoke break". She imagined herself inside of her ciggarette; inhaled, exhaled, dissipating. Flowers were being delivered to the boutique on one corner, and signs erected on another. "It is because I observe it", she whispered, squinting her eyes, attempting to measure. The power became intoxicating, and she wavered slightly until she realized she was holding her breath, and released it. She ponders the relativity of S & M, and entanglement, frowning slightly at the decoherence, and wonders if her splitting headache might be the result of her experiment; if in fact, her mind is splitting. She studies Dissappearing; studies How Not To Care.

Back at her desk in the cool office air, she stares at the computer screen. It makes no sense. She feels like there are phone calls to be made. No doubt there are. She ought to make a dentist appointment. She ought to think about getting a pair of glasses. She ought to refill her prescription. She ought to go through her files and throw out the old ones. She ought to call one of the customers, any one of them, it doesn't matter. She thinks how silly ought is, as a word. Ouch, ours, out, ounce. You can add a consenant to each and make a new word. Couch, pours, pout, pounce. Incomplete, ought is an incomplete thought. This, she finds, is satisfying.

The sounds of the office are nauseating. The geriatric in the corner sucks on his bridge work. Thsk, Thsk, irregular, indecent, obscene, grotesque, obnoxious, Thsk. Like oyters eaten through a straw. The boys who are old enough to vote for President try repeatedly to string together coherent sentences, but alas, they are not equipped with the proper material required for such complex activity. She reflects on the current Presidency, and shakes her head. It is no wonder.

The one in the middle adds izzle to the end of every word, if in fact they started out as words at all. "Hey Stizzle the fizzle, where's my chizzle?" Across from him a loudmouth New Yorker, suitable for construction. He calls people meatballs, pineapples; uses dyslexic cliches:
"You don't want all your nuts in one shell, " or
"like shit on flies" or
"Don't count all your hats if you know what I mean", he says.
She decides she has observed herself right into the eigenvector of BS.

Children's Stories 1

When the boy was very young, he loved to make up games. He could think up fantastic worlds and creatures in his mind and could occupy himself for hours in his own imagination. This was pleasing for the parents because it left them free to go about their work without the need to constantly be entertaining him.

He would work out elaborate stories and play through them. His favorite companions were his stuffed animals and he became convinced that they were very much alive. He believed that whenever he left the room they would jump into motion and play without him. He wasn't upset that they might play without him as much as he was concerned that he would never know for sure. He thought they must get hungry in his absense and so he took to putting food out for them when he would leave. He always left small bite size pieces so that they wouldn't choke, and whenever he re-entered his room he would check the bits of food for any sort of bite marks, or indication that his toys had in fact gotten up and eaten the treats.

One day he found what he could almost percieve as a tiny bite mark on the corner of a bit of cheese he had left. He stared at it for quite some time. At this point he had really become quite desperate for some kind of a sign. His belief in his toy's secret lives had taken so strong a hold of him that he had to know if it were true, and he wanted badly for it to be true, because he loved them all so dearly. He ran to his mother with the bit of cheese, and his story of how his favorite stuffed animal just "must have been the one to take this little bite here, see Mom!" His mother, horrified, scolded him and asked him what other food he had been keeping in his room. "It's probably rats!", she chided, "You know your toys aren't real, now stop being silly and go clean your room." The boy went back to his room, feeling dejected. He never left food out any more but in his heart he just knew that he was right, some day he would prove it.

The next year the family went to the boy's Grandparent's for the Easter Holiday. The boy loved his Grandma's big house, there was so much room for playing in. He was searching in one of the closets for a plastic sword he liked to play with, when he found a bag full of treats. He looked into the bag, and saw candies and toys, all kinds of things he would love to play with. He thought he would most definitely get in trouble though, since they were not his, and were perhaps gifts for his cousins.He closed the closet, keeping a mental note to check back later, and ran off to play with his cousins.

That night he fell asleep happily, worn out from playing and eager for the morning's suprises. The next morning the Easter Bunny would have come, leaving him a basket of goodies.The moring came brightly through his window, and he hopped out of bed and skipped down the long hall, towards the sounds of his family and the wonder of what the Bunny had brought for him.

The family was all eating breakfast, and they welcomed him into the kitchen with kisses and jovial teasing. He was not hungry though, and eager to go into the living room and play. The other children were there too and had been fidgeting already waiting for him to wake up and so the family got up and the children all ran to rip apart the cellophane and get to the treasure buried in the mound of paper grass. The little boy began pulling out his treats and as he did so he began to notice an unsettling familiarity. He looked about at the treats his cousins were pulling out of their baskets, and he realized he recognized those too. A painful recollection of the bag he had found in the closet on the previous day suddenly bit into the sides of his stomach. He got up and went back to the room where he had found it. The family was busy with the children tossing all the strings of grass and bits of candy around, and the parents trying to take pictures and keep the mess under control. The little boy looked into the closet, and there was the bag, but it was now empty. He sat on the bed, and tried to figure on what must have happened. He figured that it must've been too far for the Easter Bunny to come, and that since his Grandparents did not always have children in their house, the Bunny must not have known where they were either.

Just then his father came into the room looking for him. The little boy asked if his father had known about the bag that had been in the closet. The father looked at the little boy, and he said yes. He said that he had bought the gifts, but that the little boy must not say anything to the other children and must not make a fuss. He told the boy to be good now and go wash up and get dressed for church.

By the time that Christmas rolled around that year, the boy had all but put the incident out of his mind. He had been sad at first, as with the toys, but he still held a belief in his heart, even if now it wasn't as impressive. One of the other boys on the schoolbus was teasing some girls in the back for talking about Santa Claus. "He's not real you know" the boy taunted. "Is so!" the girls insisted. The little boy began again to wonder. He had not thought, after Easter, that this could happen to Santa Claus too. Now he wasn't so sure. He thought about all that it would mean, all that he had seen, and all that he had been told.

About a week later, he could not stand not knowing anymore. He pulled his mother aside in the kitchen one night and asked her. He told her about the boy on the bus, and about the bag in the closet on Easter. She cocked her head to the side, and said, "Oh honey, I thought you already knew. I'm sorry you had to find out this way." The boy did not cry, he did not throw a fit. He was however, very very angry. He wasn't sure if he was more angry that they had been lying to him all this time, or more angry that they had now stopped. Did they think he didn't deserve to have Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny any more, or did this mean they thought he was all grown up? He didn't think he wanted to be a grown up if this was what it was all about. Finding out how ordinary everything is, and how much people lied.

They still put on the Santa Claus act on Christmas morning. His presents were still signed from Santa as they always had been, only it was like he shared a secret with his parents now. A secret that didn't make sense, because who was it secret from anymore? The boy was very confused, and he started to wonder what else wasn't real. He wanted proof for everything. He even began asking questions in his CCD class that upset the teachers. It upset the teachers because they were afraid he would upset the students, the same way the boy in the back of the school bus had gotten into trouble for telling the girls that there was no Santa. He asked why we could not see God here on Earth. The teacher replied that only good boys and girls ever see God when they die and go to Heaven in the sky where God lives amongst the clouds. "If you are a bad boy" she said hoping to scare him off his present track of questions, "you will go to hell and never see God", but he was not frightened. He asked his teacher what happened to all of the kids all over the world who did not believe in Jesus, because she had just taught his class non-believers go to hell for all of eternity. He asked her about Buddhist kids and kids who believed what their parents and communities had taught them all over the world. Would they all go to hell? She told him that that's why there are missionaries, to bring Jesus to all the little children all over the world and to save them. He asked her what happened if they believed in their God as much as they did in Jesus; and what if they didn't want to give him up; or what if their God thought Jesus was wrong and if they believed in Jesus Christ their own God would put them in Hell. She explained that the only "real" God was the God in the bible and that everyone else was merely mistaken, but that Jesus would help the missionaries to show the children the error of their ways. The little boy asked, "but what if the missionaries don't make it to everyone". She told him it was God's will who would be saved and who wouldn't. He asked her what would happen to everybody else, would they go to Hell? She said yes. The little boy thought and thought. He thought that he had liked believing in Santa Claus, he had liked believing in his toys and in the Easter Bunny. The meanest thing they ever did was leave coal in a bad boys stocking, and he had never gotten coal, although he was sure he had been a bad boy from time to time. He wondered about this God who would send little boys to burn in Hell for all of eternity if they didn't believe in him. He who couldn't be seen or observed but believed in, just like Santa. He decided he didn't much like this God. He also decided that since everybody seemed to make up all these stories that turned out not to be true, he didn't want to "believe" in anything. He wanted to know.

Once he decided that he was faced with even more questions. What happens when people die, who's in charge, who decided what is right and wrong; and how does anyone ever know? He decided, after thinking for a very long time, that it must be him who must decide. He decided he must be in charge of himself, and try to learn as much about the world as he possibly could. The boy was still a good boy, he went to Church with his parents and tried to undrstand the lessons and what value they held for him now, but he did not attend the CCD classes any longer.

His parents didn't force him, although they voiced their discontent and wished that he would change his mind. The little boy was determined though. The outside world of things which he could touch and feel and know, no longer seemed "ordinary" to him in contrast with the fantastic trippings of imagination. He began to regard the world around him as full of wonder and surprise. A kind of surprise that one couls know, could verify. He used his imagination to think of all the fanastic things that this world could revel to him, and he began to look for them everywhere. He now realized how much effort his parents put into Christmas each year, and he became more appreciative of each gift. He stopped asking for inordinately long lists of gifts, he stopped wondering why he didn't get everything he asked for. He began to realize that it all had to be worked for, and that his parents worked hard.

By and by, he grew into a teenager, and slowly into a young man. He spent time volunteering, and when he was old enough he went to work to help support himself. He approached the world differently, instead of waiting for things to happen to him he began exploring the things he could learn from the world directly, exploring the way his mind could figure it all out. He got through his teenage years with a minimum of trouble.

He was a bright boy, and as his size increased, so did his stregnth of conviction. He felt that he was finally learning to tell truth from fiction, and to see where each had it's place. He began writing down of all the worlds he had made up as a child, and his imagination was very much alive and well. He did not wonder why people enjoyed fantasy so much, he knew how beautiful a thing the mind could create, and he remembered the wonder these fictions had brought to him in his childhood. He merely didn't need them anymore, he had outgrown the need for fantasy and was fueled now by reality and purpose. Sometimes he would just lay in the grass and feel the hum of the Earth. He loved to watch the sunset, and to see the way that nature connected Earth to sky and to life and set it all a glow. He was a happy young man, and he felt that the world was just waiting for him to claim it.

What Really Happens

The residents of Geirstemajer had one more year, before the ship would return them to their families to live out their final years in peace and quiet. They had tolied diligently for the past 150 years on board, perfecting probing methods and a new "non-invasive" invasion for the "body snatchers". They built smaller and smaller ships until they could launch their Humanauts right into the inner ear of their chosen target. They had mastered the human languages, and most of the members were 90% fluent in at least the major 3000 with a few specializing in some of the more obscure languages and an elite number boasting working knowledge of all 6809 known and recorded languages. Being that the ship was intended solely for the research of human beings, they could afford alot of language practice on board, and made quite a game of it. Their life spans were triple the legnth of the average human being, which afforded them the privelege of following a subject through his entire life span, and possibly even that of his offspring. All data was downloaded to the main computer at the headquarters in Yachnatolis.

There were several such research ships in different regions, and positions on them were considered the highest prestige awarded only to the best and brightest of all aspiring Caollichos. Achieving a position on board one of these vessels meant life long security, (although, once aboard you were not allowed to leave, and the ships did not return even for visits once leaving the dock) but the ships were well supplied and were really small cities in and of themselves.The Caollichos were all especially proud of the Geirstemajer, and it's inhabitants were looking forward to a contented retirement secure in the knowledge of their supremecy. They had managed to keep the industry's lowest record for disruption of the [human] species, and had won several awards for their bold new initiatives established during Operation Cloakbut.

The main credit was awarded to the ship's top neurochemist, Dr. Vuerocoojes, who had developed the compound NIg2MrU3 which effectively allowed them to enter the human body via the ear without the subject knowing, and take total control of his faculties virtually undetected. They were able to operate under the protection of the compound's brain numbing effects for several hours without losing control of the subject. During these missions they learned everything about the functions of the human body and had even made possible the first cloned human beings. They were expecting a special ceremony where they would see "their" babies for the first time back at headquarters. The whole of their modest (though well advanced in human terms) civilization had been improved by the discoveries made on board the Geirstemajer.

There were, at any given time, roughly 900,000 Humanauts on mission from the Geistermajer. They flew in clusters the size of Mosquitos traveling all over the Earth, spreading out only slightly to avoid a disturbance. They targeted the pubs, clubs and brewhouses, sometimes occupying a majority of it's patrons. They waited until late in the evening most of the time, except for a few stragglers who tried to hit quota last minute in the mornings, but this was always riskier and to be avoided.

Dr Vuercoojes, or Vuerco as his comrades called him, was especially anxious to get back to to his home town of Aquitel and relax with his wife and write his final memoirs. There had been some things troubling him of late, and he needed some solitude to reconnect with his deepest passions.

Monday, January 03, 2005

Third Act

Somewhere in the third act, it lost all of it’s meaning. There was just no point in watching anymore. No point in getting up disturbing everyone though either, she couldn’t very well go anywhere until the show was over. He wasn’t going to want to leave now, he seemed to still be entertained, and why shouldn’t he be. Still she felt suddenly stifled in there, knees pressed to stranger’s knees, strange perfumes and people sounds, and she was suddenly aware of a tightness in her throat that would soon give way to gurgling if she did not get out of there now. She tried for one more minute to calm her racing brain and then she stood as quietly as she could and excused herself, down the row, over the stranger’s knees, trying to see despite the blackness and the little flashes of color that were now dancing about in her retina. Outside, a cool breeze and a quick expulsion of dinner later found her feeling much better. She washed up in the ladies room and chewed a piece of the new “fiercely spearmint” gum she kept in her purse.

By the time he made it through the crowds to find her seated on the bench outside, she looked totally composed.“What happened to you?” He asked “Don’t you feel well?”“I’m fine,” she replied “I just needed some air”“Didn’t you enjoy the show?”“Yes, very much, Thanks so much for bringing me out for this, it was lovely!”“Well, you missed the ending, aren’t you going to ask me how it turned out?”“Oh no, it was positively lovely what I saw, I don’t want to hear about it in case I get the opportunity to see it again some day.”The car unlocked with a quick double beep and click, and he held the door open for her to get in. She appreciated the gesture and reached over to pop the handle for him, although it was unnecessary. They settled in and the radio played a light instrumental background for their comfortable silence as they pulled out of the parking lot. It was a good day, and a nice night, and she watched the clouds out her window and traced them in her mind.

Back at his apartment he made cocoa as she undressed, and they sat in the living room holding the warm cups and discussed the next day. There was much to do, it would be Sunday. Laundry, cleaning, paying bills, writing letters, returning phone calls, grocery shopping, a trip to the gym, the final catch up day for the week before heading again into the future. Monday would bring with it again an onslaught of meetings and obstacles and decisions to be made. Sunday was no longer a day of rest, but was respite. A day for unhurried errands and routine, before the new week exploded back into their lives.

The days faded into one another; a flurry of unmentioned mornings after, nights blurred by drink and blended with dreams, until one could not tell any longer what was real. Each day started anew as if there had been none before, only the vague memory that there had been., and the residual consequences followed. The feeling that there was some path started out on which could not be deterred from, an unavoidable momentum, kept her moving, getting out of bed, however groggy and uninspired. She looked for clarity in any form, struggling to see through eyes which would no longer cooperate, drank coffee constantly.

She stopped going out, even to see him. She had forgotten if it even mattered. She spent the nights at her desk, consulting giant volumes of linguistic analysis, dictionaries, thesauruses. The spider had netted her doorway and it's translucent silk had snagged the secrets of her heart as she walked inside one night. She searched for the spider each time she came in or out now, but she was frightened of it and would not know what to say if she found it. If she saw any glimmer as she walked towards the house on the few evenings she had managed in to work, she would peer down in the bushes and stare for long minutes with wide eyes, clutching her bag to her chest. Then she would make the hike around the building, through the laundry facility, and up the steps to the side entrance of her apartment. She wondered briefly what the neighbors must think if they saw her, stranded at her own front door, staring at nothing, swatting at the back of her neck for fear it would drop down upon her and finish her off. It was more important that she finish her writing however, and so she brushed the thoughts away as she could not do with the web.She had contemplated capturing the spider, keeping it in a jar on her desk and forcing it to dictate back to her what it had stolen. When she had opened the door though, she had been paralyzed with terror, and decided instead to consult her old journals and photo albums, searching for the dreams that she used to have. It was that which which had to be done. She had to leave instruction, it had to be clear, it had to make it all ok. The time was slipping away as if steam from her coffee, leaving her hunched and shivering, wrapped around it.She re-read the pages she had managed so far. She cursed the spider and cursed herself.

The wording was over-emphasized, to the point that all the words lost their meaning, relative to the context which was not. The tears were in her coffee before she had noticed them.She wanted to make some noise, some mark for what she felt, but there were no tools; No instruments to blend melody of heart, no rocks to scratch the cave walls with primitive drawings of animals and figures, hyroglyphically; No knives to carve symbolically in skin what can't be spoken because there was also no voice, and no one to hear it. No point in making a physical statement of any kind because there has been no one before and will be no one after. She reached to the ceiling; mute and longing. For what was this tide that creeps inside her caverns, when there is no light or life to care of it? And why alone, must she witness it, with nothing even to yield at her touch, to respond to her reckoning?

Sometimes the words were too much for her, they throbbed and burned. Like knives piercing her brain in frenzied repetition. And then sometimes there were not nearly enough. They were everywhere inside of her, permeating her skin, threatening to bubble over and reduce her to a word puddle on the floor. But still sometimes there were not enough.It is her waking nightmare, the thing of cold wet sheets and nowhere to run to.

She pulls heavily from the damp and tangled bed sheets, as one who has pulled out of the swamp, and does not care where they have landed if there is something solid at long last. The sharp edge of the nightstand where her temple cracks is not the enemy, it is welcome because at last she has made tangible her fear, and there is beauty in the ensuing pain, reminding her of life and a bruise to be hidden in the morning light. Thirstily she gulps last bits of juice from cartons in her fridge, carelessly tossing aside the used cartons and finally finding refuge under the faucet. If only this sleep did not consume her so entirely, as if sleeping were another chore, when all she wanted was refuge, respite, relaxation. In her dreams sometimes she finds herself sleeping, so exhausted by her life and her dreams that she finally recedes from both, only to be teased by the disembodied watching of a self at sleep dreaming of sleep. If this is madness it is certainly maddening enough to bear it's name, but she knows this isn't madness because she is all too aware.Back under covers suddenly comfortable and dry and warm, she again reaches for the unrequited dream of peace. Sleep steals her suddenly, as she if she was being ripped from her world and falling into theirs. They who were drinking her luminosity, blanching her out, making her sallow and moist. She felt the tiny tears between her consciousness and body. Eventually as she weakened, the dreams became more lucid. They were telling her something now, she was learning what it was all about.

Starts and Stops

Emile Jacobson woke up rank. She was twisted in the bed sheets and an unknown body lay buried beside her. The air was acrid and ashtrays lay overfilling on dressers, night tables; beer bottles, empty and full, some with ciggarette butts floating; half sucked blow-pops, wrapper still on, stuck to the dresser; brightly colored children's toys strewn obscenely through the wreckage, a mix with condom wrappers and pacifiers like some perverse joke. She got up quietly, wincing, trying not to disturb her unknown companion. The midday light was undeniable even through the comforter they had hung when morning had first invaded. She half-limped, half stepped over the discarded clothing, glow sticks, a pack of Marlboro's. Her hand on her forehead, as if trying to keep her head on. She tip-toed awkardly up the steps to the main floor and the bathroom and a clock. The living room was still a wash of bodies trying not accept the reality the light of day implied. The wake of their destruction everywhere, as if a war on sanity had been fought, and she supposed it had. In the kitchen was the microwave, which also told time, and there it was, glaring, 3pm. She had to work at four, and so her face contorted now, accepting the inevitable, and she made her way to shower and dress. It was impossible to remove the traces from her face. There was still the radiating iris, the shaky hands. She felt dirty and swollen even straight from the shower. No matter, she cursed herself and slipped out the door. The others were just starting to rise and face a similar fate. They didn't speak then, speaking was an effort and there was no energy to waste.

Later, with the misery of work behind them, they would nurse beers and talk of nothing much, resting, but for now one must be focused on the task at hand, the hours of unhinged mind flapping, when trying to do a mindless job was still beyond their grasp.These were the years between lives. The alleyway where habits of youth were lurking about, waiting to be tossed out, trying to find space of clean air to breathe, and feeling like the dark stink of dead air would remain forever choking them.

Matt Richards sat at the kitchen table with two large books spread out in front of him and papers of notes scattered into haphazard piles. Exams were tomorrow and he could not make his mind focus. The class was economics, and he couldn't remember why he was taking it. His mind flickered over this thought, like a loose tooth, and he rested his head on his elbow, trying to appease it. The kitchen light cast a yellow hue, ominous and full of shadows, over his lean frame in the window. It made his hair seem to be a darker brown, and it seemed to make the words on the page slide off and onto the table. This semester had been harder to explain. At first the momentum had carried him on it's back, but now his legs were being asked to pull the weight of a burden he couldn't see and had never defined. He forced the thought of Jerry into his mind, shuddered, and lifted his head again, resigned. He knew only what he did not want, and for now, that would have to be enough.

It was midnight, and the house was silent except for the rustle of papers and the scratch of his pen. He needed the silence to study, and so he always waited until the house had gone to sleep, but with the silence came the unchecked thoughts, and his focus was divided on holding them back, while simultaneously shoving in the words on pages that were worn with handling. He knew that if he could just look at them all long enough, they would stamp his mind and he would pass the test. The tests were designed for memorization, and he had a good memory, so he allowed himself not to understand. It's only tonight-he thought, my mind isn't right, tomorrow I will go back over it, after the test. He silenced the nagging that whispered that it was not just tonight, that he had not understand much this semester. He silenced it with the fact that his grades didn't show it. He silenced it with the thought-I just have to get through this.

Jerry Murdok sat slouched into the worn out sofa, game controller in his hand, stale beer to his right. He was more couch than man at that moment, and his mother shut the door, saying nothing, she forgot why she had opened it in the first place. She told herself that it was alright, at least he was home, all he needed was time. Jerry looked at the door as she closed it, he hadn't seen it open, but his mind had registered the click, his eyes following like a reflex, no thought in his mind. The TV showed two cars racing with breakneck speed around coastal landscapes, through rain, showcasing the latest Viper, Beetle, and Ferrari models. "Press Start" blinked continuously through the loop of recording intro. He reached between the cushions and pulled out the small glass bowl, mostly only tar remained. He tapped a little of a crushed up percocet into it, and as he inhaled he closed his eyes and dropped his hand, forgetting it was there. His body was numb and as the last thought in his brain flickered past, he caught the tail end of it with a question hook,.....that all?