Poignant Blurs

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"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

Monday, January 03, 2005

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?

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