Sunday Stories: Optimistically opting out of optimalism
A certain quiet came over him. He could have been me. His stomach was upset. Shit does not always happen when being hungry isn’t the reason to eat. He felt like he wanted to live another couple of years. Five, maybe ten. It wasn’t necessary though. Not for him. For me, for me it was.
The fog cleared. One has to love three word sentences. I can describe how things were not: white, clean, well designed. Disoriented, I lay ill. Dreaming of breakfast with the family, it was not optimal. I just wanted to live without deadlines. The line’s dead. Curfew for hopes and desires. I made a face.
– It could be worse, he said.
– It is not optimal, I said.
Just an exercise. Stretching my fingers. Are you there? He was if it was the last thing he did in my life. My illness: unimportant. Names: of no consequence. Verbs: superfluous. Things one can do without. Nothing within, don’t get me started. He disobeyed – I guess it was his constipation overflowing with sympathy.
– We’re talking, aren’t we?, he said.
As if I had a choice in being cheered up.
– You are, I said.
– You said, I said, he said.
– Delete the I, said.
He smiled a paper smile. A simile of a paper smile, rather, a screen smile which could not be torn or marginalized. He was angry and his anger was teeming with mine. Up he stood – words can be as misplaced as feelings. At that point the only thing we wanted was to be at each other’s throats; put a knife in and be done with it. The problem was that he wanted his life and I wanted mine.
– Just say it, I said.
– We could trade places, he said.
Except that we couldn’t, obviously. I could take his but he couldn’t, if my life depended on it, take mine. No need to say something we both knew. I wouldn’t take his life anyway, not out of cowardice or at least that was what I tried to think.
– The misery, he said, is all mine. You know that. You are going to die. I am going to live.
A pause. We both stared into the light (LED, I think). If we did that long enough we didn’t have to face each other. Try being blinded by a LED light. Ridiculous.
– At least you’re not having pity with me, I said wryly. At least you will have the chance to change your mind.
– Fat chance.
He was right of course. Rightly off course. Like being bullied by an obese kid, straddling on top of you; his full weight on your chest. A crowd gathering and not a single one of them to take it from your point of view. Too scared, scared shitless in fact, to show weakness of any kind. Who would be next after all? Better to play it safe and stay locked up. No, things were not optimal. I made him see that clearly now.
– Sorry, I said, didn’t mean to depress you but I’m dying here. You want to take my place, I know. To do yourself a favor. That’s O-Kay as well. It’s real enough. I don’t want to do you a favor though. I like you and all, that’s not it. I’m just thinking that this is as good a time as any to have some self-pity.
– Now you’re talking, he said in a smiley-face kind of way. Any time is a good time for a bit of self-pity. Being harsh on yourself just is an omen of being harsh with others. Wallow all you want. I’ll wallow with you. I’ll call your wallow and wallow some more. There won’t be an end to it. Oh, no walls between us (smiley-face exclamation mark!)
We hugged, in a figurative way for sure. Neither of us was very prone to be taken literally. I think because it alliterates with litter. We were together as haphazardly as words sharing a couple of phonemes. It was as it should be; not optimal at all, but as should be. A discovery of sorts: he had his death wish and I just wanted to live. I always wanted to live and forgot to. He always wanted to be out and effortlessly got in. Like now, deep inside of me, he was stirring something up. I cried a little. He sat back. Physicality was removed entirely from a room where there was no space anymore, not between us.
– I’m sad, I whispered.
– Be as sad as you want, he said, I care.
– Can I write this down?, I asked
– If you don’t, I will, he said, it will be our gift.
– To whom?, I asked.
– You ask all these questions, he said with some irritation, as if you’re still a 10-year old in need of answers. Just let it go. People will pick it up if they need it. If they don’t (pick it up) they may kick it in view of somebody else. Who knows? I don’t.
– You offer all these rationalizations, I said in an even voice, as if you do not care. But you do though, you care more than I do. You live in a place where things might happen. What’s actually happening is never enough. So you want out? I don’t.
We were both as right as we were wrong. For the briefest of moments there was this sense of transmigration. Maybe it wasn’t just a sense. It felt real enough. Migration really is the hardest of things for mortal souls. It’s hard to leave and it’s hard to accept. Migration also is the most common thing for mortal souls. It’s impossible to stay the same. People try all the time, with a vengeance mostly, but they fail, miserably.
It wasn’t the first time we communicated. It was the first time we left it without a need to argue. Maybe we reached an understanding.
I stayed, but not for long.
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