This story is a piece of shit. Not really, because, personally, I think it’s good. But it’s different from other stories I’ve written because I don’t base this on my own experiences–I base it on perceived experiences, my own personal hell at times, and I base it on possiblities. This story is hypothetical. This story is about how we sometimes just want to forget everything and eat ice cream. That’s the shit part, because it’s impossible to forget yourself–and subsequently any attempt to do so is an exercise in futile. This story is hypothetical because this guy has the power to forget, and that’s something none of us have.
“Think you’re escaping and run into yourself. Longest way round is the shortest way home.”
He sighed, malcontent, suffering from the ineluctability of his current situation. He had already started and now he needed to finish: You don’t just ice down the champagne and not drink it, he reflected. He had begun and there was no way he was turning back. He could not turn back: Turning back was a pain, and the way to cure the real pain was to ice the champagne. So he stepped forward; or rather was moved forward by the cadent clicks and hops and skips of the train as it approached its destination. He saw the familiar landmarks pass by, and as they passed they became unfamiliar: New angles and ways of looking at things forced him to retreat within, to smell softly the scent of the grocery store roses. He fettered and fidgeted until a hand—the hand that resides inside of him—placed itself on his shoulder and the hand’s voice whispered: Don’t worry. I will be alright, and so will you.
Ha. So he would be alright. That was what the voice always told him. But, still, there was no turning back: in his mind he had already begun, the scene was visualized and played out. He would meet her and he would give her the roses and he would take her hand in his hand, two hands meeting: one as warm as steam, one as cold as ice. His was the icy hand. He would take her hand in his icy hand, and he would tell her the words that resided within him. That was how it would go. The words he would say were I love you. He would tell her that he loves her and what would she do?
His mind’s eye was distracted once more by an unfamiliar landmark, a billboard for Blue Bunny. He had missed his stop, so busy was he, lost in his thoughts. A new thought rambled its way through the thorns: I am hungry. He was hungry, you know, and his hunger was transcendental of his flesh. He wanted something cold, and here was a board presenting it to him—he wanted ice cream. He remembered a place he and she had gone once before, a long time back, before the billboard was up, and how it was not a block off. So he got off the train when it was time, stepping first with his left foot and then with his right, a tiny toy soldier marching off in search of nuts.
As he marched, he wondered why he was carrying the flowers. Where had they come from, and where would they go? Had he not already given them to her? Of course he had. He remembered the vitriolic scene. He would tell her that he loved her, and she would smile, but not a happy smile, a smile of fear and inevitable heartache. She would smile, and she would say I don’t feel the same, which is the worst possible thing you can do to a person without directly cutting open their chest cavity and ripping out their innards. All this had already happened once in his mind’s eye, so why would he need to repeat?
He threw the flowers in a trash can without missing a beat, and watched disinterestedly as tears released from his ducts. He could not in honesty say he was upset, or that he was tired or worn-down, or that he was at all. He was; but in refusing to acknowledge, he stopped being. He marched. He marched to the ice cream parlor, and he found his nuts in a scoop of pralines and cream. He sat in a booth and wondered why his ice cream was so salty, why his hands were so cold. He looked at his hand and mused that it fit into another, but he could not remember which. He could only remember the sorrow that had so recently been absent from his life, and how there were words but the words were not true; and they were not true because when he gave them away they were broken. He was not, but he was exhausted. How could he not be? There was a steep incline towards the truth, and the closer you came to it the harder it was to say. He could not say the truth but he could feel it, and the truth tasted of salt and smelled of the lingering scent of roses on his clothing. He took off his jacket almost mechanically, and he set it down on the bench next to him. That was better. A heavy burden was lifted from his shoulders and he found he was capable of voluntary motion once more. As he left the oppressive building, he did not turn to go home but rather to find a nice place in the park to sit and sleep. He loved the park, and it loved him. He could not say the same of her.
Across the town a woman sat in a house, thumb over send but not pressing down. The number was his number, and he was supposed to be there. She had gone over it all in her head: He would come in, he would give her roses, he would take her steamy hand in his hand, and he would tell her that he loved her; and she would tell him that she loved him back, and they would together be happy.
P.S. The title, so far, is an Ineluctable Situation–although I’m considering changing it to “I did love you once”, which is a phrase from Hamlet. H-dog says it to Ophelia in III.ii because he’s going through some messed up things. When he says it, I think he’s lying–but that doesn’t mean people with advanced degrees and funny hats don’t disagree with me. Notions for the title? Please share in the comments below.