Challenge, A Rationalization

Flash Fiction Challenge 100 – Day 80

Photo by Nick Morrison on UNSPLASH.

The man ignores all the signs from his body.

Something is wrong, he suspects, but he refuses to take any proactive measures on his behalf.

He feels things shifting inside him, moving, growing, becoming, and hurting.

He knows he needs to see a doctor, but the idea leaves him listless. If it’s nothing, then why bother? If it’s something, something serious possibly, then he doesn’t relish the idea of going into some bottomless hole of debt.

So he tries to drink more water, get better sleep, stress less.

And write. Of course, every day is the same for his new passion – writing. He writes every day because he is a writer now, and writers write.

It’s a laughable dodge – a thin pretense. He knows he will never reproduce. His stories are the only children he will ever bear. Not that he considers himself a genius writer. But putting some mark on the world – regardless of how insignificant – had turned out in the last few months to have more importance than he cares to admit.

In the end, it boiled down to this. Life was meaningless, but writing gave him meaning. This irresolvable koan was his truth now.

He feels he still has lingering effects from the beating he took from Covid earlier in the year. Odd little things that might be significant, but he ignores each with the same seamless intensity.

If he stands too quickly or ducks his head oddly, his balance floats away from him. He does his best not to move in any way that seems correlated with its arrival. And when he forgets, he steadies himself on some solid object until his balance returns.

And then there’s the crossing of his eyes.

GOOGLE informs him the name of this phenomenon is Strabismus.

He leaves work early, making a stoic show about how he intends to go to a primary care clinic. Instead, he sits in his car and dives deep into GOOGLE. His buoyed by what he finds. The decision to not go to the doctor is made automatically.

‘Am I crying for help?’ the man wonders.

He suspects he is simply crying. Over the fleetingness of life. Over how easy it is to mistake the promises of effortless health and vitality that are so abundant in one’s youth as being forever.

He no longer believes he is immortal.

Every time he enters a password or PIN, it amazed him how thin the line between knowing and being who he thinks he is and some blubbering mess that complains incessantly about the boorish antics of father-time.

He longs to slow down, slow way down. Stop the busyness of life, and smell the roses.

To possibly reconnect with her. The one that came the closest to being ‘the one.’ But that too was fraught with difficulty, and he longed for the uncomplicated love from his twenties. But that is a lie even he doesn’t believe. Love, for him, was never an easy, casual thing. For him, love had always been stitched from difficulty.

Still, he is certain; if she’s not the one, if this truly ends, then he is done with the enterprises and machinations of love.

Through it all, he writes.

His life is finite. He will die one day. But the writing has handed him the meaning he had sought all along.  

He has no illusions (or does he?) that people will read his works once he is gone, weep violently, and declare him a genius. There has been nothing to suggest anything remotely like that. Some people like his stories. His style, in this early phase of formation, still varies widely. He is still scanning, looking, seeking the niche that will become ‘his.’

Leaving a pile of stories behind isn’t much consolation for one’s mortality. But in the end, it isn’t about the stories left behind. It is simply about the act of uncovering some vision, writing a story, and paring away everything that didn’t progress the story.

He was a writer. He writes.

He will finish his challenge. There will be time for doctors later, he tells himself.

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