It occurred to Blue that he had a small life now to match
his small life. He would go into work
with his friend Fred on some days and wander the small university town
there. Fred attended the university and
wanted very much to be a doctor. It
seemed to Blue that it had something to do with Fred’s mother, although it also
seemed to him that no one but Blue spent very much time with her, even though
it was a very large family. Blue found
himself comparing his life to Fred’s.
Fred seemed to have so much.
Blue met more of Fred’s relatives. Fred had many relatives. They had so much
energy. Many of them were angry, like
Fred. Some were not. It seemed they were
like trees, or blades of grass; each one unique in their own way. One was named Suzy. She kept saying, “That’s not the way it
happened, Blue.” She was angry about
this. Blue wanted to explain to her that
his life was not big enough to hold the real Suzy, but he felt she would not be
sympathetic to this. Yet he gave her a whole day of his life.
It occurred to Blue that his life was perhaps moving too
fast, was lacking detail. He was unsure
how to deal with this, or whether to worry with it at all. Indeed, should someone with only 68 days of
100 words each spend any time at all worrying?
To be sure, he had once considered that it made sense to plan his life
to get the maximum out of it, but something had happened. Almost immediately, life itself had gotten in
the way, distracting him, and he had forgotten all about his plans if he had
any to start with.
Blue casts quickly about his room for detail. He looks at the floor boards and the tight
lines between them and the grain in each board.
He looks at the boards running up the wall, and the barren window framed
by four more boards. He looks at the
wooden door hung on either side of his room, the doors that touch his bed if
they are opened too far. His bed frame
is made of iron. The mattress sets
directly on a web of springs. Life is
passing by too quickly. It is squeezing
him out of the room.
Blue grabs a jacket and rats out of the house. He doesn’t know where he is going. Outside it is night, ut there is a full moon
lighting the neighborhood. He grabs the
handlebars of his bike, his right foot landing on the starter. The engine kicks over and he wheels out into
the street, onto the road, picking speed, following the river. He is riding into the mist swallowing the
road, not sure whether he is running away from or toward something. Somehow it seems that it has him either
way. He twists the throttle down and
Blue is concerned. He
is at 35, over one third of his life passed by, and he has not accomplished
anything. He has not had a life he tells
himself. He is wasting what precious
little time has been given to him. How
can this be? He has not even established a plan or a goal. He has not even tried to do anything. All he has done is react to what has been
presented to him. He may as well have been a twig or a leaf hanging in the
wind, he tells himself. What good is he?
Blue wants to stop everything while he figures it out, but
he cannot. If he tries then his life becomes about figuring his life out, and
he is not sure that is what he wants his life to be about. It seems to him that life should have a
purpose. Maybe not. After all, it is a
temporary thing, an infinitesimal spark lost in an infinite void. That makes Blue feel small. But when he
considers all the possibilities carried within infinity, he realizes that there
is no such thing as possibility, that all things are certainty. Blue toys with the idea of certainty.
Blue looks at the other 100-word entities around him. He notices that some of them appear to have
continuity from day to day as he does.
Others do not. None of them seem to be concerned about their existence.
Sometimes their writers are. It occurs to Blue that if something happened to
his writer that he would not get his full 100 days, that not even that is
guaranteed to him. His writer could just go away tomorrow and Blue would cease
to exist. On the other hand, his writer
allowing, Blue could exist much longer than 100 days.
Blue talks to his friend Fred that evening about the
writer. It seems the writer is a god in
many senses, and he wonders what kind of god would create a self-aware being and
then snuff him out after 100 short days for no apparent reason at all. Blue feels angry. Blue notices Fred is looking at him
strangely. “What?” asked Blue.
Fred is dirty from working his shift at the gas station. His
hair is slicked with oil, and he is carrying a large stack of textbooks. “You created me, you fuck! Look what you did for me.”
Blue felt badly about Fred, of course. It had not occurred
to him that he was responsible in any way for Fred. He has assumed everything
was the writer’s fault. He decided to do
something nice for Fred. Fred wanted to be a doctor. He would make Fred a doctor. So what if he was a little young. He would make him a regular Doogie Hauser. Fred liked motorcycles. He’d give Fred a whole garage full of
motorcycles. Fred was still a
virgin. Fred would have a new girlfriend,
who adored Fred and loved sex. And Fred would live!
Fred moved out of his mother’s house, Doctor Fred that
is. He took his mother with him. He was very happy, and he was especially
happy with his new girl friend Susan and his new motorcycle collection. He was very grateful to Blue, and made sure
there was room for him at his new house.
It wasn’t long before Doctor Fred was making plans to get married to Susan
and of course Blue was to be the best man.
Doctor Fred worked long hours, and his mother, Susan, and Blue spent
many days discussing the nature of the world.
Blue began to feel restless, taking longer rides on his
motorcycle. He decided to go up north for a week. When he told Fred and Susan,
they looked at each other grimly. “It’s just
a week,” Blue said.
“You can stay here as long as you like,” said Susan.
“You know you’re always welcome,” said Fred.
“Nice for you,” said Fred’s mother. “You know what happens to us while you’re off
looking for America, doncha?”
Blue knew. But given
the choice between being a prop in Fred’s story and living his own, he was
coming to a quick decision.
The writer gave Blue a father who had a hunting cabin in the
Upper Peninsula. Blue absorbed his new
father. At first, he was happy to have a
father. Then it occurred to him that he
now had more responsibilities. He was responsible to his new father in the same
way he was responsible to Fred, Susan, and Fred’s mother. There was something worse. He felt that he was no longer enough. He had
always felt that a little, but now it was much worse. There was some
expectation larger than life that he was not living up to.
Blue packed his motorcycle for the trip. It was sixty degrees when he pulled onto the
freeway, the sun beginning to burn the dew off the road. His mind seemed to roll into the beat of the
motor, and the easy movement of the bike beneath him. It was nearly hypnotic in a way, and the
thoughts that had bothered him until now seemed to recede as the towns gave way
to hills and solid forest. He crossed the Mackinac Bridge just after 6, making
a right down 134 toward Hassel and Cedarville, heading north again out of
It was getting dark and cooler as Blue got to the cabin.
There was plenty of wood, he noted as he unlocked the door and went
inside. He lit the single lantern and
took off his backpack. Tomorrow he would
have to go back into town for some food and water. It might take him two or three trips, because
he might need ice depending on what kind of food he got. Tonight though, he would rest. Maybe he would eat breakfast in town, so he
wouldn’t have to wait until he got back to the cabin for food.
The next morning, Blue lashed the green water jug to the
back of the motorcycle for his first trip into town. He stopped off for
breakfast at Ang-io’s, filling the jug at the local gas station, and topping
off the BSA. Then he rode the fifteen miles back to the cabin, taking off the
jug and filling a wash pan for a quick sponge bath. Then it was back on the bike and to the
grocery store. He was hungry again by the time he got to the store, but kept
his focus on what he was there for.
Blue took his food and some ice back to the cabin. He had
wanted more food, but there was a limit to what he could carry on the
motorcycle. He would have to make more
trips into town than he had planned, or he would have to start hunting. He
considered fishing, but there was nowhere nearby he could fish. That was in town too. The cabin was the
highest point in the county. Blue fixed
himself a couple baloney sandwiches and drank water from the green jugs. He felt like he hadn’t accomplished much, but
he was tired.
Four days later, Blue topped a rise by an old cemetery, the
highest point in the county someone had told him. He sat down near a now nearly
mature spruce his father had planted for a rest and pulled some dinner and a
drink out of his backpack. It was odd
how this simple life filled up his days.
There was getting food and water.
There was staying warm, which meant cutting wood and keeping the supply
up. There were the daily walks in the
woods, eating, and reading at bedtime. There was sleep. These things defined his life.
I look out through the branches of snow and the icicle fangs
hanging from the eaves above. I close my
eyes. Something stops me. Something stops me from moving, from writing,
and from seeing. A wheel turns within a
wheel, a cylinder. A tooth falls into place.
An unlikely door swings open and I begin breathing again as my feet
touch the sand and I see the waves washing against the beach. The door has closed behind me. I am here alone this time, and the blue water
washes out over the horizon blending into sky. I am breathing again.
I remember when she was a newborn sleeping in her crib. I had the crib upstairs stored in one of the
many unused rooms. My father had made
it. It was a lovely thing, and she fit
in it perfectly. I had taken to not
leaving the house for weeks at a time, and then only at night to go shopping
for food. She showed up on the front
step, wrapped in rags, with that strange growth on her head. I wonder what would have happened if I had
not heard the bell ring. It was well below freezing outside.
In the days before electric refrigeration and chest freezers we
had dogs. We kept many of them around. They
followed the people from camp to camp and we would care for them. Our children
would play with them. They would pull
sleds and guard us at night. They would
help us hunt and keep us warm in the cold. When the hunting was good and we had
plenty of food, they ate well and grew fat. They would eat the spoiled meat.
When the times were lean and there was no food to be had, then we ate the dogs.
boot my laptop, a message pops up saying “battery needs replacing.” I have a mental image of a long metal object
lying in my laptop, possibly designed as a structural member, gasping for air. “Colonel,
we have exhausted the air from the compartment.”
I have a
mental image of this object embedded somewhere in me, surrounded by pink meat
and fiber. It is brightly colored in industrial flavors, and has very little
rust. I am hearing my father tell one of his favorite stories that ends with
the moral, “Nothing lasts forever: not you, not me, not anything.
There are moths living in my trouser pocket. I knew that if I continued stealing my first
100 word sentence from the person at the top of the list from the previous day,
something like this would happen. No matter.
There are moths living in my trouser pocket. This is why I
have not washed my trousers for a while now.
My mother would be unhappy about this.
My ex would roll her eyes in a knowing way. My daughters would shake
their heads. My son, the older one,
would probably come over and encourage me to do my laundry.
Ten days after this, Blue is again sitting at the top of the
rise. It has occurred to him that
something is missing from his simply defined life, something beyond, food,
water, shelter, heat, and the daily activities.
He was lonely, to put it simply.
He wanted someone to share life with.
This seemed to stand out in some contrast to the cabin in the valley
That night he packed up his motorcycle, closed up the cabin
and rode home. As he felt the bike rumbling across the big bridge, he wondered
where he would find this person.
I have a dream in which we are walking along a dock to a
ferry boat. In this dream I do not know who the you in the “we” is. I only know
the me. Yet the “you” seems significant. The boat is empty, and has been newly
painted. The large windows have been freshly glazed. Even as we walkout to
board her, we can smell the fresh paint. I don’t know why we are going here. It
takes a long time to get on the boat. By the time we are on board, it has
gotten dark and foggy.
“I can’t believe January is almost over already.”
I look at her. “January
IS over. We are several days into
She raises her eyebrows.
“It isn’t my fault you are running so far behind on your hundred words.”
“And you are the one who decided to begin each entry with
the first sentence from the previous day’s entry.”
“I had no idea that some of them would be so inane.”
“Yes, I’ve noticed you cheating. Why didn’t you cheat on
“I tried; they were all useless.”
“This entry isn’t going to make you very popular.”
I got back to work this morning, or yesterday, or maybe the
day before. I’m thinking it was
yesterday. I’m not sure what caused the change. It could be like the doctors
say, a swing in the chemical balance, a mood swing from plus to minus, something
I have learned to have a little control over, but which can still sweep me
right off the deck and into the foamy brine whenever it pleases. I don’t want it to be that. I don’t want that
to be the key to my life. I want to be in control: the author.
shuffled towards the doorway, the nerves went. I think that’s
what it was. I’m pretty sure I’ve been
there before, and the best we seem to be able to offer is metaphors. Because
nothing went. If I had turned around there would not have been a hairball of
raw nerves lying on the floor, possibly hacked up by my boss, because I was
already phased out of existence. I wasn’t
going to hack up anything. I wasn’t going meet him downstairs after work for a
Bass Ale. I would be checking in to a mental ward that night.
I left school early today, complaining about my knee. I never leave early. Sometimes I don’t leave at all, so I really
didn’t need an excuse. And there was nothing
wrong with my knee. There is nothing wrong with any of me. I am in boringly
good health all the time. I was just
tired of being there. I felt like going
home. I felt like sweeping through the
entire building like a piper from hell and taking everyone with me, emptying
the place out, piping them all up the stairs and off the roof onto the parking
300ft to go and I had practiced my PLFs- Parachute Landing Falls.
I had practiced them. They had assured me that I would never need them, but
that the practicing was part of the required training. It was vestigial, like
an appendix, a part of this job that would never be used. Yet here we were. Here I was, because I didn’t see anyone else
and 300 feet at this speed didn’t last very long, and it looked like I was
landing in some kind of muck field or something. How the hell was I supposed to tuck and roll?