Been working today on part of a new book. It’s been pretty intense to write. First of all I’m out of practice but more than that I’m used to writing light fiction and this is a lot more personal.
My big worry so far is that it’s too angstsy. It’s not going to be like that the whole book. But I’m worried it will be put people off. Any thoughts?( NB: grammar and spelling are still going to be a mess, so just ignore those for now. It’s early days)
It seems to happen for different people, at different times, for different reasons. A death in the family; an ageing face in the mirror one morning; a close call in a traffic accident. But for me it was simple boredom. At least that’s where it started.
I don’t know when, but at some point in my life I just started getting tired of it all. When you’re young everything seems so bright an so new and then one Monday morning you’re old and you wake up knowing that the day is going to be exactly the same as the past ten years. Then its every Monday, then everyday. The days of the week becoming the bars of your prison.
But by then it’s no longer just boredom. It’s become something else, something beyond the simple words. Something insatiable. The punishment of Tantalus. Frustration. Frustration becoming anger. Anger at life. Anger at the world for offering no chance of change. Anger at ourselves for not finding a way.
Your mind is invaded by a question:
“Can this really be all there is?”
And that devil has a thousand guises:
“Am I nothing more that work, sex and caffeine?”
“Where did my life go wrong?”
“What’s the purpose in it all?”
But it’s all the same lingering unanswerable question. And facing the void of unknowing we do what hundreds of generations of humans have done before us: we start to pray.
On our knees we ask for revelation, we beg that something more will be revealed to us. But we abandoned god long ago and now his church sits empty. We bit into the apple too many times and knowledge and the sciences have become our gods and so our prayers fall on deaf ears. And we know, however much we fight it, we know that we are alone.
We’re just solitary chemicals, blips of insignificant energy strewn around in the randomness of the cosmos. We are pitiable machines that deserve no salvation – because there is no salvation for the likes of us. We, the cursed, that have evolved so far that we can see what we really are. We that can see the pointlessness of our own existence with no way to act upon it.
But I did act. I don’t know what series of events conspired on my behalf. Which supernova erupted billions of miles away? Which comet pass through our solar system? Which storm battered the shores? Which blade of grass grew? I did act.
Life for me had been simple. Simple and meaningless. I’d been raised by loving parents yet never learned to love. I’d gone to school, studied and gained all manner of papers and accreditations, yet learnt nothing. At the end of more than two decades in the education system, I found myself behind a desk watching as another two passed me by.
I could write pages about that job. I could expound on the products we bought and sold. Chemical supplies for the most part. I could rhyme of our client lists and suppliers. I could lecture on out company philosophy. But it would be like the job itself: pointless.
It was a simple position and one that I cared nothing about, but for the monthly pay checks debited to my account. Silver handcuff. I lived for weekends. Grinding though Monday to Friday so that I could earn enough, to get drunk enough, to forget that I had another five waiting for me on the other side. Like so many others, I was funnelled like cattle to be milked for my profit to the company. No life but for that which would benefit our market share.
But don’t misunderstand, my owners were nice. My boss Lisa was a benign little woman who came up to my chest and I am not the tallest of people. She was always cheerful and pleasant as she piled up the work for the coming week.
Lisa had come from the Philippines and married to a local businessman who probably worked in an identical but slightly better paying company at the far end of the industrial estate. She lived only for her family. Whether that was her two children that she went home to every night or the network of family that she posted cash to every month. Either way she was far from tyrannical. I would better describe her as motherly, even with those below her at work. She was the sort of person you would feel strange swearing in front of.
Despite all this I despised the woman. As the mouth piece of the company I looked on her as a captive looks on his jailer. But more than that, I hated her contentment with her normal little life. Why did she not feel the way so many others did? Why was she content when we were not? I have since wondered if it was the children. I never had children of my own. Would I have cared more if I had? Would I have been more willing to pretend to care for their sake?
It matters not. For as it stood I shovelled the shit she put on my desk will all due care and diligence, while watching the clock with one eye. Before returning home to my two bedroom house in the suburbs where I would spend my evenings in a comma of internet and film induced numbness. That was except for Fridays. Friday was the night for Eliza.
Eliza was not my girl friend, but far more than a friend. She looked after me. We looked after each other. On Friday nights we would bar the door to her five year old son and bar her mind to her ex that had had ran off and left her with him. Then we would sit drinking together while watching a film. We would chat and laugh about the stupidity of our respective offices or complaining about the cards that life had dealt us.
Eliza’s life was much like mine, but with the added insult of her wayward ex. She was condemned to her days in the call centre most weeks. Cold calling people who had no interest in upgrading their gas supplies. She’s been a pretty girl at school, with a touch of something foreign in her blood that made her dark and more seductive than most others. She had attracted many and chose the wrong one.
I never found out his name, she never used it, but I heard that he was in the army. A good looking fellow I guess. The kind that would be popular in school and then not amount to much after. I’m not sure if he waited until the kid was born until he disappeared, or not. But he was good enough to leave the house and some cash before vanishing into the sunset.
I don’t think Eliza hated the guy. I think she missed him. Always hoping that some day he would come home. She never chased after him, nor tried to get him for child support. She wanted him willingly or not at all. She had her pride and she had his son.
We’d talk about him and work until we were both drunk enough to find ourselves wrapped around each other. Her most passionate times were always after she’d spoke about him. Sometimes she would cry as we had sex, but most of the time it was fun and playful. I don’t think we ever seen the end of a single film.
It was an escape for both of us and although not without it’s affection, it was not love. It was something between lust and love. A in-between shade where they both existed and did not. An agreement of two lonely people, to be a little less lonley for at time.
In the end I would leave her as well.