‘I don’t know… Somewhere in my mind, I don’t think I deserve happiness. I would give anything to be normal… to be happy but being myself is what’s important to me. Even if it meant that being happy is not… me… I can’t help but choose death over life and loneliness over love.’
‘So you’re saying… you are sad because that’s you?’
‘I’m not sad but I’m not happy either. I’m saying happiness doesn’t fit me.’
‘I know.’ Luke turned away, he looked sad. I think understand a little more now, he’s not sad but sadness fits him.
Lysa fumbled and search for her keys. She had always been an awkward person. Alone or accompanied, she had the weirdest notion of acting out her life. Everything about her is out of place and no one could put a finger on why she is how she is. Lysa finally found her keys in her black coat though she had remember keeping it inside her bag.
Lysa opened the door and dumped all her groceries on the floor, she sank into the couch and stare at the ceiling fan. Hoping for some kind of answer to a question she hadn’t asked. As far as she remembered, she had been working as a bookstore assistant. She quit her education halfway and began working a quiet job, moving away from her estranged parents into a quiet apartment. Her parents were mad as first, they had overly high expectations of her but eventually, they decided that they didn’t care as much or so she thought.
Since her moving out, Lysa had contacted her parents couple of times and eventually it became just a festive thing. She calls during important holidays and they would converse about the same boring routine. Her old friends eventually died out even though they had promised to keep in touch. Lysa sighed and resumed organizing her groceries, a bag full of microwave food and toilet paper.
When did it all start to go wrong?
One day, you wake up and you find yourself halfway to 40 years old. Nothing accomplished and no future ahead. Everyone you knew seem like a past life by now. Distant and far away.
Lysa recalled going to Paris few years ago. Even though she was alone in the romantic city, she felt alive and exciting. A cutpurse had stolen her passport and wallet. She had to seek help with an uncommon tongue in a foreign land to find the immigration authority. For rest of the trip, she could only stay in the hotel that’s paid for and eat bread sold at the nearby baker’s. She bought a sketch pad and some pencils and wandered around the streets drawing. It was a terrible trip and she had lost most of her savings from it.
When Lysa returned home, no one picked her up at the airport. It was pass midnight and she was dead tired. Lysa walked into Macdonalds not knowing why and ordered a breakfast set meal. The cashier smiled at her and said Happy new year. It was two thosand ten, a new year. In the end of a long and terrible trip, only a stranger had cared to greet her.
One day, you wake up and the silent fact that nothing and no one in your life had mattered. The best thing you can get is a haircut at the end of the month or a midnight snack in a fast food chain restaurant as far as human contact goes. I’m gonna die with my cats I have not adopted and date the hairdresser or the cashier at Macdonalds. That is as far as life goes for me now.
Lysa thought to herself. At the end of a terrible day, the best I can wish for is a stranger’s smile.
On every April 14, I walk along a path I take to school when I was young. April 14 sticks to my mind like significant date. Something died that day, building was demolished or maybe I stopped growing up.
I can almost touch time like a thicken condensed liquid every April 14th. It piles atop itself like coiled snake with many zigzag ladders. Like Snakes and ladders. People of long past and distant future who walks along this road are picked up and thrown into a blender.
The girl and the cat
‘Have you heard of the story of the black cat?’
‘I’m not interested in stories that aren’t real.’
‘That black cat told me.’ She pointed towards a photo and continued.
‘He said, he met a girl one day. The girl was always in white with her white umbrella. She would walk along this road everyday. She talked to him about her day and he would listen to her. He didn’t really understand much but it didn’t really matter.
The girl asked, will you be here tomorrow?
The cat said, Maybe, maybe not.
And they will go off in separate ways.
It continued every day for a few months and the cat was always there.
Will you be here tomorrow? She asked every day.
Maybe, maybe not. The cat answered the same.
The cat eventually grew fond of her.
Will you be here tomorrow?
Yes, I will be.
The next day, the girl didn’t come. The cat waited. And waited and waited and waited. The girl never did come back and the cat that stayed was lost.’
’ I don’t like that story.’
’ Stories that are real ends plainly.’
Less of me
‘Your photographs are lonely.’
‘Are they now?’
‘There’s nobody in them.’
‘I don’t like to take photographs of people. Every time, I take a photo of me, I lose a little of me.
People look at a photo of me and they would think, ‘She’s wearing a black dress and a hat, she must be sad.’
‘She’s carrying a bag pack, she must be traveling.’
‘She’s has an umbrella, it probably rained earlier.’
Different versions of me exist everywhere this way. I don’t like that. More of me starts manifesting and I feel a little less of me each time.
I’ll be gone by then and people starts to think of me as a girl in black who is traveling in a sunny day that probably rained earlier.
We are all strangers traveling on a lonely road
That day I saw a girl covered in bruises, her hair unkempt and makeup worn off. I ran out of matches and she was out of cigarettes. I offered her one and she lighted up for me.
We sat there forever on the convoluted April Fourteen. She didn’t tell me her story. April fifteen will eventually come along and I know I will never see her again.
The lift hit the third floor and creaked noisily, Merin thought fondly of it while rain showered distantly outside the building. He loves old things and rain. The office door opened and Kasey ran out to catch the lift.
Their eyes met for an instant and gave a quick smile before they each search for nothing in the air. They weren’t particularly close. Merin wasn’t close to anyone, like the rain drops falling out there, he was distant.
‘Oh, it’s raining. Can you hold that? I’ll go get some umbrellas.”
Kasey ran back into the office. Merin sighed a little but he felt a little relieved to spend more time with the old lift and rain sound. The old lift breathed heavily in a mechanical way and reminded Merin of a grumpy old cobbler living down the street.
Soon nobody will need cobblers and old lifts will be replaced. Sky scrapers and new machines lack warmth. We live in convoluted times, we are lucky in some ways. Before long, everything will be new and advanced. At least, I’ll be able to to die with memories of old jazz, cobblers and hopscotch.
Kasey’s ran out with 2 umbrellas. Oh yeah and umbrellas. Umbrellas are so inconvenient and rain still wet our feet. Its strange that man can travel to the moon and yet umbrellas are still umbrellas.
Kasey and Merin got into the lift and continued their game of searching for nothing. It felt nice, these days people whip out their phones and start texting at any sign on social awkwardness.
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I don’t think I like anything very much.
Everything I liked goes away very quickly. Perhaps it is kind of the same for everyone else. We chase after fleeting dreams and superfluous visions. Without these, we wouldn’t be very much alive.
There was a time, I liked ice cream a lot. Orangey sweets that are sour inside. Lazing and day dreaming in a classroom. Doing mathematics. Reading in a trance for hours. Dazing at a boring black and white movie and not really grasping what it is about.
One day, I fell in love with a cat. It was grey in color and it was always waving at me. It felt strange, no one had ever taken a real interest in me and the first to do so was a cat. I’m just not a very likeable person. I’m hard to read and bad at expressing myself.
Cats don’t talk, they don’t express themselves through words either. They only knew if something interests them, or not. It was the same with me. Maybe if we talked through actions, we can understand cats better.
Everyday, I stop by the rainy bus stop and waited for a bus that isn’t on the way home. The cat would be there, sometimes. She would run up to me and sit on my lap, sometimes. She would bring a string or a stick to me, on other times.
I grew in love with the cat eventually and started wanted to own her. I brought her can food and toys. When I did, she wouldn’t turn up. I tried and tried desperately to tell her, I needed her; and I wanted her. But as I said, cats don’t talk and if they can’t talk, they can’t listen very well either.
One day, she stopped turning up at the rainy bus stop altogether. I began searching and fearing. At my lowest point, I saw the grey cat was with a black cat. I wish I had shed more tears then I did but I couldn’t.
Something inside me died that day. I stopped liking things. I stopped liking sweets and ice cream. I stopped liking dazing and dreaming. I stopped liking anything. I stopped liking myself. Or maybe I never really liked myself very much in the first place.
First came the silence of the world, second came the silence of my humanity. I started seeing things more clearly. I’m a man, she is a cat. We were never really the same. She was just a cat, I was just a man.
My world, mind and emotions died following with realization. What was I doing. What was I thinking. I must be mad. After I died, I became less of a human. I stopped liking anything else. When something dies, they don’t come back to life, they come back to haunt.
Every now and then, I’ve got a moment of a dream. That I might be cat, or a human. I knew in my heart that day will never happen, because I’m not a cat and not much of a human either.
I don’t think I like anything very much.
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I’ve been read Bears discover Fire. This is one of the stories inside (which I find most interesting).
They’re made out of Meat by Terry Bisson
“They’re made out of meat.”
“Meat. They’re made out of meat.”
“There’s no doubt about it. We picked up several from different parts of the planet, took them aboard our recon vessels, and probed them all the way through. They’re completely meat.”
“That’s impossible. What about the radio signals? The messages to the stars?”
“They use the radio waves to talk, but the signals don’t come from them. The signals come from machines.”
“So who made the machines? That’s who we want to contact.”
“They made the machines. That’s what I’m trying to tell you. Meat made the machines.”
“That’s ridiculous. How can meat make a machine? You’re asking me to believe in sentient meat.”
“I’m not asking you, I’m telling you. These creatures are the only sentient race in that sector and they’re made out of meat.”
“Maybe they’re like the orfolei. You know, a carbon-based intelligence that goes through a meat stage.”
“Nope. They’re born meat and they die meat. We studied them for several of their life spans, which didn’t take long. Do you have any idea what’s the life span of meat?”
“Spare me. Okay, maybe they’re only part meat. You know, like the weddilei. A meat head with an electron plasma brain inside.”
“Nope. We thought of that, since they do have meat heads, like the weddilei. But I told you, we probed them. They’re meat all the way through.”
“Oh, there’s a brain all right. It’s just that the brain is made out of meat! That’s what I’ve been trying to tell you.”
“So … what does the thinking?”
“You’re not understanding, are you? You’re refusing to deal with what I’m telling you. The brain does the thinking. The meat.”
“Thinking meat! You’re asking me to believe in thinking meat!”
“Yes, thinking meat! Conscious meat! Loving meat. Dreaming meat. The meat is the whole deal! Are you beginning to get the picture or do I have to start all over?”
“Omigod. You’re serious then. They’re made out of meat.”
“Thank you. Finally. Yes. They are indeed made out of meat. And they’ve been trying to get in touch with us for almost a hundred of their years.”
“Omigod. So what does this meat have in mind?”
“First it wants to talk to us. Then I imagine it wants to explore the Universe, contact other sentiences, swap ideas and information. The usual.”
“We’re supposed to talk to meat.”
“That’s the idea. That’s the message they’re sending out by radio. ‘Hello. Anyone out there. Anybody home.’ That sort of thing.”
“They actually do talk, then. They use words, ideas, concepts?”
“Oh, yes. Except they do it with meat.”
“I thought you just told me they used radio.”
“They do, but what do you think is on the radio? Meat sounds. You know how when you slap or flap meat, it makes a noise? They talk by flapping their meat at each other. They can even sing by squirting air through their meat.”
“Omigod. Singing meat. This is altogether too much. So what do you advise?”
“Officially or unofficially?”
“Officially, we are required to contact, welcome and log in any and all sentient races or multibeings in this quadrant of the Universe, without prejudice, fear or favor. Unofficially, I advise that we erase the records and forget the whole thing.”
“I was hoping you would say that.”
“It seems harsh, but there is a limit. Do we really want to make contact with meat?”
“I agree one hundred percent. What’s there to say? ‘Hello, meat. How’s it going?’ But will this work? How many planets are we dealing with here?”
“Just one. They can travel to other planets in special meat containers, but they can’t live on them. And being meat, they can only travel through C space. Which limits them to the speed of light and makes the possibility of their ever making contact pretty slim. Infinitesimal, in fact.”
“So we just pretend there’s no one home in the Universe.”
“Cruel. But you said it yourself, who wants to meet meat? And the ones who have been aboard our vessels, the ones you probed? You’re sure they won’t remember?”
“They’ll be considered crackpots if they do. We went into their heads and smoothed out their meat so that we’re just a dream to them.”
“A dream to meat! How strangely appropriate, that we should be meat’s dream.”
“And we marked the entire sector unoccupied.”
“Good. Agreed, officially and unofficially. Case closed. Any others? Anyone interesting on that side of the galaxy?”
“Yes, a rather shy but sweet hydrogen core cluster intelligence in a class nine star in G445 zone. Was in contact two galactic rotations ago, wants to be friendly again.”
“They always come around.”
“And why not? Imagine how unbearably, how unutterably cold the Universe would be if one were all alone …”
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