Summoning the familiar

As he slumped into the comfy chair, too tired to move or do much of anything other than sit, a song came on the radio. It was a song he had heard many a time before, but never really listened to. Now, in his present state of utter tiredness, the defenses usually mustered by familiarity were nowhere to be seen, and thus he took it all in as if for the first time. And so it came to pass that he realized what he had until now assumed was a jaunty little ditty, was in fact an in-depth explanation of how having a womb worked and malfunctioned. Transfixed, this new knowledge flooded into him, changing his life trajectory forever

Executive dysfunction

She was stressed out of her mind. In five hours, it was time to go, and she had things to do before then. Having planned it all out the day before, she knew it’d take two and a half hours to do the things, three tops if something came up. She’d even divided it all into neat, timestamped subactivities. Which, somehow, only served to make her even more stressed; stacked together, those individual activities stretched out far longer than the time remaining. Thus, at the appointed hour, she had rushed only the bare minimum, now running to catch the train

Death of the author

It had been a long, arduous struggle, but it was finally done. The text she had written was literally the worst piece of wordsmithing she’d (or anyone’d) had ever done, but it was in fact unequivocally done, and that’s what counts. With the thought that being done is a decision, and not an objective state of things in the world, she turned it in, and went to sleep

Three weeks later, her text was graded. A+. Running through the emotional stages – shock, denial, negotiation, acceptance, joy – at record pace, she then did something unexpected. She took pride in her work

Abrupt readiness

“I just want to let you know, I am ready to go the distance. To do whatever it takes. To go above and beyond. To do anything. Nothing is out of scope. Everything is on the table. Whatever it is, I am eager and ready to go. Just point me towards the task and watch me perform it with alacrity. No one has ever been more up for the job”

“Sir, this is the post office. All you need to do is sign this form and then you are all set”

“I’ll do it!”

“…that’s the spirit”

Family accounting

She woke up. For once, she had managed a nice nine hours, a solid unequivocal sleep. Instinctively, she reached for her phone, unmuted it, and noticed the second unusual thing of that day. She had missed calls. A lot of them. All of them from miscellaneous relatives whom she probably, but not necessarily, might recognize if she walked past them on the streets

It must be important

Overcoming the general weirdness of the situation, she quickly determined the nature of the problem. She hadn’t paid for the Netflix account this month, which apparently caused such a tangle of consequences that it literally involved everyone, directly or indirectly. Clearly, dear auntie did not honor her promise of not telling anyone the password

Backtracking

She was lost

She could tell, since the words used to describe the buildings she walked past had shifted from “derelict apartment complexes” to “ostentatious lawn ornaments” and “spacious garages with room for mid-life experimentation”. Not her usual haunts. Adding to the overall lostness was the fact that the exact route that brought her there had somehow faded from memory. One moment she was walking along, and the next – wham, suddenly all these too big and too quiet houses

The houses were not completely quiet, though. As she walked past, garage lamps turned themselves on, charting her trajectory through this unknown neighborhood. While she did not know the way home, she did know where she’d been. As she kept walking, she pondered that this was not an altogether unfamiliar situation

To wit at speed

“How are you?” he asked, not taking into account the torrent of possible answers afforded by that question. These answers, now flooding through her mind all at once, staggered atop one another like so many sardines in a very small tin can, paradoxically both at the speed of jaguar-powered jet engines and with the glacial slowness of plate tectonics, caused her to be silent for a moment, until the one word that would let her out of this predicament appeared, chosen not for its accuracy but for its relentless, seemingly effortless brevity:

“Fine”

A once and future feeling

It had happened again. Without warning or fanfare, a sudden intense feeling of nostalgia had invaded his emotional landscape and repainted everything in a retrospective tint. Only, the thing this nostalgia was nostalgic for was something he had done mere hours ago, and could do again within a reasonably imminent future without too much effort or rearranging of schedules. Nevertheless, the feeling persisted, and thus he found himself incredibly anxious about the future. If such a strong nostalgia could strike for things that were still going on, what retroactive marvels would then be in store for those things truly lost to time

A balanced diet

He had done the math. The calculations all checked out. In theory, everything should even out with smooth precision, the two sides of the equation fulfilling each and every criteria implied in the symbol called “equals”. And yet, they did not. No matter how precisely he fine-tuned the amounts, double-checked the sums and parallel-parked the quantities, there always seemed to be ever so slightly more of the one than the other. Attempting to even the scales inevitably ended up with there being more of the other than of the one, forever

Defeated, he put away the now empty milk carton and chewed through the remaining cereal, his equilibrium perturbed

Isometric memories

He thought back on his life, his career. Up until now, he had never really known what made him make the choices he had made, what had propelled him onto the life trajectory that he so fondly remembered. The life of a low-level town planner would not make for was not the most glamorous of biographies, but regardless he reveled in remembering it. He was never one of those making the big decisions, but rather one who ensured that the smaller ones were carried out with as much efficiency and grace as could be afforded. Up until now, he couldn’t have put his finger on exactly when he chose this life, but as the first tunes of soft jazz started playing from the other room, he suddenly realized with crystal clarity and a full bird’s eye view of the whole process