Known unknowns

He was the kind of person who got easily confused by efforts to introduce him to new things. To be sure, it was not due to an inability to learn, or an impropensity to pay attention, or a lack of interest, or any other such commonly assumed confounding reason. Instead, it had to do with context. Leave him staring at a waterfall, and he could describe the local water cycle in extensive detail mere hours later. Give him the standard introductory book on water dynamics, and nothing came of it. Teachers had been bedeviled by this tendency for years, but he paid them no mind. He knew that they would not believe him if he explained it to them, so he didn’t. They, after all, thought in detail, not in context

Reading between the lines

“And these are the final remains from when I pretended to be a law student for five minutes”

“How’d that happen?”

“Free tuition and an unclear sense of what law is. Next shelf – methodology books”

“From when you were an actual student, I gather”

“Good times, now that they’re over”

“Hey, what’s this one?”

“This one’s a special book. I got it from the father of an ex who never said much, but always acted with profound honesty. It was a gift that signaled, in so many words, that things were getting serious, and that he approved”

“How romantic”

“Sadly, it was then I knew it was time to break up”

Library girl

She was at the library. She liked being there. Not just because the books there served as a repository of human memory, but also because her own memories were intertwined with these very same books. Walking among the shelves, she could retrace her steps through many a writing project. One section reminded her of her childhood, the old worn books still there. Another section had served as a refuge after a particularly dramatic breakup; she did not go there often anymore. A third contained all the books she’d used for her bachelor’s thesis. And so on. Each section was both a collection of stories and a story unto itself; by moving to and fro, she could read either with equal proficiency

Reading the fine print

He’d made it. It was a close-cut affair. Each and every aspect of creation had conspired to keep him from this moment. The alarm had absconded with its frequent snoozes, causing a mild bout of oversleeping. During his mad dash to get dressed, each and every item of clothing had found an hitherto undiscovered delaying tactic. The elevator had taken an extra round out of spite, and an unprecedented number of friendly neighbors had greeted him with invitations to cordial discussions. But here he was, firmly seated on the bus, on his way to –

To his dismay, the announcer voice proclaimed this was very much a different line than he had so efforted to board. Alas, creation had won this round

In loving memory

He had it on the tip of his mind, at the very edge of his thought, just out of reach. The memory irked, beckoned, jolted and honked, all to no avail; the specifics simply would not arrive, just the metadata that there was something there to be found

Thus began an extensive search, through browser histories, search fields and many a loose association. At last, it turned up, visible as a link preview, only one click away. He clicked. What turned up was the most dreaded of words

Sorry, that page doesn’t exist

A shame. It was a good tweet, and it would have brought joy had it been retweeted at this very moment in time. Alas, no such luck

De gustibus non est disputandum

This was bad news. This was very bad news. Every attempt to refute it failed – every test, every trial, every line of inquiry, they all turned out the same. The sense of taste was gone. Irrefutably gone

This would mean getting tested, conclusion foregone. It would also mean staying at home for a couple of weeks, with all the logistics that entailed. It would also also mean that it’d be utterly meaningless to eat the jar of ice cream she’d bought a few days ago


It would definitely be heavenly to eat once taste returned. Something to look forward to, at least

Dress for the job you want

It was has last day at work. This presented something of a challenge. What, pray tell, do you wear on your last day at work?

For an uncomfortably long moment, she thought she’d wear something that suited the general finality of the situation. Something somber, resolute and relentlessly appropriate; something that would send the correct signals, for any given definition of correct

But then, she realized

It was the very last day. There would be no more days after it; none of the opinions of those people mattered any more. In essence, it was one giant wardrobe opportunity. There were no wrong options

And so she set to work, adding more feathers and more glitter than anyone would ever had thought humanly possible. And then, she kept going

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