It will happen in the late morning. As it does, it won't yet be in your consciousness. This will be the moment before the moment of clarity. It will be an instant, slowed, metamorphosed, transfigured into an eternity. It will be the pinpoint of transition from acceptance to intolerance, like a century of shame, felt in one one-hundredth of a second.
You'll be on the truck dock, holding a chemically treated dust mop, sweeping trillions of paper-powder residue bits around a floor coated with polyvinyl chloride. Speeding by, the fork lift guy won't know about the pain and self-assessment on the brink of altering your life forever. He'll smile his wide smile and ask -- what's shakin'? -- not knowing that what will be shaking will be the foundation of your ability to idly be other than what you must.
As you walk, step, trudge the slick floor, as you push the dust mop for seventy-five cents above minimum wage, it will be the fact that you have much more important things to do than to keep the dock of a plant building swept.
You'll stand still for a brief eternity. The clarity will approach, a dust cloud -- rescue racing from the distance -- the translation from emotion to awareness will begin. Episodes, narratives, events from your life will hover above.
Hope will rush from your stomach, up into your chest, will resonate in the back of your neck and vibrate your medulla, your colliculus, your hippocampus. It will be hope; it will feel desperate, will seem anxiety, anxiety about that which might be reigning over that which can be.
Carefully you'll take a breath, and you will not quite yet understand the full significance of your words when you whisper to yourself -- what am I doing? You'll regard your words in a mental retrace, the understanding will begin to come to focus when you realize the question should be -- what am I not doing!
Then the picture will come to your eyes. You'll know the moment for what it is. You will recognize what is futility and what is future, and you'll understand the vast difference between the two. You will know that it is the future to which you belong, not the futility.
Those who are there, on that dock with you, they won't see any of it. That long episode of epiphany for you, will, to them, be only the time it will take for a guy to stroke forward with a dust mop, once, twice, three times, wave to a man on a passing fork lift, then stop and stand still for only a moment.
You'll think of your pathetic savings account and disregard It. The exact mathematics of your cash flow will escape you; you won't care. It will be at an emotional level, not an intellectual level. It will be of spirit, soul, not of reason, pragmatism.
Your vision, the fixation of your pupils, will pierce through the walls, will stab past the present, seeing outside, seeing forward and backward -- what is out there for you, where you are destined, where you have been.
Hardly a half second after you ask yourself -- what am I doing? -- you will tell yourself the answer. It will be simple, it will be profound, it will be one of the purest truths you have spoken aloud to that point in your life:
Unbound, you'll feel a great spectrum of emotion in the moment that follows: elated, sad, relieved, frustrated, hopeful, morose, happy, angry, ingratiated, bitter, satiated, regretful, courageous, and more, and more, and more, and more. It will erupt, an orgasm. A tear will begin to travel your cheek. There will be no thing a tear can mean that this tear will not.
Just as you wipe the tear from your face, a work mate will ask if you're all right. You'll lie and say yes. Then you'll realize you didn't lie, you'll know you are all right, but you are vexed. Something will need to be done. You will have not yet done it.
As morning becomes noon, you'll drift farther away from that building where you are. You'll care less and less that the job is right, that the job is done. Your boss will pull you from the sweeping detail and set you up on a machine you've never worked before. It won't be a challenge, and you'll see no point to paying close attention to his instruction.
In a few minutes the machines will shut down. It will be lunch time. You'll follow the crowd to the break room, retrieve your brown bag, and step outside with all the rest. You won't take a spot at one of the picnic tables. You'll sit on the hood of your car, holding your lunch in your hand. Kicking your front bumper with the heel of your foot, you'll gaze the strip of lawn next to the building, the people at the tables, the fellow sitting by the wall. Rock-and-Roll will blast from a car down the parking lot. The car will pull from its spot and you'll know something mood altering and illegal is in the passenger's hand, just below the opened window.
Out of the corner of your eye you will see your work mate looking at you. He'll know.
A weird tense energy will flow from your shoulders down your arms, leak from your finger nails; you'll stand. Your work mate will look at you like a curious gazelle would look at a herd of water buffalo running by. In his eyes you'll see anticipation. He'll want it as much as you.
Pretending you don't recognize his alignment, his alliance, you'll open the door to your car. You'll throw the lunch into the passenger seat, carelessly with force, with deliberation. You'll start the ignition. A few people will look, but, only he will know. You'll rev the engine.
You'll nod at your work mate and he'll nod back. You'll pull out of your spot. You'll drive out of the parking lot. As you near the first stop light on the road, you'll feel the tease and tickle of joy rumble and percolate deep inside.
|For the index of K.L.'s creative writing and essays at this site, click here.|
originally published in The Rockford Review, vol.XXII: no.3
I was going to try to post an excerpt from my novel, but, I could not corral a cohesive story that was short enough to fit. The prose of the novel are for the full length. Each chapter and any story strings are not truly complete until one has read the whole book. So, I could not come up with any sort of excerpt that would have a sense of resolution, even if an unsettling one -- which would have been acceptable to me. But, I could not gather anything together that would give a sense of a whole piece of reading.
So, I give you this work, which I wrote about six years ago (first draft, anyway) and got published a little less than two years ago. It's a nice piece. I challenged myself to write a story in second person, future tense. Apparently, at least one editorial board, or enough members thereof, think it works.