Mark: If I Were Me, I Wouldn’t Take Any Shit From Myself

By Mark

Be sure to check out Logan's take, also.

This was something Logan said to me, and we pretty quickly had the idea to both write posts around it as a topic. No guidelines were set, no directions were discussed. Here’s what I came up with. It’s sort of fiction and sort of not. Sorry.

If I had a window, there’d be gray clouds rolling between the spaces of the buildings making up the crowded skyline, stretching until it thins on the northern limits of town. But I don’t. I have a cube, four walls within four other walls, fluorescent lighting reminding me that being human is overrated. There’s more to life, I’m sure of it. But I can’t prove it.

When I stand up, looking over my domain of scattered papers and screens, I can almost see what would be better. If I stare long enough, the clutter takes shape and forms a sleeping beast, breathing rhythmically. I know it’s aware, that it can sense me and waits for me to make my move. My pupils grow wide, my breath rapid, and I am lost in wondering what that move looks like. The air around me is thick and colorful, blurring at the edge of my vision. The phone rings, and I lose sight of it. I see paper again.

There were once concrete goals I set for myself, places and positions I’d be in when I reached an arbitrary age, but it’s harder and harder to remember why those hopes mattered so much once upon a time. I can feel, in my gut, that they’re still important, but the reasons don’t really roll off the tongue like they used to while sitting on the grass of the quad or around the lunch table. It had to do with helping others, with teaching them interesting things and listening to their ideas. I dunno, it’s foggy now. Still, it feels nice to think about, so I do.

It’s raining outside, so the drive home is slow and solemn. I grip the steering wheel a little tighter and turn up the radio a little more to drown out the hum of the downpour on my windshield. A song comes on that I like, and I think about the days when I wrote my own, when I enjoyed being in front of a crowd and feeling the rush. I could do that again, I suppose. What would it take? Effort, surely, and maybe some new gear. New gear is the easy part.

At home, I feed the dog and light a fire to fight the cold chill seeping through the cracked seal around the windows. The couch gives with a little protest and then lets me settle with some hot tea and a book. I think about putting on a record, but I’m already sitting. I can listen to something later. The quiet is fine, I tell myself. Still, it lets my mind wander. I begin to think about the kind of person I’d enjoy being. Who would he be, and why would I like him? Would he be in that band, be that famous writer, be healthy and happy? Probably. Maybe I’m just too lazy to be like him. If I were him, I wouldn’t take that shit excuse from myself.

I open the book, new spine crackling, and the air around the pages begins to quiver, shaking and slowly emitting brightness like sunlight reflecting off hot asphalt. I feel myself being drawn in, being transformed and pulled into painful directions, becoming new and stretched and unfamiliar. I’m getting my wish, and I can’t stop it. It hurts. I don’t want to stop it. This is baptism, this is rebirth, I am becoming him and there are no more words.