|Collected Short Stories
At night, when no one else was around, he would read the records of the other employees. Some records made him feel better, since he was doing better than them. Others were the ones he targeted, since they were doing better than him, and it was apparent to everyone. They were the ones he sought out for his feelings of inadequacy. He would, at night, move things on their desks an inch or two one way or the other. He knew it would drive them crazy, and he would remain after they were gone, laughing at them late at night.
Awareness came the instant the magic in the top hat engulfed him. Coal black eyes gazed down a carrot and out to a rich, white blanket of snow. With awareness, he absorbed the beauty of the world. Color, contrast, sound, sensations, all bombarding him. While he knew not where he came from, he knew that his creator had great plans. He would change the world, experience everything possible and teach others about the precious gift of life he'd been given. He smiled as the sun rose in the sky and he felt a bead of sweat drip from his brow.
The day the circus burned, the clowns had no place to go. They milled around, sweat making their facepaint run. One of them suggested that they become mimes. He was roundly beaten for his suggestion. He sat quietly after that, holding his swollen jaw. Everyone else had a place to go, someone to hire them, or another circus who needed them, but not the clowns. They just sat and poked at the ashes. In the end, they drifted off, forgetting the times in the overstuffed car and how seltzer felt against their skin, except at night, in cotton candy dreams.
The ghosts that haunted him would ride to work in his car, changing the radio station, loosening the coffee lid, and making sure he was in slowest lane. He tried everything to get rid of them, asking politely, exorcism, changing his work hours, garlic, and playing music at all hours so that they couldn't sleep. He wished he'd just buried the person under the floorboards, since he could handle a tell-tale heart. Too late for recriminations now, though. He just hoped they wouldn't ever meet up with the skeletons in his closet. If that happened, he wouldn't get any peace.
The gun lay on the floor, smoke coming from its barrel. Being an inanimate object, it was unable to act without being acted upon. We feel the need to project emotions on objects, even when they are incapable of it. The gun wasn't evil, regretful, vengeful, sad or pleased it had done its job well. It just lay there, cooling. It had come from a pawn shop and would go back to that same pawn shop one day. The only change was that its metal had been a little more worn down. But in one second, it had changed everything.
The company would like you to know that they have appreciated all the work you have put in over the last 25 years. You have been valued and the fact that you are leaving will leave a gap in our procedures that cannot be filled by anyone other than a qualified applicant. We would, however, like to remind you that taking your desk, file cabinets and the surveillance camera was not a part of your severance package. If you could return them at your convenience, we will return your first born child, and your pets. Thank you for your attention.
The lights go down, and I am alone with my dark mistress. She holds me in her spell, thrilling me, scaring me, exciting me and teaching me. Yet, no matter how much I love her, she is apart. She can never acknowledge my existence, and I will never be a part of her. Still, she is an important part of life, and I don't think I would exist without her. I embrace her, and remember all the subtle details that shine light on my own, solitaire life. When the lights come up, I leave the movie theater and go home.
Prometheus could handle his punishment most of the time. He knew that stealing fire from the gods was what had killed them, but he continued to be punished according to their works. He'd even made friends with the birds whose lives depended on torturing him. He had become philosophical about it, realizing he would have died centuries ago, and he never would have figured out the meaning of existence. The worst things about it was that he was unable to share his insights with other people, and the fact that birds didn't question their place in the scheme of things.
I wanted to dig a roller coaster once. I had shovels and a plan to dig down through the Earth so deep that I could sit on my wagon and ride in circles and loops beneath the ground. I spent days on it, driven by nothing but the idea that all the hard work would pay off in endless hours of fun that I wouldn't have to be driven to or ask to go. It wouldn't be a special event, or require a long car trip. I dug for three straight days. It took fifteen days to fill it in.
The snow falls, reminding me that fall is over. My own reflection in the window reminds me that another year is etched on my face, and that I'm running straight out of time. The world's color has been stolen, and the sun hides more often now. Breathing takes effort and my limbs move slowly, if at all. Memory oppresses me, and I wish for spring. Not because of the aspect of rebirth, but because spring reminds me of when I met her, and I was alive for the last time. Soon the wind will howl as loud as my soul.