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“Content” – Short Story

Image

I tend to wake in time to see the end of the morning. Sometimes I try to force myself back to dreaming for a few more hours, knowing that getting up doesn’t hold as much potential. If everyone is out and I’ve no plans I may decide not to dress. Sometimes it takes the sound of the mailman and the prospect of being caught out in such a pathetic state to coax me into some decent clothes.

Breakfast is good. I used to see the time expended upon eating one’s meals as time wasted, time which could be put to better use. Now it is a definite block of time which I don’t have to worry about filling.

 

I can’t sit and read a book through anymore, my thoughts are too prone to wandering. Instead a small pile adorns a shelf in the bathroom from which I will read them one chapter at a time.

 

I don’t know what the date is. There’s no reason to find out. Nothing to look forward to on the calendar and nothing to separate this day from any of the others. If I keep the curtains drawn I find I can sleep later and later. When I wake, I feel too sick to eat. This passes by the evening when I will put the most compatible items in the fridge in a pan together and fry them. The night is when I come alive and then I write. Sometimes I will feel inspired and then I write quickly and eloquently. If the words aren’t coming, I push myself to write something anyway, if only to keep a record of the mood. These pieces are rarely worth reading, but they sometimes capture unusual insights. At four I decide I have expended my creativity for the night, and retire to a restless sleep.

 

I am content with this. I am happy to live in this pitiable, self-imposed stupor for no reason other than that it is a safe haven for me. A friend once told me I was frightened of trying new things and failing, that I was happier to stay alone and let the rest of the world be around me and without me for the sake of my image. It would surprise me greatly if she knew the extent to which I agreed with her. I could never tell her that.

 

Whatever it is that draws people together, makes them seek out each others company for enjoyment; that is something I don’t seem to possess or even understand fully. I feel bad for my ability to treat people as throwaway objects, but only because it makes me feel inadequate. I care not one jot for those people themselves. I know they deserve the attentions of other well-meaning individuals, but try as I might, I don’t have the interest in them. Yet I need them for something. I need a sense of worth, and this is something I cannot give myself. I feel a strong desire for what I suppose is ultimately justification.

 

Image is the only thing left. Whatever lies back here in the real world, all other people see of me is the heavily designed front I present them with. It isn’t flawless and many must see through it with ease, but there seems to be enough doubt on their part that I will never have to be confronted about it. This is all I need and its purpose is fulfilled.

 

I am afraid. Of the unfulfilled promises life may hold, of failure, of lack of acceptance and of acceptance itself. Acceptance into a group implies familiarity in thoughts and actions, and in a way, a compromise in attitudes or behaviours which comes with a neat little box and label for your troubles. If I have troubles letting people know what I’m really like, I refuse to let them judge me by the values of other people.

 

There is a catharsis here, a relief in letting go of all this. This is me, for better or worse. I can be anything I choose, but to let go and choose nothing, to be who I am; that is the real challenge.

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