I can feel the ticking inside. Right in the center where I can’t ignore it. Next to the burning. Next to the emptiness.
It’s only a matter of time before the timer goes off and I explode, a radiant supernova spewing into the universe, giving birth to a new generation of planets and heavy metals.
Damn but it’s dark underneath my skin.
I know a lot of people named Roberta. Funny thing is that none of them go by their full name. One of them is Bobbie, two are Robbies, and one is Robin. Robin is my favorite. What I don’t get is why people keep name their kids with a name that the kids dislike so much they change it to something else. Who does that anyway?
Another funny thing is that Robin in England is a boy’s name but in America it is a girl’s name which is ironic since Roberta is a girl version of Robert, which is a boy on both sides of the pond, as they say on the English side of the pond.
The bell over the door tinged his arrival at the corner grocer. The shop was empty, but he knew that it was. All the shops were empty. At least when he looked directly at them. Sometimes, out of the corner of his eye, he’d catch a glimpse of a person walking or stooping over to pick up a coin or even waving, but when he turned to face them, they’d transformed into a tree or street sign or fire hydrant. Everyone did that when he was looking. Even the grocer.
Percy picked out the food he would need for the coming week, estimated the cost, left a fair amount on the counter next to the register, and as he exited, the bell over the door tinged again. There were more trees and signs and such on the street today, much more than normal, if this condition could be described as normal. Percy did not think it normal, but he did wonder: if everyone turned into inanimate objects when he looked at them, what did the people see when they looked at him?
With paint and brush he made a new world of fields and trees on canvas, but the birds arrived to fill the branches and eat all the grain in the fields. So he picked up a pencil and wrote about a new world filled with cat in case the birds returned, but the cats kept him up all night as they mewed to be fed or let out or let back in. So he meditated to find a better place within himself but found a darkness filled with feathers. So he designed a world and printed it on a 3D printer—it took a very long time—but the new world was all the same color and he grew bored with it. So he tried many ways to escape to a new world: mind-altering psychotropics, inventing his own language, time travel—he never got very far, forward a day at a time—staying inside, staying outdoors, learning to play the guitar. In the end he fell asleep—he was very tired—and dreamed of a new world. When he awoke, he missed his dream world and decided he’d try to find it again, so he took up paint and brush.
He loved her like a huge tax return, a night on the town and someone else picks up the tab, a discount on his car insurance, a complimentary upgrade to first class and a nicer rental car, a mistake on his order at Starbucks so they comped him on his order and gave him the other one too, and an inheritance he wasn’t expecting. She loved him like clean dishes and the trash taken out on time. It worked for the both of them.