Essay: Tell the Story (of two hearts)

J-Dubs challenged me and two others to write the story for this photo prompt. I have. I am then to post a new picture and challenge three other bloggers to write to it (there are apparently no rules for length or type. Some are poetry. Some are long, others short).

***

I was awakened by a loud noise but found nothing. Unable to sleep, I sat at my desk. As I started to type, a message appeared on screen that said, please don’t be afraid. We need to talk. If you say it is okay, I will be right with you. If you say nothing or no, I will leave you alone. Will you talk with me?

I thought about calling my wife, but I just sat there – heart racing. I pushed my chair back and thought, Now? The words now or never appeared on the screen. I think I said fuck.

I spurted out a muffled verbal okay then. A man immediately walked into the room. He looked like me, but this was no simple doppelganger. He was not someone else who looked exactly like me. He was me, but not me. He held two glasses of wine and placed one on the desk in front of me and he sat on the couch and sipped the other.

He spoke first.

You were wishing you had a drink. I had the same wish. All you need do is think your questions and I will think them too. Then I will answer you. I will talk, but only you can hear me. If you talk, you risk waking your wife. If that happens, I must leave. So do not speak. Just think. As you can see, I am physically here, but in a way I’m not. I’ll explain that later.

I cannot read your mind exactly as you do because I don’t share your background, reasons, motivations, or physical experiences, but my thoughts parallel yours. That’s how it works for us. It is our relationship while you live. We are not precisely the same person, there are two of us, yet we are the same persons in two parallel universes. It’s hard to comprehend. I need you for me to exist as I am.

We go back a long way. Do you recall the monsters under your bed as a child? That was me. I knew you would talk about it. As a monster, it would seem normal to others. If you had told your parents you found yourself under your bed, they might have been alarmed.

He went on for a long time. As we drank the amount of wine in the glasses never changed. When I thought of a question, he would answer it immediately. He never stopped talking. When I understood, he knew it and would move on.

While time passed, what seemed like hours took only minutes. He explained that as a form of mental telepathy wherein thoughts happen faster than spoken words. What seemed like talking was a form of thought transfer, which explained why no one heard us. I had not verbally said a word.

He said – You have heard of a parallel universe, right? I am not only from what you call another universe, I am you in that universe. Our universes are real, but separate and parallel. One is superimposed on the other – dimensionally separated, but not physically. Mine is older and less physical.

I can explain it but you’re not capable of understanding or believing it. We discovered the possibility of a different universe and sort of willed yours into existence. But for us to have access to yours, we needed to transform physically. What you call evolution is us trying to figure out how to make it work. Eventually we did, but not perfectly. We had to learn about the impermanence of a physical universe.

He explained that while he was a permanent entity, he did not always exist as he did now. He was not a life form until I was born. His incubation was parallel to mine and he came into existence as a person equivalent to me, but in his universe.

He explained that others like him have attempted showing themselves but often regretted it because of human reactions due to superstition and fear. He asked – How do you explain a parallel universe to people who don’t even know what a universe is? For communication there must be some common ground.

Then his expression looked more serious. He said – You need to know how this will end. When you die, I will cease to exist as I am now. I’ll revert to my prior form since at your death there will be no human entity to parallel. We don’t know what happens to you. Humans just seem to die.

Our being depends upon yours for quality and purpose, but not for raw existence. Eventually, I will be paired with another human. There are more of you than us, so many humans are not paralleled. Your existence is no longer dependent on us. You’re on your own in many ways.

You may find that unfair, but there is more for us to figure out. The two parallel existences still depend on each other. I want to propose that we try something new. If you like my idea, you and I will be the beta test.

Just as he started to explain his idea my wife called out to me. Instantly he was gone. I walked to the bedroom and she asked, “Do you feel ok? You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”

I told her that I had heard noises from under the bed that were very similar to when I was a child and had seen monsters.

She groaned and mumbled, “Why the fuck did I want to marry a writer? Go to bed!”

© Bill Reynolds 2/21/2019

***

Tell the story if you so choose. The three writers I challenge are:

  1. Kathrine
  2. Jim
  3. Tara

And the photo is (credit to Sherry):

Look both ways and watch your footing. Do not fall into the gaps.

When It’s a Mere Story (fake, fake, true)

It is a story, a fib, a lie (if you like). I prefer reading and writing nonfiction (reality), but like any writer, I sometimes make things up and present them as literature. They also surface as fiction or reflections of imagination in my poems.

In my writer’s tool box are words, ideas, experience, knowledge, limited imagination, and scant creativity (I know where to get it), technology (a long list of software and hardware goes here), language, and some ability to read and write. Admitting my shortcomings as a journeyman of letters, I consider every editor I know to be a (god or goddess) helpful resource along with a multitude of other writers, authors, and critics.

I like to work with parable, symbolism, simile, metaphor, allegory and allusion, analogy, and soliloquy in poems and essays. I am talking about verisimilitude (all 14 letters and six syllables), or the appearance of reality or truth. I found that word on a list as I researched this piece.

When it’s not biographical and is just a story, it gets tricky. It’s not the writing. It’s what (WTF) am I talking about? Fiction resides in reality and truth. Fact can likewise be disguised in fiction. Names, dates, situations, and persons are often fictionalized in truth.

I know twins (grandparents) who, as children, were both present at a memorable and emotional family event. They both remember it well. However, when they discuss it, each has a different version of the same event, even though they stood side-by-side as eyewitnesses. Each is telling the truth, but how each one saw it and remembers it is different.

One of my favorite authors is Pat Conroy. Pat wrote autobiographical fiction. His stories were based on his real life: his family, people he knew and loved, his schools, his job as a teacher, and other real events. Indeed, his fiction was based (often heavily) on real life.

Conroy paid a high price in several ways. A lot of people got mad at him. Some fellow writers looked down on his creativity (or lack of) in using real world events and people to write fiction. I like the ties to the real. But that does not mean there was always such an entwinement. Other autobiographical fiction writers include Tim O’Brien, Sylvia Plath, Sandra Cisneros, and many others.

Sometimes I make up a story from a thought or memory, but the reality is only a setting or a trigger. It is not necessarily autobiographical or about current real-life circumstances. It is not a message to someone, not a plot applicable to my personal life, not real at all. Many people assume it is. However, sometimes (often?) it is all of that.

I like the ‘how-to’ memoir book by Tristine Rainer, “Your Life as Story: Discovering the ‘New Autobiography’ and Writing Memoir as Literature.” While one should never intentionally lie (fib?), it may be necessary to fill gaps in events with things that may not be exactly precise, true, and factual.

I have been told that every writer (artist or person) puts part of him- or herself into everything he or she writes. I agree. Still, not everything I write is real, or happened, or is about any real person. It may be about how I feel or what I experience emotionally.

Indeed, it was or is true or partly true, or the true facts as I recall them. Often, for me, my writing is a search for myself – for my truth, my honesty, my story, my interpretation of actual events. Maybe it’s just psycho-babble, but writing seems to be part of me trying to say something about me. I’ve written a memoir. It is unfinished, but I will get back to it.

I wrote a poem about a door. A suggested title was ‘An Ode to Agoraphobia.’ While the poem was not intended to be about any mental condition, after I wrote it, I realized it was clearly about fear of going out into the world. I’ve never had such a fear. When I researched possible submissions, I discovered that some publications only wanted it if I suffered from the malady. I ain’t sayin’ I do when I don’t.

The mag’s policy made sense technically, but it was a true poem about a real emotional or mental state that I can only imagine. I’ve written stories about men committing suicide and people doing all sorts of things I never have or will do. Human behavior, bizarre or normal, is interesting. Fiction and nonfiction rely on interest.

The catch is that when people assume what I write is directly associated with my life, they’re usually correct. People who know me personally would certainly assume autobiographical or nonfictional writing, especially other writers. They know how I work. However, sometimes it is just my overactive Irish blarney oozing onto the page with a bit of imagination peppered with fib to improve the taste.

And that, my dear friends, is the absolute truth.

Look both ways in fact and fiction.
Let reality peek into the gaps of light in everything.

Guest Blogger (Frat Friday)

My guest blogger today is my ten year old grandson, Christian. He recently won a writing award at school and I thought he and I could collaborate on today’s Frat Friday. Christian wrote this.

What happens when you are one inch tall?

This morning, I woke up and I was one inch tall. I looked down and said, “That’s a far drop to the floor.” So, I jumped and landed on my night stand. Then I climbed down the wire that was connected to my lamp. I got on the floor. “Finally,” I gasped. I slid through the little crack under the door. But, I forgot about something.

Slightly open door, light shining through crack
Slightly open door, light shining through crack

I eventually managed to get out of my room. Then, I saw something. It was asleep. It was fuzzy, and it had big white teeth like a shark.

Christian's story1

It was my cat. I was terrified that I would end up in the creature’s slimy stomach.

Christian's story4So I snuck like a Ninja, undetected by the dozing, fat, fuzzy feline. Then, my stomach rumbled because I was hungry. Cats have very sensitive hearing. She woke up and chased me. I quickly climbed some drawers to the stove.

Then, the fuzzy and dangerous varmint turned on the stove. And I had a nice game of ‘The Floor is Lava.’

Christian's story3

Finally, I got off the stove and jumped into the cereal box. The cat fled and dozed off again. I sat down and ate cereal in the box. Being one inch tall can be dangerous, but it can also be quite a fun adventure.