CuiousPages - fiction and nonfiction
CuriousPages - fiction and nonfiction
I describe him as a voice only, because I could not make out his features, or perhaps I was simply not interested in his features. His voice, though, did interest me; I had never heard a voice that seemed more kind.
“Yes,” I said. “Thank you.”
He asked, “Is there anything I can get you?”
“No,” I said; “I am perfectly comfortable.”
“Good,” he said, and he looked down to the wide pail that my feet were resting in (it was at the foot of the deck chair, so it seemed perfectly natural to rest my feet in this pail while I sat in the chair) and he reached behind him for a bucket of freshly mixed concrete and poured it over my feet. He repeated the process until the concrete had reached halfway up my shins. I watched his performance without comment, for it somehow seemed a perfectly natural thing to do. He left, also without comment. The next day, the concrete had set. He returned to ask if I was comfortable.
“Yes,” I told him, for I had no complaints about my treatment. “But,” I added, “I am starting to get thirsty.”
“We have thought about that,” he told me, and he produced a glass of water.
“Thank you,” I said.
“Is there anything else?” he asked, in his kind voice.
I was now feeling bold, so I told him, “And I am starting to get hungry.”
“Yes,” he said; “we thought you might have been,” and he produced a meal, which I ate with relish. He then gave me some work to do, which I did not find puzzling; it seemed to make perfect sense and I worked contentedly.
In this manner, seven further years passed, by which time the potting shed had been extended to accommodate about twenty more workers. I, naturally, had been placed in a position of authority and my concreted pail had been slid across the floor so that it rested beside a large window, which gave me a privileged view of the garden.
Behind my back, the other workers then seemed to begin conspiring against me. And the effect of their campaign was to poison the sight of that garden for me. I had begun to enjoy the sight far more than I had any other experience in my life, but each time I spoke to my workers (which had then become the extent of my own work, for I was now merely supervising the labour of others), they would take my words and expertly fashion them into clubs with which to beat me, in the same manner that the woman in the boat had done, and I was no match for such expertise. I had managed to endure this from the woman for eight years, but now there was an army of twenty such torturers, and those earlier wounds opened again and the workers tested them at every opportunity. And after four further years of sitting in that chair, and once the sight of every flower or bird or dancing butterfly in the garden had been robbed of its beauty and it seemed my embattled skin could no longer offer protection against the outside world’s scrutinies, my distress, one day, erupted—as the dying dash of a cornered animal erupts, being faced with the certain sight of death and, with one final effort, finding the strength to instead flee—and my distress ruptured the concrete around my feet and I was then running through the garden.
Back in the living room, Lily’s solitary goldfish, Matilda Smithe, was hovering in the goldfish bowl.
She hovered in that same spot for the past two hours, remaining motionless—except, that is, for the occasional flap of a fin, which was needed to counteract the slight propulsive effect of the steady trickle of water passing through her gills. And this she only did because it was absolutely necessary, it being a well‑known fact (among goldfish, that is) that you need to counteract this slight propulsive effect with an occasional fin‑flap in order to prevent your nose from eventually bumping into the side of the bowl.
She slowly gazed round the bowl at the usual sight of the bowl’s emptiness. She wondered why there were no other fish in her company. Then it occurred to her that her life seemed pointless, since there were no other fish for her to talk to or be with. She felt her usual aching desire to be with other fish, which would have made her life worthwhile; and without that, her life seemed to consist of this terrible emptiness—like living at the centre of an impenetrable barrier which it was impossible for her to pass through, or for others to enter.
While feeling this, she was gazing down at the living‑room carpet when she saw something that filled her with fear; she saw a vision of death in the living room. And this vision was the sight of herself lying there on the carpet. The vision shouted at her—Do it, do it—filling her with dread. Then she realized why she found the vision so alarming. It was because she was about to obey it; she really was! And that alarming voice continued shouting—Do it, do it.
She looked up to the surface of the water—Do it, do it—but kept on merely watching the surface. She glanced down to the carpet, then heard that vision’s voice again. But it seemed that some other voice within her was preventing her from obeying it. The vision’s voice was still shouting—Do it—but its voice was no longer alarming to her, for she now knew she was not going to obey it; she could not; that other voice within her was too strong—a voice that seemed to be commanding her to go on living, whatever happened; just go on living.
The vision of death faded and she was left gazing down at the empty carpet. She continued to simply hover—but not forgetting to occasionally flap one of her fins.


Fiction and nonfiction by Fletcher Kovich and also classic writers.


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