The Man Speaks
He lived in the top story of a very tall house on an even higher hill far above a little village which appeared as dry and dusty as his own world was lush and green. He would spend long hours looking out his window, trying to imagine the lives of the people, which was very difficult as he had never once left the house, let alone descended the hill to feel that foreign soil beneath his feet. For all he knew they were not even aware of his existence, while they were his only distraction from the complete solitude in which he dwelled.
He did something—what, exactly, he was not sure, as walking from room to room constituted the main of his activities—that allowed him to eat regularly. Being provided for in this manner, he found life to be lacking in the necessary frictions, so he looked for things to cause him trouble and then fought with them for however many hours a day that he could before he fell asleep or, as he called it, evaporated. But still, between the gazing and the fighting, he felt something was missing. A need, an emptiness remained. So, being of the practical sort, he simply filled himself with whatever was at hand, being careful not to be too careful with what he chose so that he would be well-rounded in his fullness. But what of the need? Or, for that matter, the responsibility that goes with such a blessed state? He decided that he must share his new-found satiation with the villagers.
Thus began his habit of taking out the things he had placed in himself and carrying them down the hill to the market where he would spread them on the ground and speak. Or, as he called it, Teach the Gloriness of Fullness, often in parable, seldom understood, his favorite being one he assumed he had learned in his assumed youth about a fisherman whose reputation for bungling had spread so far and wide that it had become a matter of pride for the man. One day the other fishermen saw him up on the cliffs, eating gull droppings and pebbles, both hands going at once, now and then making wild gestures in the direction of the sky. When asked what he was trying to do, he had called back, To become as stupid as the sun! I’m already better than the rest of you!
He felt there was great wisdom in this story and that if he repeated it often enough someone would surely approach and explain it to him. But no, whenever he entered the market the people would look up from their dealings and, upon seeing who it was, gather up their wares and walk away, muttering under their breaths and being very generous with their evil looks which, due to the rather dry and wizened appearance of these people, were quite evil indeed. He would reflect on this, silently praising them for their enviable consistency of behavior, and begin spreading his taken-out-things in front of himself, doing a little dance every time he came to a particularly pleasing one.
One day, after yet another impassioned rendition of the fisherman parable with its usual results, equally impassioned, he realized that if he were ever to make contact with these people—let alone be informed of the meaning of his favorite story—he would have to try something new. So he packed up his things and trudged back up the hill where he set about thinking of a plan.
Several days later he rose with the sun, took out what he had placed in himself and marched down to the market. Only this time, instead of repeating the parable of the fisherman, he watched the people walking away and then, before they had gone too far, called out, A visitor! A visitor has come! The people slowly halted their exodus and turned around, for it was a very small village and visitors were rare indeed. Lured by the prospect of a new customer, a few stepped forward, hoping to be the ones to claim the coins in his pockets.
When a small crowd had formed, he quickly began gathering his collection of taken-out things and molded them into a sizable mound which he set about climbing, for he had something to say, something of undeniable importance for all, of that he was sure. He climbed and climbed and struggled and sweated and cursed in his effort to reach the top before the people discovered the extreme lack of visitors and left. Surely they will listen this time! he panted to himself as he wiped the sweat from his eyes. Surely they will understand everything I have ever said this time! Glancing behind himself he could see there were still a few people watching him. He must hurry!
And when at last he stood, alone and free at the top, shading the sun from his eyes and preparing to speak, he had just enough time to notice one very old woman looking at him very intently before he sank.
A Happy, Normal Life
by Derek Maine
... I did not shed a single tear, I gave her my face to scream at the entire time because it was the only thing I could give her ...
by Greg Gerke
... We don't talk about the other women in my past, just as we don't discuss the men in hers ...