These walls are so thin I can hear the ocean from here, its tide crashing against the shore, storing up energy for the return trip out to sea. I sit here in a padded metal chair, but the padding is just for show, all cracked but otherwise nondescript. It is the only feature in a featureless room in the exact middle of a three-story building that I’ve never visited before, yet it feels familiar.
I can hear the others screaming from so far away, or from the next room, whichever makes more sense. They are always raising their voices as if the heavens could hear and judge them from so far away, as if their very lives depended on the ability to stretch their lungs to contain God in a breath. I do not join them, although I know I am always welcome, and indeed I used to be the loudest one, but I have changed. It was subtle at first but it has taken root and blossomed in my soul.
My headphones are on the other side of my self-imposed prison cell, lying haphazardly in the corner as if I left them there as punishment. Which I suppose is a sort of truth in and of itself. I was listening to Peter Gabriel earlier, but I kept missing the sounds of the ocean, and the sounds of the others, and the sound of my own heartbeat thrumming in my chest, reminding me that I am alive. I had to keep checking to make sure I wasn’t a zombie, so I tossed them where they now lay.
But I’m driving myself crazy with the wondering, with the constant fear that at some point in the near future this will all go away, that no sound will survive the apocalyptic season that I know will come. I wonder if anyone even knows I’m here, listening, creating stories for the sounds I hear, wanting to be immersed in them but remaining on the fringes of a world I can only surmise. It’s been so long since I joined in that I’ve become a specter, a shadow on the wall of experience.
I can hear the whispers in my head, all the voices I can’t stop creating, or letting come through me. They swirl around in the dust bowl that is my scattered mind, reminding me that I’m not alone even when I so desperately want to be. These quiet aphorisms drift in my mind, calling out to me in the supposed calm, taunting me as only they can. As only I can. And as much as I want to be rid of them, they comfort me too, because they provide evidence that I’m alive as surely as my heartbeat does.
These walls keep me in, but they don’t keep sound out, so I pound on them, a beat so steady it begins to blend in with the other noises that crowd out my periphery. I open my mouth and scream into the confined space, but I know they hear me on the outside, just as I hear them, even though they don’t respond. And I guess that will have to be enough. I lean back in my uncomfortable chair and scream into the dissonance, adding my voice to theirs, adding one more brick in the wall of sound around me.
And I long for Peter Gabriel to drown it all out, as he did once before, as he will once again. If I let him. I glance across the room at my headphones. Where they sit waiting for me. In silence.
“Someday” is as presumptive as having potential, like the possible future ability to accomplish something, to be someone, or to get somewhere somehow means we don’t have to go through the middle ground (the proving ground) to get there. There’s just something about “Someday” that makes me feel somewhat incomplete, because it’s not a fixed concept, just a dart thrown in the air waiting to land.
And yet I’ve done just that, used “someday” as a place holder for many things in my life. When did I plan on getting published? Someday. When was I going to go back to college and get my degree? Someday. Luckily for me, those Somedays transformed themselves into actual dates as I was able to check things off my list, but way too often we are stuck with the notion that eventually a day will come like magic when everything will get done.
Maybe if we treat “Someday” like we do “Today,” things will get accomplished. Because if we challenge ourselves to do things today it will drive us insane when we don’t get them done. The longer we put them off the more they will eat at us until we come through, until we are finally able to assuage ourselves of the inevitable guilt that comes along for the ride. If “Someday” was “Today,” perhaps we would stop getting stuck in neutral.
It’s the last day of November, which means I’m down to the end of the novel I’ve spent the last 30 days creating on fast forward. During the course of this month I’ve gone through the highs and lows of novel writing — the weights and balances that make the process of writing so dynamic, and why I love it so. But as tedious as it was in places to keep going day after day, to hit the deadlines I set for myself, to hit 50,000 words in 30 days, it was also an adventure in forming a narrative I would like to read myself someday.
Its working title is Faded, testament to my lack of creativity when it comes to working titles, and yet somehow it seems to fit the constructed narrative as it now stands. In some way the entire thing is all about an experience that happened twenty-five years before the events in the present day, a faded memory that never truly fades, because they never do. And the characters need to adjust to their memories of that time, to bring it back into focus so they can deal with the repercussions from it that have come home to roost.
A girl shows up on Glen Davidson’s doorstep with a sad tale of death and disappointment, begging him to show her mercy, to offer up a leap of faith on her behalf. He does so, but unbeknownst to him the story is a lot murkier than she’s made it out to be. Can this investment banker beat the odds and discover this girl’s secret before it’s too late for her… or for him?
Sally Groves claims she’s Glen’s long lost daughter, that she needs money, and that he’s the only one who can help her with her current problems. The only hitch: she isn’t who she claims to be, and the trouble she’s in is beyond her means, even with his help.
Glen Davidson is a man who made a huge mistake twenty-five years ago, and it’s haunting him now in the form of the girl who emerges from the shadows to make him second guess everything he thought he knew about himself. In his fight to protect a girl who doesn’t want his protection he might just lose himself.
He can see the tears in her eyes again, and he wonders why she didn’t come to see him before now, why it took something so drastic to look for him after all this time. She rises, and he does too, but things are awkward with them, as they are at the very beginning. He reaches out his hand to her, and she takes it in an approximation of a handshake, but it lingers for a moment before she lets go first. Then she is gone again, out of the room and down the hall like an apparition floating on invisible wings. It’s easy for his subconscious to believe for a second that it didn’t just happen, that he didn’t just meet the child he never knew he had. But his conscious mind is busy dealing with the ramifications of the words they’ve just spoken to each other, the aftermath of it all.
“Oh, all the promises we broke. All the meaningless and empty words I spoke…” ~The Cranberries.
It’s easy to make promises. The part where we have to actually keep them, though… that’s a bit trickier. Time was when a promise was an unbreakable oath, said only under the most reverential of circumstances.
Back when I was a kid I remember my mother saying that a promise was something you never committed yourself to if you weren’t 100% in. It wasn’t something to be taken lightly, so I’ve never taken it lightly. It’s kind of like the word “love,” to be cherished because it is rarely seen in the wild.
And my whole life I’ve followed that piece of advice, reserving promises until I was sure I would be able to come through on the fulfilling portion of it. It was especially important to me because my father almost never came through on his promises, yet he was always big on what I called “one more promise.”
“I know I didn’t come through last time, but just give me one more promise,” he’d say, and I knew he meant it, that he was absolutely sure he would come through even when he hadn’t before. But that was the problem. He didn’t see the glaring signs that said he wasn’t going to keep his promise, no matter how heartfelt it was when he made it.
That “one more promise” made me hate promises. It made me want to stomp all over them and throw them in the garbage, but it also made me that much more determined to keep my own. When I use those words they’re more than words. They’re bonds that, come hell or high water, I will fulfill. So I keep it close to the vest. I reserve my promises for high percentage situations.
And on the rare occasions that I have to break a promise my soul dies a little. It doesn’t matter what comes up to make that happen, or how forgiving the other person is, I feel absolutely horrible. I wish that weren’t the case, that I could forgive myself in those rare moments, but that’s also why I only use that word “promise” sparingly.
That’s also why the word has so much more meaning when others use it with me, and why I’m so devastated when they don’t come through. And I hope at some point society remembers the meaning that word should have. I hope in some way my dad would stop using it too, because I can’t stop getting my hopes up.