~The Lost Chapter~
In which the narrator has a fight with the author, gets killed and resurrected not less than eight times, and keeps his egg warm.
“You wouldn’t believe it,” I said quickly and quietly to the egg. “She was so beautiful. Like Clara Bow.” I sat on the edge of the bed and grasped the egg with both hands. Carefully, I lifted it from its nest and sat it on my lap. I sat like a psychic, peering into the shell, feeling its warmth with my palms. It sat there unmoving, but not, I felt, uncaring. “I can’t believe she exists in this world.”
I wished badly that I knew her name. I hadn’t thought of looking for a nametag; she probably wore one. Next time. But to know her name would be one step closer to knowing her. I couldn’t think of what it might be. Not even a left field guess would come into my brain.
How difficult it must have been for those first forgers of words who had to create something out of those meaningful, yet unintelligible sounds coming forth from their mouths. To not only label beauty, but to give it a name. To try to match the intensity of the pounding heart, the sweating hands, the inability to swallow with a sound. Sound to be reflective of the most awe inspiring sight humans have access to. And then, not simply did they describe beauty, but they had to come up with words to describe the beauty of their own species, their potential mates. The beauty that would be the most important to respect, the most important to understand. To name that which makes us powerless…
I reached over and sat the egg back in it’s place, carefully rotating it so that another surface would be warmed by the heater. I winced as I stretched. My chest and my ribs hurt. I stood up and walked into the bathroom. I lifted my shirt. There was a definite yellow bruising spreading across my pale skin. I prodded a rib gingerly with my index finger, the pain was immediate and, though not excruciating at the moment, was sure to be obnoxious the following day. I sat down on the toilet. Why does this shit happen to me? I don’t get it. The past few days have been too messed up to have happened coincidentally. What the fuck is wrong with my life?
I eyed the plunger standing next to the toilet. If I sharpened the stick I could stab myself in the throat with it.
“Whoa, there. What happened to you?” a voice said.
I looked around. “Who the fuck is in here?” I couldn’t see anyone and it sounded as if the voice was in the same room as me. I stood up and picked up the plunger. Brandishing it like a sword, I stepped out of the bathroom and back into my bedroom. No one was there. I stepped silently into the living room. Empty.
“Where are you?” I shouted. Looking frantically around me, I swung the plunger in an effort to keep whatever it was at bay.
“Buck up, little camper,” the voice said. I looked around. The voice came from no discernable direction.
“Who the fuck are you?” I croaked out shrilly. I edged my way back into the bathroom and locked the door behind me.
“I am the ghost of Christmas past.” The voice said.
“What the fuck? Manfred? Is that you?” I asked, my voice cracking with fear. The hair stood up on my arms.
“I am not Manfred. I am the ghost of Christmas past.”
“Cut it out, you fucker!” I yelled. “What the hell are you doing?”
“Calm down, calm down. I’m the author.”
“What? What the fuck are you talking about?” The author? What was that supposed to mean. The room was still empty.
“The author. I’m writing the story. You’re my character and I was getting worried about you. You were starting to seem really depressed and I was worried you were going to off yourself before it was time.”
“A story?” I asked, confused. “Wait, what do you mean ‘before it was time’?”
“Yeah, it’s just a story. Calm down.”
“You calm down, asshole. What do you mean ‘before it was time’?”
“This is getting us nowhere. Why do you have to be so goddamn difficult?”
Suddenly, I lost my train of thought. I realized that I was living in a story, that my very existence was the author’s creation, and that, at that very moment, he was trying to communicate with me.
“Um…okay.” I said.
“That’s better. Like I was saying-”
“Hold on,” I cut him off. “Can we switch to a less cumbersome format? All of these quotation marks and adverb laced dialogue descriptions are a bit hard to navigate. And can we switch to present tense while we’re talking?”
Author: How about this?
Narrator: Yeah, this is good.
Author: Now, where was I?
Narrator: Something about me being depressed.
Author: Oh, yeah. Buck up little camper.
Narrator: Okay. That’s helpful. Any other tidbits of wisdom you care to share?
Author: I don’t even understand why you’re so depressed. What happened to the waitress? I though she’d lift your spirits for sure.
Narrator: You’re writing this thing, why don’t you tell me?
Author: I can’t. It’s kind of like riding a bike down a steep hill. At some point you just relinquish control and let the bike go where it goes.
Narrator: And what the bike kills itself?
Author: That’s when you jump off the bike and pick it up after it crashes.
Narrator: After it crashes?
Author: Yeah, watch.
I heard a sound behind me. There was something behind the shower curtain. I slowly stalked up to it and flung it open. Nothing. I stepped into the tub. Something shiny caught my eye.
“Ooh, a quarter,” I said as I bent down to pick it up. Suddenly I felt my feet go out from under me. I slipped and a bar of Irish Spring went sliding across the tub. My ribs hit the edge of the tub and I slipped over the edge onto the floor. I lay there for a second, my ribs aching. Carefully, I grabbed hold of the edge of the sink and used it to hoist myself to my feet. I stood there, bracing myself against the sink.
The air suddenly felt thin. My vision was speckled with black spots and I felt dizzy. I grasped at the sink, but it was no use. I started to fall in slow motion. My frantic grasping caused me to spin and I was falling face first towards the ground. Towards the handle of the toilet plunger standing there, dangerously close to where my mouth would land. The wooden handle entered my throat and splintered, sending a pointed shard of wood through my neck. The stick held my upper body a few inches above the floor, like a poorly made lean-to. Blood poured from my mouth onto the linoleum. My vision slowly dissipated. The last thing I saw was a single bolt at the base of the toilet, corroded and old.
Narrator: You’re a prick.
Author: I had to show you.
Narrator: No you didn’t. I never asked you to do that. A toilet bolt? Seriously?
Author: It’s realism.
Narrator: It’s bullshit.
Author: I bet there are lots of people who have seen crappy things as they died. Not everything can be sleeping lovers and sunsets.
Narrator: Why not? Why does cliché have to be bad? I’m pretty happy with clichés.
Author: Then write your own damn book.
I reached into the cabinet under the sink and pulled out a notebook and a feather pen.
The sun shone in through the window and a rainbow appeared. The girl from the diner came into my apartment.
“I heard you fall.” She said, concerned.
“It’s nothing,” I said. “Just a flesh wound.”
“Oh my god, you’re bleeding. I’ll grab a towel.” She looked around frantically, but all the towels seemed to have vanished. As had anything else with any degree of absorbency, including the toilet paper and the shower curtain.
“I’m starting to feel light headed.” I said, clutching at the wound on my arm.
“Oh my god, hold on!” She urged me. Quickly, she began to unbutton her shirt. She pulled it off and wrapped it around my wrist. Her chest heaved with fear and concern. “I can’t get the shirt to stay on the wound.”
“If only we had some elastic to hold it on.” I croaked.
“My bra has some elastic in it!” she exclaimed and reached behind her back to unclasp it. She slid it off-
Author: A feather pen? Are you quite finished?
Narrator: Nope. Not yet. A few more seconds.
Author: You realize that none of that was happening, right?
Narrator: Don’t care. It was hot. I see why you do this.
Author: Can we move on?
Narrator: In a minute.
My pen and paper disappeared mysteriously.
Narrator: You’re a prick.
A saw blade flew out of the drain and drove itself into my forehead, splitting my cranium in two.
Narrator: Still a prick.
Author: Fine. More waitress.
Narrator: Was that so hard? Was that so taxing?
Author: If I bring her in later, will you promise not to be so depressing?
Narrator: I’ll do my best.
There was a rumbling. Cracks started to form in the walls. Pieces of plaster crashed to the ground. Suddenly, the ceiling came loose in one impossibly large piece and crashed down onto my body, flattening me.
Narrator: What the hell was that?
Author: Didn’t you read the very beginning of the chapter?
Narrator: The talking to the egg bit?
Author: No, higher.
Narrator: Hold on.
Narrator: Oh, fuck. You’re an asshole.
Author: It’ll be okay.
Narrator: Fuck that. Change it. Highlight it and hit backspace.
Author: Sorry, I can’t do that.
Narrator: You don’t have many friends, do you?
Author: That’s my personal choice.
Narrator: I bet. I’m sure you have to beat off your admirers with a shovel.
I felt a pain in my arm. Numbness spread through my chest. I clutched at my chest cavity, unable to speak. I fell to the ground.
Narrator: I don’t even think that was accurate.
Author: Probably not. I’ll edit it out later. I’m probably going to edit out this whole scene.
Narrator: Good idea. It doesn’t make any sense. And it’s murder on the continuity.
Author: I know. I think I’ll finish this now.
I exploded because I was stuffed with dynamite.
Narrator: Wait! What’s up with the egg?
Author: You’ll see.
My leg fell off and I bled to death.
Narrator: No, seriously. What the fuck is up with the egg?
I swallowed my own tongue and choked to death.
Narrator: You bastard!
I went back into the bedroom and checked on the egg, then I turned around and Manfred hit me in the throat with a shovel. And I died.