This is the longest stretch I’ve gone without writing any posts. I’d mentioned on Facebook that I’d be gone from social media for a while, and I didn’t lie. I haven’t been on Facebook or Twitter at all. I had not intended to also shut down my blog. It’s just been a side-effect of withdrawing from everyone, to put myself back together.
The truth is, the election has thrown me for a loop. My faith in humanity has been shaken. I believed that when push came to shove, people would do the right thing. But they didn’t.
Tonight, I don’t want to get into what I think of Trump, or the people he’s appointing, or his stance on climate change, or his conflicts of interest, or his Putin bromance. I don’t want to talk about politics at all here. I want to push forward, and do something productive.
I failed at NaNoWriMo. I’ve been having difficulty finding the focus to write. I’ve been a little bit depressed, and that’s been impacting my work, my music, and my writing. The problem is I need to be writing something. It helps me stay happy. So for all these several weeks where I’ve sacrificed writing time in order to do other things, it’s just been making the problem worse.
A few days ago, I decided that I would try something different. Instead of trying to write something large, I’d write things that were inconsequential. I’d focus on painting scenes, and try to just have fun.
Below is the first attempt at this. The scene is not part of any larger work. It isn’t even really complete. It features a protagonist named Victor that needs to keep walking. It is not autobiographical, though I did use some imagery from my real life.
If you enjoy it, great! If not, that’s okay, too. For me, writing this scene was like taking aspirin for a headache.
One more lap.
One more yard.
One more step.
Victor leaned forward, placing his foot on the path with care. He pulled his backpack up higher on his shoulders, bringing momentary relief to his aching lower back. Sweat beaded his forehead in spite of the chilly fog that surrounded him. His legs continued moving, slow pistons pushing the machine of his body around the circuit once again.
A digital choir chimed from his pants pocket. He pulled the bulky phone from his jeans, sliding the answer button with his thumb. He took another step.
“You don’t have to keep doing this,” a male voice said.
“Just a little bit further,” Victor said.
“You’re just going to make yourself sick,” the voice said. “It’s over. The project is done. Let it go.”
Victor shut the phone off and stuffed it back in his pocket. He realized that he’d taken several steps without tracking them. Good. If he could forget the steps, he could stop thinking of the ache in his legs, or the slow boil in his lungs. He could stop feeling the straps of his backpack, cutting deep into his shoulder. He could just keep going. Clear his mind to think.
He looked around. This part of his course took him around the edge a bank parking lot. Pale lines on empty concrete stretched away from him to the right. No cars in sight. Was it Sunday already?
There were cars, though. He could hear them, their engines roaring and their tires humming over pavement. The noise reached Victor’s ears from the left. He couldn’t see it through the fog, but he knew that a major highway ran just over there, stretching on towards the city. Sunday travelers on that road would be returning from camping. Or maybe gambling. The highway made both possible.
Victor found himself counting his steps again. Sensation needled its way up his legs, past his waist and into his gut. He felt the contents of his stomach rise up, threatening a hostile escape. Bile curdled his tongue. He swallowed it down. He kept going. He had to keep going.
Ahead of him, Victor could see bare tree branches as shadows in the pale fog. As he drew closer, he saw them as skeletal fingers pointing dark accusations, heavy in the cold morning.
He blinked and time slipped ahead, rushing past him without leaving seeds of memory. He’d reached the bend in his route. It had been a quarter of a mile since the phone call, and he didn’t have anything to show for it. At least he hadn’t stopped.
He needed to focus. He needed to think. That’s why he walked this course every day. To think. To clear the cobwebs of his mind. He walked this route, and he allowed the answers to come to him. He came this way when he needed inspiration.
Victor’s foot caught on the edge of a sidewalk. He tripped. He threw out his arms for balance. He tried to get a foot under him. Too slow. He tripped again. The backpack shifted. His weight went forward. He felt himself falling.
At the last moment, Victor caught himself. He got his feet beneath him and shuffled the weight back in place. The burning in his lungs increased, and his heart galloped.
He kept moving. If he stopped, something terrible would happen. Weariness kept him from remembering what exactly that would be. He just knew it would be terrible.