I thought I’d take a stab at something a little out of my comfort zone today with some creative writing. It is the first piece of fiction I’ve written since grade school, so try not to judge it too harshly. I wanted to find a way to create a story that starts at the absolute beginning without any presupposed frame.
It’s the beginning of all stories, true or false. The singular line impossibly regurgitated from nothingness, which by itself pulls into existence innumerable other things. Possibly everything. Whole worlds created accidentally by that irresponsible line, like the fresh new universes in soft little bodies that a washed-up guitar player and deadbeat-dad leaves to be untended when he tours the Midwest for naïve farmers’ daughters.
All stories hinge on an “I”, and it is indeed an irresponsible place to start, but we all start exactly there. We think the “I” will affect only us, but little do we realize that our existence necessitates the simultaneous creation of somewhere to exist and someone to exist at. Well, I guess that second one would be you. I do apologize for the inconvenience, but now that I’ve created us, I suppose we should know a little more about what that means.
Similar to 99% of the people I know (you see, I am already creating too much collateral damage, implying the existence of all these people I know, the places they live in, their families, etc.; truly irresponsible, this I), I am waiting, and you are waiting with me. Rural Metro bus number 104 should be emerging from the haze of heat waves reflected off of the mid-day Dobson Road traffic any minute now, and I am waiting to perform an experiment of sorts. I have created, and now I am hoping to see if I can un-create as well.
The day is scaldingly bright as I stand here next to this downright-useless mesh shade cover over the bus stop, with its metal painted an insincere teal. I am considering what it is that brings me here. It is the story of course; my acting it and your reading it. I am both creator of and slave to the story.
It is a curious feeling to know you have come into existence only moments ago, and yet be able to call on memories dating back to childhood. Doubtless, those memories were simply a part of my creation, but they are very convincing nonetheless. You may also be in possession of some convincing memories, but rest assured, we both just got here and I’m sorry to say that’s my fault. Hopefully this cumbersome nuisance won’t last long.
Looking westward, straining against the daggers of the sun, I can just make out the hulking rectangular prism of number 104. The flat front. That is what I am counting on here.
The memories this body holds tell me that I use this bus daily to get to work five miles down the road, stocking books in a retail bookstore with bright fluorescent lights and strangely patterned carpets; a bookstore whose other employees are, on average, thirty years my junior. This is what the memories say, but it’s not what I say. I say I was just created here and now, and I need to know if this story is a permanent mess I’ve gotten us into. I need to know if something created can still be erased completely, or if a scar will always remain. I need to know if I can undo this annoyance, for my sake and yours. I can just make out the shape of the driver in the shimmering windshield now. The bus is moving closer.
The flat front of the Rural Metro transportation fleet is what I hope will be most effective about this method. I can’t jump out in front of just any car. At the speed traffic is moving, that would probably just cripple me, and then I would have to create even more MDs and RNs and EMTs and every single little piece of equipment stashed in the hospital I would have to go to. That wouldn’t be fair at all; I’ve already done enough creative damage. Jumping in front of the bus, however, with its towering flat front, would mean definite cranial impact and, I hope, almost certain termination of existence. If we both stop existing simultaneously, we can call the un-creation experiment a success. Actually, we won’t have to. We won’t be here anymore.
It’ll only be a few seconds now. The bus is nearly here. Excuse me while I step out onto the blacktop. The gleaming metal bike frame mounted to the front of number 104 has caught my eye. That…. That is going to hurt. I can’t believe I didn’t consider the bike frame. Too late to go back now, I suppose. Nothing to do but close my eyes and remain as loose as possible to aid in the impact.
Seconds slide past. This is taking longer than I thought. I can’t possibly have undone this creation already…
The soft, leisurely “kssshhh” of air brakes bringing the goliath bus to a slow, safe stop. No screeching or swerving or shouts whatsoever. That’s contrary to predictions. Worst of all, everything is still in existence. I open my eyes.
I am sometimes dumbfounded by my own absent-mindedness. I’ll grant that we did just get to this plane of existence a few meager minutes ago, but I still should have known how a bus works. Sitting a good twenty feet ahead of me where the passengers are clustered by the bus stop sign, number 104 idles contentedly. I appear to be ill-positioned for this particular experiment; next time I should put myself before the stop, not after it. I have made eye contact with the driver, a familiar woman who is looking a bit impatient at my casual stance blocking the rest of her endless route.
Well, what else can we do right now? I think I have exact change in my front pocket.
As I file in after the last passenger has deposited his money, the driver greets me.
“How’s your day, John?”
“Honestly, I can’t say it’s all gone according to plan.”
“Well, keep your chin up. There’s always tomorrow.”