Some stories arise from the ashes of tormented idealism, having burned too long in an aging brain. Some stories fall from a surprise belch like a piece of undigested spinach. And some stories discuss their progress with the passing clouds. This story is a witness to its own unfolding, as if each moment could not be told until it spilled out onto the alteration of the page, with no more sense of direction than our lives have.
For this is the story that says things are not the way they should be and this is the story of the writer who is not the same man with the pen in his hand or the keyboard at his fingertips, who has limited his experience by interpreting what it means. Has this writer really ever said what he meant? What he meant was never good enough, was never really the experience, but sometimes he loses himself in the writing and he says something better.
And this is the story of the artist, who lives beyond the writer, the noblest of failures. Because art is inadequate. Because in art, too much precision kills. How terrible it is to be so right. How dead.
And this is the story of the writer’s lover, the one more in love with the creation than the creator, the one hauling the umbilical cord over her shoulder like a rope, the one who does not know she does this. Sometimes imagination is enough, thinks the writer, and she is not really there.
And yet the writer’s heroes seem so innocent. The guys with the wrenches and the answers. The guys with leather shoelaces and a history of marching. The guys with muscle in their hearts and meat on their bones.
The lover remains cheerful. She arrives from nowhere just when she’s been forgotten. She looks in the hero’s eyes. He isn’t there anymore. She’s saying to herself, “He’s just meat.”
So she nudges the river into a different place this time.
The hero was on his way to an unbelievable victory when he noticed the smudges on the side of the truck. They seemed familiar.
Like all fairytales, this one was secretly painful. The writer left it with the truth and the truth hurt.
It made the writer very happy to have failed in this way.
Rich Ives is the author of Tunneling to the Moon: A Psychological Gardener’s Book of Days currently being published in serial @ Silenced Press everyday in 2014 and forthcoming in paperback. Begin from the beginning, catch up, read daily. Just refer to the Burrow Guide.