I had one of those weird bursts of inspiration and wrote most of the first chapter of a potential novel. Nothing is likely to come of it as I don’t really know where to take it from here, but I’m pretty happy with the prose and the mood, so I figured I’d share. It is definitely a bit on the odd side of course, I hope you’d expect that from me by now. Anyway, here you go, chapter one of Possibility Days:
There were days when the world was empty, when time stood still, and when accomplishing anything seemed almost as monumental as accomplishing nothing. There were days when the world was on fire, when the edge between success and failure seemed thin and sharp, and when the only possible emotion was a panicked, manic, make-believe optimism.
There were days in the middle.
As Andrew woke up each morning, he always had a gut feeling about what kind of day it was going to be. Those feelings weren’t always accurate of course; the days always seemed to be playing tricks on him worse than the weather forecast. But it made him feel better to pretend he had some control over things. Today, for example, had started out like a distinctly middle day, but had unexpectedly sagged towards the end before picking up sharply at the last minute. The pattern reminded him of the bass drop in a particularly formulaic pop song.
Now it was starting to sag again, but that was OK. It was late, he was tired, and as long as he didn’t fall all the way into paranoia a little bit of fade at the end of the day made it easier to get to sleep. It was probably natural, something to do with melatonin or testosterone levels or some other hormonal thing.
Standing in the bathroom brushing his teeth, he made half an effort to recall all of the things he had accomplished today, but the idea seemed just a little out of reach; he was fading fast then. Some of those things had seemed interesting or valuable at the time, but now they were just… there. Mechanistic results of a boring, predictable universe. Like the toothbrush, travelling hypnotically back and forth over his teeth, its position ever-changing but its motion always exactly the same. Andrew paused, and spit, then rinsed off the toothbrush, gargled briefly, and spit again. Tomorrow would be different, he knew, even if it would also be exactly the same. Life was funny like that.
As he made his way out of the bathroom and into the big, open, mostly-empty room that served as his bedroom, his hand batted the wall near the bathroom light switch. He hit the fan switch by accident, turned that off again, then fumbled left automatically until he could kill the lights. The room was plunged into grey, the glow of the city still sneaking around the edges of the big bay window.
Everything about this condo had seemed like a good idea originally: the massive rooms, the floor-to-ceiling windows; even the oddly-located light switches had seemed more cool than frustrating. It was still an impressive place to show off to friends and family, but if he was being honest he’d trade it all back for a bedroom that got properly dark at night. The simple things were underrated.
Crossing the shadows to his bed, Andrew knelt to pray and tried to sink into the comforting thought of all the other people who were praying at that moment. They formed a vast network of humanity in his mind, united by ritual, and reaching out toward something greater than themselves. Andrew didn’t even believe in god anymore, and hadn’t for a long time, but he still believed in the universe, and in humanity, and that was enough to pray to in his opinion. No matter what kind of day it had been, the reminder that he was somehow not alone in the world was usually a comforting one.
This night, praying to the universe quickly turned into a muttered reassurance that tomorrow would be another day, and that things always seemed brighter in the morning. It was time to stop. Giving up on the universe for one more day, he unbent his knees and crawled into bed, pulling the covers up to just under his nose and folding his hands over his stomach. The day finally complete, Andrew waited for sleep to come.