Flying Object is a nonprofit organization for creative writing in Hadley, MA. One of my colleagues mentioned it to me because she’s attending a writing workshop there. I was too late to enroll, but she’s been sharing the prompts with me, and I’ll share my efforts (if I continue to follow the prompts) on here.
The first prompt: Write a character’s life in one page, include an impossibility that is told with nonchalance.
Note: Once I started writing, and I made two attempts (the other coming tomorrow), I completely ignored the prompt and ended up with two pretty terrible stories. But practice makes practice, so don’t expect anything great.
And so it went, the possibility-of-his-impossibility-not-to-be-bypassed. He wondered, in that final moment (we’re told) if his entire life was a chain of hyphenated signals, only comprehensible if you could see them all woven together like genetic code. Take bits of that code, and you might read a crucial scene, but its importance would be lost without further decoding, a task so comprehensive that you couldn’t complete it in a lifetime, just as a lifetime cannot be completed, only stopped at some point.
This particular point, stuck forever at the end of Tural Bostick’s brief strand, is hardly the stuff of legend, though Tural would never admit as much. He was the Miniver Cheevy type, earnest in his belief that he was born too late, but unlike that drunken mourner, Tural was never one to weep or curse.
In fact, he came to know more about time than to be so naive about its constraints on the punctuality of his existence. Like Gandalf, he could be heard declaring, “A wizard is never late, nor is he early, he arrives precisely when he means to.” His friends used to laugh at this, until their amusement turned to compassion, and then concern, and then, finally, horror. It’s strange how our mental theater only permits certain reels onto the projector, and in the minds of everyone he knew, Tural’s reel wouldn’t play. He never suspected their doubts, nor their disdain, convinced that they too experienced the world he took for granted as reality.
At first, his ramblings about time waves instead of lines were interesting enough. With the wildest animation, he would regale willing listeners – few there ever were – with illuminating tales of his transcendent journeys. There he was, a renowned physicist who had isolated the Bifröst particle and bridged the gap in his field’s conflicting paradigms; there he was, a cellist who plucked his strings and ushered harmony to its seat; there he was, an elementary school teacher who shared Horton Hears A Who! with his captive audience. Though no one in Tural’s world heard Horton, Tural knew, as he would whisper to himself every night, a person is a person, and he refused to be small. Alas, the world’s magic is a diminishing one.
At age 40, when asked about his childhood by his doctor, he said that he was still living it, and added, looking away with a wistful wonder that was mistaken for lunacy, “but I prefer my old age.” The diagnosis was clear. He had lost his mind. No one ever considered that he was the only one who had found it.
The prescriptions followed. The seizures too.
And so there he was, the idiot spilling sound and fury, signifying everything dismissed as nothing, until nothing became his everything.