Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Half Life

this is beyond awful...this is hell
i'm swimming at the equator, chasing a dying sun
i can only swim as fast as the earth turns
if i stop or slow down i lose the sun and slip into darkness
if i don't stop to rest i die anyway
what do i do?
where can i go to live??
- nightly nightmare

"This is stupid," muttered Margaret, only half realizing she'd even spoken aloud. However stupid, she never for a second considered changing the channel in her vacuous Plano home as the flat screen blared its babble.
"I can't believe they got away, Lieutenant. Those two fucking punks rape a nun and never see a day behind bars. And your dumb ass still wants to tell me there's a God?"

"They didn't get get away. They're unconfessed. There's no escape until then."

"That's just stupid. Those two spics are back in Mexico, free as birds. No way we'll ever see them again. And you know what? They're going to do it again. I feel it in my bones. Tell me more about your God."

"I see you agree with me."

"What? Agree with you nothin'!"

"You agree they'll keep doing it until they confess. They have to confess or they'll never be free. One thing I can tell you is you have to be free."

"You know, Lieutenant, sometimes I wonder why you ever became a cop."

Click. Margaret was beyond annoyed, without knowing why. In insecure moments like this she did what she always did: she reviewed her clients' real estate listings online. However empty it ultimately made her feel, she clung to this routine, a worldly success she could point to as indisputable proof of the rightness of her life choices. It was most important to her to prove that point since her soul cried out otherwise.

No new emails. No bids. Nothing. She hoped against hope she'd get a bite any second. But it was late in the evening. People were busy. The world was turning. Margaret was anchored to her starving monitor, its light the only thing between her and the enclosing darkness. She perused a couple of news aggregate sites. Slim pickings there. She rummaged through her mind for something productive to do. She'd already done everything. End of the road.

"Being a nun is dumb." Her mind traced back to the TV show and the uncomfortable feeling it gave her. If she'd had an email to answer or any sort of retail activity to conclude she could have pushed off that feeling for another day. So how to feel good?

"All it is is running away from life. That raped nun didn't forgive those boys like she said. She only got harder inside, steeling herself against her feelings. She'll be horribly dry and rigid when she gets older. I should write about that and expose it to the world."

Running away from life, steeling herself against her feelings, Margaret followed the ancient axiom of writing what you know about. She imagined herself as an Enlightened Being talking to a Lost Nun, setting her straight.

"This isn't dedicating your life to God hiding yourself away like this. We're supposed to live!"

"This is my life," insists the nun who believes that being willing to die for her beliefs means she is willing to die for God, mistaking stubbornness for faith. "I can only hope God gives you the same fulfillment I have found."

Margaret had been sent to Catholic school as a child and hated it. They were always lording over her their greater piety, gloating on how they'd been saved as she herself yearned to find her way. Most of all she remembered the uttered lines that brought stinging guilt that she now channeled into her own nun's character. Bitch!

"Jesus didn't die for our sins like you say. We murdered him for no reason! Whore of Babylon!"

She turned off the monitor, disgusted with people who make stupid choices. Margaret feared the night, the dreaded Recurring Dream looming, waiting for her to doze off so it could attack. In her half-life as a real estate novelist, no matter which side of the fence she was on, the other side was always greener. Some things cannot be bought. Never could she shake the dream of becoming a successful writer. All the gold in the world couldn't make that to happen.

But in half-life, Margaret was successful. She made good money as a realtor, had a knack (if not a passion) for it, and she led a very comfortable lifestyle. She also did writing she hid from home visitors and, most of all, her clients. She even denied an interest in literature during business time all the while she floated away during presentations, notating her clients' characteristics and working them into her grand and glorious unseen novel. Then she'd squint her eyes hard as she could.

I'm getting money. I'm doing writing. I'm a successful writer!

To keep the fantasy alive, she refused any romantic entanglements. Then she'd have to explain herself and all the bad choices in her life. Complete isolation was required to keep the half-life vision alive. But no soul however unclean or pure escapes the thorns of the world. Margaret's agency was bought out by a national chain, steeped in the disease of corporate culture.
"From now on," read the memo, "every realtor shall start his or her day writing 100 times 'I love being a realtor!' This will create a positive environment to promote sales as well as be an excellent team building exercise. Our iconic orange beanies are to be worn when showing a home or conversing with a client in person. Each day will end with the 'Jig Of Joy', hopping on one foot from side to side until your supervisor deems it sufficient time. We must be right. We have a billion dollars in cash."
"Just because you have cash doesn't mean you're a success!" stormed Margaret, ripping the memo to shreds. But her horrors were only beginning. She alone among her co-workers was outraged. To them, this was simply part of the deal of keeping their luxurious lifestyles. Tino actually said he'd wear a clown outfit if they told him to, "Makes no difference." As the only one with an identity - or half-identity - outside of work, Margaret felt the ice melting under her feet.

But I don't love being a realtor. It's just a way of getting money. This is beyond humiliating. I can't lie like this. My life is over. If I lose my money I won't be a successful writer anymore. This cup is too bitter to drink.

That night she retreated to her online novel, the one place where she could feel good of her own volition outside worldly thorns. Where I go to feel alive I can't make a living. Where I go to make a living I can't feel alive. Then her own words rushed back to haunt her: Just because you have cash doesn't mean you're a success! Stunned, she staggered to her bed sticking her head under the pillow, her muffled words only she could hear.

"I'm a total failure and a fool! How do you like your phony success now? I can't wear that stupid goddam beanie! Real authors are laughing at me. I don't ever want to write another word. Life has no point! I'm just like those lost nuns trying to buy a stairway to heaven. I'm being punished for living a lie. You have your revenge, God. I'll quit pretending to be a writer and let my book be just like its title: Gone With The Wind."

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