Task: Write a story revolving around a Writer, a Mechanic’s Workshop, a Trashcan and Curiosity.
A writer waits on his car at the workshop and stares at a waste bin curiously.
He wonders about the temporariness of time, time that passes away creates two consequences depending on how one looks at it: passage of time creates the past, and passage of time creates waste. The writer now wonders if there is any correlation between the past and the waste or are they two invariably independent arbitrary aspects of the universe. Furthermore, he wonders if what has happened, has happened and what will happen, will happen? He envisages a world without time, but when he deliberates over the word ‘world’, he traces back his thoughts because he looks at the surrounding world in reference to himself and without him, is the ‘world’ the same ‘world’ which he had first thought of? He now realizes that he has thought of two profound questions in a matter of moments and he still hasn’t been able to find the answer to either of them.
He now wishes to back track his thought process and decides to analyze each question individually, lay out the facts, present his arguments, and decide upon a single unanimous answer in each case; the only problem is that he forgets what triggered his question in the first place. He looks around him haphazardly, seeking the object that first inspired his mind to formulate questions. His eyes fall on the iron tools before him and for a split second he imagines he can smell their rust thereby activating his olfactory senses. He then looks to his left and sees a silhouette of a man bent over a metal surface which he quickly deduces to be the bonnet of his car, thereby animating his sense of sight. To revive his auditory sense, he glares at the silhouette’s arm which seems to be repeatedly striking the metal surface in a controlled fashion thereby producing a dull clanking sound. He then sticks his tongue out and tastes the acerbic metal on the tip of his tongue. He forgets to stimulate his sense of touch but when he unconsciously takes out his right hand from his pockets and lays it down on his side on the cold, metallic bench, he lets his lips crease into a slight smile.
His mind begins to wander to distant places, to the time he first touched the negative terminal of the battery with the tip of his tongue after which his mother had thrown a tantrum because the lamp wouldn’t work and it had never crossed her mind to check for the cells in the lamp and just like that she had thrown it away and the writer being a reticent child had dared not tell her that he had taken out the one cell to check if what his classmates had said about the glowing skin if you lick the ends of a battery was true or not; and twelve years later when the writer had turned nineteen and his ailing mother had at last permitted him to visit the town circus, he had paid exactly seven pennies to be admitted into a colorful tent which boasted itself as a showcase for one incredible opportunity to let your eyes feast upon the world’s one and only super human who glowed, whose skin shone like the sun overhead, who even at night would be awake because the light he produced had burnt his eyes from the inside, and fried his brain and he had lost all concept of sleep but he still lived and ate, and read, and looked at the spectators marveling at their opaque skin and wondering why he was captured by these strange, dull beings when he was clearly a deity who deserved freedom. And thirty years later, the writer had written his first short story on the strange man who was never heard from again, indeed the entire town circus seemed to have vanished into thin air because the very next day his mother denied having permitted him to go out of the house at all and again threw a fit accusing her only son of planning to abandon her, and a week later his friends assured him that they had not heard of any Volaticius Circum Circus in town, nor had they seen any banners or heard any banjos playing at seven at night every day for five days straight, but when the writer had retired to his shabby little room upstairs, and had emptied his wallet to find the seven pennies, he could find only three, and he was certain that he had a total of ten pennies a week and half ago.
The writer’s first short story was published in a local newspaper called the “Local News and Views” which often burst with petty advertisements of someone selling a hair-curling rod, or someone looking to purchase a second-hand hammer, or someone looking to hire an apprentice, or a teacher or a baby sitter or some foreign company looking for miners to work in a cave for a measly six pence an hour but with an added bonus of free, exotic food such as fresh tuna and bi-monthly trips to far-off cities. The last page of the newspaper was always dedicated to obituaries and births and here, in a measly narrow column on the left hand side, the short story was printed in an almost illegible type font with the writer’s name printed out in huge block letters on top which led to some altercations at the newspaper office, directed at the writer because his “damned story” had eaten up the space reserved for Mr. Hinilist’s pompous, celebratory wish for his son who had been admitted into the army and in the next issue the editor made a formal apology to Honorable Mr. Hinilist and his family for the “grave and unforgiveable” error and dedicated the entire first page to his son, congratulating him of bestowing upon the town the honor of having “one of our own” in the “sacred” line of work.
The writer now begins to be conscious of his surroundings and surmises that the sun must be directly overhead because the shadow of the worker to his left is no longer elongated to a side, but rather spotted under him. The writer wipes the beads of sweat from his forehead with his shirt sleeve when his eyes fall upon the trash can a few feet away from him and his mind starts whirring around. He contemplates on the fleeting transitoriness of life but then concludes that not only does life come to a finite end, but so do all objects in reference to his existence like his wife’s spectacles which lost their objective of being worn and being looked out of, of supplementing poor eyesight, of resting on her ears with their long, metallic arms, of being suspended on her chest when she conversed and of being re-worn when she read, and of being kept on the side table next to her books and a blue vase when she slept, and of being wiped clean with a piece of grey cloth and of being touched by her frail, wrinkled fingers a hundred times a day.
The writer’s mind again takes a stroll on memory lane, to the time he married his sweetheart of four years, and despite his mother’s constant admonitions, he had gone ahead with the small ceremony and brought her back to his now adequately ventilated, upstairs bedroom, where he had made passionate love to her and the morning after and two weeks later, had started and finished a novella based on two characters who metamorphose into stars, titled “The Death of a Star”, and after the two starts explode and expel all elements into the vast cosmos, two particles of gold and silver land on the earth and are embedded into two separate rings made for unfortunate lovers who meet their tragic end when the heavenly bodies, in fury and anguish over the human condition, crash into earth. The writer had stashed the pages under the bed when his beloved wife had announced that she was expecting and four months later she was pronounced barren when a rogue soldier, who had returned from the battle field in a disarray had decided to gain a lover from the past, had forced himself upon her during the writer’s absence one early morning, and had accidently stabbed her in the pit of her stomach, after which age dawned upon her expeditiously for the subsequent forty years till the day she peacefully passed away lying on the right side of the bed, next to the writer.
The writer is brought back to the present by a loud, persistent clanging sound that echoes from his left. He senses the monotony of the sounds as they reverberate through the bench on which he sits, albeit uncomfortably, when his eyes fall upon the trash can again and he feels a strong impulse to rummage through the contents of the bin before him. He wonders why the trash can is inside the workshop and not outside, nearer to the workers where they can access it easily, or maybe this trash can is specifically for the customers who sit on the bench, who remain on the inside of the workshop and yet somehow, during the simple act of sitting and waiting, produce a waste that needs to be discarded immediately, like a tissue paper used to blow nose on, or a wrapping paper whose contents are eaten during the wait, or the useless receipts one finds in the wallet that have served their purpose long ago, and are no longer needed and now just hoard the entire wallet space and one only gets time to clean the gluttonous wallet during intervals such as these where all other activity is paused as the car makes one wait on itself.
Here the writer goes back to the time he had purchased the automobile, and the mechanic had offered to mend the silencer for free, but the writer was eager to show his beloved their first material acquirement and had politely turned down the offer to which the mechanic had said “suit yourself sir, my offer shall stand forever” and without giving second thought to the mechanic’s seemingly absurd claim, he had jumped in and driven the coughing lump of metal towards his birth place where his indisposed wife awaited him. Three weeks later he composed a few poems dedicated to the promise of betrothal and solitariness and wrote a few more short stories which were all sent to a publisher in the adjacent town upon his wife’s insistence, and which were published during a period of three months after her death in the form of one whole book which sold less than a hundred copies in another fifteen years. The writer received his first critique in the local town magazine “La Nova Politico” soon after, whereby he was accused of employing unrealistic imagery to “convey his own narrow and insipid view of life”.
The writer returns back to earth and he regrets not having brought with him a book to read which could have supplemented his present thoughts. He muses over the book and all that he had read so far. He deduces that the book is written expertly by Sapio Percepentia who was the world’s leading authority on metaphysics in 300 BC. Although the writer disagrees with many of Sapio’ views, including his lengthy expositions on the taste of sentiments and experiences, it had playfully triggered his imagination when Sapio had proposed a future wherein mankind shall be able to discern and experience various life events by relishing on their individual flavors which will be harnessed using energy and perception of the spirit itself. The writer amuses himself by recalling what Sapio had written regarding Death tasting like “barren sand, that which induces a raspy breath, hath been molded in form by the Creator Himself“, and Birth tasting like “seraphic honey, that which Nature and Man conspireth as one to yield and extract“, and Hatred tasting like “bitter venom spewed in eyes that mixeth with tears and rotten carcass“; indeed Sapio had attributed flavors to all that he found around him and within him, to the meandering river, and the birth of star, to the full moon, and to the act of reading, and taking a promenade bare feet on a dewy grassland, and standing on pebbles scattered on the pavement, and sitting –
The writer again sticks his tongue out and tastes the caustic metal in the air around him. He blesses Sapio’s intelligence and then wishes on the souls of those who translated his works over centuries, peace and tranquility, and those who mediated the means for the writer enabling him to purchase the book, he offers them silent gratitude in his heart. He then smiles and closes his eyes.
I am the least vital sense a being such as yourself, needs…or this is what I’ve lead you to believe for I make an appearance as myself as the curtain draws on our solitary protagonist. But I am not present here to assert my importance, rather my role as a momentary narrator has been bestowed upon me by Time. I shall not keep you in perpetual mystery and will reveal to you a necessary detail which must be made known now otherwise the monologue of which I find myself quite undeserving shall be rendered utterly futile. Death, my close bosom friend, has taken our Writer. Whilst the Writer was engrossed in delving the senses my colleagues so respectfully represent, he had perchance forgotten to take notice of my ever growing presence in his surroundings. As you may recall, I had manifested myself as the whiff of rust to our writer, which he had heeded, much to my pleasure. He had then attributed me to the metallic tools in the workshop, which, I acquiesce to. Yes, my origins were the tools but then as time had pronounced upon me eons ago, I began symbolizing an end, the end not only to the arbitrary functioning of the mechanics tools which would be ultimately consumed by rust, but of an end to Life and more specifically, the end to the Writer’s Life. I say “symbolized” for Death has no smell, I am not associated with the tangible, nor the intangible, yet I exist. I shall make no false pronouncements that the Writer had smelled death after he had closed his eyes shut (such proclamations do amuse me) – it was rather my very absence that made Death, my comrade, collect the Writer’s soul in an ephemeral moment which I shall now endeavor to briefly elaborate on.
As the Writer sat on the bench, Life seated itself on his left, and when Death approached, he was greeted by the old companion warmly who welcomed him to make himself comfortable on the other side of the Writer. Death emanated a silent placidity and saw the Writer smiling as he unknowingly converged with the cold metal with his hand. Life assured Death that their mutual friend knew nothing of the future and that Life had taken the liberty to manifest itself in the Writer’s memories as the past and the present for one last time, after which Life stood up and shook hands with Death and took leave of him. Death comforted Life and assured him that their mutual friend shall be taken good care of and Life departed. Death approached the Writer cautiously, as to not frighten him, and then embraced him warmly on the cold, metallic bench, in a distant automobile workshop, a few feet away from the wastebasket.