Everyone wants you to read the book on which he or she is working, a novel everyone is writing in order to find the meaning of life, with which everyone’s spouse ran off. But everyone has to finish the novel before everyone can know where the novel begins. In the meantime, there are all these distractions, such as the twelfth-floor window at the office building where everyone works out of which people or maybe just one person keeps jumping or falling--everyone isn’t sure--or everyone’s sexy coworker Sam, whom everyone is struggling valiantly against to keep from becoming a paramour. It’s kind of pitiful, actually, the way everyone keeps begging you to read, sending you e-mails, dropping it into conversation (“I have a book, you know?”), posting links to it on social-networking sites. Everyone figures that if he or she begs enough, you will break down and try it. Everyone is like a dog that way, watching you eat your dinner. The way you handle the dog is to push it away from the table, lock it outside the room. Sometimes, of course, you hand the dog a bite, an inch-sized bit of beef, and that is all everyone is asking for--a bite, that you read just the first line of his or her book. The problem is that you know everyone too well. If you read one line, everyone will beg you to read another. Just one more.

To start from the beginning of the novel, go here.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Everyone Publishes a Novel against Protestations

The Internet warned everyone not to post his or her novel on everyone’s blog. The Internet had many reasons for this. One was that blogging was not conducive to narrative fiction. “Think about it?” the Internet said. “How do you read blogs? You read them from the latest post backward, so if you come to the blog midnovel, you start midnovel. No one wants to start midnovel.”

Another reason the Internet gave was that rather than building an audience, the blog would likely showcase just how small everyone’s audience is. “Are you really going to want to keep writing when you see that only three spambots have read your blog?” the Internet asked.

Everyone pondered whether the blog was chiefly for him- or herself or for an audience. If everyone was looking solely for the meaning of life, did it matter? Would the meaning of life come to one person alone or did it necessarily have to involve hundreds? thousands? millions?

“Also,” the Internet continued, “no one is going to buy the book if it’s already available online for free.”

The Internet was too focused on capitalism, everyone thought. “Doesn’t information want to be free?” everyone asked. Everyone was being sarcastic.

But the Internet was already on to reason four, which was that novels are best written when rewritten. “If you’re going to post the novel,” the Internet said, “at least finish it in advance. Don’t take the chance you’ll quit and leave your miniscule audience hanging. And don’t think you won’t want to change plot and character and setting details from chapter 2 when you get to chapter 18.”

Everyone grimaced. Everyone wanted to be a published author right now. Everyone was not going to wait until the work was complete. That was ridiculous. What was the point of keeping a blog if everyone had to write everything in advance.

“Finally,” the Internet warned, “online forums like blogs are generally more suitable to the visual medium--images and video--than to straight written text. So unless your novel has pictures, you can forget about people staying very long.”

Everyone had pictures. Everyone thought often about posting them. Everyone thought also, however, about legal ramifications. If everyone’s employer or children or spouse saw the photos, what would happen? Would everyone be embarrassed? Would everyone be sued? Hadn’t the Internet given any thought to that?

Everyone was going to write this blog novel and post it as it happened, for fifty-two weeks, no matter what.

The Internet took a deep breath and sighed. The Internet was tired of communicating with people who wouldn’t listen.

Everyone believed he or she would be an exception. Everyone’s thoughts would come out in a proscribed order, and a growing set of someones would want to read those thoughts sans photos, and an agent would buy the work even though it had already appeared online because, hey, who ever wanted to read an entire book on computer?

Everyone was actually rather annoyed at the Internet. Who did the Internet think it was? Who did the Internet think everyone was? It didn’t know everyone--not like some people knew everyone, not like everyone’s friends and coworkers. They would read everyone’s blog, and they would tell others.

And besides that, everyone was looking for the meaning of life. And that was the main thing that mattered. Everyone suspected that the meaning of life was devoted to blog novels, that the meaning of life scoured the whole universe of blogs looking for them, when it wasn’t running away with everyone’s spouse.

Everyone pressed “publish” on the screen. Everyone watched the blog take shape before him or her. Everyone said, “Come to me, you miserable-excuse-for-a-being meaning of life.” Everyone waited for comments.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Everyone Learns about Windows

Everyone returned from lunch to find a window open at the office. The opening stretched from floor to ceiling. Everyone worked on the twelfth floor, the penultimate floor, of an all-glass building. Everyone thought the windows weren’t supposed to open.

“Actually,” Sam said, when everyone noted the open window to the next-door coworker, “having windows that open was the plan at one time.” Sam stood up from her or his desk, volunteering to show everyone.

Sam had a crush on everyone. Everyone knew about it and felt awkward whenever she or he was alone with Sam. Everyone’s spouse was intensely jealous, and now that they were separated, Sam’s crush was unbearable. Everyone wanted her or his spouse back, and everyone was trying to make that happen. One wrong move, everyone knew, and the spouse might have grounds for the divorce.

At the window Sam pointed to the metal landing to the window’s right. “These were supposed to go across the whole building,” Sam said.

“I thought those were fire escapes,” everyone said.

“Now, you’re no longer ignorant,” Sam observed. “Congratulations.”

Sam pointed out the screen and then pushed on it so that the window closed, except for the glass.

Everyone realized how unobservant she or he had been these many years everyone had worked in the office building. How many other things had everyone not noticed? Everyone suspected she or he had been too focused on archiving records for the Dasney Amusement Park Malls. Perhaps, everyone mused, that is why her or his spouse had left.

Other people were at the window also, enjoying Sam’s lesson on architecture. Everyone had been ignorant. Now no one was.

J. D. stood against the screen. “The company could have saved oodles on electricity last summer,” she or he said. “It’s cold up here.”

Papers lifted and fell from the desks of nearby cubicles. There was quite a breeze.

Other people stepped toward the window, looked. Harvey pushed the screen back, opening the building to the sky. Alice pushed it closed.

Everyone backed away. The open window made everyone nervous -so high up -and only that flimsy metal landing to stop a body.

Everyone went back to her or his office. Sam trailed google eyed. “Is there anything more you’d like to know?” Sam asked, standing in the frame of everyone’s door after everyone had sat.

Everyone shook her or his head.

Sam dawdled, playing a song on the doorjamb with her or his fingertips.

Everyone smiled awkwardly, looked down. Waited.

All afternoon, everyone could hear the screen on the window squeak open and slam closed, squeak open and slam closed.

Everyone stayed away.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Everyone Looks for a Blog Entry Topic

Everyone worked on his or her blog during lunch, writing advance blog posts to give to the Internet late at night after the kids were in bed and the dog was done barking outside. Everyone was in love with the Internet, even though he or she would not have acknowledged it. Much of everyone’s day was spent writing things for it. Everyone was frustrated because he or she did not know what those things should be. Everyone did not have interesting life moments to give to the Internet for his or her blog. This is what everyone needed.

Everyone had been seeking inspiration in cans of Handsome Cola. Handsome Cola was the cheapest diet soda at the gas station convenience store on the corner three blocks from the office where everyone worked. Everyone preferred Popsi Cola, the real stuff, not diet, but everyone was trying to lose weight. Losing weight was essential if everyone was ever again to appeal to his or her spouse. It would be very difficult to wrestle the spouse away from the meaning of life, and everyone needed whatever small advantage he or she could muster. The meaning of life was very persuasive when it came to love. Photos of the meaning of life posted on its blog proved it. In the pictures the meaning of life stood next to thin, happy, smiling people who held cans of Popsi at waist level. It was no wonder that everyone’s spouse had run away. Everyone had taken the spouse for granted, let his or her body drift into some sort of half-inflated balloon state, the skin saggy and punctured.

Everyone was thinking of starting a diet. Everyone had been thinking this for a long while, even before the mate left, like years before, like two months after the wedding. But everyone had had four children with his or her spouse and had assumed that that--that fact--was enough to keep the spouse grounded. Everyone had not counted on the meaning of life showing up.

Everyone’s e-mails to the meaning of life had gone unanswered after the first night everyone had written, having gathered the meaning of life’s contact information from the Internet. The Internet knew every person in the world. Everyone was beginning to think the meaning of life might be playing a trick, that it might not actually know everyone’s spouse as it had claimed.

Maybe it hadn’t even really been the meaning of life. Maybe the true meaning of life was still out there, everyone thought. The meaning of life everyone had written certainly hadn’t been what everyone had expected, except that the meaning of life appeared to be successful and happy, at least in the tone set on its blog.

Everyone decided that as soon as lunch was over--the cheese sandwich and bag of strawberries eaten, the water consumed (everyone had given up even diet soda for the fourth time in three weeks)--he or she would write to the meaning of life from work. In this way, the sender’s e-mail address would be unfamiliar to the meaning of life, and everyone might actually get a response. The meaning of life had responded to comments on its website, which was for sale, so everyone knew that the meaning of life was around. The meaning of life was obviously ignoring everyone’s letters.

Everyone looked at what he or she had written to give to the Internet for the blog this evening and grew despondent. The information conveyed lacked substance. Everyone would have to start from scratch. He or she would have to do it at night, after the kids were in bed and the dog was done barking outside, since lunch was near its end. There were so many ways in which everyone was having to start from scratch, like with his or her body and with love.

Everyone considered what he or she would write to the meaning of life. Everyone would pose as a friend, one of those people in the photographs. He or she would pretend to know the meaning of life, would want a reunion, some advice maybe, or a drink. Everyone would propose a meeting place. Everyone would meet the meaning of life, and everyone would write about it for the blog. Yes! How novel!

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Everyone Goes to the Mall

Some days, everyone went to the Dasney Amusement Park Mall. The Dasney Mall was a knockoff of Disneyland; only it was a mall, and it had all things Dasney instead of Disney: for example, Sinderella’s Bridal Clothes and Dunbo’s Hearing Aids, Banbi’s Taxidermy and Stuffed Animals and Snotty’s Cold and Flu Elixir Shop. Plus, it had dysfunctional rides and long lines. Everything was bright and pastel and had a sheen of lacquer, as if the world were a giant LP with cartoon liner notes.

On this day, everyone took her or his daughter or son with her or him, one of the four. Entry had cost twenty-seven dollars for the child, and everyone was feeling the bite in her or his pocketbook walking around. Everyone and her or his progeny would have to leave to eat lunch elsewhere, and everyone felt bad and cheap about it, but such became requisite when one’s spouse ran away: one was left as poor as a near-sighted librarian without glasses, which was sort of what everyone was. Everyone actually worked for Dasney. Everyone got half off entry to the mall (that is, free for her- or himself), but everyone could still not afford to take all the children at once.

The floor of the candy store in the Dasney Amusement Park Mall sounded like Pop Rawks. The store was a walk-through ride, looping machine arms twisting taffy around for visitors or giant mallets rocking in rhythm, pounding sweet milk from cane. The heart of the store was a computer made of suckers, its parts rotating to 0 or 1 on Popsicle sticks. Everyone stared in wonder. Everyone always stared in wonder, even though she or he had worked for Dasney an amount of time that, according to statistical averages, would have precluded such interest. The reason might have been that everyone’s second child, Star, had a heart of gold. Everyone could identify with metal and hearts and machines.

The child everyone had brought to the mall stood in wonder as well, or so everyone was thinking when everyone noticed that the child’s hand was not in her or his own. Everyone felt a quiver, uncertain whether it was panic or a candy high (the store smelled of bleach and sugar). Unfortunately, there were so many greedy children in Mikey Moose hats that everyone found it near impossible to distinguish her or his child amid the din. The child did not appear to be amid the computer Popsicles or in the pounding room, nor did she or he appear to be in the taffy room or in the peanut peeling quarters.

Where everyone eventually found the child, just as she or he was about to report the child missing, was next to the cash register, inside a giant glass candy bowl. The bowl was full of fifty-pound chocolate bars. The child was sitting atop the heap. Chocolate smeared her or his cheeks, and she or he was still eating.

Everyone warned the child to get out. The child stared at everyone and took another bite.

The chocolate bars were $5092 each, all that everyone had in savings. There was no way that everyone could pay for a bar. Everyone needed the savings to buy a new car. The new car would have room for the four kids and the dog, as well as the missing spouse, though there was no guarantee she or he would ever return to sit in it. The current car was a green that had peeled to gray and smelled of hairballs. It was hard to drive, and everyone often had to pull over after two or three miles to air it out.

Everyone wished that she or he still had the $27 entrance fee.

Everyone hoped that she or he could pay for just part of the chocolate bar, that the store would be willing to cut off the portion eaten and charge only for that. Everyone needed that $5092.

Unfortunately, everyone’s child loved chocolate.

A lot.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Everyone Starts a Blog

Everyone started a blog. The blog was a novel in progress, and it wasn’t very good. It wasn’t very good because everyone’s dog kept barking. Everyone’s four children were always letting the dog out, and outside, the dog barked at the dark as if the dark were an overweight squirrel.

The blog was to help everyone find the meaning of life. Originally, the children had been intended to supply this meaning; then it was the dog. Everyone had yet to realize that there was no meaning of life. Everyone thought that the meaning of life was playing a very long and difficult version of hide-and-go-seek.

After work, after the kids were in bed, about the time the dog went outside to bark, everyone sat down to post the blog. Everyone was uncertain what to write in the blog, so everyone wrote about the blog itself. Writing a novel was hard.

Everyone asked the Internet for help. The Internet and everyone were good friends. They had gone to graduate school together. Everyone asked the Internet what the best way to write a novel was, but the Internet was long winded and confused and couldn’t supply a simple answer. So everyone asked the Internet how to find the meaning of life instead. The Internet showed everyone an advertisement. The meaning of life, the Internet said, was for sale. Everyone could buy it. The Internet knew the meaning of life and could give everyone the contact information if he or she wanted it.

Everyone wanted it.

That night, instead of posting a chapter of the novel, everyone wrote the meaning of life to ask how much it cost. It was a heartfelt letter, full of recipes and nostalgia. Everyone hoped that if there was enough nostalgia he or she could get a discount.

The meaning of life wrote back instantly. The meaning of life did not respond at all about the nostalgia, but the meaning of life did answer everyone’s question. “Too much,” the meaning of life said, “more than you have.”

Everyone grew despondent. Everyone did not have too much, just a $5092 savings account, a car that squeaked as it bumped into the dips in the driveway, and the dog and four children. Once, everyone had had a spouse, and everyone had thought that that meant something, but the spouse had run away, and now everyone wasn’t sure.

Rumor had it that everyone’s spouse had run away with the meaning of life. That was why everyone wanted to find the meaning of life, but he or she could not confirm the rumor because the meaning of life cost too much and was very good at hide-and-go-seek.

So it was nice to finally be in contact. It was good to have a friend like the Internet, because the Internet seemed to know all of humanity in addition to all knowledge.

“Do you know my spouse?” everyone asked the meaning of life.

“Yes,” the meaning of life responded. “I know him or her well. Your spouse is very good. I like him or her in the sack.”

This struck everyone as an odd statement coming from someone he or she had just met, and now things were awkward. Everyone was uncertain what to write back. Everyone thought about the spouse and remembered him or her. When everyone thought about the spouse, he or she did not think about the sack.

Everyone thought about the blog.