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, April 10, 2016

Everyone Faces Temptation

Everyone could not stay away from the Internet. The Internet knew the meaning of life, and everyone wanted to know it too. The meaning of life was central to character, and fully developed character is what everyone desperately desired.

The meaning of life’s blog included photographs of well-tanned people in swimsuits on motorboats enjoying the sun, Popsi Cola cans in hand. In one of these photographs everyone had spotted his or her spouse. He or she looked very happy, as his or her mouth was full of meaning, specifically meaning’s tongue. Everyone felt jealous. Everyone had known for a while, via rumor, that his or her spouse had run off with the meaning of life, but until seeing the photograph, everyone had had no verification and had, at times, been able to pretend that his or her spouse was merely on a bus on the way to the kids’ school and would be back for dinner in a day or sixteen.

Everyone had tried several times to contact the meaning of life via the Internet, but only once had everyone heard back and that a snarky comment that led everyone to believe that perhaps this meaning of life was not the true meaning of life and that perhaps his or her spouse was elsewhere. Seeing his or her spouse in the photograph, everyone knew now that this meaning of life was real, and everyone couldn’t help retaliating with a snarky comment about the photo on the meaning of life’s blog.

“That’s my spouse, you jerk,” everyone wrote. Everyone wanted to use stronger language, but he or she feared that his or her kids might somehow come across the comment, and everyone would be forever cast as a hypocrite when everyone told his or her kids not to use the word beginning with the letter. The kids wanted to use the word beginning with the letter desperately, everyone knew, because everyone could hear it rolling down their tongue before it didn’t come out. Everyone had often wondered from where such an impulse arose, and now everyone knew that it was within him- or herself. Everyone pondered nature versus nurture and concluded that the impulse to use the word beginning with the letter had no bearing either way.

Everyone looked at the photograph again and grew angrier. Everyone should not have looked at the photograph again, because then everyone would not have been tempted to change “jerk” to the word beginning with the letter. But everyone’s spouse should not have sucked on another’s tongue, and if he or she could feel free to do such with the possibility that the kids might see, why should everyone not feel free to use the word beginning with the letter with the possibility that the kids might read?

I am not that kind of person, everyone reminded him- or herself before finalizing the comment, and we are not that kind of family. Everyone erased the comment and began again with “Jerk.” Everyone knew that his or her spouse was not really that kind of spouse either. Meaning had changed the spouse. The meaning of life had been too much of a temptation for him or her, but everyone was not going to let the meaning of life tempt him- or herself. Everyone would not give in.

But everyone still felt angry.

Everyone asked the Internet about anger, hoping the Internet could help him or her let it go or, at least, manage it. “You seem very good at controlling your anger,” everyone wrote to the Internet. “How do you do it?”

The Internet suggested that everyone write his or her anger out. “Post the things that make you angry on a blog,” the Internet said, “but don’t use your real name. And if you use the word that begins with the letter, make sure you designate your blog as being for adults only.”

Everyone thought this a great idea, but everyone was shy and didn’t know where to begin. “If I write it,” everyone asked the Internet, “will you post it for me?”

“Yes,” the Internet said, “I am capable of that.”

The Internet loved everyone, even though they had only met online. The Internet was naturally very caring. It hurt the Internet to have shown everyone the photograph of his or her spouse, but the Internet knew that everyone had needed to know.

The Internet began to think of ways that it could make things up to everyone. The Internet knew a lot of facts and a lot of people, and it was certain that one of these could make everyone happy again.

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