While in the hospital, everyone came to the realization that everyone needed to write more about his or her children. What was the point, after all, of the children existing if everyone wasn’t putting them to use? By that, everyone was not suggesting that the kids should be slave labor. Everyone had no desire to be on the wrong side of the U.S. Civil War.
Rather, everyone was contemplating his or her novel in relation to character development. Everyone had asked the Internet about character, but the Internet had given him or her screens’ worth of fluff about faithfulness and trust and hard work. The real key to character, everyone had come to realize, was action. Characters had to do something.
“Characters have to live in the world,” the Internet said when everyone brought his or her new idea to the Internet’s attention. “Action is key.”
The Internet was not willing to admit it had been wrong. It never was. Everyone hated that about the Internet, which made everyone wonder sometimes why he or she and the Internet remained friends, especially since the Internet had a way of shutting down when everyone needed help.
But the focus in everyone’s blog today was not on the Internet. It was on the children: sanctimonious twelve-year-old Jody, who knew everything (too much time around the Internet, everyone surmised); ten-year-old Star, with his or her heart of gold; eight-year-old chocolate-addicted Journey; and six-year-old Jan, who reminded everyone so much of his or her spouse in that Jan seemed so often to be missing. Everyone was putting each of them to work today, cleaning the twelfth-floor office building where everyone performed his or her main job as an archivist.
Everyone was a little nervous. The building was made of glass, and children and glass did not mix well. Beyond that, one of the glass pieces on the twelfth floor was missing. Everyone warned his or her children to stay away from the windows, most especially the open one.
The children were to flush toilets in the bathroom until they seemed clean--sixteen, seventeen, eighteen times, whatever it took. They were to dust the computer terminals on Alice’s desk and Harvey’s and J. D.’s. They were to empty the trash in the break rooms and vacuum the common hallways. But they were not to go near the windows, and they were not to go into Sam’s office.
Sam had a crush on everyone, and everyone suspected that photographs of everyone might have become part of Sam’s decor. Not understanding the full context, the children might have taken such images as incriminating evidence against everyone and thus abet everyone’s spouse’s divorce suit against him or her. Everyone did not want to get divorced.
Jody worked hard on the carpet, directing Star’s and Journey’s paths as they stooped over the floor, peeling up bubble gum and dog poop, nail polish and hot glue, staples and sticky notes, with child-sized chisels. Jody was vacuuming, but not much was coming up. The bag was full, and the belt squealed against the rotating cylinder, smoking up the office in the same manner that everyone’s car had smoked when it first burst into flames while everyone was on the way downtown one night to inspect the office’s open twelfth-story window. The flames made the car difficult to drive, even more so than before when there was only the acrid smell of hairballs from the previous owner to contend with. Now smoke constantly poured from the engine into the cab and flames in the back window had to be periodically doused. Everyone couldn’t help but wonder if perhaps the vacuum had caught fire from the car.
But such was not the case. Jody stopped the vacuum when the high pitch of the belt squeal cracked loose a second window at the office. This window was next to the missing one, from which the children had been told to stay away, which they did.
“I think something is wrong,” said know-it-all Jody, bending over the vacuum that he or she now held on its side. “Something is in here.” Jody reached in and pulled back, nothing in hand, horror across his or her face.
Everyone came to look. A hand was sticking out from the bottom--not Jody’s.
“You klutz,” everyone said. “You need to be more careful.”
Everyone pulled at the hand. Just then, everyone heard a crash.
The second window was gone.
Journey and Star and Jody ran to it, looked out over the street.
Where was Jan? everyone wondered.
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.