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, October 23, 2016

Everyone Starts Fresh

One of the more harrowing attempts everyone made to get rid of his or her darlings so that he or she could begin writing a novel per the Internet’s advice went something like this:

The storm came from nowhere. Everyone had written his or her blog post at the office during lunch. Now it was after midnight, and everyone was home, the children in bed, the dog sniffing everyone’s elbow, begging for the outdoors, where it could bark to be let back inside. Everyone wasn’t giving in, no matter how much the dog breathed on him or her. Everyone was waiting for the blog to post.

The Internet was being churlish, angry again that everyone had ignored its advice. The Internet hadn’t read what everyone had written. If it had, all would have been forgiven.

But because everyone had to wait so long for the Internet to respond, everyone reread what he or she had written, and as a result, the post was being transformed. If it did not react soon, the Internet would not see that its advice had been followed.

And then came the crash. It sounded as if everyone’s new $5092 vehicle had fallen from the sky and landed on everyone’s old vehicle with the peeling green paint and then a crane whisked both away and dropped them on the house. Indeed, at that moment, everyone saw the roof give way, the metal tear upward and off as if unzipped to reveal a spoiled sky. Raindrops fell onto everyone’s keyboard. The screen beaded up with spit.

The dog fled to a space under everyone’s coffee table. Books from everyone’s shelves rained into the room, as the shelves themselves rattled against the walls and then collapsed like giant sails atop the table where the dog had retreated.

“Help!” everyone heard in the wind.

Everyone rose, looking in the direction from which the yells seemed to be coming. Above everyone were his or her darlings: Jody, the sanctimonious now-thirteen-year-old with a penchant for fart jokes and a budding movie career; Star, the dead ten-year-old with a heart of gold and a desire to be famous; Journey, the now-nine-year-old lover of expensive chocolate; and Jan, the six-year-old whose presence was superfluous because of his or her lack of import to the story but whose near-constant absence paralleled everyone’s missing spouse. The children clung to the roof’s edge as it flapped in the wind. “Help us!” they cried.

Everyone was scared. Everyone did not know how to rescue the children. Everyone would have queried the Internet, who knew everything, but the Internet wasn’t talking. The Internet held grudges, everyone had discovered too late.

Everyone dived into the pile of books and crawled toward its apex. The summit, everyone estimated, was only five feet or so from the lowest point of the roof’s flapping, almost close enough to grab a child or to catch one willing to jump.

“Help!” the children cried.

Books slipped beneath everyone’s knees and feet. Each step seemed to drop everyone further from the crest. Below everyone, books fell and fell, a chasm growing beneath him or her. Everyone stood now, ran, moved as quickly as possible so as not to slide into the void.

Jan was the first to go. Everyone didn’t see him or her disappear. One minute he or she was there, and the next Jan was gone.

Next came Star. His or her hands could no longer hold on, and the wind ripped Star away like a chocolate wrapper tossed from a speeding car.

And then the roof itself went, carrying Jody and Journey, winging its way into the air.

Everyone cried melodramatically, “Noooooo!”

The wind ceased.

The books came to a stop. Everyone found him- or herself on his or her knees at the foot of the mountain, staring up at the black and wet sky. The rain became a drizzle.

Through the haze, everyone spied the computer.

Large, bold letters scrolled across the screen. The Internet was back. It was apologizing.

The dog emerged from its hovel, nuzzled everyone’s armpit.

I’m sorry,” the Internet posted. “Let’s start over.

Everyone wasn’t sure the past could be forgotten so easily. Everyone’s darlings were gone.

But what other choice did everyone have? The Internet, the dog, they were all that everyone had left.

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