Sometimes everyone felt as if she or he were a man, and other times, everyone felt as if she or he were a woman. Everyone asked the Internet if such feelings were common.
The Internet said it never worried about gender, but it was willing to provide everyone with some tests that might help her or him discover her or his identity.
Everyone asked whether the tests involved writing. Everyone wanted to know more about who she or he was but not enough to compose essays. Everyone was writing a blog novel, which was already more writing than everyone wanted to do.
The Internet said that a test with a writing sample was possible but would cost money. Knowing how poor everyone was, having lost $5092 to one of her or his children, the Internet suggested a selection of free multiple-choice tests.
Everyone chose a test that had a picture with every question. The questions asked things like, When you see this drawing, do you see a penis or a vagina? The drawing looked like an elongated peapod. Everyone was unsure which to select.
Everyone stood up from her or his desk and walked to the window. Everyone was in her or his office on the twelfth floor. The window looked out on downtown, where not long ago someone everyone knew had died by jumping or falling into the bushes below. Over the past year, everyone had lived with this person inside because the incident was one she or he could not let go of. In part, this was because everyone’s coworker Sam often raised it in conversation. In part, this was because everyone’s night and day thoughts often returned to the jump.
Everyone realized she or he had never really known the jumper.
Just as everyone had never really known the spouse who had left her or him.
Or their children.
Or her- or himself.
Who was everyone? everyone asked. How did she or he get here? There were simple answers to these questions: By car or by foot. A mix of various elements that also composed Sam and the building and the window. But what were those elements when one got beyond the individual particles? Why did they compound and unite as they did and from whence did they come and why? And was any of it real, and what did the “real” itself consist of?
Everyone sat back down at the computer and looked at the question. Everyone hovered the mouse over vagina or penis, penis or vagina. No third choice was provided.
“Could you give me a different test?” everyone asked the Internet.
Everyone always wanted something else, and the Internet was tired. “No,” the Internet said. “Pick one. It doesn’t matter which. Act!”
Everyone tried to close the window on the computer. The mouse, however, refused to leave the frame. There were only two choices.
Everyone stood again and walked into the hall. Everyone walked to the other side of the building. The window from which the person had jumped was here, the person everyone had never really known, and it was open.
Everyone had stayed away from the window since the jump. But not today.
Everyone walked to its edge and looked. The sky seemed so clear that everyone could not figure out what was inside it. And then, below, everyone saw her- or himself gazing up.
Everyone’s heart stopped. It was scary to be so close to the perimeter. Everyone closed her or his eyes.
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.