Wednesday, January 26, 2005

That Sinking Feeling

Bertrand stood slighty hunched, his sleeves half-rolled, his mind half-there -- a man obsessed.

I can't take it, he thought. Everything's going down the drain -- sinking -- and there's nothing I can do to stop it. I'm ready to throw in the towel.

Each night, the same dread exchange:

Him, pushing back the chair and standing up: "Tonight?"

Her, looking cruelly amused: "I think you know the answer to that...."
Was he surprised? Each night, the same bleak routine: Gather himself. Scrape the leftovers from the day -- he might better be lapping them up like a mongrel. Toss another poor fellow on the rack. Add another to the stack.

Is it me? he thought. Am I a fool? Or, a hypocrite? Cleaning the outside, leaving the inside unclean? He considered the mundane and soiled wares of his life.

No, he thought. No more of this stupid second-guessing. No more "is the glass half-full, is the glass half-empty" claptrap. THE GLASS IS EMPTY! I HAVE POURED OUT EVERY DROP.

He cast about, almost desparately, looking for something, anything that might reverse the terrible conclusion: but, everything reinforced what he already knew: he was ground down; he was beaten; he was toast. He could see the black coils reddening and feel their heat pressing in upon him.

Then, he saw the knife. He took it in his hand. Ah, the warmth and weight of it; its steely sheen; its dull, semi-serated edge. Could this be it?

Suddenly, he felt a presence nearby. Slowly, standing in place, his hands unshifted, he turned his head to the right. There she was. Their eyes met, and, for a moment, it seemed like a lifetime of feelings would rush out like an open faucet. Then, she spoke.

"Bert?" she said, in disbelief. "What 're you doing? Stop playing around, and get the dishes done."

He looked at the diminishing suds.

I was just finishing up, dear.

4 Comments:

Blogger Gone Away said...

I find myself (almost) lost for words. The muse of comment drains her energy from my hands, the fragrant bubble of inspiration pops with an emptiness of thought, the sharp blade of appreciation slips from my wrinkled fingers, as I am confronted with so discerning a piece on human servitude. What is there left to say? I could, perchance, dream up some frothy and insignificant response, a mere frippery in contrast to the deep matters here presented; but, in truth I must desist for 'twould be ignoble to pull the plug on such eloquence of consideration for our common plight. Indeed, sir, I cannot faucet...

1/27/2005 09:45:00 AM  
Blogger Remainderman said...

We knew you would not sink to that.

1/27/2005 04:39:00 PM  
Blogger Hannah said...

Delicious. Perfect. Brilliant.

1/31/2005 06:52:00 AM  
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