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Last Gasp

By starX in Fiction
Mon Dec 11, 2006 at 12:00:00 PM EST
Tags: (all tags)

I want you to know, for the record, that all of this is your fault. Take a breath, look around, see the endless expanse of nothing all around you. How can they call you a nihilist when it's plain as day that there is nothing here? As plain as the day is long. Empty. Make sure you take note of the abysmal emptiness of a one family house with a two car garage, a perfectly cut green lawn, and a white picket fence. A wife screaming at you, two kids crying at you, two cats hiding from you, and a goldfish that lives in abject terror. I want you to know, for the record, that I don't feel sorry for you.


Think about that. You live in this tiny, cramped glass bowl where you can see out and everyone can see in. You piss in the same filthy water where you eat. If the goddamned kids remember to feed you. You die from the poison of your own excretions because, Lord knows those kids are too lazy to change your fucking water unless you yell at them. Life in a little glass bubble looking out, everyone else looking in. Everyone else seeing how weak you are. How pathetic. How vulnerable. You can see the entire world around you, and can't move more than six inches toward it. The world doesn't exist.

So why do you make for the center of the bowl every time one of those fucking cats comes around? Something had to give. Something had to shatter. The wife is screaming. She doesn't understand. How could she? How could anyone understand but you? Something had to shatter you out of that little glass bubble that was your entire fucking world. You wouldn't have done it yourself. All you had to do was stay by the side, right where one of those cats would get you, but you never did. You never could. You flirted with the idea, but then, in that last horrible moment, millions of years of evolution kicked in, and your fucking primieval survival instincts kick in. You move to the center. You survive another day. Another day of nothing. I want you to know, for the record, that it was your own damned fault.

I don't feel sorry for you. You could have been stronger. Been a man. You could have forced yourself to stay by the side of the bowl, but no! You didn't even have to let yourself get captured in the first place. When that girl at the aquarium with the not-big-enough tits came to scoop you out of the great big tank with the filter, the plants, the little castle, and the catfish that sucked up all the shit, you could have dodged it. You could have swam. You could have dived into the little castle. I'm not sorry for you because you just sat there bobbing in the water when all the other fish were smart enough to run. It's your own fucking fault. I'm not sorry for you.

The wife is still screaming. The kids are still crying. The cats are coming out. They saw you flopping around on the ground, trying to kick yourself back into water that doesn't exist. They saw you twitching. They smelled your fear. You disgust me. Maybe you get it now? You've stopped moving. Your mouth opens and closes out of reflex, but you know the inevitable is at hand. Something had to shatter, and now there's no way back in. No one's going to save you. No one's even paying attention to you. Nobody cares. There are actual human beings to care about, for fucks sake! Human beings with actual wants and needs. Human beings who need to play video games, watch TV, breed day lilies with their friends. Nobody cares that you need to eat. Nobody cares that you sit there all day watching the world. Nobody cares that you need to breathe. There are actual human beings screaming and crying and bleeding, living their own complete lives where they can walk and touch and not just sit and watch, actual human beings with actual lives to lead. Physical people who aren't just the occasional object of entertainment. Or curiosity. Or disgust. No one cares about you.

Except the cats. The fucking cats have been the only honest ones in this whole little game. Cats who look at you like they hate you. Cats who are pissed at the world, and piss on everything, because the goddamned kids won't clean their fucking litter boxes. The cats want to eat you. Or maybe toy with you. Play with you. Have some fun. Watch you die. Sadistic little fuckers, I know, but at least the cats have been honest. The cats don't pretend to love you. The cats don't come up with little affectations of caring, and then just forget that you're there. Just so you know, the cats have lost interest now that you've stopped moving. Something had to shatter. I wasn't sorry for you. You disgusted me. I did it for you because you were too weak to do it yourself.

Quiet. The wife has stopped screaming. The kids have stopped crying. They've left. You're not even trying to breathe. Even the little puddle of water has sunk into the rug. A stain. With broken glass. With blood. With a dead fish. A way out. Something had to shatter. Being flushed down the toilet is better than living forever in that damned bowl. I want you to know, for the record, that I did it. I want you to know, for the record, that I envy you.

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Last Gasp | 69 comments (19 topical, 50 editorial, 1 hidden)
So sad... (3.00 / 3) (#3)
by United Fools on Mon Dec 11, 2006 at 03:54:43 PM EST

We are crying after reading this article... Wooooooo...

We are united, we are fools, and we are America!
awww cute story..:) (3.00 / 2) (#4)
by dakini on Mon Dec 11, 2006 at 03:59:15 PM EST



" May your vision be clear, your heart strong, and may you always follow your dreams."
one of our favorite comics ever (3.00 / 6) (#14)
by MichaelCrawford on Mon Dec 11, 2006 at 11:31:38 PM EST

has this man sitting in an easy chair reading a paper, and he's thinking to himself "Why doesn't God change the way things are?"

And behind him is a goldfish bowl, and the fish is thinking to himself, "Why doesn't God change my water bowl?"


--

Live your fucking life. Sue someone on the Internet. Write a fucking music player. Like the great man Michael David Crawford has shown us all: Hard work, a strong will to stalk, and a few fries short of a happy meal goes a long way. -- bride of spidy


It's funny because the fish should change his bowl (none / 0) (#30)
by Obvious Egil Dupe on Tue Dec 12, 2006 at 04:35:25 PM EST

fish are lazy

[ Parent ]
I like this tidbit (3.00 / 4) (#15)
by mybostinks on Tue Dec 12, 2006 at 12:13:43 AM EST

it is excellent.

FP

Nice (3.00 / 2) (#42)
by troubadorOfPain on Tue Dec 12, 2006 at 09:37:05 PM EST

Kind of reminds me of Chuck Palahniuk. Everyone gets to vote on stuff... I dig this way more than Slashdot.

I'm kinda confused about the narrator. (3.00 / 2) (#56)
by Mylakovich on Wed Dec 13, 2006 at 11:29:10 PM EST

Is he the husband in the family?

me too (1.50 / 2) (#57)
by oilmoat on Thu Dec 14, 2006 at 01:45:05 AM EST

but I liked it anyway.
I have IBPND. (I believe in people, not disorders.)
[ Parent ]
Yes. n/t (none / 0) (#58)
by starX on Thu Dec 14, 2006 at 01:50:27 AM EST



"I like you starX, you disagree without sounding like a fanatic from a rock-solid point of view. Highfive." --WonderJoust
[ Parent ]
I like this story.... (none / 1) (#60)
by fortasse on Wed Jan 17, 2007 at 11:46:32 PM EST

I just wonder why the notion of complacent wives is so common.  Why aren't there more stories about the complacent husband and children who don't understand the complex feelings of a wife who feels trapped and diminished by her life?

Well... (none / 0) (#62)
by starX on Fri Mar 02, 2007 at 05:19:43 PM EST

From where I sit, it's probably because I'm male, and so I'm looking at it from that point of view. If I were to hazard a guess as to why women don't write more stories in this vein, it's because they tend to be  socialized from a very young age to raise families, while men tend to be socialized to be "strong" and "independent." Family life is, from this perspective, the culmination of what women are designed for, so a woman may be more likely to try to fix the problems within the nuclear family and to accept the difficulties as part of the normal process of what they want. Men, on the other hand, may be more likely to see it as sign that they're time to make an influence on the world and declare their person-hood is over.

For what it's worth, I wasn't trying to suggest that wife was complacent. If I were to hazard a guess, I would suppose that her inner monologue would leave her wondering why she didn't leave her family a long time ago. My experience with people is that no one is ever happy with what they have and always would rather "see what's out there," which is generally code for either "fuck other people" or "do what I always wanted to do, but YOU kept me from doing."

Yeah, I'm bitter. No point in trying to hide it :)

"I like you starX, you disagree without sounding like a fanatic from a rock-solid point of view. Highfive." --WonderJoust
[ Parent ]

I've always found (none / 0) (#64)
by fortasse on Sun Mar 11, 2007 at 06:06:41 PM EST

that people like to blame others for their shortcomings.  Oh I got married - my spouse kept me from greatness.  Of course, both sides are lying.  Marriage appears to be the easy way out for both sexes, though I am drunk and bitter at present.

[ Parent ]
Haha or what you said (none / 0) (#65)
by fortasse on Sun Mar 11, 2007 at 06:27:17 PM EST

yes - no one takes responsibility...haha I'll blame...well,  no I won't.  The alcohol must remain blameless.

[ Parent ]
Choices worth making (none / 0) (#66)
by starX on Wed Mar 14, 2007 at 12:18:01 PM EST

I don't think it's a matter of blame per say. I think it's a matter of making decisions that make great sense within a certain context. i.e. I choose to turn down a wonderful job because it would mean living at great distances from my significant other. It's a decision that makes great sense and feels good when all is well, when a few years later my significant other decides she wants to "see what's out there," it becomes one of the stupidest things I've ever done.

The context of marriage is greater; you're making decisions with a long term investment in mind, and when bank accounts and living spaces have been shared, and children are involved, it can be hard to disentangle if things don't go as planned. But that's not to say that a bad marriage is necessarily responsible. Happily married people with kids can have a midlife crisis as easily as anyone else; and in a lot of cases, it's not necessarily a bad thing. What might motivate someone to leave their families might motivate others to learn new skills or start a career in which they'll be much happier.

I don't know, really. This is just how I imagined it happening in this one case. Short stories are highly interactive. It lets the author present an event without showing the characters dealing with the consequences of their actions. If I was writing something longer, we might see the narrator come to regret his actions. We also might see him grateful for them. This event is free from a larger context, and so the reader has to imagine that context and evaluate the events in light of their own prejudices.

"I like you starX, you disagree without sounding like a fanatic from a rock-solid point of view. Highfive." --WonderJoust
[ Parent ]

Short fiction is compelling for that reason (none / 0) (#67)
by fortasse on Tue Mar 20, 2007 at 11:15:41 PM EST

Short stories make us note the importance of the moment.  We often see a crisis and a denouement which only contains decisive action.  Failure or success is not described in words, but in the imagination of the reader.

I still think it has to do with blame [but as you noted, it depends on the success or failure of the relationship].  If the couple stays together and happiness abounds, there is no need for blame.  If they stay together/split and sadness results, well then the blame occurs.  It is one thing to say that one sacrificed for a healthy relationship.  It is easy to blame a failed relationship for one's shortcomings.  I don't even want to consider what married couples do.  I cannot think that way; thus I will never marry.

Breeding day lilies, huh?  I suppose this is based on personal experience.  I know what day lilies are [and how they differ from regular lilies], but I also wanted to be a botanist.

I don't know.  I'm at the point where most of my friends are married or getting there, and none of them has a relationship I'd like to emulate.  I'm mystified as to why the nuclear family is considered the glue of the nation.


[ Parent ]

I've got two train tickets. $ (none / 0) (#61)
by whithery on Fri Feb 16, 2007 at 04:10:32 PM EST



"We're all a bunch of too tall, spoiled, overeducated, wired, drug addicted, urban-dwelling, indulged elitists with no siblings. That is our problem," Sgt York.
Okay... (none / 0) (#63)
by starX on Fri Mar 02, 2007 at 05:33:54 PM EST

does that mean you liked it?

"I like you starX, you disagree without sounding like a fanatic from a rock-solid point of view. Highfive." --WonderJoust
[ Parent ]
We are all in our last gasp... (none / 0) (#69)
by Calalily on Fri Jul 27, 2007 at 11:27:36 PM EST

...but too stupid to know or do anything about it.

We are maggots tunneling through a rotting corpse. QuantumFoam
Last Gasp | 69 comments (19 topical, 50 editorial, 1 hidden)
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