Fiction: In Space No One Can Hear You Romance


Who am I?  What am I even doing here?  These thoughts flickered in my mind as if I had been brought back to life, awakened, or born.  In the mildly fluorescent lighting, a young, pleasant-looking man sat before me, looking at me across the table, as if to speak.  He had kind eyes, a soft chin, and broad jaws.  One could trust this face, a trust that can only be explained by the the subtle genetic memories of a primal past.  But what was trust anyway?  Was any of this real?  I had my doubts, but maybe it was the lighting.  We sat in a mutual yet comfortable silence, but we were surrounded on all sides by the warm din of idle chatter, Korean soap opera, chimes of plates and dinner-ware around us.  Briefly, I felt at home, alive, in touch with my surroundings.  The waitress appeared at the table beside us, but she seemed engaged by the customers. 

“Do you want to sit up there?” The man motioned with a lift of the chin.  I turned around, following his gesture, to the small, empty balcony above us. 

“Why?” I smiled at him in appreciation of his romantic gesture, but inwardly the void, a quixotic, impossible lack of feeling pulled my mind back to introspection, that endless searching and analysis.  Could the folds of awareness possibly implode and collapse upon itself from the sheer weight of social imbecility?

“Well, wouldn’t you like it better if we weren’t in the middle of all this noise,” he spoke softly in contrast to the stock, burly man, almost pleadingly to be away from the crowd.

I considered, still lost in my own thoughts, wondering why time came to a crashing halt whenever the mind drifted back to consciousness.  How oddly restricting it was to be a presence, to perform idle chatter, simpler yet, to be a companion.  The words, a companion, reverberated in my mind.  I could feel a pressure on my frontal lobes; a tightening noose of time stretching in both directions, leaving me standing precariously on a physical plane.  How am I to know I am even alive, that I exist, that I have registered with this moment in time?, I wondered, seeing my robotic self from a third perspective.  Briefly lucid, I responded cheerily, as if on auto-pilot, like a space cadet already checking out of this dimensional plane, “I like it here.  It’s in the middle of everything.  Right in the middle of it all.  It’s like being alive.”

“I should very much like to be a robot,” I told him.

He appeared surprised, mainly from not expecting such line of thought. He spoke from his heart, “That is just so unnatural!  I believe that man would not know what he is missing.  He would not know the feel of things and experience joy.”

I could understand him, see his perspective, while all at once feel the utter alienation of two worlds.  I continued, “I believe it would be along the line of evolution to become one with technology, and if evolution deems it then so be it.” 

It would be so exhilarating to become intimate with all knowledge.  No age, no disease, no death.  There would only be thought and from thought everything would be.  Maybe this is the step towards deification that the Bible warned of.

“I would miss being out in the sun, the fresh air, working with my hands,” he delivered his argument, “I would not feel the texture of wood and smell the wood shavings when I make carving.  It just would not be the same.  It would not be right.”

He was a simple, uneducated man with simple wants.  Even with such a mild manners, his words, unfettered with ambition or avarice, spoke more of the core of who he was and who man naturally should be.  From that brief lucent moment, I loved him deeply with a love that would last for a thousand years. 

He broke his chopsticks in half.  They broke unevenly, which prompted him to look at me with significance.  Following suit, I broke mine in half, and it split perfectly in the middle.  I looked at him and smiled, triumphant that I had introduced something that the uneven chopsticks omen could not explain.  He seemed relieved, interpreting something I could not guess.  In passing these few moments, five hundred years passed.  How oddly time does fly.

“They were having an argument,” he stated grimly about the customers sitting to my right.  I nodded, simulating empathy, and looked past him to the gloomy outside world.  Drizzle had turned to a significant rain.  Even though there was no anxiety and it was a completely pleasant evening, I wanted the evening to end, to pass just five hundred more years.

“I think it wouldn’t make much sense to walk around the city after dinner.  It is starting to rain,” I paused to study the frown lines starting to appear in his face, but I persisted, “I mean, it just wouldn’t be very pleasant to walk in the rain.  Don’t you think?  Let’s wait for a clearer night.  Another night.”

He relented, still disappointed, admitting, “It would not make much sense to see the sights on such a cloudy night.  I had really wanted to show you the sights, the beautiful skyline, the old fashioned tourist sights, it being your first night here.”  I was strangely relieved, unaware that I had wanted his agreement. 

The waitress visited us and we ordered.  As she left, he told me with a smirk, “She has a mustache.”

“I didn’t notice,” I said neutrally. 

The curious remark finally shifted my thoughts and attention back to the man.  He was a burly man, with a boyish face, and a gentle voice.  His demeanor was that of a gentle giant and very likeable.  Something about this man made me feel as if I had known him for years and years.  He seemed like the perfect man, in the moment, in the yellowing lights, in the occasional cold breeze accompanying new guests, in the aromas filled by the kitchen.  Everything from the tone of his voice to his attentiveness was just right.  Only hours ago, there was even the raw thrill of the new, the “chemistry” that is the glue that binds two souls.  Now that glue had set and held me, hypothetically.  Yet, I could only observe, as if I were multiple entities reflecting on my identities, and in spite of my out of body experience, feel something that can only be described as reckless glee that my soul was free and unbound, eternally young.  In the space of minutes, hours, decades, all meaningless nomenclature when the true space of events occur in the timeless mind, I had fallen out of love.

The waitress brought us several small dishes of appetizers and we dug in.  I spoke, “There’s so much food!  Don’t be afraid to eat all of it.”

“Girl, you know this,” he made a motion to himself, seeming more comfortable when shifting to his regular urban vernacular, “I ain’t gonna be shy.”

What a funny tempo this man had, like a samba or a slowly syncopated jazzy beat.  I felt the music of this man so clearly, in sharp contrast to my blaring monotone.  Could this be the music of the soul?  How would music dance with cacophony? 

I watched him down his food.  I watched him eat with unconscious fascination, a mixture of disgust and wonder, whereas I hardly ate, if anything.  I had no appetite.  There was no time nor reason for appetite.  He asked the waitress for more small, square dishes. 

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