Inspired by the writing of Richard Brautigan, The Art of Being Alone is a novella that strangely fits very well with this time in the world. I began it over a year ago and through this website and installments, I hope to force my hand in finishing it. I will be sharing 5 or so pages of it, each week. The first installment can be found here. I hope you enjoy it.–
6- The Quiet
When you read and/or watch stories about people living alone, they… do things.
They maybe sing little songs. They talk to themselves about important matters. They might even have friends (maybe just in their corrupted minds) or memories that give us glimpses into their psyche.
I wonder if that is a sign of human weakness. The fact that we need “something.”
We just can’t be alone as people, even in a story. I wonder if we feel too much and that is why the isolation and the silence becomes overbearing. It makes us look inside and we don’t want that! Heaven forbid! We want bangs, flashes, shouting, sex! A person can’t simply “be” in a tale.
For me, I am simply being. I am this and nothing else. I will prove it.
I get up when I get up. I have no sense of time here, but I can say that when the sun begins to spread across the ground and I feel it coming through the plastic glass of my dome and reach my feet, I rise. I stretch one part of my body and then the next. Somewhere I can hear the electronic buzzing of the mechanics that make my home a reality. I couldn’t tell you how the things work, I have no need to know. I simply asked for it and people completed the needed task. Transaction complete.
I then walk in my weighted slippers to the dispenser which takes the food that is grown in the greenhouses and makes it into designated dishes. I eat whatever I want and then I sit, write in this journal and look at the regolith.
There is no noise, no talking, no music, no wind. Just silence.
It is glorious and that is all I need in my story.
7- The Noise
One of the things that drove me to point at the Moon and say I want to live there was the constant noise and complaining.
Let me give you an example!
I saw a newscaster on my watch say that my relocation to the Moon was costing the equivalent of the annual budget of seven small countries and was destroying a part of the economy. This is how he figured it- by me forcing so many workers to innovate and develop the new technology for my Moon home, I was creating a new workforce that was unsustainable. Once I blasted away, they would have skills and tools that would be worthless.
“What would they do then?” The newscaster was demanding. He then began to talk about all the good I could do for the planet if I was spending the funds differently. Noise. Noise. Noise!
Grandpa Jones used to tell me it was all jealously.
We are above that and them, he said. They are lesser than us.
Let them talk, he said.
It makes them feel better, he said. They are children spitting into the wind and they are too stupid to know that is what they are doing.
Let them march and carry signs and shout and complain, he said, it won’t change a damn thing. Let them… let them…
It was all noise my grandfather said. Just noise. For me, I was done with the noise.
The only books I enjoyed when I was a child were Jules Verne adventures. There was something very quaint to me about those old timey stories, the impossibility of them (then, and even so much more now). My bookshelf used to be full of them, some even autographed. And everything was possible in them, the heroes had to just make the decision. Travel to the center of the Earth? Sure, let’s build a giant drill. Go to the Moon? Who has a big cannon we can borrow?
When it comes to me and writing, I like poetry (which I will get to later) and I have always enjoyed keeping a journal. The only time I stopped doing it was when I was a teenager and my grandmother found my recent notebook. My grandfather was dead by that point (of course), his ashes spread over his acres, dropped by one of his helicopters. (I’m pretty sure a lot of his ashes ended up in the blades but I didn’t point that out to my grandmother, I do know some ended up in my mouth.)
In my journal then, I was writing about everything I was doing with my time. I wasn’t going to a school. I had private tutors but they knew not to bother me. They told everyone what they wanted to hear. They told my grandmother I was smart and they taught me nothing. What did I need to learn? I already had reached the level of living most struggle for and dream about! Goal complete.
I’m not sure if it was the spending, the drugs, or the orgies I was talking about in the journal, but there was something in those pages that made her furious, madder than I have ever seen her.
Her face was bright red and she waved it at me like a weapon. She shouted about how my grandfather didn’t work his entire life to make them rich to have me just “playing.” She called it “playing.” (I will get back to that.) She spat that word at me.
My grandfather would have expected more from me. She was disgusted by me. She asked if I even knew the young women in the different entries. I shook my head, the idea of asking anyone their name just sounded then (and still does) too unnecessary. It was unneeded in the exchange. I named an amount and then negotiated for what I wanted.
My grandfather did all of this for me. He worked his life to give me everything. My grandmother shouted that my grandfather wanted me to be someone. Do something.
I asked what…
That question surprised my grandmother.
I asked it again. “What?” I didn’t need money or success. I could get anything I wanted. What did I need to do but this? I had everything.
And why? Would I just be working for the sake of working? Who would choose that?
This was all exactly what my grandfather did with his money for me. I was the living result of excess. The creation taught to merely consume the result and be.
I was being.
I didn’t say all of this to my grandmother. I created a lie or something about trying and finding something to do. That answer sufficed for the time being and that lie lasted until she died three months later. She was coming back from another estate in her limousine when it was attacked. They bombed the wheels and it flipped over. They then yanked open the doors and shot her with guns until her body was completely unrecognizable.
I know this because I saw the body.
Most people wouldn’t be able to see such remains without vomiting and emotional scars. The officials definitely were surprised when I requested to see her. But I asked and I always got whatever I wanted. There was a price to be paid even for that.
My grandmother’s death changed things for me. I tried again having sex and doing drugs but she would be there in my mind. She was always looking at me with that stern look of disappointment and anger.
She was there near the breasts.
She was breathing in between the moans and gasps.
Soon I began to stop playing.
I began to watch the news a lot and they spoke about my grandmother often, especially during the trials for her killers. Desperate poor, demanding that people rise up against the rich and take the world back. My people asked me if I wanted to attend the trials and then the executions of those that had killed my grandmother, but I said no.
I remember that I asked why they were being killed and my people explained that was how these things were done. They broke the law by killing her. A death for a death. That seemed to make sense. Two negatives make a positive, right? I remembered that from my lessons. When I said that to my people, they looked at me as if something was wrong but they didn’t correct me. A positive was being made.
I didn’t cry. I know that may seem odd. People expect it, especially after a tragedy like this. Stories would have the hero demanding justice through tears, pounding their chests and screaming.
Here is the thing though… Now this is my opinion after years of considering it… Something else died with my grandmother in that car with the bullets raining down. See, I felt things when I was playing. When the playing was taken away, that was taken away as well.
And now I am alone, in peace, secluded, and journaling again.
I wonder if she is reading this now? Did she follow me up to my Moon, hovering over my shoulder as I journal and share all of my darkest secrets?
Pull up a chair. Hello grandmother, hello.