(Editor’s note: This creative writing exercise may contain trigger words. No offense is intended)
By John Clise
A man lives his life like warm summer afternoon seeing everything with one eye open and the other shut. It makes people wonder what’s going on, not that they pay any attention to him unless he’s in a complete rage.
Mostly though, he just sits quietly watching life pass him by without much effort or thought into what he should actually be doing to make the world a better place before he leaves. Or at least improve his little corner of the world before he checks out.
“What’s it really matter,” he thinks to himself in his tiny apartment sheltered away from the hate of the world. It creeps in though from the outside world.
He inspects the scar on his right ring finger. It’s a reminder of a burn from years before when he was bullied. He smiles to himself remembering how that turned out. He lost that battle but, in the end, he won the war. After 30 years he still isn’t sure what he won or what he lost. No win is ever a win. There’s always collateral damage.
He was sitting there at his dining room table, office table, TV table… you get the idea at how versatile the table was… reading a story on urban gentrification. He thought to himself “I wouldn’t want those cracker assholes up in my business either.”
His birth certificate said he was white by birth, but white privilege had never leant itself to his benefit. He had a scar over his right eye from a whiskey bottle tossed at him when he drifted into the wrong neighborhood. He was 10 years old. The cut was worth 38 stitches and a stern warning not to venture into “those” neighborhoods again. That kind of hate never made sense to him. He couldn’t understand it. He saw it everywhere all over the world in his travels before he retreated to the safety of his apartment. Even so, it still made no sense to him even after seeing it, experiencing it and giving it his best to stop it.
The scar was 40 years old, but had not faded one bit. He liked to tell people it was the only reason he didn’t become a model when asked where he got it. “Oh this old thing… it’s the only reason I never became a model,” he’d say. As for how he got it… answers ranged from fighting a bear to getting mauled by a tiger to being struck by lightning. The truth was deleted years before.
He went out mostly at night when the majority of people were in for the evening. Less hate in the world at night. The air was more accommodating. He’d taken lessons from his cat who spent most of her time sleeping in the window. He put a chair in front of the window the cat was perched on to see what it was all about. It didn’t take long until his face was warm, his body was sleepy and his senses were relaxed. There wasn’t so much hate oozing into his apartment from the outside world. It wasn’t long before he was asleep in the chair, covered in warm sunlight.
The cat twitched in her sleep as he slept like he hadn’t slept in years. Maybe like he’d never slept before. There was a peace in his soul he hadn’t known since he was a small child. Or maybe for the first time ever.
When he woke the cat was looking out the window at a bird on the wire picking at its feathers with its beak. So he watched the bird for a while as the sleep faded away from his mind, body and eyes. All he could muster was to wonder if birds could sleep sitting on a wire.
There was nothing in his head for the first time in years. No questions, no racing thoughts, no anger seeping in from the outside, no insecurity, nothing. That’s when he decided to live everyday like a cat in the window.