Friday, November 09, 2007

The Last Straw

Category: Issue 9

“You have an overblown sense of your own importance,” she said to him finally, breaking down and, as it were, tugging on him.  At him.  “Let’s go.”

He looked up at her, shrugged, and went back to his, so to speak, newspaper.  It had been a tree.  Maybe it still was.  She couldn’t see the point, that was for sure. 

She waited.  She was considerate, if nothing else. The utter lack of respect, though, the complacency—for which, she knew, she was partially responsible—irked her.  It had been a long day.  Considering that time was passing faster in general, and that life was virtually flying by, here, now and then gone, in what very well might be her twilight years, she marvelled at how long a single day could be. 

They finally got home.  Nothing was going on.  The house was as they’d left it.

From her point of view, it was kind of a relief.  The failure of anything to be going on in the house was always kind of soothing.  It was rare.  It meant she could Work.  So to speak.  He, though, was manifestly disappointed that there was nothing going on at home.  He was younger than she was.  He probably felt immortal.  Ready to party.  Naturally, she felt guilty about his boredom and disappointment, but, this time, did nothing—just to see what he would do.  Well.  Just to get something done of her own, for once. 

He paced around and then had something to eat.  She ignored him, typing something.  But in the back of her mind, in her heart of hearts, she worried.  Well, you couldn’t call it “worry”.  She thought

She thought about him.  “Awwww,” she thought.  Sympathetically. 

“Again!” she thought.  Again.  “I care, I care, I care.  Gawd help me, I care.  I spend all my time thinking about others, and they probably don’t care about me at all.”  She was only typing; she was envisioning herself banging her own head repeatedly against something.  She was frustrated because what she was typing was not what she had intended to type; she had never intended to type this.  She had had something else in mind, something else entirely, when they’d left.  It was just that, on the way home, he’d looked at her like that.  He’d shrugged, as only he could. He hadn’t taken her seriously at all.

When she looked up from her so-called Work, he was gone.  Gone, bored, full of disapprobation, to bed. 

“Fine, then,” she thought.  It was fine.  But she still felt bad that he had been disappointed.  That she could have made it better, and hadn’t. 

Earlier,  she had appreciated and respected his talent, his abilities that transcended her own.  She didn’t even really expect anything back from him—this entire thing had, overall, been her doing.  He was younger than she.  He was naive.  What did she expect?  She’d cultivated this relationship precisely in order to get what she was getting.  Kind of.  Why then, this nagging thing. What, what was nagging at her, preventing her from Working, so to speak?

He came back downstairs and, wordlessly, crossed his legs, closed his eyes, and went to sleep. 
His point?  This was the last straw.  Whatever it had been, whatever she had been going to write, was done, gone, over.  It wasn’t going to happen, and she couldn’t even remember what it was going to be.  She couldn’t even blame the goddam poodle.  He was just a goddam poodle. 

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Old Comments

  • julianyway, This piece reminds me of some of the metacognitive writing exercises I have attempted in the past with less success. The emotional impact feels raw, but the writing itself doesn’t suffer from it. That is where I tend to be unsuccessful. When I try to writestrong feelings, my writing becomes trite. But in this piece you render a sort of philosophical/emotional crisis beautifully. She goes from pondering if the newspaper is really still a tree (I loved that) to sorting out her reactions to his complacency to thinking about the nature of time. In some ways it’s like looking at a transcriptof what goes on in my head, just written better. I guess the one thing I don’t understand is in the last paragraph. Do his actions communicate *This was the last straw*? Or is that her response to his behavior?  Or both? I feel like the line is meant to have more than one meaning; it seems to come from both of them. But I don’t know enough about him to understand what he means. Is it intentionally ambiguous? At any rate, I certainly connected with the piece.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/09  at  07:36 AM
  • Hey Ben, thanks! 
    I guess the last straw was when my poodle (it really is a poodle), having interrupted me, went to sleep and didn’t even care.  Stupid poodle!  I think he himself forgot all about his own point when he went to sleep.  Probably he just wanted me to stop what I was doing and take him for a walk.
    (True story!)

    Posted by julianyway  on  11/18  at  04:49 AM
  • Ah! The poodle and *him* are the same. Wow, I didn’t catch that the first time I read the piece. But now that you explained it, it makes sense. It really adds another dimension, doesn’t it? I got caught up in the relationship believing it to be human. Now that I look back, I see what you were doing all along. I can absolutely relate, having been owned by a few dogs in my time. It really makes me appreciate your craft. I wonder if I was being too gullible. Well, I still love the philosophical nature of the piece. I understand you have multiple degrees from reading your other posts. So, that makes sense. I really admire your prose and look forward to reading more.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/18  at  05:39 PM
  • Hey, THANKS (again).  I’m thinking now that NOBODY will see that it’s about the goddam poodle unless I tell them.  Hmmm. 

    On the other hand, maybe if I leave it like this, future English Lit students can writelong-winded essays on the ambiguity of my Piece, and come up with interpretations even better than mine or yours!  (HA!)  (This is why I dropped out of English and went into Philosophy—couldn’t make sense of English, always trying to figure out what the auther was driving at.  To me, it always seemed like guessing, and I was always mad when I would get less than an A for as good a guess as any.  So, seriously, to you:
    an A!)

    Posted by julianyway  on  11/22  at  03:51 PM
  • P.S. Why are there so many typos and spelling mistakes in my previous post?  There is something wrong with my keyboard, honest.  Hmph.

    Posted by julianyway  on  11/22  at  03:54 PM
  • NOOOO!!

    The fact that it is about the poodle is the treat you get for reading it through and thinking enough about it to figure it out.

    To avoid offending anyone that didn’t get it, let me say this:  You would have if we had given you more time and you used it to consider that the reason the poodle enters the story isn’t because the author is nuts.  Knowing her a little better would help on both fronts.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/22  at  07:43 PM
  • Thanks.  I think.  In this post-modern age. (?) wink

    Posted by julianyway  on  11/22  at  08:11 PM
  • By the way, he really DID cross his legs.  He crosses his front paws and puts his nose down on them, and sighs deeply when he goes to sleep, at times like these.

    Posted by julianyway  on  11/22  at  08:15 PM
  • Well, Thanks for the A! It was the first time I got an A in a long time. I do agree with Dave though: if I had spent more time thinking about it before I responded maybe I would have picked up on the fact that it was the poodle the whole time. I was just so taken with the philosophy and language of the piece that I didn’t bother to figure it out before I responded. After you told me I reread it and saw all of the clues in the piece that had been there all along. Now I understand why I made C’s on all my literary analysis papers in high school.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/24  at  12:48 PM
  • We didn’t get to do anything called “Literary Analysis” in high school.  It was all called “English”, and either sucked or didn’t, depending on your teacher.  I once had a math teacher who used to fall asleep standing at the blackboard with his hand raised and his chalk in his hand.  We would wait. Nothing really ever happened, and I was getting a “D”, so I dropped out and ended up, in college, in Philosophy instead of Science.  If it hadn’t been for that teacher, my entire life might have been different; at least I would have had the option of math and thus the sciences. 

    I did study “Philosophy of Science”, and learned some math then; but you’d think you could get a decent math teacher in high school.

    I know, I’m digressing. 

    All I mean:  It sounds like Literary Analysis might be either awful for good, depending on what happened.  Teachers make such a huge difference. 

    As for YOU—I know I already asked you this, but where did that picture come from?  It’s great.


    Posted by julianyway  on  11/28  at  03:41 AM
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