At the end of The beginning of a story, the story was left open on purpose. Hope, possibility, opportunity, chaos, chance were the words that concluded that post, but now it’s time to add chaos to the unfolded life of that character.
The phone was ringing loudly. The noise annoyed him. He answered to just stop it and did not even speak. On the other side of that coded and decoded connection through which a human voice was reaching him, a man was producing sounds with his mouth. The sequence took form and meaning, became denial of purposes and ideas, refusal of something that the guy had sent to the journal whose the man was an editor. You don’t know anything about what you are writing, do you? You should read this and this and this and I will write everything down but your article was so…empty that I preferred to call you to vomit all my disappointment on you. Sounds, meaning and delusion.
The guy waited for the electronic signal at the end of that call to put the phone back in his pocket. He thought he should have learned how to hear sounds without listening to it. One year of his life in front of that so pleasant and greedy screen, inside that “trap” lab, became nonsense in few minutes, judged by that voice. The sequence of almost four hundred days was insignificant compared with the sequence of sounds that in few instants removed that year from his life. Why did I do that then? The everyday sequence of acts, the early alarm, the ten minutes breakfast, the numb sequence of steps going to work and the exhausted one coming back home at night, all those things did not exist because the article that he had written was not going to be published.
Did it matter that nobody ever explained to him what he was supposed to do? That he learned everything by himself, left alone by people who were afraid of being helpful? Did it matter that he had started thinking that he did not like what he was doing? That he did not care at all about “success” that word that his supervisor would repeat at every lab meeting? Suddenly he thought about all the things that he had not done because of that article. He did not travel anywhere, he saw his friends more and more seldom, he barely talked to his parents, he lost her. He lost her.
Her is a pronoun that means many things. It may mean a girl, it may mean a life. It means everything out of the habits he got used to during that year. Hopes, possibilities, chances that he lost because he was following another man’s idea of success. Success does not mean to publish one article every two months, a book after your graduation, get that grant or that award. Success means to feel emotions that you want to remember, to take your time, to want to go back to your past to feel again what it was, notwithstanding the sadness or the joy that characterized it. Success means to fulfill desires. The common definition of success that you read on internet and through social networks is the one imposed by the mainstream, cold and empty mortification of what a passionate desire is.
He was still there, cold, emptied from one year of his life. Paler, colder than few minutes before. The past, the present and the future of his story in that city were still to be written, but the puzzle had lost a piece, the snowflake had been melt by the warmth of a false spring.
One word, success, and all the implications that the different definitions of this word have for our life.
Banner Image by McGill GradLife Instagrammer @yogipetals // @gradlifemcgill