The leaves rustled, and the gentle chatter of the occasional birds, las reinitas, almost lulled me to sleep. She was in a hammock outside, allowing the gentle late afternoon breeze to caress her face. She’d just had dinner, and she felt more than content as she watched the day go by, watch the afternoon colors of crystal clear blue with the occasional whip of a cloud (like the cotton candy that stays clinging to the white cones I get a the carnivals, the ones with the loud machinas that I stopped enjoying a while back). These are the noises of a real Puerto Rico, one that is too rare. I feel like I can do anything right now, but don’t want to. I feel like I can just let the world go by. I want to.
You know you can’t though. You’re too unsettled, too wired up all the time. You’ll just get a thought--just like this--and feel the itch inside, the hornet’s nest stir up real bad until you have to do something. She squirms, frowns as she adjust her posture on the hammock. One that she had felt perfectly content with a second before. I hate this. Why can’t I just let things be?
That’s a nice question to ask yourself. Here are five more, just to fuck with your perfect stillness, because you can. Why do people always need to do things in order to feel adequate? Has society really messed everything up, or are people really just so petty they need to give themselves a pat on the back everytime they do something just to feel appreciated?
I don’t like where this is going...
What’s the point of living, exactly? If you take out the answer as ‘God’ or ‘Fate’ or ‘Destiny’, ya sabes, all those things anybody can say just to say it, what is your answer? Think a little. People should do that more often. It’d be less problematic. You remember that novel you bought at the beginning of summer vacation, the one you wanted because the cover looked peaceful but ended up to be just what you were avoiding? Kafka on the Shore, by Haruki Murakami. Remember what Oshima, talked about what T.S. Elliot called hollow men after being harassed by the women pretending to be feminist? Page 181, second paragraph (you can never kick the habit of citing once you start college, even though you’ll trash-talk MLA whenever you get the chance)
People who fill up that lack of imagination with heartless bits of straw, not even aware of what they’re doing. Callous people who throw a lot of empty words at you, trying to force you to do what you don’t want to. [...] Intolerance, theories cut off from reality, empty terminology, usurped ideals, inflexible systems. Those are the things that really frighten me. What I absolutely fear and loathe.
He is one of my favorite characters. But I couldn’t finish the novel, it was too jarring, too unsettling for me at the moment...I’ll finish it later.
But people all love that novela drama, the chisme, el show. You say it’s disgusting, te haces como si fueras mejor que eso. You shuffle out of the living room when the adults get together to pass judgement on family and friends. I know how it feels to be on the receiving end. But, aren’t you a writer? You make that. You have to, or nobody'll read your stuff. What you’re writing now: it’s the Good, the Bad, the Ugly. It makes people uncomfortable. You say you hate violence, yet you play video games. You love superheroes. You research what bothers you, read news articles to know and write better. You’re squeamish, but you’re not devoid of malice.
She feels her breathing come out in shorter breaths. The sky’s getting darker. Soon the navy blue will wash out the orange and pink trails in the sky. Someone told you those colors are because of human pollution. Your mother assured you that wasn’t true. It’s just so pretty, so calming that I don’t want it to be true.
You still have two more questions. You were promised five, after all. Do you ever wonder if other people think about things the way you do? I mean, probably. That’s where books, movies, music comes from, the best kind (according to you). I mean, does anyone you don’t know that well in your personal life, your grandfather, your aunt, your cousin, do they wonder? I don’t know. They don’t seem like they’d be up for that kind of conversation. Yo no me creo mejor que ellos. But they frustrate you, talking about getting good jobs and boyfriends as if that stuff was just invented yesterday. I know they mean well. Yo los amo igual. Everybody talks like that now.
You know that. It doesn’t mean you don't want to keep hearing it. You wonder if the word ‘patriarchy’ has some magic curse that makes people roll their eyes when you say it, as if they thought you were a hollow woman. You know how it is: the hippie Lit Major who writes because she doesn’t have a job, has too much time to waste. You stopped explaining that you do Creativing Writing with a second in English Literature. You’d think they just heard “teacher or future Burger King employee” come out of your mouth. You figured out early on that the word condescending usually goes really well with asshole.
Are we done yet? This is getting really depressing and existentialist and I think this may be passing the word count for the assignment. (937 and counting.) Sure, last one. ¿En serio? Yeah. Just think it over. No need to keep going.
When will you stop fighting yourself?
She sighs heavily. The sky is now inky black, las estrellas aparecen, a few streetlights glow like dim orange suns. I’m finally alone.
I open Kafka on the Shore and start where I left off.