Chapter 3


I sit here, staring at my computer screen, at the words I have not yet written. And I think: Wouldn't I rather be shot in the foot than write about such a meaningless existance? Determining that either option is as painful as the other, I continue to stare blankly at the screen. Don't think I do this of my own free will. No; the world, making use of its habitual lack of concern for its inhabitants, never cared what I thought. So, I have been here with the computer on my lap for nearly four hours. The train shakes constantly, and my body bounces back and forth almost limply when the shaking gets too bad. The man across from me doesn't know I've been watching him. His head bobbles up and down the way my body bounces back and forth. Occasionally, realizing he's falling asleep, the man jerks his head up only for it to bobble back down again.
Wouldn't I rather be shot in the foot than write about such a meaningless existance?

I look back at my computer screen with a smile that fades quickly. Nothing I have just said has any relevance whatsoever. Except, maybe, that I am on a train and that I am forced to write this. Yes, forced. By whom? By the people who want to know. I am not quite sure who they are, but throughout the years, I have learned that when sent a telegram informing me that if I do not do something, serious measures will be taken, I should seriously consider it.

They sent me a one-way train ticket with that telegram, and fifty dollars in cash. I don't know how they found me, and I don't know why they want me to write this, but I have nothing to lose. I have lost so much that nothing matters except the occasional amusing comment or generalization. So, I took the money, stuffed it in my pocket, and headed off to spend it. Fifty dollars is a lot of money nowadays, during a Depression that could easily make the others seem small and insignificant. I saw a movie, bought new clothes, had dinner at a nice restaurant, and wandered the streets until I could no longer find reason to spend. On my way home, I saw a woman in a situation similar to my own (or what my own was until I aquired the fifty dollars) - her clothes tattered and ragged, hanging off of her small frame like cobwebs from the trees. I stopped and looked at her. Really looked. I didn't see the rags, the sore feet in worn-out pumps, the dirty hair, or the sunk-in eyes. I saw fear, fear radiating through her eyes, her body. Fear that drove her to keep moving, to keep searching, to keep groping for the will to survive until her next meal. And I thought: What good is this money in my hands? It bought me an hour of amusement, a good meal, and nice clothes - it could do the same, if not more, for her. It could buy her a ticket out of here.

I never really realized exactly what people meant when saying, "the lightbulb came on," but right then, I did. My lightbulb ignited with a spark. I had a ticket out of those slums. It was sitting in my closet-sized apartment with a rather curious telegram. A little adventure never hurt anyone, right? I paused and watched the woman inch down the sidewalk. Her ankles remained stiff and her legs moved slowly because of the blisters. Those shoes - I had seen many like them, and they had all caused blisters. I just rid myself of mine. Aware of the comfort my new boots provided, I wandered nonchalantly over to her and held out my hand. She stared at me, the fear coursing through her very being.

"Here," I said. "I don't need this. Buy yourself a ticket out of here." I gave her the money, and she took it with a shocked expression and a shaking hand.

And I used my ticket.

Here I am, still typing nonsense and garble, trying to do what "they" told me to. But, they have no idea how hard a task this is. To put meaning into something so utterly useless, utterly pointless being? To try to explain what I or anyone else has become? Or to talk about the war...

Nonetheless, this is my last chance for adventure. I need to see it through. Now you know about why this... monstrosity of - if you can call it such - literature... was written. That sounds funny - "was written." I haven't even started.

Generally, when one writes about oneself or something that happened in the past, one finds it quite common, practical, and sometimes necessary to start at the beginning. Well, my beginning fit the stereotype of the general populace - the warm, loving family, the sibling wars, my social life, the education I received. The generalization that I need to start at the beginning vanishes after that point. I will not start at the beginning - there is nothing to tell. I will start by saying that, before I turned sixteen, the greatest tragedy of my life was the demise of Fluffles the Cat.

Fluffles came from the dumpster on a rainy day. This was not the opportune place to find a pet; however, we couldn't just leave him there meowing his heart out. So, we took him in, gave him a bath (which he did not appreciate), and pampered him. He was a furry little thing, and he made this odd rattling noise whenever someone scratched his ears or back. My father, the genius that he was, called that noise "purring."

As much as I loved that cat, I refuse to claim the name Fluffles. It came from my cousin - a pushy, spoiled, and yet adorble little boy who, without ever realizing it, caused great amusement throughout the family. Yes; the name came from him. But the cat was mine.

Cedar wrinkled her nose and placed a large "X" at the top of the page. Her lips crinkled together for a moment while she poked herself in the cheek with the back end of her pen. She stared at the notebook intensely, and then threw down her pen with a huff as she jerked in the direction of the window and proceeded to stare at the scenery instead. One side of her upper lip remained curled upwards in a universal sign of disgust.

It was the first morning of the long train ride, and she had written only enough to disgust herself. The young man beside her was missing from his seat, the man in front of her was nodding off, his glasses slipping dangerously down his nose, and the woman in mourning snored noisily next to him. Cedar's mouth returned to its normal shape as she pondered what woke her up. It may have been the woman's snoring, but Cedar glanced at the empty seat next to her curiously.


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