Chapter Two: Reflections of Tabula Rasa in Filth

Does my conviction to do whatever I presently think right make me a good person, tormented by the duplicity of fate? My enemies would say nay, because I only ever extended my conviction of "right" to what fit my own circumstances.

I had always been unusually neat as a child. I believe my parents must have been as pleased as they were puzzled at their more diminutive son's reticence to allow dirt house room. Even now I flinch when recalling the feeling of skin rubbed red raw, weary from the repetitive back and forth of the scrubbing brush against tiles, walls, surfaces. Anything that could be wiped, I scrubbed. So, why? Simply, I relished the idea that no matter how sullied I could return any object to its previous glory with sheer effort. My conviction was so stalwart that no amount of calluses and chastisements could have forced me to desist in my efforts.

Children have the strangest mechanisms to cope with change.

The idea of Tabula Rasa was overpowering. Nothing awed me more than the sight of a blank piece of paper. The potential to create something beautiful was at the tips of my fingers, yet even then, such a possibility was inconceivably remote from reality. How crushing to reminisce and realize that even the imagination of the child had met its frontier, its roots firmly pushed down beneath the soil of the crushing certainties that mold the world. Though I suppose the imagination has always held a tenuous relationship to reality. The worlds we grasp so tenderly in our deepest dreams are the result of our own lingering dissatisfaction with the way things are.

I was transfixed by the abstract idea that the simple manual act of cleaning transcended all else. Of course the price had to be paid beauty from restoration, and only when my hands were red raw did I feel the total balanced. I was rarely tempted to violate my own strict restrictions, only the twice.

After painting, I always washed the paintbrushes and passé quills my father insisted we kept for "old time's sake". I'd watch the ink swirl in one last dance of protest, or surrender (it seemed different every time) before being sucked into the drain, and I would ponder with sincerity what could have been. There was no other option however, because father was as strict in the maintenance of his beloved brushes as he was lenient in all other aspects of life. I'd also painstakingly scratch away whatever work I'd managed to achieve, usually cartoon animals with too big eyes or ears. Their unblinking eyes would stare accusatorily as I'd erase them piece-by-piece, cat after elephant unwilling to accept my whispered apologies. This was the only particular time that by "restoration" a lump found its way into my throat and I registered the world bereft of some small pleasure.

Some thought erasing my art translated into a reticence to subject it to criticism, an endearing indicant of my being "shy". People can be so frustratingly ignorant when they choose to be. When I make the choices however, people are simply kept innocent.

The only other time I was tempted to break my own rules was when I met Katalyn. She was kind and she was beautiful and because she was so, life ruined her.

I cannot say that I have had many epiphanies. Those instances in time where everything has netted together to connect my personal jigsaw puzzle have been few and far between. Honestly, I cannot say I have ever felt alive more than twice in my admittedly short lifetime.

Life is seldom composed of crossroads. That doesn't seem very true on the surface, but what most people don't seem to realize is that there isn't usually a single time that one can pinpoint as their defining moment. I say this because my life with her in it was not made of days and nights, not marked by dusk and dawn. Life was a single stream of consciousness, with integrity the cornerstone of its beauty. How could I pull one moment from my memories of the happiest time in my life, and pinpoint that as defining?

We were content in each other's company; no amount of monotony could wear us down, and in those times there was plenty of monotony. You must remember that the voices of protest were mere whispers then, and the respect for the enforcers supposedly instilled greater character, therefore greater sums were demanded for bribes. Only the uninhibited waves of revolution could wash away what Katalyn and I shared.

I miss monotony.

I miss the Katalyn of then.

I miss the illusion of certainty.

Five years on, I sit tracing the word 'ironic' into the filth residing on my floor, wondering how I have retained a sense of humor and knowledge of penmanship in such a place. I don't mind the dirt here so much. It sort of reminds me of the long summer days of yesteryear when my brother Charlie and I were still the very best of friends. We practically lived outdoors, getting into all sorts of mischief that only young children can. That was before I knew the meaning of Tabula Rasa, in his absence.

As soon as this is all over, I'll travel back to thirteen years ago and relive my childhood, writhing around in the dirt. I won't care what people say, in stark contrast to the crushing fear of judgement I was once plagued with.

Now, I don't miss that.

A/N: R&R please! Constructive criticism is highly appreciated. Solely fictitious.