A/N: New version! Now with less confusing bits. I think. I sometimes write abstractly, and it can be hard to tell. Let me know what you think.
Facsimiles of Ted
Ted had an invisible girlfriend, and her name was August. She was only deemed invisible because none of Ted's friends had actually met her, though he talked of her often enough.
It came to be widely accepted, after having only started out as a joke, that Ted was indeed dating no one at all. Ted took offense to this preposterous stance, but as he did nothing to disprove the theory, his distress was deemed irrelevant and soon began to fade into a bland, gray and black tapestry of his life.
At night he imagined that it hung on his wall and mocked him relentlessly. He didn't sleep much.
He and August broke up months later. She couldn't handle being as invisible as Ted felt, so it just wasn't working out. He told his friends that she was 'too clingy'. They laughed silently behind their hands, not meaning ill. But "the road to Hell is paved with good intentions" and all that.
Not much changed afterward, except the belief structure to which he had clung so desperately at the worst of times. Suddenly everything seemed a bit harsher, the world a more sinister place. Things were never what they seemed, and the repercussions of that reached far and were subtly frightening. People changed and places did, too; they mutated until they were nothing of what they had once been, instead bitter and cold.
Everything, Ted had discovered, was made of corn. The pants he was wearing, the purse the woman at the super market was rooting around in, the apple his brother Steven had just bitten into. Everything there was to have or do or eat involved corn, and the businesses that made money off of people's ignorance.
Genetically modified corn, of course, being the choice of big business; it was easy to manufacture once first produced. It could be made immune to bugs and other variety of little beasties, and though the scientists were unsure of the effect that might have on the bugs, let alone the humans who ingested the stuff, damn the consequences! The companies had worked hard for this, and as long as people were getting paid it didn't matter anyway.
At night, Ted watched the tapestry on his wall unraveling, thread by wispy thread.
It was when he hadn't eaten anything but toast and water for five days that he again discovered the meaning of life; love had pierced him in the heart once more, and was loathe to let him go.
Nancy had come running smack into his life at high speeds, and she'd only slowed down for a moment before she swept him up in her wake.
He was far more careful, this time, with his friends. He didn't mention Nancy but once, when they were going to see the annual fireworks and he couldn't go see them at the docks with his friends. Instead he drove off toward Nancy, somewhere in the sunset. And he pictured her in his mind, tapestry between her swift, strong fingers, weaving color after color into the dull and dirty fabric, now vibrant and heavy with the weight of his burgeoning love.
Suddenly, it was three years later. Years filled with the brightest of sparks and the deepest of shadows, laying themselves like cold fingers across his heart... It was then that he found himself staring into the matchbook that would spell his demise, a name scrawled in loopy cursive so unlike his own. A number that gained new significance with each passing day.
The street signs spoke to him in phone numbers, in all the variations they could make.
He swayed nervously in the phone booth across the street from their cozy little apartment, dialing the number slowly, resolutely.
She answered the phone with a giggle. His throat had closed up, a voice in the background speaking for him in words foreign to his ears because they were not his words. Nancy's voice asked once more who was calling, before sighing and turning back to her lover with a solemn 'click'.
The phone hung there in the middle of the night.
It was there after he didn't sleep for hours.
It was there in the dim light of morning, when he sighed, head light and eyes bleary, and made himself some toast.
It was there as he sat drinking water, just waiting for something to happen again.
Ted left a box of clothes and a picture of them together just outside the door. And on top of the picture, marring it's perfect, glossy surface, was a matchbook. Three matches gone, and messy handwriting telling all the reasons why anything bad or good happened to anyone. He imagined the yellowed paper bending as she curled it into her fist, the off-white bulb above her so bright that it made her flinch.
He had looked out the window the next day to find that the phone was there, in its proper place. When he pulled and pulled and it finally came out, all he could see was the wires flailing like limbs, wrapping themselves around his neck.
This was the metaphor for his life now, he decided, the tapestry having long-since been burnt in favor of its ashes. Live wires without purpose, skipping along highway tarmac in the search for something a little less painful than existing.