Flash Fiction: The Arrival

He awoke tired and sluggish as any other day. There had been so many barren days in this untold chapter of his life. So many unfolded tears and so much frustration had amassed within him that his quiet corner of the world now felt like an island. His thoughts had marooned him there, and like coconut water they merely sloshed about, seemingly without a purpose.

Years later he would look back on this time, saying, I had wanted more than anything, just to cry, just to weep. But the tears never arrived, so I just kept waiting.

And so the day passed without event, without anything to distinguish it from the other thousand equally drab days before it.

That evening another tasteless meal was had, followed by a cigarette on the porch stoop. Afterwards, he sat up staring into his computer screen. Typing, clicking, scrolling. He looked up only to glance at the tiny gap between his curtains and the outside world. It was dark now, but this only came as a small surprise to him. Night swallows day, he thought to himself.

Later that night as he lie on the tiny couch that served both as a settee and a bed, he suddenly was overcome with frustration. There was no singular target to his ire but he felt confounded, he felt conflicted, and he felt overwhelmed with a lack of understanding for his life. Why this night, why things had become like this.

He rose up and quickly paced a circle in the small room, saying aloud: “Are you kidding me”. But then he sat down and reclined back onto the settee.

The night crept on long and slow and silent, and he hated it – the dimly lit room, the softly playing CD in the background that had for so long repeated itself that it grew to sound like silence to him – he hated everything. And he lie there busy doing what had always kept him busy at night – his gears were grinding, and he was thinking about all the outcomes that had driven him here and all the possibilities that might free him. He was busy drifting in the space between tired resignation and purposeless anxiety.

And that’s when it happened: suddenly he found himself staring into the open sky. He had blinked to find his eyes open to the starless, blueish-blackness of the city sky. The music was no longer filling the void with silence and the light in the room itself was hardly perceptible. There was nothing but the sudden awareness of his presence under the open sky. And he wasn’t shocked or scared – he felt nothing but alive; all he felt was fearless. But it wasn’t anything like the modern definition of fearless as we know it – it wasn’t anything boldly courageous; it was the rare feeling of being totally unafraid; it was the feeling of being totally alive. He existed in that moment without the human weight of worry or the fear that he, as all men, carry. And in that moment, he knew. In that moment, in that single span of time before he would blink again, he felt a dozen thoughts all giving him the same answer.

When he described this moment a decade later in a return letter to a reader, he called it: The arrival of my North Star.

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