1 month ago for day 37, 2020 with 1323 words.

Chapter Four

“I’m just… mad.”

“You should be.”

“I mean, I just found out. You, you knew. For like, what is that, Chapter Four now, where are we at?”

“Yeah.”

“So you knew, like, from the beginning.”

He paused to catch his breath.

“From the start, yes,” came the answer.

“You knew.”

“So, um, yes. Yes, I knew.”

“Why are you doing this?”

He paused again.

“Look, take a breath.”

“I am breathing, Tom. If that’s even your real name.”

“It’s my name, yes.”

“Listen man, I don’t know what your deal is.”

“You’ve known me for a while now.”

“Yeah, apparently we’ve known each other from the accident. Last year.”

“Yeah.”

“But not enough time has passed, Tom. Not enough time has passed.”

“What do you mean?”

“It’s only Chapter Four. I mean, we’re in Chapter Four.”

“Yes.”

“Ok, buddy. Hey. Tom. Buddy. Look at me.”

“I am looking.”

“Look at me. Tell me again. From the beginning.”

“Ok, Steve. Ok, I’ll tell you. Let’s sit.”

They walked over to the two armchairs in the hallway. Steve sat on the chair next to the window, where his grandpa used to sit, and Tom took the other. Steve opened the drapes so that light could come in. He peered outside and suddenly craved orange juice.

“What the fuck, man? I don’t want orange juice. Tom, what is with this guy, man?”

“Steve, calm down.”

“Don’t you tell me to calm down, man. The fuck.”

“Listen. You’re upset. Maybe I should come back later.”

“No. No, man. You tell me again. Tell me right now, what you said before. All of it. From the beginning.”

“Look, it’s simple. We’re characters in a book. I don’t know exactly how to phrase it. We met a year ago, remember?”

“Yeah, the car crash.”

“We were witnesses”, said Tom ”and we testified against that guy.”

“That asshole deserved it.”

“Sure. You remember.”

“Yeah, I remember.”

“OK, that’s good. That’s good, Steve. It’s good.”

“How the fuck are we in a book Tom?” Steve got up. “How?”

“We are in a book.”

“Jeezus.”

“This book is about our lives. It’s our lives.”

“It’s not my life.”

“Steve. Yes it is. You remember all that happened, and it’s all in the book.”

“The car crash?”

“That’s how it starts. But our lives are more than that. What’s your earliest memory?”

“My… what?”

“You said this is your grandpa’s house. What was he like?”

“Gramps. That man was a genius. He found peace in chaos. Sublime motherfucker, that guy.”

“You remember him, right?”

“Oh, I remember. He used to watch us play from here, and we’d see him through the window. Gramma would do fresh-pressed orange juice, and Gramps would always have a glass in his hand.”

“Good, Steve. That’s good.”

“Hi Tom.”

“Hello Steve. How are you today?”

“Better.”

“Did you have a chance to think about what I said yesterday? Do you have any questions? I’m here for you buddy.”

“Where Tom? Where are you? Where are we? Where the fuck are we?”

“I wish you’d stop cursing.”

“By God man. How do you know all this?”

“All of what?”

“That we’re in a book?”

“I found it.”

They went to sit in the armchairs. Steve had made orange juice, and he sipped from his glass quietly, while Tom talked.

“I’m a writer, remember? Yeah. Well, trying to be, at least. I took this course in creative writing, and there was this guy there. He had this face, you know, this very familiar-looking face, like one of those people you know you’ve seen before, but can’t place him. Anyway, in week 2 we got paired for crit. I should explain, so the teacher gives homework assignments, and we work in pairs at random. We pair up to read each other’s work and give feedback. We call it a critique. So, crit. Short for critique. So me and this guy, we got paired up, and I read his writing. It was a short story, not great, not too bad either. It annoyed me at first, because he didn’t finish it. So I forgot to write my feedback down, and in the morning on the day of the next class, I re-read it, and that’s when it I realized: his style was familiar. His choice of words, the weight of the sentences. Rough, almost. His bad descriptions. Like, really bland and not interesting. I went home after class and started piecing it together.”

“Like from the sentences that you hear?”

“You hear them too, you can’t deny it.”

“Yeah but. Shit.”

“I know. I write them down because they feel strange, you know? Sometimes I wake up in the morning with these thoughts in my head, which aren’t mine at all, and somehow, you know how you sometimes you remember your dreams? Well, it’s not like that. It has nothing to do with my dreams.”

“That doesn’t explain shit Tom.”

“Next class after that, I looked through his things during lunch break. I found the manuscript.”

“What the fuck is a manuscrupt?”

“A draft of the book. The book that we’re in.

“Bullshit.”

“Not bullshit Steve. Definitely not bullshit.”

“It says that?”

“Yes.”

“I never told anyone that.”

“I know. It says that too.”

“Gramma told me that story. Gramps couldn’t tell it. It was always too much for him. It brought tears out every time. Gramma said his big brother was the absolute best. The perfect gentleman. And a fucking hero too.” Steve wiped a tear from the corner of his eye."

“Steve.”

“Yeah brother.”

“What are we going to do?”

“Why the hell are you asking me for? I literally just found out.”

“You found out yesterday.”

“Jeezus man.”

“Look, I can’t get to the guy any more. He didn’t come in this week.”

“Maybe he’s sick.”

“Maybe he’s writing.”

“Writing?”

“Well, the manuscript ended at the beginning of Chapter Four. With me coming to see you at your house.”

“Gramps’ house.”

“What the fuck man. Why did you come here?”

“Steve, I-“

“I was well and happy living this life without knowing. Now I know, and it’s not a life any more, it’s a fucking tragedy or a fairy tale or whatever the fuck comes to the mind of that sonofabitch and what the fuck am I supposed to do with all of that?”

Steve looked at the glass in his hand. Half-full with orange juice, the glass was shining in the morning sun.

“These descriptions are really bad,” said Tom.

dreamer

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By Vlad Fratila

Enjoys coding and writing / Sort of plays piano / Shouts at the cat for no reason / reads and listens to lots of different things

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