Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Among The Ruins

Bubbles drifted in the massive thick glass of ice-chilled, frosty, foaming liquid, rising up in sporadic twos and fives and dozens to break free to the surface and burst in minute pops that tickled the lip and gave an ambient cool moisture to that space that existed between the surface of the drink and the top of the glass, like a raging sea on a winter's evening, cold and harsh but nonetheless with a forlorn and wild beauty to its crisp purity. As they ran upwards in the drink, so too did drops of condensation run down the outer edge of the glass to pool on the coaster below in a swollen moat over the quaint little painting that rested below the glass. The Blogger looked down into the refreshing sea of colour and faint pleasant fruity aroma, lost as he often was in deep contemplation somewhere far, far away...

"You know, some folks might find it strange to go to a bar and order a non-alcoholic drink," Commented a taverngoer next to him, "This must be the only place for how long that serves that stuff?"

"It's Chi," said The Blogger, "And the next place isn't for... a long, long way actually."

A long, long way was a drastic understatement. The Blogger had yet to find another venue in this entire plane of existence that sold Chi. But then you only needed one...

"Well, I guess you're lucky to have this place then." the taverngoer replied.

"Yes... lucky. Let's... let's go with that."

There were things that were common in The Blogger's life, but luck was not one of them. For the last three years he had been lost in a brutal gruelling quagmire from which there had been no escape. He had been led there under false pretences, told that it would be a time of magic and fun, the best years of his life. He had been told he would find countless other like-minded people there, that it would be something he remembered forever... but it was all a lie. The truth was, as he had always known, that the sun had set on the best years of his life some time ago, and they would forever be confined to the dark dust-filled crypt of history where they had now lain for decades. Where he really belonged. And so when he had set out for this new chapter he instead found a merciless regime of isolation and misery, where not a day went past where he was not told repeatedly that he was wrong, where souls that truly understood him were fleeting and where the one real friend he could say he made was driven out by the same relentless grind that had worn him down to the bone.

"You don't sound very convinced." said the taverngoer.

"I take it then you've watched The Simpsons before," The Blogger said, "I don't think I'd call anyone who went through what I just did lucky."

"Who hasn't seen The Simpsons? The real trick is picking up the conventions," the taverngoer remarked, toying with a glazed cherry in her mouth, "So what happened to you then? You make it sound like you just literally went through hell."

"You'd be surprised," The Blogger said before taking another gulp of Chi, "But in fairness it's probably not as bad as I'm making it out to be. I guess the real problem was a conflict of natures."

"What do you mean?"

"Well I suppose one way of looking at it is like water and fire. On the one hand you have water, a big blob of hydrogen and oxygen compound molecules in a liquid state. It has structure, order, even if it's not readily apparent on the surface. It's clean, cold, logical, it flows naturally from one point to the next in a steady orderly stream. It gives life and sustenance, and can be useful for other things as well, but it will drown you if you give it the chance."

"Right, OK, I'm with you so far."

"Now, on the other hand," The Blogger continued, "You have fire - pure energy. Fire is the opposite of water, it doesn't have mass or any real structure, it's just heat and light, just energy. It's chaotic, wild, irrational, it burns out in any direction it can with no real order. People aren't often as fond of fire as they are water, after all fire is dangerous. It's destructive and it burns you if you try to touch it-"

"But it also gives warmth and light," the taverngoer said.

"Exactly. It also does some other good stuff, like give inspiration for stories and whatnot, but you get the idea. Where I've been for the last three years, that was water, but I'm fire. Now really the universe needs both water and fire in it to work well, but if you put the two together, they destroy each other. Metaphorically speaking of course."

"So if I get you right, what you're saying is that this place was, like, the opposite of who you are?"

"Pretty much. Hey what's your name anywhich?"

"It's Sharon."

"Well Sharon," The Blogger said, "You don't know me very well, but I'm pretty far from a rational person. I'm sensitive, I'm erratic, I imagine a lot, I'm a dreamer. What I'm saying is I generally feel rather than think. But that place wanted people to think rather than feel. One time I will never forget, we're all sitting down in the room, and the instructor is explaining what we have to do. And this one guy, making sure he's understood right, comes up and says 'argue don't preach', which turned out to be spot on. But the trouble is, I can't argue without preaching. I am a preacher. That is what I do, that's how I convey things. I am incapable of not preaching when I argue something, because I'm an inherently emotional person, so I naturally appeal to other people's feelings. That's just how I make a case. It's part of who I am."

"Geez, that must be rough," said Sharon, "I bet you must get a lot of assholes telling you you're gay or to grow a pair or man up or stop being a crybaby or something."

"You have no idea," said The Blogger, "This other time they told us that with this one assignment where we had to write this giant essay that they wanted to see how we thought, how our minds worked. Which was all well and good, except that an accurate depiction of how my brain works would nor be an essay. It wouldn't even be remotely like an essay. If you wanted to see how my thought process looked, you'd get a short story, maybe two characters sitting down and having a conversation about the subject, like this one we're having right now, or maybe you'd get a little etched cartoon with crudely drawn parrot caricatures, or literally anything except a fucking essay. Because I just don't work that way, that's not how I think."


"You can say that again. Every time I had to write one I'd basically end up spending all day, if not all week, banging my head against the keyboard trying to get enough words out. If it had been X amount of dialogue between some characters, I'd have nailed it effortlessly, it'd be hard to stop at just the maximum wordcount. But as an essay? Needing respected sources? It was torture just to get to half the required wordcount."

"Damn. Was there any upside to it?"

The Blogger thought about this. He thought about the good things from the last three years - few though they were. He recalled his friend from there, the gamer who battled demons and approached him when it seemed that no-one else would, who held an inner fire and ferocity that could turn aside any antagonist that beset her and who he was sure would do great things in this life. He recalled charging across the night, riding over hill and dale to the aid of a beleaguered ally in need of support, just like the heroes of old. Once he had a dream, and on a scant handful of days on the third year, while it never truly came to pass he did at least come to hold a glimpse of it from the other side of slumber. And then there was Her - Eyes that held heaven and the future, and a smile like sunlight...

"There were a couple, but not many," said The Blogger.

"Well at least it wasn't a total waste then."

"I suppose. The worst part of all though, even more than all the other stuff, is the... the.. the block I have around it. I don't know why, but for some unfathomable reason I can never seem to be able to articulate what was wrong there. I try to, but whenever I do something suddenly locks up and I can't find a way to put it into words or say it in a way that doesn't make me sound totally insane, so then when I try to people just don't seem to get it and I end up looking like I'm mad."

"It's OK," Sharon said, "We're all mad here."

"... I like you," said the Blogger, before taking another gulp of refreshingly fruity Chi.

"So, lemme guess," Sharon said, narrowing in on The Blogger with her eyes as she sought to read him, "You're some kind of writer right? Like a blog or something?"

Deep inside, The Blogger crumbled. He remembered when he had first started writing the blog, in a long bygone age of revolution and beginnings. He remembered the drive he had, the ambitious dreams to turn it into a rallying point and meeting place of discussion and fun, the bold new regime he would build to turn it into something great, something that would be looked on fondly by all. He had been entrusted with the blog in its infancy, and he would make it into his own corner of the internet, where everyone could share in his ideas and where he could reach out to those he rarely could otherwise. But like all revolutions it ended all too soon in tatters. The relentless grind of the last three years had grown worse and worse, and eventually he had been forced to sacrifice almost everything in order to survive. He always meant to come back and update the blog, every other week or so he would be possessed of an idea for a brilliant blog post, but there was always one more assignment, one more problem, one more thing to do, and so he had to let it fall by the wayside. When he finally had time again, it was too late, and he found all that remained of it were faded ruins, visited only by what he presumed was the occasional porn robot.

The Blogger took a deep sip of his Chi, letting the herbal goodness and subtle flavours of kiwifruit and honey wash through him. "I had a blog once," He said, "A long, long time ago. It was for this group of friends. I was supposed to talk about books on it, but I ended up posting other stuff instead. I suppose that was a bad omen of what was to come. The last three years I had to cut out a lot to get through, and that included the blog. I've been getting everything else back up and running again, but that still hasn't left much time for it. I feel awful about not getting around to it you know. I feel like all these people I care about were counting on me, especially the ones that gave it to me in the first place. The main reason they did was because I had more time for it than they did, but since I couldn't find time for it anymore, I feel like I've let them down."

"You should update it," said Sharon, "Go back to it and give it a reboot. You could start with a crazy story or something."

"Maybe I will Sharon," The Blogger said, "Maybe I will. Enough crazy stuff has happened for me to write on it for a while."

"Oh yeah?" asked Sharon, "Like what? Now you've got to tell me more."

"Well," said The Blogger before finishing his glass of Chi, "I've got some time before the person I'm waiting for gets here. Tell you what, you get me another Chi, and I'll tell you what happened the other week when I was out for a walk."

"Getting a woman to buy you drinks? My my sir, what kind of man are you."

"The kind that believes in gender equality and that either of two mature adults can provide for the other. I'd offer to get you something as well, but that could be taken the wrong way and I'm assuming you're not really looking for that kind of thing with me."

Sharon nodded in consideration, and after a moment's conversation another glass of delicious Chi made it's way to The Blogger...

NEXT: Part 2 here

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Ace Of Clubs

Hi Welcome to the blog of the Mangere Bridge Teen Book Club. We call ourselves Ace of Clubs. We meet once a month, normally on the third Thursday 4.30pm @ Mangere Bridge Library. We talk about books, hang out and have random fun. This blog will tell you what we have been up to, what is coming up and of course lots of stuff about books. All teens are welcome so if you are around come along and join us.