On being a bag of bones, and nothing more.

Published September 3, 2012 by mandileighbean

“Sometimes I wonder what I’m a-gonna do.  There ain’t no cure for the summertime blues.”

–      “Summertime Blues,” The Who

“I got that summertime, summertime sadness.”

–      “Summertime Sadness,” Lana Del Rey

Well, well, well; we finally meet again.

            I’d like to sincerely apologize for my prolonged absence and offer an explanation.  I am afraid I was battling a severe case of Summertime Blues.  I felt extremely lethargic and did nothing of consequence.  All my dreams, all my expectations of living were surrendered to an ultimate kind of laziness that robbed me of my health (I can’t even begin to estimate how much weight I’ve gained back, and how much hard work has been all for naught), my inspiration (I only wrote – really wrote – for a two week stretch and its value is debatable) and my passions (I stopped reading).  I could have and should have been out with friends, but I picked loneliness instead.  I would have rather been at home, alone, stuffing my face and watching mindless television instead of engaging fully in love, and laughter, and life.  It was terribly depressing and altogether frightening.  I was the exact opposite of the person I had planned on beginning to become.  I wasn’t living; I was just slowly dying, merely existing and nothing more.

            Stephen King, a personal hero of mine which I am sure has been mentioned, says that all writers drink from the same pool, meaning that all writers are inspired by the same pantheon, so to speak.  Therefore, it should come as no surprise that King quotes Thomas Hardy in his novel Bag of Bones: “Compared to the dullest human being actually walking about on the face of the earth and casting his shadow there, the most brilliantly drawn character in a novel is but a bag of bones.”  In the television adaptation of King’s novel, the main character named Mike Noonan goes on to explain how he fears that is what he has become; nothing more than a bag of bones.  I totally understand that.  I could have said that quote myself this past month, this last month of summer.

But now it’s the beginning of September and it’s time to cut the pity party and do what I am supposed to do, and to do what I want to do.  I want to lose weight, so I will.  I want to be a writer, so I will.  I want to be a good and an effective teacher, so I will.  I am going to turn twenty-four in sixteen days.  I’ve never been good with numbers, but these numbers seem manageable as long as I am always striving to be the woman I want to be.

Happy September, everyone; the year is coming to a close, but the academic year is just beginning.  My wish for all who read this is that they learn something about themselves from now until June; that they discover a truth about themselves that gives them comfort and hope in tomorrow.

“I plan to crawl outside these walls,
Close my eyes and see.
And fall into the heart and arms,
Of those who wait for me.
I cannot move a mountain now;
I can no longer run.
I cannot be who I was then:
In a way, I never was.

I watch the clouds go sailing;
I watch the clock and sun.
Oh, I watch myself, depending on,
September when it comes.”

– “September (When It Comes),” Roseanne Cash featuring Johnny Cash

PROMPT: An architect is informed that his current project bears an uncanny resemblance to a “haunted” hotel destroyed decades earlier.

PIECE: Reggie was genuinely beaming, and his eyes were actually smiling, when he unrolled his blueprints across Mr. Field’s desk.  He grabbed the nearest paperweight (clearly engineered by one of Mr. Field’s many grandchildren), a stapler, a cup filled with pens and a legal pad to weigh down the four corners.  The white lines popped against the blue background of the paper and Reggie wasn’t sure if he had seen anything as beautiful as physical evidence of perseverance and a job well-done.  He was nearly breathless, thinking about all the cups of coffee and sleepless nights, hunched over at the desk in his studio apartment.  He thought about the sunrises he had watched, weary from a severe lack of sleep but alive enough to still appreciate the beauty and wonder of the rising sun and the shadows it cast, aided by the taller points of the cityscape viewed from the only window in his apartment.  Thankfully, that window was ceiling to floor and the only thing in the apartment that he cleaned regularly.  Percolating with enthusiasm, Reggie eagerly turned to Mr. Field.

Mr. Field looked less than pleased.  As a matter of fact, if Reggie was willing to put aside his ego which seemed to be ever-bruising, he would have to admit that Mr. Field looked downright terrified.  His face was ashen, and the lines all constricted so that his countenance was an uncomfortable mixture of horror and concentration.  Some awful, irrational truth was settling over Mr. Field, like a man on death row who was just denied his last appeal.  As Reggie’s smile understandably and considerably dimmed, he wondered if it could be as serious as all that, as life and death.  He cleared his throat and called out Mr. Field’s name.  He did so softly, so as not to disturb a clearly already rattled man.

Mr. Field turned to Reggie absent-mindedly, like he had forgotten the young man existed, let alone was still in the room.  He collected himself and offered a phony smile, but the jig was up; Reggie had seen his initial reaction to the plans.  Mr. Field watched Reggie’s smile completely disappear, now replaced with dread anticipation.  Mr. Field cleared his throat, swallowed hard and said, “You’ve done a good job, Reg.  I’m impressed.”

“Tell me what’s wrong, Mr. Field.  We’ve known each other too long to play this game.  Just give it to me straight, please.”

Mr. Field let his eyes take all of the young man in, the young man who was going to be so damn successful it seemed ludicrous; the young man who had no idea how talented he was; the young man Mr. Field had taken under his wing once Reggie had graduated.  He loved Reggie and wanted nothing for the best for him, and that desire directly conflicted with the answer Reggie had asked for.  Mr. Field sighed and walked to a filing cabinet in the far corner of the room.  It looked dusty and had dents all over the visible side.  Despite its neglected appearance, the filing cabinet was locked and it took some minutes before Mr. Field located the key, which was taped to the wall behind an extravagant kind of painting.  Filing cabinet unlocked, Mr. Field doubled over to rifle through folders in the very bottom drawer, mercilessly shoving all of the papers forward.  In the back, rolled up and folded over time and time again, was another set of blueprints.

Mr. Field brought the blueprints and unrolled them right on top of Reggie’s creation.  Paperweights weren’t needed as the papers had been folded for so many years that the paper did not curl up.  “These are the blueprints of the King Hotel downtown.”

Reggie looked at the blueprints.  “I never ….”  His voice trailed off as realization dawned.  He couldn’t talk; if he opened his mouth at all, even to breathe, he’d vomit all down his front and he’d rather not be so childish in front of his boss.

“You’ve never heard of it because it was torn down before you were even born,” Mr. Field explained, observing Reggie hunching over and growing quite still.  He tried to keep his tone as even as possible.  If he remained logical, he remained rational, and that kept the fear at bay.  “Twenty-seven people were killed inside the hotel over a span of six months back in 1935, its inception.  The hotel closed for thirty years before some asshole thought if it was restored and reopened, it’d be a point of interest for macabre tourists the world over.  It was; people flocked to the King.  The only problem was that not a single guest could last the night.  It was haunted.  There was talk of demons and poltergeists and hallucinations that were terrifying enough to drive men to suicide.”  Mr. Field took a deep breath.  “It was torn down five years later, deemed inhabitable.”

“You, Reg, have just recreated it, angle by angle.”

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