A Chapter by Christopher Reel
Sisyphus, quietly I stood before my rock, fingers apart, palms pressed upon its rough surface, my bare feet lightly agitated by the gravel beneath them. I pushed. I’m dressed, on the opposite side of cool, in a cloak; heavy, bothersome, and long, dragging across the ground. I, insignificant among others whom were stretched across a wasteland dressed the same, as I was, behind rocks of their own. They too pushed.
Our habitat was devoid of color; the primary hue was boredom. No one had any idea why we were there. Still we pushed, imagining the mountain top somewhere off in our distance dreams and hope. We pushed. All of us were aware of the darkness from nightmares and despair gaining ground behind us. We pushed.
Up a hill, we rested atop a plateau. Our rocks roll away from us, returning back down the hill. If one paid close enough attention while watching your rock move slowly in the opposite direction of your desire, there is a moment of consciousness. Most are not aware of it while others for go it and hurry behind their rocks immediately beginning anew. Others enjoyed that moment, or did not like it, or couldn’t understand it, or simply were indifferent to it. However the vast majority of us eventually returned down the hillside to begin anew. We pushed.
Sometimes rocks became too much to handle, too heavy, and rolled over the pusher. The rock disappears into history, as does its pusher whom decomposes into the gravel under foot. We pushed.
We talked. There is an overabundance of conversations; to others, to one’s self, to one’s rock, to hope. Some preferred to scream. Others never said a word. We pushed.
There were rocks far away from where we believed the mountain had been, while others assumed that they were at its foot or in its valley. The closer the better was a popular belief. Some strived to get closer. Many believed that they had obtained their goal. Others failed outright. Most simply accepted their positions. We pushed.
Some of us helped our neighbors when their rocks became too much for them. Others were apathetic or purposely hindered each other. There was hate, war and peace, and love. Many pushed in groups; easier, safe, some would forget about their own rock dissolving into crowds. A few didn’t push as hard as they could. Others over exerted themselves. We pushed.
There were good rocks and there were bad rocks. You could change your rock. Some didn’t know how to. Others changed their rocks so much that they became dazed and confused. A few stared at their rock and did nothing. Others would get intoxicated and repeatedly run face first into their rock screaming and laughing with gaity or wailing and crying with misery or sober and reckless with lucidity. Many loved their rock. They believed it to be beautiful and divine. Others despised their rock. They thought the rocks were ugly and devoid of meaning, making them sick. They would abandon their rocks and run into the darkness behind us; collapsing onto the bathroom floor after shooting herself in the head; divorcing existence with aggressive free will, leaving a 12 years old son to face his rock alone.
Sisyphus, quietly I stand before my rock in the kitchen area of my work place. Holding a rectangular pan in my hands, I stood before a 3 basin industrial sink. Dirty pots and pans soaked in the 1st basin, soapy water for the wash in the middle, the 3rd was empty, for rinsing. My boredom sat at the bottom of each of them. Smiling, I stared at Adam, the 1stshift manager. He was helping me by rinsing the pots and pans. He was short and round, with a round dull face that was easily forgettable. He was married with 2 children, worked at the same job for the past 10 years and never missed a day. He was friendly, well liked, well behaved, and happy or, at the least, content with his rock. Whatever it was, he enjoyed it and I disliked him for it.
‘I’m going to be you in a few years.’ I spoke slow, staring at an unwanted future, nervously smiling.
‘Then you would be a good man.’ He replied. The sincerity stuck its tongue out at me, and then went pssbttt! He smiled. It was honest and hold some. I wanted to smack him across the face with the pan.
After rinsing a pot and placing it with the others to dry Adam’s eyes returned back to my weak stare. Although his mouth opened a little as if to speak, it slowly shut. Inquisitive but patient was his expression. The kitchen was silent. It was small and generic and didn’t consist of much other than the sink and shelves and Adam and I standing before our individual rocks pushing from opposite inclinations.
I could never become him. I could never allow myself to think as he did, or how I assumed he thought. One who lived and let live, one apart of many, pushing the same rock as others, following obediently; indistinguishable sleepwalkers whom are snuggled softly in the safe and accepting arms of society, of their religion; never pondering. The meaning of life was already told to them; complaining and fighting frivolously against whatever struck their fancy at any giving moment with feigned seriousness when in truth they had already accepted it. Maybe they are the smart people. Who knows? Definitely they are the majority. They are in rule. The democracy. The herd. I hated them. I was jealous of them. I was afraid of them. They made me nervous, simply because there was a great possibility that they were right, living life the way it was suppose to be lived.
At times I wondered why I felt as if I was on the outside, pushing my rock off in the solitude distance never fitting in, living mainly inside of myself, inside of my head. Was it because I was the creative type, an author, a writer, who found safety in fiction, who found fiction more real than reality. Was it because I was cursed being weird, inheriting my mother’s existential rebellious nature and loneliness.
I, Archibald Johnson, am of the confused, the lonely, the skeptical, the lost, the exiled, the sick, the stupid, the ironic, the. . . .
I allowed the pan to fall from my hands. Adam’s eyes followed it to the floor. It clattered. I smiled, then turned and left.
© 2010 Christopher Reel