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  • Writer's picturercai48

“The Gift to the Oblivious” A Short Story – Another Blog Approaches

When I signed on to become a blogger, I said that I had experience with creative writing. Which I do. So, now I have to actually post something creative writing related — not that I actually have to but personal obligations and what not. So, here is the result. Feel free to critique if you have anything to say.

The Gift to the Oblivious

Under the humming of fluorescent lights, a well-worn machine sat in a little room barely big enough for it to fit inside. Its gray and beige plastic frame hid a complex network of wiring and circuit boards. With its chair-like shape, the machine could have been mistaken for medical equipment had it not been for the helmet-like device seated on top of it.

The helmet itself was a large, one-size-fits-all solution with a series of electrodes sticking out of the bottom. Beneath it on the chair was a set of armrests, with what looked like two metal spheres at the ends. And beneath them, a footrest at the bottom to lock your feet onto the chair. All of it was tinted the same matte gray/ beige/ white/ steel-silver color to match the sterile room the machine was in.

In the next room sat a machine much the same as in the room next to that, and so on and so forth. Some rooms were occupied, but it was a weeknight so the place was not especially busy.

The door to one of these rooms opened and in came a well-dressed man with his jacket hanging off his arm and a small ticket in his hand. He plugged the ticket he signed with “Mark” into the ticker on the wall and hung his jacket onto the hook on the door. His watch, his glasses, his shoes and his tie all came off before he sat himself onto the machine. He slipped his feet in and rested the palms of his hands on the metal of the armrests. He fit the helmet snuggly onto his head, strapping it under his chin, and stuck the electrodes to his scalp.

As he got comfortable in the chair, a slow whirling and shaking sound began to fill the room. A series of electrical signals went up through the tangle of wires and down to the electrodes of the helmet. The shocks tickled his brain, causing it to release a cocktail of chemicals. Dopamine, serotonin and other endorphins rushed through his mind. The optic nerves that connected his eyes to his brain were met with a subtle stimulation that made him see a mirage of colors.

And, as the colors swirled and twisted before eventually settling, he could see her. In that deep web of colors, her form became clear. Her hair tied up in a neat little brunette bun. Her almond shaped face and her deep olive skin. He made his way over to her, the electrons zapping the part of his brain that made him feel the sensation of movement. She was sitting on her knees in the middle of the wide-open space the machine had created for them. For others that dreamed of the lights of Paris or the falling flower blossoms of Kyoto, the machine made for their fantasy. But for him, the space didn’t matter. Only that she was there with him.

He approached her, one imaginary step at a time, until he could practically reach out and touch her. Her lips were still a dark shade of auburn and her eyes still a bright shade of hazel. And down her soft, full cheeks were streams of tears that once were not there.

Now only a few fake inches away, he reached his hand out. His grip on the metal of the armrests tightened. His brain sent signals down to the nerves of his hands. It told his hands that they were about to touch her. He could feel the heat radiating off her body. The smooth sensation of her skin. He could feel her again.

So, he fell to his knees so that their faces could meet once again. And he looked into her eyes, and she look into his. And he could be Mark again and she could be Jane again. And he leaned over her shoulder and whispered into her ear because she didn’t like making their problems public. And he apologized for saying “I love you” out loud and he apologized for not saying “I love you” more and he apologized for still loving her even after not seeing her for so long.

And with every “I love you,” her tears flowed heavier. Her hands rushed to cover her face to hide the crying. His hands lightly, gingerly, pulled hers down and clasped them tightly so that their lips could meet.

Her lips tasted as they did last time: of juniper berries, mint and the fruit-flavored gum that she loved so much. His tasted different from what they once were, heavy with bourbon and the lingering musk of cigar smoke. But they didn’t care. They could be together again.

That was enough for him. That they could be together. That they could be whole. He didn’t care that he was in a machine. Nor did he care if she was real or not. Or how long it had been since he had last come. Or that the ticker was still ticking and that he would probably have to pay for the extra time.

They could take his credit card for all he cared! Run the clock for as long as he needed.

And so, Mark and Jane could be together again. Or at least they could be as long as he was in the machine. Just like all the other people occupying the machines in the other rooms.

And so, David in the next room could talk to his parents again. And Margaret could walk her dog again. And Johnny could confront his abuser. And Sara could be cancer free for one more day.

And the machines whirled in all the rooms and the fluorescent bulbs hummed in the hallways. People would come into empty rooms and eventually leave. The only noise coming from them was the squeaking of their shoes of the linoleum tiles and the shuffling of their clothes.

The noise bothered the women behind the little reception desk, with her hair cut to her shoulders so that she would meet the requirements for the position. On her desk, next to the company computer covered with spreadsheets and schedules, was a little plaque labeled “Dan,” and behind her were the sets of keys for the rooms behind her.

Dan had been growing bored with her new job. She had been there for six months now and found the uniform and the rules to be quite restrictive. The customers were also generally quite rude. Always in a rush. Refusing any attempt at small talk. Like they were all keeping a secret.

Perhaps she could use some of those federally mandated vacation days she had saved up. She probably couldn’t afford to travel anywhere, though. Her best bet was to get into one of the machines and make use of the company discount.

Maybe then, she could live out her dreams.



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