One year. 100 articles. So we're having a Reader's Party. Come along to Upsidecrown.
11 September 2000
Please write on one side of the paper only. Questions are either multiple choice or require written response. Answer written questions on the separate sheets provided.
Please do not begin to write before being instructed to do so.
Please do not continue to write once instructed to cease.
Please do not give too much thought to your answers.
Here's a story. Every time I came to visit, it hurt more to contemplate never visiting again. The last time we spoke was obvious, more obvious than you could have expected. You'd need further maths now, just to calculate the distance. Not to mention the circle of chalk and the circle of blood.
Antimony, anomie, a pinch of Leander's bane - it doesn't take much, in expertise or ingredients, to build the wall that cannot be seen or felt, but remains a wall. It's all a question of flavour. Kiss her in the casket. Say goodbye. Know she will rise alone. Walk away from the crossroads. It's all that can be done.
The joke, of course, is that you react to impending morbidity by getting nervous, picking your words with care. Always shoring up the walls, laying the groundwork for the next conversation. Get lazy, get lonely. And it never works.
What's the hardest word to say meant to be? Goodbye? Sorry? Never any trouble saying either. It's conviction that grinds the gears, causes the teeth to catch. Nobody ever gets the hang of saying either one like they mean it - their speech lacks the expressive focus of the arche-language. Except her.
How many times have you said sorry throughout your life? And how often has it made a shred of difference, to you or the subject of your apology? By the time you get to "sorry", you've already done it, and concluded that you can get away with the lightest consequences by a suitable show of contrition. Very classy.
And then you did it again.
In the USA right now, Philip Morris are advertising their commitment to cutting youth smoking. They're telling viewers how much money they have agreed to cough up in compensation. They're saying sorry, sort of.
Absurd question. Argon is a damn fine gas, and never hurt nobody. When you slobs were calling it inert, I knew it was noble.
Try it. Be noble. Be someone else. Never say you're sorry. Live your "sorry". Acknowledged error is nothing but a plea for cheap redemption. And what can you plea-bargain with? The strenuous assertion that you feel bad?
Please. Don't imagine me blind to the dangers of living in the past, or for the past. Why, after all, should a bright young thing like you find yourself beholden to the idea of the dream of reflecting well in the black of eyes that will never open again?
Well, you shouldn't. Except...we fall to rise. It doesn't matter that your cause is gone, but that the next cause finds a better champion. Learn. Nothing that happens once is a sin, and nothing at all is an unmixed blessing. Don't cry to seem interesting, or to make people hold you. Cry because you can never be then what you are now. Or never answer the final question.
Please stop writing. Do not check your answers. Discard the separate sheets.