I've started posting the chapters of Resolution 786. I'll post each successive chapter roughly every 3 or 4 days. Here's Chapter 14:
“I’ve read Kafka. I really don’t think he’s all that Kafkaesque. What do you think?”
“I think you’re funny,” replied Becca.
They were lying side by side and face up on their bed. Adam wore loose blue jeans and a flannel shirt with a black and white checkerboard pattern. The sides of his face and chin carried soft shadows of Saturday stubble. His eyes, so often absent, rested in faraway contemplations.
Becca had on her favorite gray sweats, the ones that matched her eyes almost perfectly. She was slightly shorter than Adam, with a thin, muscular runner’s build. Her thick, brown hair reached a palm’s length below her shoulders and was naturally wavy, which is how she kept it most times. She almost never wore makeup. Her face was smooth, cheeks lightly freckled around a small nose. Although teenage boys and middle-aged men glanced at her often when she went places, she behaved in ways unaware of her physical attractiveness. She had carefree and large expressions, becoming happy or angry or sad in enormous degrees, choosing to taste life in big, lusty gulps. Her words formed and moved like her moods and passions — sweeping, obvious and blunt.
Adam looked at her and remembered how he loved the way her gray eyes reflected green when they went hiking in the woods every summer. “So how many layers of meaning can be in one piece of writing?” he asked.
“As many as the reader puts there,” she said.
“No, really. Like when that guy, Samsa, turned into an insect. Wasn’t that powerful?”
“Yeah, that’s realistic — an insect,” she said, her voice drenched in sarcasm.
“I don’t think The Metamorphosis really happened. Samsa didn’t turn into an insect.” Adam’s words and thoughts were as nimble as ever. “If he had become an insect, he would have stopped considering his own consciousness. No, Samsa became a human being who was trapped inside an insect, which is fundamentally different than becoming an insect. And as far as being realistic, if a work of artistic expression doesn’t have a traditional structure, that doesn’t mean that, taken as a whole, it doesn’t still have some valuable or otherwise instructive form or substance.”
Becca had always given Adam a kind ear. She knew he had many relationships and that each one served some functional purpose in his life, but he had no real friends. His emotions seemed in a permanent retreat, bunkered somewhere deep, hiding in wounded fear. She knew that if she stopped listening, he would have no one. And she had made a promise to herself after years of courtship, a promise that she would never abandon him. So she listened, responded.
“Kafka’s Samsa…what kind of egomaniac puts himself in his own writing?” she teased.
Adam remained quiet, waiting, knowing well the acuity with which she chided, the painful truth of her bladed sarcasm.
Becca grinned, realizing that Adam was sizing her impending onslaught. She quietly issued a provocative challenge. “Who even reads that shit?”
“No. That’s not the question,” Adam said. “The question is, ‘What does that mean?’”
“No, the question is, ‘Who writes that shit?’”
“Great writers,” said Adam.
His seriousness made Becca rock with laugher, her head tilting back like it always did, her knees pulled slightly off the mattress, mouth thrown wide open, bellowing loud and riotous. Cackling, she stammered, “I can’t believe you ever got laid.”
“You lay me,” he said, composed, staring forward at the ceiling fan’s still, wooden blades.
She turned to him, done laughing. “Yeah, those are sympathy lays.” She scrunched her small nose and tapped his lightly with her index finger, her way of telling him that she’d just outwitted him.
“Well, are you feeling sympathetic?” Adam raised and lowered his eyebrows like Groucho Marx.
“Hardly.” The jest in Becca’s voice was at a rolling boil.
Adam continued his grotesquely poor Groucho Marx impersonation. “You know, Karl was the fourth Marx brother. Yeah, Groucho, Harpo, Chico and Karl. Karl wanted to join the comedy team, but the other guys always told him, ‘You know, Karl, you’re just not funny.’ So he went and invented Communism. See what happens when you’re not nice to someone?”
Becca closed her eyes and nodded her head gently from side to side, speaking to Adam in a lover’s knowing and muted gestures, telling him how inept she considered his attempt at humor. “You know, Adi, if you keep trying, maybe one day you’ll have a near-life experience.”
They rested, hushed and peaceful for many soft moments, smiling.
Adam nestled in place on their pillow, palm under his head. “Becca, do you like me?”
“Errrrrrrrrr,” she growled in feigned exasperation. “I like you, I like you, for the bazillioneth time, I like you.”
“Do you think I’m funny?”
“You’re funny,” she said.
Noiseless moments passed. Becca sniffled, gently brushing the back of her hand under her nose.
“Promise me in the end you’ll only remember the good stuff,” she said suddenly.
“Life’s a magic show,” said Adam. “And you’ll always be a virgin.” He dropped his head to the side, putting them face-to-face, noses touching.
She giggled. “You look like Cyclops.”
“Thank you,” he whispered.