Saturday, December 10, 2011

Shut Up and Live [Chapter 20]

I've started posting the chapters of Resolution 786. I'll post each successive chapter roughly every 3 or 4 days. Here's Chapter 20:

The door on Becca’s side of the bedroom closet was open, revealing a network of well-organized, box-shaped compartments of neatly arranged shoes, gloves, and clothes. A simple bed with a wood headboard stood on the plush, green carpet in the middle of the room, squared against the back wall. An open black prayer scroll with graceful Arabic script hung from a small hook on the wall, centered above the headboard. The scroll was a present from Fatima. Neither Adam nor Becca knew what it said.

A framed print hung on the wall adjacent to Adam’s side of the bed. It showed the image of four melted books scattered about in the forefront, suffering before a plant-less, chocolate-brown desert landscape of stretching arid plains that ended at the foot of a still, reflective sea and a faraway jut of sun swept, rusted mountains. An empty yellow horizon watched over the abandoned scene, arching up into a starless, gray-blue sky. One of the books hung limply on its back, slung over the thin, black horizontal branch of a dead and decaying tree, a hangman’s noose dangling from the outer tip of the lifeless limb. Another of the books had snapped into half in a painful right angle over the sharp edge of an unusually long student desk. The third book draped like a burial shroud over a sexualized image of Mother Mary lying on her side on the barren, brown ground. A fourth book lay open on the top surface of the long desk, one side strewn in a scribbled amalgam of Arabic, Hebrew and hieroglyph script, the other side set ablaze.

“Who’s to say that nothing travels faster than the speed of light?” Adam said. He wasn’t looking at anything in particular, almost talking to himself, hands on his hips, standing barefoot in their bedroom in his T-shirt and pajama pants. “Maybe there’s an entirely different form of existence beyond that boundary.”

Becca felt too tired to reply. She sat cross-legged on her side of their bed, wearing green boxer shorts and a loose, gray T-shirt. She slowly rubbed moisturizing lotion into her palms and around her forearms and elbows. She was exhausted and generally annoyed. She had a headache and her eyes were stinging, feeling burdened to stay open.

It was late. The dark green blinds had been pulled up high earlier to allow in the bright afternoon sun. Now, the blinds stood open on two pitch-black windows. A wispy sheen of silver crept through the top corner of one of the panes. Outside, propped high in the shadows of heaven, the moon hung weightless, an angry crescent in the black sky.

“Wouldn’t it be nice if everyone got a chance to study every religion and then applied their very own personally selected cross-section of lessons and parables to their own lives?” Adam continued to postulate.

Becca didn’t have the strength or patience to conjure an answer. Still, she tried her best to entertain Adam’s persistent need for philosophical conversation. “Why would that be nice?” she allowed.

“Spirituality is a deeply personal journey,” he said, oblivious to her condition, raising one hand to the air, as if lecturing students in a large hall. “Your journey to understand and come to terms with God is your journey to understand and come to terms with yourself. A multidimensional approach personalizes the application of that journey. There are so many powerful theological frameworks from which to choose — Hinduism, Christianity, ancient Egyptian gods, Buddhism, Paganism, Judaism, the teachings of Masonry, Islam, Babylonian gods and everything else going back to the Epic of Gilgamesh.” Adam smiled in abstracted wonderment, relishing the thought of living in a world teeming with so many different ideas to learn, to explore. He walked to his side of the bed, stepping over a pile of scattered books, and sat, facing away from Becca. His mouth continued to move under vacuous, absent eyes. “If we could regard all those systems of belief with equal reverence, the world could enjoy a global Age of Aquarius.”

“Why don’t you just shut the fuck up and live?” Becca’s words cut.

Adam’s countenance grew dark, stiff. He peered silently at the pewter reading lamp that he kept on the small, round nightstand adjacent to his side of the bed. They were preparing for sleep, the wrong time to stoke a debate, he thought, the wrong time for an argument. He considered her question a moment. “Am I boring you?” he asked, insulted, hurt.

“Sometimes,” she said, truthful, short.

He became more upset, feeling rejected. He suddenly heard himself blurt, “Then go find someone else to talk with.”

“I will,” she defended, standing up off the bed in halting, angry stomps as her tube of moisturizing lotion fell to the floor.

He stood and turned to her with a look of abject confusion on his face.

Becca snapped her hands to her hips and spoke sharply. “No one’s going to put up with your weird shit all day long, Adam Hueghlomm!” Her anger began to feed on itself, growing as she glared at him, moving her weight from one leg to the other over and over. Her gray eyes grew in their sockets, squeezed inside her clenched face. She bellowed, “Seven years of wacky shit!”

“I’m sleeping downstairs,” he said, abrupt, angry, leaping towards the door.

“Get out!” She met and raised the stakes, stomping towards him. “Leave! Just leave when I’m trying to say that I need something. It’s always been about you and the wacky, twisted shit that’s always going on in your head.” She formed both her hands into white-knuckled fists and shook them in front of herself in small, jerking motions, beginning to cry.

“What’s got into you?” Adam was genuinely confused.

“I’ll tell you what!” She stormed at him and thrust a finger in his face, tears now smeared across her cheeks, her expression contorted in a steaming cauldron of frustration, exhaustion and anger. “Normal couples are planning shit by now. Not you! You just want to go on playing your jackass graduate school word games, coming and going whenever you please, acting like a total card-carrying asshole!”

He looked at her, dazed, lost, helpless.

She looked in his eyes. She saw no malice. He was a puppy who couldn’t understand what he’d done wrong. Her anger slowly dissipated into more tears and she realized that she couldn’t forgive him because there was nothing to forgive. She quietly conceded, “You don’t get it.”

He continued to watch her, ever helpless.

She peered at him through hurt, frustrated eyes, feeling sorry for herself. “You’re an emotional cripple,” she said. Her voice had open wounds, like an injured child’s voice, coming to a parent for help. She began to cry again, her words cracking into shards and splinters. “I’m sorry, Adi. I’m so sorry. I’ve asked a lame man to go on a long walk with me…and now I’m getting upset because he’s walking so slowly.” She folded her arms across her breast, head bowed, and sobbed, alone.

Adam Hueghlomm watched her, her soft chestnut hair hanging in limp tousles, hiding the sides of her tear streaked face. He wrestled furiously in his head to determine if this problem could be reduced to a four by six matrix or a five by seven.


  1. I felt like I was in the room watching this war go on between them. I love your last line most of all--it says so much about Adam.

  2. Thank you, Lydia. I didn't know whether that line worked or not. I now have some sense that it does.

  3. Wow! I really liked your description, the thoughts going on in the character's mind, the final resolution/ realization. It is fully loaded as they say, and very gripping.
    Merry Christmas Mohamed!

  4. Thanks, Rama.

    Hey, I really liked the photos on your recent blog post, the sunsets and clouds. Lovely!

    Happy Holidays to you as well, my friend :)