by Taylor Gould
Setting: Middle-age couple’s dining room.
Character: MAN, married, middle-aged, tightly-wound
The MAN’s wife asks why he’s been behaving so maniacally. The tone is taut.
Let me educate you. You’re so curious. Let me educate you. It’s about being a man. I think that’s what it’s boiled down to for me. No, not being a man, being human. Being a human. I think I’ve figured out what it means to be human. Thing is, I’ve been doing it so wrong for such a long time, and things just…move so quickly… But that’s neither here nor there. You want to know why I’m being this way, so manic, so crazy, so loud, so different, it’s because sometimes you lose your way. Eventually, you lose your way. You settle for things, you sacrifice the big dreams of the eventual for the small actualities of the now, you take the money and run before even trying to answer the million dollar question—y’see? You barter with yourself, and you never come through on the other end—“Okay, well, if I don’t do this, I’ll do this later to make up for it”—and the way things go, so quickly, so harried, you forget you had even made the promise to begin with and when the next compromise rolls around, you take the easy way out, you diverge from that path the 14-year-old you had laid out in dreams and nightmares—in To-Be’s and Not-To-Be’s. You take the wrong path, and, god, you’re running—no, you’re sprinting—and it’s all going too fast—so quickly—and you can’t even see you’re on the wrong road. And some people do, and they backtrack, they trace their steps—“where did I go wrong?”—and some people, shit, it’s so late in the game that you don’t have a chance, even. Life has a way of tricking us into living on its own terms, and we lose track of what we want.
(He thinks, briefly) See, it’s like this: The grass is greener on the other side. It really is. It’s just a little work to get there, really, but no one knows. When the wall’s too goddamn high to see over, it doesn’t matter what’s on the other side, green grass or Jesus Christ, it doesn’t matter. When we know the grass is greener—when we fucking know it—but we can’t see for ourselves, when we can’t be sure, no, no it’s not worth the extra effort, not even for a glimpse. We just keep walking alongside it and, one day, we even stop wondering “what if?” But me, I’m back, and I’m too goddamn old to climb that wall, y’see? And now I don’t even have you beside me to give me a hand. Shit, baby, you used to be my booster, before we fell out of touch, before we had no love of the world, for the moon that hangs low and begs us to climb it. It begs for us, and we can’t hear it and we can’t see it, because we’re on that wrong road, and that road is dark, and it’s scary, and…shit, my…my metaphors are all jumbled, and my analogies, where am I going? What am I saying? What am I thinking. (He looks at her) Let me gather my thoughts. (He starts to rub the top of his head, she begins to interject, he holds up his hand) I got it. This is what it all means, very simply, this is what I mean to say: (he pauses) things don’t ever work out the way we’d planned initially, and by the time we realize it, well, for some of us, it’s just too late. We’re trapped in someone else’s destiny. We’re lost on roads we paved ourselves.
copyright © 2010 Taylor Gould. All rights reserved. ___________________________________________
Taylor Gould is a young writer from Corinna, Maine, who currently attends Emerson College in Boston. His influences include Charles Bukowski, ee cummings, and Richard Brautigan; alongside foggy weather, the silence in between songs, and beer. His work has been featured in Diverse Voices Quarterly, Leaf Garden Press, The Montreal Review, and many others. His one-act play, The Lights, is available for purchase at Amazon.com.