Simon (mysticjuicer) wrote in the_muses_lair,

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Fragments of a Larger World

Features mild swearing and the main characters from a planned larger work. Think of it as a chapter somewhere near the beginning of a book, right?

"What's the matter? You've barely opened your mouth since we started driving." Blue eyes flashed in the rear view mirror. Anthony couldn't shrug for the weight and press of his thoughts. It felt like they'd been driving forever and hadn't made an inch of progress. Still, they'd arrive too soon. Richard flicked off the radio with a stab of his middle finger.
"Talk," he commanded. It was a tone that brooked no argument, and it got none. The sound of fabric on leather played momentary accompaniment to the infinite whine of tires on asphalt as Anthony shifted his weight on the back seat. Head propped on a folded winter jacket, he frowned up at the roof.
"I've been trying to figure out what I'm going to do with eternity." Anthony waited for an interruption that refused to come. "It's nothing like I imagined it would feel. I thought I’d finally have time to do something. Like I’d finally get something done, something worthwhile."
"Why wouldn't you do that anyway? Why let mortality stop you from leading whatever kind of life you want?" Richard asked.
"You'd be dead before you accomplished anything, before you helped in any real way. Mortality excuses you from your responsibility to try, since you can never really change anything even if you do. It's borrowed time," Anthony said. Borrowed time; it summarized an adulthood of apathy and hopeless longing. He shivered in the growing heat of the car.
"A single monkey hammering endlessly on a typewriter," Richard mused.
"But how does he know whether he should aim for Shakespeare or Tolstoy?" The excitement crested, left him as he fell back into the leather nest of his pillow. "How does he know what to choose?"
Richard didn't immediately reply. The road crawled away beneath them, unhurried. "Maybe it doesn't matter," Richard finally answered.
"So why does it feel like it should?"
"What do you expect, you're still human. You, me, everybody's got the same basic programming. We want talk, comfort, and meaning." He paused. "And a good lay every once in a while."
Anthony smiled in spite of himself. "Are you sure you're not oversimplifying, just a bit?"
"Fuck you, so come up with a better list."
"What about love?"
"You'll have to define it first," Richard snorted.
"Emotional attachment, independent of, but not excluding, physical desire."
"Been rehearsing that long have we?" Richard mocked. "Okay. How do you define like? As in, to like."
Anthony shrugged. "Emotional- oh." He frowned again.
"Ah, aha! You were about to say the exact same thing, weren't you?" Richard punctuated the question with a fist to the steering wheel. "What good's saying you need something you can't even define? Here's my theory. No such shit as love, not in any sense that means anything."
Richard lit a cigarette as he spoke. Anthony rolled down his window, letting the night swallow and choke on the stench of tar in his stead.
"It's just familiarity at work. Familiarity breeds, and we've convinced ourselves its kids are cute. There's nothing that says you can't live without love. When it's all said and done, unless you're feeling it, it isn't real anyway."
Anthony grimaced, hating the casual cynicism with which Richard had surrounded himself, again. Resenting it now more than ever. "So what about you, what do you live for?"
For a time the greedy suck of the highway air was the only sound in the world. Anthony began to fidget self-consciously, wishing he could take back the question.
"Less than you think."
It would have been a victory of sorts, but it sounded too much like the truth. Anthony rolled over, his back to Richard. The miles sped silently around them.

lying awake don't ask why
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