NaNo07 – Prologue

by D.M. Jewelle

Words, words, words.

Am, will be, has been, was.

There used to be a limelight here. I love the light so. I love it when the eyes fall on me, spoken words fall to a whisper and fade off, stepping aside for me. I stand before them head raised, chest out and up. Dust lingers, what used to be unseen is thrust forward before the large sweltering spotlights. It’s a lot like me. I am dust; annoying as I may be, I am here, and you cannot deny. Don’t look away, don’t turn away, most of all, don’t walk away. Don’t get up from your seat, the show is just getting started. Don’t blink, or you’ll miss something important to the plot, and no amount of rewinding or page-turning will help. Don’t say you don’t care, or walk away; you know you do, deep in your heart. Why would you drive fifty kilometers and brave a traffic jam and lack of parking space? WHy would you walk into the grand hall, your cardigan driipping wet, pooling under your feet, like your own personal raincloud?

You want me, you want to see me. You love me, adore me. You love the words I speak, though I’m not the author. You love it when I sweep across the stage in a flourish of my sequinned sash and a twist of the feet; steps choreographed by someone not me (unheard of! How can this be! Can I possibly be imperfect?). I stir your heart and soul, and conjure great images and longings in you.

Never look away, even as I trip or stumble or stutter or forget my lines entirely.

Words, words, words.

A long time ago there was a program I found on the internet. It said I could help humanity by donating rice with every word I got right. So I would sit there for hours, clicking the right choice. Ebullious, rapacious, parsimonious – words that have meaning so deep I have forgotten them. Etymologists will say it’s not hard – find the root of the word and the meaning is clear. but when the root is hidden by the earth and its leaves and rot and twisting branches, it’s not immediately evident. I want to use them, say it out loud, but as my throat burns, the flames lick at the words, eroding the edges of its serifs. A sliver of a flame cuts through the letter “E”, and a tattered “F” limps forth. I have no use for it, and I grab it by the scuff and throw it back into the fire. It protests weakly, mumbling, but inaudible and ultimately insignificant. Ebullious just isn’t the same when it’s Fbullious.

Words, words, words.

What has been done is done, and all that should have been…perhaps was not as I had expected. The curtain has fallen, and they’re carting the stage away. What happens after the last floorboard is ripped up and I have no place left to stand?

Were life a Looney Tunes cartoon, the ground would be pulled from under my feet like a rug, and I could stand for a few more seconds before I fall and get flattened by the vast expanse of desert below me, all while a blue stick bird beeps and honks before resuming its harried rush to what seems like nowhere in sight.

This is the real world, though, and there is no three-second delay. I will fall down, and there will be no cartoony splat, nor will I resemble a pancake. I will fall, and there is nothing to greet me; no stick birds, no laugh track, and most certainly not a bicycle pump.

Words, words, words.

I fall, and now I am gone.

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