Chapter 2

Chapter 2

A Chapter by SydneyPseudonym

Taken from my tumblr losing-the-generation


“Ahem.  Excuse me?  Are you paid to sleep or to help me?” The unpleasant voice startled me and woke me up like a hot pot of water.

 I shook my head disoriented.  ”I’m sorry ma’am,” I mumbled, not even bothering to look up from my book.  ”How may I help you?” It was clear that I was uninterested in helping someone who used such a tone with me.  

  “You could start by looking me in the eye when you’re talking and not mumbling,” the curt voice primly stated.

  I rolled my eyes, sighing. Some of the older women in this shop were so rude.  I flipped my hair up and caught myself staring at a beautiful girl my age.

  “That’s better,” she beamed.

 Her hair was a dark brown, tied up with a little green ribbon matching her dotted green dress.  Her eyes were a deep gray, and her dark pink cats eye glasses seemed to amplify their opaqueness.  She was stunning, though I’m not positive that many of my friends would agree.

  “How may I be of assistance today, miss?” I politely asked, changing my manner  drastically. She giggled and set down about eight books.  I glanced at the titles, Genetics: The Future, A History of Physics, Principia, The Feminine Mystique, Tender is the Night, East of Eden, 10 Little N*****s, and finally, a very battered copy of Eliot’s The Waste Land.  I had read two of these novels, but the others were horribly unfamiliar, and I worried that she would turn her nose up on whatever advice she was about to ask.

  Noticing my first expression of shock she scoffed, “What, haven’t you seen a girl read before?  I’m quite positive you go to school.  Do they just sit around looking pretty?” Her amused expression got me stammering.  I couldn’t form a coherent sentence that could please her definition and she grew very blunt with me.  Grabbing my collar she pulled me close to her face, “If you haven’t noticed, women are going to be a big part of running the world in the future, we’re not just there to stand by you and your ‘manly spheres.’  I don’t see any reason that I am any different than you, and I guarantee you that I could outwit you in just about anything.”

  Now, I realised I didn’t look like the brightest kid, but I worked hard to create a life that could save me from poverty.  It had been a goal since I realised that not every family lived from paycheck to paycheck, often working numerous jobs to keep the family fed in their meager living space.  It angered me when people assumed I was like all of the other kids of my neighborhood, because though I associated myself with them, there was a clear difference between them and I, or so I thought.  I pulled myself out of her grip and pointed to the first book I recognized.

 ”East of Eden,by John Steinbeck, presenting an allegorical version of the bible that brings in the questions of what makes a man good or evil, as well as what aspects of life are the most important through the lives of two families and a snakelike woman who tries to tear it apart.  My favorite character is Tom Hamilton because he sees corruption more than anyone else.  Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald.  A good book, but not my favorite.  Like his other novels, it highlights the loss of the American dream and the idleness that surrounds the 1920s ideals. Shall I go on?”  Instinctively, my tone began to sound vicious towards the end.  No one ever put themselves above me. 

  She took a step back involuntarily taken aback, rethinking her arguments, until finally allowing her smug grin to return.  ”Perhaps I misjudged you.  But you, sir, also misjudged me, and unjustly at that.  My apologies.”

  “Same here,” I brushed her off.  

  “So, what’s your name Mr. bookseller?” she popped.

 ”Gatsby Jones, and I’m just the register man.

She held out her hand, taking mine and shaking it firmly.  When she took her hand away she gave me a funny look.  ”Gatsby, huh?  What a strange name for now.”

  Defensively I shot back “I’ll have you know I am named after one of the most famous characters of the century and am quite proud of it.”

  She put her hands up, urging me to calm down.  ”I was just saying it is such an out of character name for the 50s.  I know who Gatsby is, he’s one of my Top 10 Pitiful Characters,” I rolled my eyes at her comment.  ”I’m Eliot by the way.”

  “Eliot?” I retorted.  ”Isn’t that a boy’s name?”

 She shrugged.  ”I like it.  Unisex names rock. Plus I’m named for this guy,” she said as she pointed to her name on the cover of The Waste Land.

 ”Whatever you say.” I started ringing up the books.

 ”Isn’t it interesting that both of our parents named us after 20s culture? I mean unisex names aren’t so big anymore, and Gatsby? Come on.  I wonder why,” she pondered.

  “It’s a mystery,” I muttered.  I hated to admit it, but I was liking this girl much better than any of the women I was used to.

 ”I don’t really think so.  It’s like the remains of the Green Light Generation. Still f*****g up the American Dream today.” Around her the elderly still in the store looked up at her appalled at her language.  ”Oh, come on, like you’ve never heard the word before,” was all she could exclaim in response.  I smiled.  Whether I liked it or not, I was going to keep this conversation going.  

  I turned my gaze back to her. “Well, maybe it’s because they didn’t want to imagine and couldn’t imagine a time different from theirs. I know my mother and father named me Gatsby because they didn’t want to lose the time of parties and class that dominated their early lives.”

 ”Deep thought there, don’t try too hard,” she laughed.

 ”No, but really.  Is it any different now?  Look at our world, we can only stay sane if we spend our lives in the present.  When you make plans, you never look to see how these could be changed in the future, they just remain as a limbo between present and future.”

  “I like that.  Mind if I quote you on it?” she smiled at me with a look that said ‘not bad.’ My intrigued expression alluded to my interest in her words.  ”I’m planning on writing a book one day.  Thus the reading material.” 

 I nodded.  ”That would make sense.  Well, if you’re planning on being a writer these books just won’t do.  Come with me, you can borrow some of the back shelf’s, those are the ones I set aside for when I have enough money to buy them.  But shh!  No one can know.  Just our little secret.” 

 ”Like the Lost Generation,” she nodded.  ”The true timing of the Lost Generation is ours too.  

generation gone generation gone generation gone generation gone lost

“So, what’s with the genetics and Newton books?” I asked hours later, as Eliot sat with me long after closing hours.  

 ”I’m trying to figure out the true meaning of the laws.”

“How so?”  I looked at her as she lit up upon being asked this question.  She gathered her ideas for a moment animatedly crafting a well developed explanation I was eager to hear.

“Do you know the Third Law?”  Hesitantly I nodded.  ”Equal and opposite reaction?” That rang more of a bell.  ”Well, in a non-physics aspect, how does this affect us?”

I disregarded even thinking about it.  ”I have no clue.” 

“Okay, well…hmmmm…you know Nick right? Great Gatsby?  Of course you do, stupid question. Scratch that.  What happens when he lusts over Jordan Baker?”

 ”She dismisses his affection.”

“Exactly.  What happens when she wants him?  The same thing only in the opposite.  Basically, no matter how much you may try to force something, the reaction will always be equal and opposite.  But using the first law, keeping an object’s motion consistent, little or no force is needed, so the reaction isn’t equal and opposite, it’s mutual.”

“Or if something’s stopped,” I began, “you can have little resistance on keeping it stopped.  Like time.  It can move forever onward or freeze in the moment you want it to.”

 ”Precisely.  Clever boy. Now keep thinking,” her voice was different, softer and more intimate than before.  She moved closer.

 ”Why?” I asked letting put her arms around me.

“Now you’re getting it.”  I can almost swear the next words she said were “Keep moving,” but I could never be certain because my lips blocked the sound from travelling. 

  generation gone generation gone generation gone generation gone lost

“S**t, I’m going to be late,” she exclaimed at some point later on.  She broke away from our entanglement beside the bookcase, and ran to the front desk to collect her things. I walked over there.

“F**k, me too,” I sighed.

“For what?”

“A party.”



Her face lit up, “Me too.”

“Wanna meet up?” 

Her expression became smug and snarky again.  I desperately wanted to kiss her more.  ”What did we learn?  Third Law?” she kissed my cheek.  ”Don’t force it, baby.”

I couldn’t help but smile, even at rejection.  ”I can’t believe we were back there for so long.” 

“Relativity,”she muttered, “but that’s for next time.”  Winking she squeezed my hand.  As she reached the doorway she stopped a moment before saying, “Damn inertia. Resisting stopping.” To me, she said, “Perhaps you were right about the Lost Generation stuff.  See ya round.”  And she walked off into the night.

 I had an hour to meet Buch and company, and as I closed up shop, I thought about the motion that had been a constant for the past few hours.  But, to me, that didn’t seem right.  It was as if it stopped, and was no refusing to start up again.  I exhaled slowly, grabbing my jacket, and finally locking the door to the store behind me, the faint green glow of the exit sign lighting my way back.

© 2013 SydneyPseudonym

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Added on September 4, 2013
Last Updated on September 4, 2013
Tags: book, novel, story, 1950s, gatsby, eliot, lost, generation, drugs, alcohol, teenager, young writer