An Account of a Hostile and Envious Being

An Account of a Hostile and Envious Being

A Story by Abigail Livingston

It was not easy, but that day I had made myself go out, across the busy part of town and down a oft-empty road to some very green pastures I had been to once before. I did not really want to, I told myself that I needn’t go through all the trouble of going out if I did not even desire it, but I tussled with myself about this, because I thought that maybe I did not want to travel there but I wanted to be there, but that can only follow the act of traveling there: and so I imposed some will from somewhere and readied myself to leave my room.

It was spring and the strength of the sun was still tenuous: the warmth was not yet tender. I lifted my shoulders high to keep my own heat as contained as possible, but then I remembered that doing so made me look like I was uncomfortable and unsure of myself, and even if these things were true I wanted them not to appear so.

I met some eyes as I pressed toward the pastures, shoulders lowered,  hands in my pockets, but I wondered why I met any eyes, at all, when there was nothing conveyed between us, no emotion strong or weak. Wasted energy, I thought to myself, and after that I did not look at any more eyes in any more faces.

When I had passed through the busiest parts of town and set myself upon quieter roads I felt that I had overcome some hardship, and maybe I had, because it is my personal belief that most people are most unhappy when they are among a great number of others, especially when the others are to them nameless and quite nearly featureless. But I do not know if others feel this way, so I cannot be sure that such a thing as walking through a twitching town as anything of the sort for them.

Still I was glad that I no longer had to consider looking at others, at all, to commence the wrestle for power upon meeting another set gaze. To look away quickly and first was to invite a petite notion of self-loathing: to hold a gaze, and to hold out, until the other’s eyes were averted, was to be indisputably victorious, but exhausted.

No need for such ephemeral human warfare here, for I was the only human: the trees, the gravel road, and the muss of fallen branches and leaves were all gloriously inanimate as I walked, as I made movement, down toward the pastures which I had once visited, and enjoyed.

Encased in my solitude and free from any infringement of others I was able to consider other human beings benignly in my mind: and I thought about how just yesterday, as I had walked a busy street to secure a meal, two young men and a young woman approached me on the sidewalk, and I looked at each of their eyes for the briefest of moments-- thew up white flags, although I made out to be indifferent-- and after I had looked down and away from the third I wished I had such defenses, two familiar people flanking me on either side to put words in my ears and draw laughs from my mouth and to distract me from any body else.

But just as I had considered them to be something of a set in my mind, the three of them, I heard the woman say, “Well, it was nice to meet you!”, and one of the men said, “You as well!, I hope to see you both again sometime soon,” and the other man said, “Yes, yes, take care!”, and then their unity dissolved, and the three went off in more or less separate directions entirely, and I was left in wonderment to consider that I had been the creator entirely of something false.

I rose out of my immersion in the past then and was very glad that the three, or any number of people, even just one, were not in front of me now, on the gravel road: and then I could see the green pastures, through some trees, although they were perhaps not as green as I had remembered-- it was still early spring-- I felt very much, and singularly, pleased.

The gravel road stretched on ahead of me, further, the fruits of someone’s labor. But to arrive at the pasture I was to pass through a trailed offshoot, through some brittle and unrenewed trees. I looked up once more at the road ahead, to acknowledge my departure from it,  and as I did so I felt no pull to traverse there, to place my feet on ground only my eyes had understood, for I was very sure that the pastures were where I desired to be.

Ten, twelve steps on the path through the trees and then I was there, on and among the pasture fields, again. The green colors were muted and the grass was short and nascent, but the sun was shining on me and the fields, and I had desired to be here, and now I was.

On my two feet I mulled about the edge of the pastures, my eyes working at the scene: they viewed pasture, sky, trees again and again but did not tire of them: and the unformed spring air presented itself in medium-willed gusts, that is to say with a force not underwhelming nor over-, and it was all very satiating.

Ahead of me then there was a crooked tree that had found itself in the middle of the pasture: though it was contorted it was hardy, its trunk thick and its branches strong. Underneath and a few feet away was a wooden bench, and though it did not look new I did not remember it. I did not recall the tree, either, though, and certainly that was not just deposited, so perhaps my memory wronged me.

I directed my attention and my feet to that strong tree and its companionate bench, though I did not increase my pace. How accessible and gratifying a scene!, I thought, as I came closer. Made for me, well no, but someone like me, with a human body like mine and eyes like mine that desired to look upon the pastures, expansive and muted.

I drew closer and closer and almost!-- and then I was there, my fingers on the back of the bench, not unlike they would rest on the back of a human, and I rounded its wooden arm and sat myself down on its solid lap and set my eyes upon the scene in front of me.

The wind was as it was before, but since I was now still I noticed its mussing effects on my hair, and my clothing, and I sat with my hands in my lap, my back up against the fulfilled bench, looking and being and looking.

As I was doing this I saw some thing on the edge of the pastures, near the trees. Though it appeared be a human figure a ways away, upon this perception my heart doubled its beats, my breath was hushed, and my hands flattened themselves on my thighs. There had not been anybody else when I had traveled to the pastures last, and surely that was a part of its splendor. But then nothing was the same this time around as it had been, not the air nor the wind nor the pastures themselves, their color or their state of growth.

The figure advanced slowly but it was to me a worry: I could not think rationally, or of anything else. I began to distrust this place and the feelings it had once given me-- for where were they now! In this brisk wind and dulled scene there was no gloriousness for me to imbibe! And closer still the unwanted figure came.

And me, on my bench: wasn’t I doing what was only right, what I was supposed to do, for as I said this bench had surely been constructed for someone like me to sit on it, and to enjoy the scene it was constructed upon: but there was no enjoyment here within me and so perhaps that is why I felt misplaced, and false, and altogether like I should depart, or flee.

And the advancement of the figure-- how certainly some, embodying more personable and caring proclivities, would look ahead and rejoice at such an approach: some one to look at, who will look back, to speak with, who will also return words to me! They would think. But being neither personable nor caring for this sort of encounter I instead shirk from it, in body and mind: what good could it bring me, as I sat still and discomfited?

And how I despised this, all of it, everything! The figure, the pastures, the feelings I had toward both: why did it all have to be this way! And surely I made it this way but if I am a creator I am blinded, unable to manipulate or understand the methods I use to create.

The figure was closer yet but utterly anonymous to me, and me to them: but I stood up from the bench that had given me no great pleasures and I turned and began to walk, no, accelerate, away from it all, from that which I had trusted and now felt embittered toward.

Since the pastures did not belong solely now to me to be alone felt like a statement of weakness. I did not enjoy my brisk trapse over the dull grass, through the trees, and back onto the gravel road: and though I did not wish to be with any others in particular I did not revel in my singularity as I once so recently had: instead I looked at the trees in their clumpings and thought them to be grouped together, and me alone in opposition to them.

When I came to the end of the gravel road and saw the structures and stirrings of the town in front of me I felt slight pains in my chest. I felt as though I was being made to do something I very much did not want to do, and I think that is right, but I did not think too much about why. And I walked through the town as though it was something to be ignored and as I did so I thought I could feel the malice of it, of the people I was dismissing with my set-ahead gaze, my rapid pace. The whole place was very much alive and I-- if I did not acknowledge it-- was excluded from such a form of living and thus was only half-alive, if that.

It was in such a state that I approached the door to my apartment, downtrodden and hardened and mistrustful, of anything or anyone. Respite came only when I was again in my warm and stable room, leaning with all my weight against the door as though to shut out any thing that wanted to enter.

© 2019 Abigail Livingston

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....Abby, I haven't the slightest idea what wicked and mischievous force had kept you from taking so long in showing your writing. THIS - IS -FREAKING - DIVINE!! You have some minor errors in grammar, spelling, and maybe one or two instances where your mind was too fast for your fingers that you left out words from the sentence(s) (but being this so long, it's easy to miss those), so going over and fixing those, and replacing some commas with dashes or colons, maybe throwing in a semi-colon in a couple of places might help the aesthetic and flow for that matter. There's a part where you say "as I said", which kind of mars the flow of the piece and undermines its brilliant power a bit, for the character (unlike an earlier piece of yours) is far more eloquent in their storytelling to say things like "as I said". You already say "surely", so an "indeed" or something else of the like might do better (to be fair, it kind of works, so it's your call, but I find this character far more eloquent in language for such amateur talk). My ONLY major critique, however, is that I find the hostility of the character coming during the approach of the mysterious figure to be a bit forced, for he didn't exactly appear to be that hostile until then - example being the mention of meeting the trio of people, which is more the envious factor, but still, the hostile, like the envious needs to be built up from the beginning, and you didn't particularly set up the hostile factor in an expectant way except in the title, so that moment at the end - brilliant as it is - felt forced.

But Abby! Holy freaking kwap! GET - THIS - PUBLISHED - NOW!! (fix up the minor errors first of course, but I'm freaking serious!) This is Robert Frost meets Dostoevsky and it's gripping beyond words! You have talent, girl! And this talent shouldn't be kept in the shadows of an online writer's group. YOU - ARE - A - WRITER, so freaking flaunt this! I loved the flow of this, and everything about it just grasped at my soul! This just proves that if you just feel your way through writer's craft you would strike gold every single time. Thinking conjures s**t, and nothing you've written is s**t....there's the minor technical error, but, ABBY! Most writers would kill to write like this. I mean I have my own poetic style, but my prosaic flow is possibly two or three notches down from this beautiful artistry (my forte is poetry anyway).

You are a poet in your prose and that takes skill, Abby. Keep writing. Honestly. I think it's safe to say that I'm your biggest fan, and when you make it (because you will if you will it...and I could help you if you need the extra push) - when you make it, I would be there to proudly say "I was there when she first spread her wings".

Well done, my friend. Looking forward to more.

Posted 3 Years Ago

Abigail Livingston

3 Years Ago

Thanks so much, Emi! I greatly value your thoughts!

3 Years Ago

The pleasure is all mine - especially when a piece is this good ;)

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1 Review
Added on May 30, 2019
Last Updated on May 31, 2019
Tags: social anxiety, body, mental health, literature, Kafka, Dostoevsky, hostility, antisocial, struggle, people, alone, pastures, walk


Abigail Livingston
Abigail Livingston


Because if you can’t pretend to love yourself, you can’t convince yourself that you’re in love with what you’re projecting onto someone else. - Unknown more..