To A Point

To A Point

A Story by Beau Maysey
"

Story I wrote for my creative writing class. Enjoy, and I'd appreciate help cleaning it up.

"

Lucan still recalled the exact day his father taught him to people-watch. Thirteen years ago at some ritzy ristorante a few miles downtown, it was the last time he saw his parents fully happy together. Back then, Lucan was a precocious five-year-old with the energy of a supernova, and a brain of cogs running too fast for his own good. Whenever a sitter upped and quit, his parents’ peaceful evening sat at the mercy of a small boy’s crying and babbling. To this end, they'd invent distractions and games to focus him elsewhere- Singing “Jesus loves me”, or sticking a Nat Geo Kids magazine on his tablemat; the quiet game, if he was too much of a nuisance. On the days he was unbearably emotional, they'd give him little beady pills to swallow, and when he ate them, there'd be dessert. But Lucan was developing an immunity of such to these activities, and he hated the feel of pills in his throat. So Lucan’s father tried something more creative.


“Lucan, see those children over there? Why not watch them for a bit, see how they behave.”


Lucan peered over at the far table, where two well-dressed and obedient kids were smiling and laughing in low tones to each other. “Ok. But why?”


At first, Lucan’s father approached from a religious angle- “We watch upon others as The Lord watches us”, and other ecclesiastical quips that Lucan grew bored of quickly . But the father was sharp- he noticed by then that he was losing Lucan to the tug of astrology, and spun the activity as a form of star-gazing analogy.


"Think of people-watching the same way, Lucan, as you do when watching the stars on sleepless nights. It's dark, and you're focusing on the light of beautiful nebulas, that is, clusters of stars. What makes each one in the sky unique? What makes you notice them?"


Lucan never confessed it to his father, but he was just as interested in the space between stars as the points themselves; still, he took the games and pills to heart, restrained himself to see his parents remain happy. Lucan’s father, a former small-time minister at a Universal 'free-voice' church, was faithful to the power of people in a way that neither Lucan nor his mother could fully support. But while Lucan’s mother dealt in the traditional, God-fearing sect, he tuned out monotheism completely. When he noticed that his mother looked past her husband with the cool indifference of someone freed from a pretend love, Lucan felt torn asunder by other forces. Around that time, in one of his science fiction books, he found out that stars in the Universe are, on average, 30 trillion miles away from each other. When the cogs in Lucan’s mind didn’t slow down and his parents started living like uncomfortable housemates, that distance felt to him less like a metaphor, and more like an estimation. But telling people that garners sympathy, which arguably makes the situation worse.


Sympathy is like being given a stale piece of chocolate- It's generous, and something to eat, but now you've gone and made it worse, because it's left a funny taste in the mouth, and it doesn't improve the original situation at all. What Lucan wants is attention… we all do, but look, he has acquaintances enough, good memories... No problems. Right now he’s sitting alone in his college campus’ coffee shop, Ruggers, but his good female friend Stellen is coming in 15 minutes to join him. Lucan wants to talk to her about life, he wants to unload. He’s been having stomach cramps again, headaches, bouts of depression. For now, he’s alone- But that’s ok- It allows for optimal people watching.


He starts with the full size strip of mirror opposite of him, above the counter for dispensing cream and milk and holding utensils. A preliminary self-evaluation, needed since he’s starting to succumb to the concoction of pills he swallowed ten minutes ago. 19, Sophomore, self-entitled “bullshit astrology major” (a term he always follows with, “oh, math and science, how you slay me”), lover of observational science and writing, and spasmodic Buddhist. He has disheveled brown hair, zits and skin creases from the constant stress, glasses leaning slightly eschew, grey, oversized tee shirt he hopes hides his advancing stomach, and twitchy fingers knitted together beside his half-empty mocha, which he reaches for to burn away the lingering bitterness of chemicals. Recreationally taken for clinical anxiety, they’re supposed leave Lucan’s thoughts intact (they don’t) while mucking around with the brain’s perception. so he feels as though he’s sinking into a black hole, an experience he’s quite fascinated with. Since he was little, Lucan has learned everything about these dark, fantasy-like creatures of space- Classifications, accretion disk rates, event horizon sizes, and every theory so far about what it's like to be there, inside one, defying nature’s laws itself. Beautifully dangerous. For him. Others insist that his exact fascination borders on 'obsession', that Lucan is being drawn away from the merits of reality. But one may argue that such interests are merely that, and that whatever comes about from this is the fault of the person, not the black hole. So says Lucan.


A glance at his clock tells Lucan that roughly ten minutes remain until Stellen arrives, since she nearly always shows up late. As the evening patrons file in, Lucan scopes out the galaxy. His eyes shift right to glance at a binary star system. A teen couple is sharing an iced drink and discerning the meaning behind a Shakespeare passage with never-ending smiles, arguing playfully. The girlfriend with the shock-blue streaks in her hair is probably a theatre major, with her ornate hand movements and dramatic speech style, while the boyfriend is more interested in art. Lucan can see it in his curious eyes, and in the way his stubby fingers trace circles in the condensation of the cup. They’re both going to be disappointed very soon- The fates haven't aligned for the school collegium financially and they're cutting down on funds to the arts, all the arts... those higher-up asses. Lucan remembers the flash of anger when he found out that the poetry class he was so excited for was being taken off the roster for the upcoming semester. “That’s it,”, he had said to Stellen, “The school board’s going in my first sci-fi story as a galactic organization of space baboons”. As Stellen laughed wildly, Lucan fingered two capsules he stashed in his pocket.


About 50 degrees to the right (now Lucan is straining in in his seat) is a cluster of asteroids. Muscle-bound football players, covered in fresh sweat and dirt, they look like they've just finished a quick game at the nearby field. They're all jostling each other, yelling coarsely, flicking napkins or food bits at each other, and employees are giving them death-glares from time to time. Everything in space competes for attention, it seems, and these guys are winning right now, causing a ruckus. Lucan wonders briefly how it would feel to let go and expand the ego past one’s own head, like these dickheads. Now he’s got a chain of thought going- He could gain a consistent set of friends, cut down on the anxiety, win the heart of a lady...


“Or,” he sighs, “I could end up destroying myself”.


The team is readying itself to leave,, to the baristas' delight, so Lucan scrapes his chair sideways to stare behind him at more of the cosmos, amusingly noting a red tint at the edge of his vision.


The lone yellow-white star behind him is an older student, probably a Senior, in mismatching plaid and stripes that he probably pulled on half-hazardly. He's got two cups of coffee and rubs his face periodically, and Lucan assumes with a little scoff that this poor man has spent himself on late-night studying, burned his fuel out. The student is trying to jumpstart himself with music, judging by the faint distinction of electronica seemingly originating from his Beats headphones. He’s only trying to keep himself from collapsing; very understandable. Lucan recalls the previous year, when he first became aware of dubstep at a large, thus uncomfortable, party. Like jumper cables to a battery-dead car or CPS, the vibrations attempted to shock his heart into some sort of trance, to force liveliness into the veins as if they were empty caskets. Lucan somehow believed this would satisfy the pit opening within him, but came away frustrated. In the end, electronica and dubstep and trance only numbed his ears. That was before Lucan started dosing heavily on pills.


The red spot on the edge of Lucan’s vision now fully encompasses the fringes of his sight, threatening to dwarf his focus. The calmness had been there since he left the dorm, but now the consequences, the real joy, is finally settling in. Sunbeams speckling gold, distortions played on tabletop objects, and these lead Lucan to his next observation. At the left end of the shop, near the bathrooms, he vaguely recognizes someone, a bright girl from calculus whom he rarely encountered outside of the classroom. Biting a hangnail, Lucan wants to go over and talk casually, but is too invested in his medication trip to risk it. The thin-waisted woman is chewing   brownie bits and has her nose firmly fixed in a gaming magazine. Lucan thinks- It’s possible, then, that she subscribes to his favorite online multimedia science-fiction journal, Pulsar. He has read the collection of stories for years, and his basement has a secret stash of almost every issue available, snugly slipped into clear plastic binders. After all, when Lucan was a kid, it was the catalogue that kept him calm, being a mix of the neat, orderly scientific method he associated with his mother, and the creative energy he saw in his father. Pulsar allowed Lucan to feel like his family continued to function as parts in a solar system, instead of independent planetoids. Lucan’s dream when entering the university was to be able to write a piece for this indie-prestigious catalogue, and he had been working late at night at Ruggers on a draft, after his shifts at the local observatory. He’d written only snippets so far, like this one-


“Think back to a Greek myth, most are relevant. Picture Hercules, Hermes, or Helen, and now find them amongst the stars in the night sky. The Greeks liked to fondly imagine, in their imaginative ways, that these great figures and monsters walk as constellations across the abyss of space.”


… “Now, imagine that something with myth-like properties did exist out there in the darkness of our universe, something ancient and almost magical in its defiance of our basic conceptions of logic. It defies many of our basic notions about 'normality'. Such creatures do lurk in the vastness of the cosmos, and they even flank our own galaxy. This, my good people, is a black hole”.


But Lucan had found out recently that the iconic magazine was soon to shut down due to monetary insufficiency; the latest issue was the last. So long, fond childhood recollections of reading about space piracy and interplanetary adventures, ignoring two angry voices downstairs. At that moment, Lucan’s stomach tightened in pain.


“Now, now, the nebula of drugs in me is supposed to diminish those feelings of depression and loathing. So let them do their magic.” At the very least, In Lucan, the cocktail of chemicals had caused the world to have a startling red hue, and now the distances between objects is stretching to odd proportions.


Another table catches Lucan’s eye, with a comet has shooting past- An energetic tyke with a velcro fake superhero cape runs from one end of the shop to the other, causing customers to back away slightly to avoid his flight path. Lucan can’t help but smile: From his perspective, the kid appears to lengthen into infinity. Ah, the infinite possibilities when one is a child, and how avenues close the more one goes down them. Lucan flashes to that one afternoon at the ristorante again, and how he told his mother he wanted to be a writer. With a wan grin, she turned to his father, and stroked his hand. Those days, Lucan could attempt to forget the pain in his chest, the fakeness of his parents’ relationship.  


The comet’s mother rests a tangled mat of hair on the tabletop and seems to be quietly evaluating if she can get away with not taking account of the child as her own and saving face. Lucan wonders what her life is like, back at home, and how the family interacts. He imagines her making sweet apple pie and giving Stepford smiles to her husband and secretly wishing to get away from it all and go wild. God knows (heh), that’s what his mother did. At a certain age, Lucan discovered that she was whoring herself out to her “Bible study” friends, when his father was away and one traipsed downstairs. It appeared his mother’s devotion to God could only go so far, and that her stern, pious attitude stemmed from her own inability to fight the urges within her. Oh, those urges. At some level of druggage, it actually became funny to Lucan, how hypocritical it made his mother, so determined to keep him in line of Christianity. She was the one that first put him on pills to keep him “normal”. She was the one who suggested he get a “real career” outside of writing, for a real religion (she called Buddha the ‘prophet of inaction’). Furthermore, she insisted he visit every Sunday to go to church when he know the stains on her soul needed more than weekly Jesus songs and ‘amens’ at all the right times; more like a Christmas gift of a chastity belt. Goddamn her.


Now the drug is fighting with Lucan, or better yet, with something that wants to claw its way out of him, that old nemesis of need and bitterness that his parents unsuccessfully tried to cloak; he’s held it down with the help of syringes and chemicals, and it asks for release.


By this point Lucan doesn’t even notice Stellen enter the shop, small in stature and set against the dark auburn wall, but when she comes into view she waves vehemently. He should feel embarrassed for not seeing her, but he’s instead trying to offset reawakened problems with the calm he’s been trying to master over situations by his therapist. Lucan hoped that by meeting Stellen he could short-load a lot of the problems, but unfortunately, Stellen's not typically the kind of person to allow two-sided discourse.


"Lucan! How're you doinggg? Good? Awesome! Listen, I need to tell you about the latest episode of Rin Rin..."



She gives little pause, setting down her thick purse and a McDonalds to-go bag. As she takes item after item out, she launches into fevered analysis of the newest anime she's into.


“The shippers wanna have Sara get with Rin, but that’s not happening, that’d be too easy. Although, I read in one fanfiction where they’re married, and I think they’re so cute together. Do you remember Sara?- Course not, you haven’t caught up! She’s the…”


Lucan feels inconsequential to the conversation, so for a while he fades back into watching people, or stars, or, well, now they’re all blots of red matter, being spaghettified towards a single point in front of him. Everything focuses to right at the center of Stellen, which is fading away, fading away quickly. He realizes that his eyes are widening, maybe twitching, legs are swaying into the bottom of the table with slight ‘clonks’, and his vision is so impaired that it’s hard to keep looking at Stellen at all. She’s become a black little dot now, talking about who knows what. All the other customers in this hallucination, and maybe in real life, turn slightly to her because of her unmodulated voice and cacophonous laughter that dictates attention, and rings out distorted in Lucan’s ears.


Lucan avoids Stellen when he can because everywhere she goes, she feeds off the energy around her, and takes advantage of the resources she’s given. She can guilt one into taking her to Walmart at 12 at night and then criticize the person for asking for gas money. She’s cunning in a sort of instinctive way, and to make up for the fact that she’s often not noticed, she raises her voice, speeds up the pace of words, and adds dramatic accents. But still, Lucan has been trying to muster up some voice inside him to say, “I like you”. He appreciates that she’s something unique in a system of stars, that she’s a black hole.


Now though, Lucan’s caught between a battle of drugs and inner , and nerve is winning. It skips to the part about the black hole.


“Stellen…”


“And he was such an a*****e to her that seas-… Yeah? Wait, let me tell you why. He was bound by his own situation, see, and...”


“Stellen, let me talk a second.”


“But then I won’t be able to finish; you’re… you’re always derailing into your own problems. And, I wanted to talk about something different for once. And- oh my god, your eyes… Are you using again, Lucan? Is that why you brought me? So I could drive you home again? God, it’s like the third time this month, and I thought you’d gone clean! Lucan, you gotta cut out that crap! You-”


“Stell, shut up!”


Stellen stood up, shocked and trembling. “I’m sorry, it’s just- You’re advancing my headache. And not letting me talk. Just shut up one second about that horseshit anime and-”


It didn’t take too long for Stellen to walk out of the shop. He couldn’t believe she didn’t notice sooner how zoned out he was. Calling him a “Massive fuckwad”, briefly hitting him in the stomach, and collecting her food, she stormed out in tears. And that was the tipping point.


That does it. Maybe Lucan does want to be noticed, more so listened to. Maybe he does want sympathy. Feed him that stale chocolate,   feed me stardust.   It's been a long day for Lucan, and through his drugged mind he conjures pieces of it- In the morning he found out that his parents were officially divorcing, making their un-love for each other real, and he wanted to scream, "Hallelujah", or knock a wall down. He coasted on fumes through classes that made little sense, and promptly downed a few relaxants after. It was his last day of work at the planetarium, since his employer discovered the baggie of substances he was hoarding in the employee locker. Lucan had never been let go before, and the sense of uselessness it dug into him inspired him to mix a few pills together, at random. He still couldn’t recall what they were called, or what dealer or place he’d gotten them from. At that point, his mother, concerned, called him up,  wanting to console him and at the same time subtly chew him out for continuing to follow "that false prophet Buddha of yours". He ended the call quickly after that- If she was so inclined to be religiously sound, she'd need to go to someone else for a stepping stool. He’d squeaked out a tiny sarcastic guffaw- If she saw the lengths he’d gone to drug himself, what would his mother even say?


So now it's back to the solar system for Lucan. He could keep watching the stars revolve around or shoot past him and shine with the subdued light of a person on the brink. But he won't do that. It's ok- As the hallucinations hit a high, red-shifting completely shields his vision, the customers of the shop stretch into oblivion, and the shadows upon the floor morph. In this, a plan emerges. His plan. My plan. I’ve been saving it up. I’m the hole inside that opens up when control is lost. I am the despair felt when one cannot control neither body nor emotions. They tied me down with everything they could- The pills. The religion. The falsity. I am the oblivion. The sun of a black hole.  


When I get home, I'm going to self destruct. I'm going to expand myself into fire, into nuclear energy, and feel what that electronic music is trying to convey: The exploding of the inside. I want that. As I return home, I'll remember clearly that I now have no job, few drugs, and little support, and it's going to send me berserk. I'll shakily push myself into my room, not bothering to turn the light on, looking around at the things, what are they even for?, and pull open the fridge, which will groan in slight protest. With a cold pit opening up in my stomach, I'll pile whatever goods I have into myself, engorge with whatever I can find, bare animalism eating me up from within. When I find myself with nothing else, I'll detonate, blaming the pills sloshing in me later on. It'll be wonderfully cathartic, and horribly blissful.


I'll take the microwave and throw it hard against the wall, and it will be clunk down hard, door creaking open. The computer with half my story I wanted to send in I'll flip onto the floor, where it will spark and go black.


Pencils on the desk, I'll snap in turn, flicking pieces around like tiny meteorites. I could fold back the spines of every book I own, but instead I'll rip random pages to shreds while snarling. It won't be long until the bed that always left me in sleepless at night will be overturned, all my clothes will be tossed around as if toys in the hands of infants, and posters of stellar systems and famous sci-fi writers will be crumpled into planetoids, orbiting my rage. As I smash a family portrait, knock down a chair, and crush spare document to bits, there will be an inward spiraling. Any object in hand, I'll drop, and sink to the cluttered floor with hands kneading my hair. That's where I'll be for a while, the core of a disaster, the center of madness. There I'll be, a black hole.


Then, when I'm satisfied with with this transformation, I'll call up Stellen real casual with wisps of frustration still clinging to my voice, get her to come over and... Well, here I get a little unsure- violently pull her into a kiss or hit her... Something extreme, I hypothesize. I need a purified attention, some passion or collision, and have you ever seen the projections of what two black holes would look like combining. It's the most beautiful of cataclysms, and it's not easy to forget.

© 2014 Beau Maysey


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Shelved in 2 Libraries
Added on December 17, 2014
Last Updated on December 19, 2014
Tags: story, black hole, space, college

Author

Beau Maysey
Beau Maysey

St. Pete, FL



About
Hey, I'm Beau, and these little autobiography section always irked me yet I understand their function and significance. I live in St. Pete, go to college at Eckerd College, study creative writing as a.. more..

Writing