I've been trying to work on this story for a while and it just doesn't seem to want to go anywhere...though it seems like it should. So in the tradition of crowd sourcing, I am family sourcing. If you have time to read through what I've started (which, granted, isn't much) here is what I'd like help with. (1) Do you think it is worth working on further or do you think I should just cut my losses and try something else. (2) What are your thoughts about the direction the story should take? In other words, what do you think comes next. I'd like your ideas. I'm also open for any editorial suggestions about what is already here.
John woke, opened his eyes and wondered who he was going to be today. Light creeping in around the shades revealed that the old wooden clock on the wall was still there and as his eyes created shape from the darkness he recognized everything in the place where it had been when he’d closed his eyes. The open closet with his clothes on hangers below the wall clock and the book shelves that his son had built for him years ago in the indented space beside it where his eyes rested as he lay in bed were still there. So, when he turned his head, were the dresser and the dilapidated plant shelf that he brought in for the winter.
The difference was rarely anything he could spot immediately, though for a series of days, he had woken to realize that he was living in a foreign country and, for another stretch of time, that the president of the United States was also the Grandmaster of the KKK. Most of the time, though, it took him awhile to figure out what was different. One day, he had the constant memory of having taught at a school where records of his employment revealed that he had actually never worked. Another time in conversation with his wife, he was referring to an episode from his childhood where his parents had taken him to
Yosemite, only to
have his wife remind him that this memory was from a story he had written and
had not actually ever occurred. Today,
was more like that. At first light, there was no crack in the cosmos.
John went into the kitchen and grabbed a mug off of the rack of cups on the counter. It was glossy and black with white letters saying, DRINK ME,” a joke gift from his daughter who’d picked it up in the airport on one of their excursions,
Dubai or Florence maybe.
“This is for you – for first thing in the morning,” she’d said. It wasn’t because of a reputation for being an early morning grouch. In fact, John was more of an early riser, but at one point he had tried explaining to her his sensations of never waking up the same person. The cup was her faux solution. “Strong black coffee, first thing, will bring you back to reality.”
John liked to think of the cup in another way. He imagined all of the images and ideas in his head swirling around, the rush that seemed to change from day to day, sometimes from moment to moment even on those days when everything seemed outwardly banal. Despite the amount of writing that his work required of him he could never make the ideas come out in any rational form on the printed page in ways that were not stiff and clichéd. Attempts to verbally explain what he was trying to sort out were even more hopeless. He felt as though the words pouring out of his mouth were those of a ten-year old. The command of the bold white letters on the cup’s black background made him fantasize that the swirling black liquid he drank were all those thoughts, and when he took in their deep caffeine there would be not only that easing of the muscles and loosening of mental clouds, but a kind of clarification distilled in his mind by the hot liquid.
When John turned back towards the table from filling his coffee cup, a man was sitting at the kitchen table. His hair was gray and straggly, his face nearly round. The aura he gave off was of a man out of his time. He was dressed as though ready to play a part in a nineteenth century biopic of the American mid-west, but what he wore was clearly not costume. It was his everyday clothing. John was used to slight shifts in the fabric of his world, but this was unusual. He knew instantly, though, that this was someone to whom he was related.
“You got more of that coffee?” the man asked.
John reached over and grabbed a mug off of the tree. He opened the top of the Keurig and popped in an innocuous morning blend and pressed the button. When the brown liquid finished pouring out, he turned back around and handed it to his visitor. “I guess I’m supposed to know who you are.”
“Henry,” the man said. “Your grandfather. That’s a fast cup of coffee.”
“My grandfather was
“Not that one. Three generations back. Henry Mueller.”
“Oh.” John said, recognizing the name. “Why –“
“The same reason as you’re here. I woke up this morning and here I am. This is the furthest, though.” Henry’s speech carried with it the definite accent of her person whose first language was German.
“What are you talking about,” John hedged.
“You know…it’s never the same.”