We all know this feeling
Alarm rings. I look up from my pillow, groggy. I press dismiss. I lay my head down once more, sleep arrives. A smile spreads across my face. "Shut up alarm."
The older I get, the less I want to shave the beard that grows with me.
holy days sing their refrain
because of the night
Oh peaceful sunrise,
you too sing with grace and ease
because of the day
Days turn into years,
years into millennia
and all ages end
Leisure begets gladness
Work forgets sadness
Faster Than Yellowed Paper Falls
Things are better remembered when they’re left unfinished: a bed left with straggling sheets and its drool-covered pillows on the floor, a laundry basket piled high with garments that have long since lost the warmth of their wearer, the gluttonous garbage can with surfeit of trash continually compressed by those avoiding the bags disposal. Such unfinished things linger in my mind but always seem to fall through the cracks of other’s memories.
“Damnit Al, you’re gonna make me do it again?” I mumble to myself as I wrench the bag from the can’s stranglehold. Loose soda cans and snack wrappers tumble to the floor, another unfinished task to keep in mind after I bring the bag out. I stumble out the front door of the rental house and onto the concrete driveway. While the walk from the driveway to the dumpster is only a stone’s throw away, it’s often the little things in life that tend to be more tedious. Unfortunately it means they’re easy to get away with shirking to others. Usually those with the weakest will end up stuck with the chores, not me though. I toss the bag into the dumpster and wipe my hands on my jeans when the rumbling of a distant car catches my attention. A seemingly unremarkable sound to the untrained ear but it stuck out to me as the only 2004 Toyota Camry in the area. My roommate and I rented a house in a well-off neighborhood, so it wasn’t hard to tell who had money and who lacked it based on their car model. As sophomore college students we were most definitely the latter. As for how a 2004 model had lasted until 2021 was anyone’s guess.
“Hey Jude! Just in time to help me out with these, could you grab the one with-”
“That’s on you, I took out your trash. Again.”
“...” Usually he’d complain but maybe the ice in my tone was enough to shut him up.
I return to the trash can and put a new bag in, the stray cans and wrappers still on my mind. I gather them up and drop them into the empty bag, checking that mental box. As I’m washing my hands Al brings in the last of the groceries.
“Sorry about that, I had a lot to do today.”
“Apologies don’t mean much if you're gonna excuse yourself anyway.” I glare at him as I begin to stow away our frozen meals.
“Why are you always like this?”
Ignoring his question I continue. “And for the record I had much more to do than you but I still find time to do both our shares of the chores.”
“Yes, yes, you’re a paragon of kindness. I told you I’m sorry, will you shut up now?”
His sarcasm makes it difficult to argue with him so I simply give him another look and begin preparing a meal.
“What do you want?”
“For dinner. I asked what you wanted.” My short temper clearly makes my responses just as short. I try to dial back my anger, it wasn’t a very big deal anyway so I don’t find a need to create more animosity.
“Whatever, you choose.”
“Alright well it won’t be spaghetti, Lord knows we get enough of that in college.”
Al chuckles clearly trying to resist smiling. “All the sissies where we go can’t handle spices I guess. Every Thursday!”
I find the best way to repair a dispute is to direct the anger at something else that both warring parties dislike equally. We continue to rip on our school’s cafeteria until I finish preparing my special Mongolian beef. By the time we sit down to eat, the purpose of the argument is long forgotten. But as with other unfinished things, my mind clings to it a bit longer.
“So how’s it going with your girlfriend?” I ask, attempting to draw the conversation into spicier territory so as to match the food.
“You know, you need a better hobby...stalker.”
“Am I not allowed to be interested in my best friend’s relationship?” I laugh through chews of food.
“You need to get a girlfriend of your own so you can stop asking about mine. I’m starting to think you enjoy hearing about my relationship more than I enjoy experiencing it!”
“Yeah, can’t argue with that. The first statement, not the second.”
“Anyone you’re interested in? I could ask Ava if she knows them, I could set you up.”
“I’ve never been in a relationship, so I kinda want to do this on my own.”
“You do you, but know that my offer remains.” He gives a sly smile then rises. “Thanks for the food by the way, great as always. I’m gonna head to bed early because I’ve got a first hour class tomorrow.”
“Sounds good, I’ll probably do the dishes then follow suit.”
After finishing the meager amount of dishes I check the time, 10:30 p.m. gauging whether or not Al is asleep yet I stand frozen for a moment. I then grab the car keys off their hook and rush out the door. I pull out of the driveway and follow the familiar route. Winding my way through the Minnesota town I reach my destination. St.Vincent’s Hospital. Walking up to the front desk I see yet another familiarity: the warm face of Ms.Jode, resident desk worker of St.Vincent’s.
“Here for a visit or-” her vision trails up from her computer screen. “Oh Jude- ahem,” she clears her throat, shifting her portly body, “Mr. Falmer, here for another appointment.”
“Yes, Doctor Ansel.”
“Oh, do you need me to have someone lead you there or do you remember?”
“I’ll be fine.” I smile wryly in response.
I traipse my way down the blank halls, the smell of disinfectant tingling my nose until I reach a brown door with a plaque reading “Philip Ansel”. I knock. A stony demeanor greets me.
“Mr. Falmer thank you for always being so punctual. Given your illness I’m astounded, you seem to remember better than most of my more privileged patients.” His dry sense of humor resonates with me and I let a smile escape from me. “Let’s begin.”
After a series of preliminary testing he asks: “You know you don’t need to come to these, I always ask the same questions. As for your questions, well I’m assuming you have none. I’ve told you all there is to know.” His disgruntled voice belies his underlying concern for me.
“Thanks, you said that last time didn’t you?”
“I did, did you remember or-”
Dr. Ansel lets out a deep sigh. “I’m sorry but nothing can be done. Your brain, your memory rather, is deteriorating quickly and treatment is impossible. You likely have half a year to continue as you are now, after that you will be only a shell of the man you’ve become.” His unprofessional wording is refreshing as always, having been my doctor for five years he’s become a second father to me after my father died three years ago.
“Phil, thank you for putting up with me for as long as you have.”
“Keep it up. Try to live as best as you can until then, experience things. Don’t let yourself die with a single regret.”
The appointment wraps up and I leave the hospital for the last time. Regrets are the least of my worries. I don’t care about what I do while I’m here, it’s my effect on those when I’m gone that worries me. My life will forever live as unfinished in the hearts of those who love me. Which is why like the kindred spirits they are, I never forget unfinished things.
Title: Faster Than Yellowed Paper Falls
Genre: Romance, Mystery, Thriller
Age Range: (adult fiction, college)
Word Count: 1291
Author: Liam Kopp
Why my project is a good fit: Because it is an unorthodox romance novel, I love unique stories with unique endings and I plan for this one to be very unique indeed.
Hook: One man with a deteriorating mind, two girls that fell for him oblivious to his condition. How will he deal with the selfishness of his love?
Synopsis: Jude's mind slowly deteriorates as two women's rivalry for him gets out of hand. The entire book follows the theme of: unfinished things are remembered.
Target audience: Those who want to read an entirely untraditional romance novel, with unique metafiction elements
Bio: Born to a family of literature teachers I've always loved writing, is it unusual that I don't find reading as enjoyable?
Education: currently in college studying to be a pastor, I've learned several languages and studied creative writing extensively during my own time
Experience: only recreational writing
Personality/writing style: ENTJ, I try my best to write stylistically with description being scarce yet vivid I don't like walls of descriptive text and I find dialogue to be the most difficult to write
Likes/hobbies: Hiking, experiencing media with great stories (ie: video games, books movies, etc.), writing
Hometown: Appleton WI