Metafiction, eh? Well, I will start this story by saying that this story is my homework, and the story is that I’m writing about metafiction right before class, even though my prodding for more homework probably caused you to assign this. Now there, right there, is a story: it reveals something about myself as a meta-character in my meta-life-story.
This poet is crazy, man. The simplicity of that sentence is suggestive of my childish, shallow judgment. It’s my voice, dude. The reality of the situation is that my spring break, like all other spans of time, was a sincere journey of the mind. When you look at life as a story, suddenly every moment is an urgent, manic creeping of a new era in self. Every moment is a new eternity, and suddenly there are imagined chapters and self-perpetuated insanities and things.
Remember about all things meta: meta things have a little human compulsion: a compulsion to be sincere and real. The author knows the author is only pretending. They are creating a world, but the only way for the world and the characters of that world to be comfortable with themselves is for them to know that they are not real.
During the lethargic heat of my week, while not completing my assignments, I found myself reading James Joyce. I was unable to really believe in the illusions of the fiction, and so too did the fiction of my life repulse me. The blankets of the bed incubate my sweat in the late morning, where the dark frame of my phone so close to my eye on the shelf was like a lit plateau of another world. The world had already passed ten, but I was not ready to begin the passing of the day. I don’t care anymore for that, or how I toiled over the choice to fall back to dreaming, This is meaningful, this is meaningful, this is meaningful. A story that knows it is a story is really an essay. I am looking for the bit of insight in life as a repetition, when the days are a pattern of waking and brief death. Brief death, that means sleep. I don’t know why I chose metafiction. I’ve already written about it, it bores me now. I understand the fundamentals of deconstruction, and you can tell I’m bored, maybe that’s why I asked for more work: as an act of desperation, as if finding a mindless task for each moment will prevent me from horrid self analysis, and what irony then, that this instance of mindless busy work has driven me only deeper into obsessive thoughts.
But the problem with all of this is a lack of description, or “Accuracy.” My blanket is currently unreal. Not real, not till I tell you it’s plaid blue with faded corners, almost yellowed by years of childhood fever and possible mishaps of soporiferous urinating. Also, my name is no longer Alejandro. I am Captain Charlie, captain of a boat who never shaves, and I’m captain of the boat in compensation for my many shameful years as a bed-wetter, though you couldn’t tell by looking at my boat. It’s got an anchor the size of a child, painted red right on the sides, and a mast that goes up pretty tall, tall enough for a crow’s nest to be necessary and pragmatic, one built for two with a red flag at the top. Now that’s a real ship, and it’s always wet on board, so you would never think to wonder if any of that wetness is urine, would you? No, it’s a ship of the sea—if it smells and is wet, it’s probably come from the sea and not from captain Charlie’s issues, so make no further inquiries there.
That’s not quite accurate, but it’s something. I’ll try again. By the way, once you go meta, you don’t really go back. The truth is infectious.
You’ve heard this next one, I’m sure.
It’s about the guy who was born without tear ducts. This one is good (and I would know, since I was born without tear-ducts myself), not that it means much to you, and when I say “you”, I am referring in a hostile tone to the whole world. Anyone out there reading this or thinking this by chance can really go to hell. I’d like to see the world lose all its teeth gnawing on a shard of metal from a crashed Nazi warplane, and I don’t even get it. It’s not easy being in love how I am in love—it takes a lot of hatred. Every night her face emerges in the dark, and I’m crushed between that and the coldness of the pillow. She’s got a face, and that’s all I really know, for I’ve not had the courage to say hello.
She’ll never love me because of the demon that’s taken up residence in my heart, though the demon insists he’s built a shack somewhere close to my lungs, and only strolls around my heart every other late evening. Gosh, am I sleepy. But No! I must declare to the bitter world that I’d love her, but this demon’s been using my hands in mischievous circumstances.
Partly it’s not so awful, since I was born without a means for tearing, but my eyes have always dried out. Used to be I got by just walking under storms of rain with my bloodshot ears eagerly open.
But nowadays I creep along in alleys, and when I see a homeless man, I stop him and look into his eyes, just a moment so I can watch the dirt falling from his face in horror. How gross, I say, and yet I shed no tears for him.
So I keep strolling with a new kind of confidence because then I knew that I was capable of looking at my fellow man and truly feeling something for it. But what do you know, I see another vagabond shiver down by a shabby corner, trying to hide himself by an old trash can, but it’s one of the metal one’s and I see it shine a little bit from a far off street lamp, and I hear it ting a little bit from his unsteady shuffling. So I approached this man as well, quite eager to use my emotions again, to stare at his dirty coats and petrified skin and pity him as anyone should. But things went awful! Awry as I could not have ever written, and I mean it.
I had not made it half way toward that hopeless soul before another stopped me, a middle-aged man of color, whose beard had been at least a bit more trimmed than that of a bum, and his sweater, though generic and without taste, did not carry the stench of a man on the streets. Pardon me sir, he says to me, all polite and respectful, but with words trimmed in his colloquial tongue, the kind of talk that makes a gentleman like myself look down and feel sorry, as he’s not quite as educated despite his age. And he looks at me and to the ground in intervals, saying he’s from out of town, here to see relatives but his car had seen some great trouble on a road someplace and he gestured vaguely in some direction behind him, “that road, over there, by the main road, it’s just a little bit…”
A little what, I inquire, and he says
Just some money, anything you have, he says, my aunt lives around town, just near where you reside, in the neighborhood where all the people are kind. You know those people he says, we are all kind people. Help me out, please! Praise God and Jesus help me, and he continues, anything, anything to help me through this, sir, and he buds his head forward a bit so that I can make out some of the red veins in his eyes. Five dollars and forty seven cents is all I need, he says, that’s all for the bus ticket.
You know what a writer does when trying awful hard to make his story something real, convincing and the like—he’ll make it extra detailed, filled with all sorts of unimportant bits of facts and nonsense, to build a world for his reader to step into and believe in and feel something for, and I kid you not my reader, this man of the streets had employed that exact tactic in his tragic portrayal of a fiction! The very compelling tale of the man who dared for money at the cost of human dignity. See, when one has been sufficiently versed in language, the tools and methods become something clear when others are bold enough, like our street-friend, to utilize them.
So I turn to him and say “Yes-sir! You care for money, but I care something dear for the truth.”
He sighed for a second, then rolled his head around, and for a shorter second appeared to smirk up at the sky, as if mulling over the pros and cons of proceeding with his act. “I’ll give you the money for sure” I say, and he over-emphasized in his gasp how much weight had been lifted, and how grateful he was.
“Yes, I’ll give you the money, but first get down on your knees…” and this, to my subtle surprise, he did without much thought, as if in his head, the immediate response to my command would insure the quick transfer of money. “Now, tell me about your real sorrow!”
I told him he was animal, that he was a liar, and that with my heart of darkness, I could breathe in his suffering and his foul odor. I told him that if he wanted my money, then he would have to pay in literal tears, and imagine my luck, that before going out on that walk, I had thought ahead and packed my tears-jar for just that sort of occasion.
Heart of who, he cried? I am the son of Zeus, I yelled, I am Perseus, son of Zeus, and by the will of my father, I shall slay Medusa! And I pulled out my tears-knife, you see, and popped open the lid of my jar, and with the man’s neck secured by my strong arm and knife, I milked his eyes of all nutrition. I had not gathered a few ounces before he passed out, and I ran off into a darker place to be alone. Just a couple ounces, but it would suffice. I grabbed an eye dropper from the pit of my pocket and quickly filled it with a substantial dose of the man’s tears. And for that moment, as the tear drops tricked around my retina, I recalled a summer I spent in the Rain forests of Brazil, where the rain never ceased to patter against my barren eyes. This is what it’s like to be human, I thought. Though I have been born without tear ducts, I have found humanity in the tears of other people. In a beautiful rage I drained the rest of the jar’s contents on to my face, and much of it actually made its way into my mouth, and though I thought it a horrible waste, it was nice to taste the saltiness of it, as if the tears had grown thick with human experiences. The rest had filled the well of my eyes, so much that the walk home felt like the bottom of an ocean
And so you see, that’s why I can’t talk to that girl I love so much, for that runs the risk of her knowing that the demon near my lungs has been running around late at night in the alleys, making a fuss with the wrong crowd, collecting tears for my aching eyes, for I was born without tear ducts, and my eyes really have gotten dry over the years.