Project 52: Toppling Atlas

1 short story a week. 52 weeks a year.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Week Forty Seven: January 17th - January 23rd

Carolyn and I had been talking about this at the cafe the other day, so I decided to throw it on here :]

Oh! The Abhorrence!

     Some say death by fire is the most horrific pain imaginable; others say death by drowning. As convincing as those statements are just by casual mention, this essay will focus on those who would argue that being eaten alive is the worst possible pain imaginable. Perhaps the use of the word "worst" is an exaggeration, but which of us hasn't felt like dying when being eaten alive? Perhaps not in such a physical sense, but in a metaphorical sense, most definitely. We all have felt the feast of the monsters in our stomach before something important. We Americans have a hilarious outlook on these fears. In fact, we have such a hilarious outlook we have even cynically coined them "butterflies." Typically, these butterflies begin their rampaging flutters before something important, like the big day.
     On the big day, the desks, as uncomfortable and cold as they may be, are thrice as bad. The cool, particle wood covered surface becomes frigid so suddenly, the spontaneous change of it is far more appalling then the frosty connection between your sense of touch and the solid table top. Every word from the instructor adds a new butterfly to the collection, just another pair of squalling wings. In front of the class stands a student who confidently bellows his story; a smile to accompany every sentence is painted with jovial mockery on his face. We all close our eyes and tell the butterflies to stop their fluttering, but fear is more powerful than mock authority. The mental skirmish is pierced with the resonating sound of our name, reverberating in the now desolate room.
     Another trick the butterflies have is the uncanny ability to make reality inexplicably surreal. The walk to the front of the class increases in distance right before your eyes; and what better way to walk a mile than with quivering knees fiercely attacking each other. The peripheral vision you once took for granted now fails you, exposing a tunnel of clear sight to the front of the room while everything else appears to be several colors splashed upon an empty canvas. Now that your at the front, the butterflies have reached your throat, but knowing their tricks, you have already swallowed down a fair amount of mock-confidence. Words start to pour from your mouth, but you don't hear them, all you hear is laughter from of those who shrugged off this nightmare so easily before hand ricocheting around in your head. A common knowledge to some, but for the sake of others a general truth all us humans inevitably figure out is what a great substitute anger is for confidence. Halfway through, you listen to how serenely your words become liquid. A smile starts to envelope your face as you think about just how well you are doing, then the realization hits; despair sets in. De-evolution of the worst kind crash your fluid words upon a red-faced rock; the quivering knees begin to dance all over again.
     Frantically you spew out the rest and make the shameful walk back to your seat, now curiously shorter than before. A round of applause correlates with the air, completely catching you off guard; what a ridiculous smile we plaster to our faces. The butterflies disappear, and you hear a voice heard from countless movies drone "and the lesson was learned." How unfortunate it is for us that this is a lie. Your facade is impeccable, you look just like the last student, but the weight of the ominous future in which your act will be reapplied slumps your shoulders, and makes you start to feel heavy. "Congratulations Mr. Thompson, your finest work yet!" exclaims your instructor
responds. If only you could believe them.

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