These 20 minute stories resemble dreams more than fiction, and everyone knows how odd another person’s dream can be. Nonetheless, here’s another one…
At first the delay was years, and then months, then weeks, days, hours, minutes. When his childhood became fiction, it made little difference—who didn’t invent growing up?—but the moment others regarded his memories as artifice, he began to worry.
You may not think it matters much, the past might as well be constructed because we can’t return to it anyway, but he relied on accepting yesterday as fact. He needed everyone to know where he worked and which house he occupied.
His family, though they found him charming and handled his presence with equanimity, regarded his claims on them as part of a fanciful and absurd story.
“We can’t be expected to believe that—”
“But it’s true”
“It’s too unlikely.”
You may wonder how they accounted for his clothes and possessions strewn about, but the objects inspired more delight than skepticism. They clapped their hands and tittered. They begged to know what magic placed his things there and celebrated his skill. They were perfectly content he should have them “back,” for they’d never seen them. They belonged in his fabrication.
He didn’t know what to do but to leave and walked from the city into the countryside’s expansive fields—any place the reality or fiction of the past seemed immaterial, where less required faith. At first, he felt happy enough. Other creatures knew only monolithic Truth and, when they met him, showed the usual sort of instinctive, self-protective distrust.
One day, gleaning the landscape for food, he met someone equally unseen. They began talking, and he resolved to accept her as imaginary. She, apparently, decided the same. They unwound their histories around a fire and a simple meal. They laughed with abandon, all their anecdotes performed as fantasy. After making love, they fell asleep in each other’s arms.
Perhaps “love” is the wrong word, you might think. Knowing each other so little, you may say the label couldn’t be right. Yet that’s the word they’d have chosen in the moment. Both felt lucky to be sure of an unfettered present.
When he woke, she was gone, and he began to believe he dreamed her. Afterward, nature changed. Nothing expected transpired—rain seeped from earth and, as if drawn through straws, ascended to the heavens. The sun wandered, a skipping stone on the horizon before it settled in darkness. Dew disappeared the moment of notice. The four seasons received random orders.
His final acquiescence took the form of a wish, one you must have considered too. He wished all of it had never happened, and, instantly, it was so. Our story continues without him.