Conquering Time

In one hour, Ebenezer Conkfeld would be dead.

He didn’t know this, and so had no opportunity to change. He lived that last hour like he lived his first — except without the screams and gasps for air, or the sense of being ripped from a familiar world into a foreign space. And yet, one has to wonder: even if he’d known, was he the type of man who would’ve changed?

All his life, Ebenezer perfected the art of being boring. He gave boring speeches, imparted boring advice, and threw boring parties. Even his silences were boring. With his death, one less boring person would exist on the earth, and yet, in a unique paradox, his death would be the most interesting part of his life.

Only one person thought differently: his niece, Beatrix.

Whenever she was over the house, this girl of six loved nothing better than to play with her Uncle Ebbie. While the adults around her fell asleep over his speeches or pretended to be interested as they hid yawns through fake sneezes, Beatrix sat on her uncle’s lap and listened, eyes wide, as he recounted stories from his childhood in the most unimaginative way possible.

For his part, Ebenezer adored his niece. While he could not help but be boring, he recognized that his niece was interesting, and while he kept the rest of his life dull, he never refused the excitement she brought him. Had she known he would die in an hour, she would’ve refused to leave his house that day, if only to spend the rest of that hour with her uncle.

And yet, when that hour was up, he didn’t die a sudden, violent death, nor a prolonged, slow death. That is what makes his death so interesting, for Ebenezer died of nothing at all.

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A Plan for Writing

Last week, I read that Richard Williams, in order to teach his daughters how to play tennis (and to understand it, himself), wrote out a 78-page plan. Someone commented that writing out a plan is the best way to show you’re serious about something.

I wonder if that’s why I’ve felt adrift over the past few years. I’ve never written out a plan, either for writing, voice acting, learning Japanese, or adulting. I have a daily planner, so I’m great at short-term planning and dealing with things that need to be dealt with immediately, but I’ve only created the barest of outlines as pertains to mid and long-term planning.

How to solve this problem?

Earlier this week, I bought a notebook. I have plenty of notebooks stored away (I’m in the middle of a move), but none on hand. This notebook is going to be my planning notebook (monthly and yearly, as opposed to daily and weekly). Richard Williams changed the game of tennis with his plan, and while I don’t claim that I’ll be changing the world of literature with mine, I’ll at least have a plan in place for improving my writing, along with a written philosophy of what that writing should be.

Lola the Pug

Lola was a gorgeous pug. No pug looked better than she did when the wind blew her short hair not a centimeter out of place. Her swagger was legendary; her wrinkles envied. There was just one problem.

She couldn’t run.

Oh, she’d tried, but her stubby legs would get caught up in each other and send her tumbling down slopes of grass and into flower beds, or muddy puddles, or asphalt, or worse. One time she tripped into her own poo. Her little legs couldn’t spin fast enough for her to go any faster than a gavant, and her gavanting looked stupid. Lola was not one to look stupid. Lola wanted to look fabulous.

This caused problems with her owner, Brittany. Brittany liked to jog in the morning with Lola at the end of a leash, but anything more than a saunter would leave Lola on the ground and Brittany yanked back several yards, so she learned to walk-jog with Lola in the morning, then go out later for a full run. Lola would watch her leave from the front window, fogged up with her doggy breath, with the saddest eyes she could create. But Brittany wouldn’t look back, and by the time she came home, Lola’s breath had so fogged up the interior that she couldn’t see Lola’s face.

Of all the animals who made fun of Lola’s plight, none angered her more than that of Teddy the greyhound. His toothpick legs looked goofy, until he used them to dash at incredible speeds, often circling around and around Lola until the latter’s face would get so red from shame that she’d bury it in the ground, pretending to eat the grass. Teddy was a capital ‘A’ asshole. Even Mixi the cat thought so, and cats are jerks.

Lola had tried several approaches to make up for her lack of running ability. One time, she’d even ridden a skateboard some kid had left too close to her curious nose. That episode did not end well. Nor did another one involving roller skates.

If not for Teddy, Lola might have made peace with the fact that she couldn’t run, but that lickshit made that one flaw stick out as awfully as if she’d been born with some deformity such as happened to Wilbur, the pet goat with no beard and one eye. At least Wilbur could ram his head against Teddy’s spindly legs and make the jerk fall down; Lola had no such means of revenge.

One day, while travelling her usual route through the park, she came upon a new scent. Following it led her to a dog she’d never met before, and a pug, at that.

“Good afternoon, sir,” she said.

The dog looked up at her, but all it said was, “Ruff!”

“I notice that you are new to these parts. Might I inquire as to what your name is?”

“Arf!”

“My name is Lola. It’s a pleasure to make your acquaintance, Art.”

Art responded by sniffing Lola’s butt.

On a walk through the neighborhood, she discovered that Art lived in the McCoy’s old house. Also, he could run. Oh could he run! Even though his little legs were just as little as Lola’s, they never got tangled as hers did. She tried to learn the secret of his running abilities from him, but she either got a nose in the butt or a tongue in the face, and that’s when Art was feeling communicative. So instead, she decided to watch him the next time he ran.

That opportunity came the following week, at the dog park. Unfortunately, Teddy was there, prancing around like one of Santa’s reindeer, showing off his legs to some young thing with unnaturally curly hair. At least he was ignoring Lola, so that she could concentrate on running. Good thing, too, as she fell on her first attempt. And her second one. And her third. After seven tries, she gave up. Art made it look easy, but running was hard.

That’s when she saw the kangaroo in the wheelchair.

Now, Lola had never seen a kangaroo in a wheelchair before. In fact, she’d never seen a wheelchair. As a reader, you may ask why a kangaroo would be in a wheelchair, and if that means the story takes place in Australia, to which I would answer, “Have you ever seen a kangaroo in a wheelchair ANYWHERE?”

But back to Lola. She saw the kangaroo in the wheelchair and had an idea. Certainly this was a better idea that the skateboard and roller skates, since steering had been the issue then. Then again, neither of those forms of locomotion had come with kangaroos. Strange that Lola ignored this fact.

The kangaroo, however, did not ignore Lola as she jumped up on the wheelchair.

“What the heck?” it said.

“I’m terribly sorry,” Lola replied, “but I can’t run, and I thought that taking a ride on your device would be the closest I’d ever come to running.”

“That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard,” said the kangaroo. “I’m in this wheelchair because I can’t walk.”

“And I’m in this wheelchair because I can’t run.”

The kangaroo thought about it for a minute, then shrugged and said, “What the heck. Let’s do it.”

Sadly, the wheelchair was not one of the ones that attains tops speeds anywhere near the speed of a run, but for a dog with tiny legs, it was faster than any speed she could achieve.

And so, while Lola the pug still can’t run, for that one moment, she forgot that she couldn’t, and let her fabulous tongue flap in the imaginary breeze.