Friday, June 7, 2024

2 Minutes. Go!

The finish line is an illusion. They told you it was there to keep you running long after you were tired. Long after you should have up and quit. 

Once you know it's sleight of hand, it's obvious, but you have to look at it just the right way. Most people don't. Most people insist it's still there, sometimes gold and shimmering, waiting to give them what they worked for. It's a comforting deceit, but it will always prove false.

If you stop running, people look at you like you're crazy, and it doesn't matter how logical it is to you. I was tired. This is fair. I was thirsty, hungry. This is also fair. I wanted to look at the way the light played on the sunflowers...this is when people start using labels. 

You must be a commie liberal. You must be a redneck reactionary. You must be a fat cat capitalist. You must be a government charity case. Hippie! You must always be the one to suffer two dimensionally, because two dimensions are all you can take in with a two-second, surface-level glance. 

Who's got your six when all you have is two's. Even without your propaganda glasses on... 

They're going to move the finish line until they are done with you, and then they will tell you that the finish line was only an idea. An ideal. Or it was there, but you didn't work hard enough. You didn't sacrifice enough. You were a bad cog. Bad cogs don't get rewards. 

As a consolation, there is one finish line that never changes, but most people don't recognize it when they get there. And by the time they are past it, they have ceased to recognize anything at all. 


  1. (Reserved for Mr. Mader comments)

    1. Preach. It's all smoke and mirrors. I love "propaganda glasses" and "Who's got your six when all you have is two's."

  2. I have no idea where I'm going with this. And I wrote it before I read Mader's piece.


    You wake to the slow drip of distant water, a creaky fan doing little to move air that smells of mildew, stale coffee, and print toner. All around you is gray. Painted concrete walls, industrial carpeting. Plants that look fake. A young woman behind a steel desk was doing something on her phone. She has a high ponytail and bored eyes and more makeup than someone her age should need.

    Reluctantly she puts down the phone and says in a weary voice, “Good afternoon, ma’am.”

    “Um. Hello.” You remember a hospital room. You’re still a little bleary. “What’s going on?”

    “Standard procedure. I’m Ashlee, I’ll be starting your intake.” She pushes a clipboard and a cheap ballpoint in your direction. “Fill in the front then sign the back.”

    “Intake?” You examine the forms. There are a lot of little boxes and big words. “For what?”

    “Exit interview.” She shrugs. “Everyone’s gotta do it.”

    “Is this… Heaven?”

    “As if,” she says. “No, that’s a whole other procedure that’s way above my pay grade. Let me know when you’re ready.”

    She returns to her phone. You blink the fog away and fill in boxes. On the form and in your mind. More memories return. Faces around your bed. A hand stroking your hair. And some godawful music. Then—

    “I’m dead?”

    Ashlee sighs, puts down her phone. “You’re here, aren’t you?”

    “Yes, but—”

    She smirks. “You thought there’d be white lights, angels, the whole trippy thing?”

    “Well. Kind of.”

    “Sorry. Everybody thinks that. You done?”

    Your gaze drifts down to the forms. You finish and sign and hand the clipboard back. “I thought that dying would include less paperwork.”

    “Funny. Like I don’t hear that fifty times a day. Wait here.” As if there was anywhere you could go. “I’ll get a manager.”


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