21 Flies - Chapter One
Preface: Writing has always been something I had wanted to do ever since I was in middle school, however I was always too discouraged to seriously pursue it. At this point in my life, I feel like it is something I desperately need to do. I ask for anyone reading this to give me their most sincere and honest criticism. I need honest feedback from strangers like you to help me create the best writing possible from myself. Thank you and I hope you enjoy.
Charlie has a problem. On the steps right outside his apartment, there is nothing. The calendar beside him had been diligently marked off for every passing week. It’s monday. The date is immaculate and untouched by the felt tip of permanent marker. Cheap and dimly lit fixtures glow with a muted intensity down the long, crooked halls. Regal patterns decorate the papered walls, worn and peeling. Underneath, the cold slabs of concrete expose a cheap and aging architecture. Down along the corridors are a boundless numeration of errant, wrought-iron lamps and apartment doors in uneven distribution. Newspapers, neatly tucked into their plastic sleeves, wait on every doorstep. Except for Charlie’s.
He looks down to his feet. His attention skipping between the front mat of his two neighbors. It makes no sense why, of the dozens upon dozens of tennents on this floor, he would be the unlucky recipient of nothing. What is luck really than a frame of mind though? Charlie’s thoughts swirl in a haze of anxiety, abound of possibilities. None of which add up. It makes no sense that someone would forget his doorstep in the middle of everyone else’s. It makes no sense why anyone would take his paper over the next person’s. There are no basis’ providing of reason that an act of malice or arbitration wouldn’t better explain.
Charlie is a typical, average sort of guy. He pays his taxes. He appreciates stationery. He enjoys creating collages from magazines and pamphlet clippings. Every morning six days a week, he wakes up early, reads his news and goes to work. He’s never late. He always eats the same meals. He always spends his evenings reading periodicals and clipping out pictures. His day off is dedicated to the art and craft of his collage works. Simplicity and predictability are the staple of his life. The thought of straying from habit never crosses the mind. He’s a creature of comfort and one of the fortunate few who manages to find his slice of paradise, every day, in this unforgiving world.
Having a life cultivated of such calculated predictability, the most frivolous anomalies can be enough to throw Charlie’s sensibilities wayward. Terrible are the odd situations where a choice of magazine were unavailable, or his regular meals sold out. The worst thing he’s ever had to do was compromise with the next best thing. If there are no peanut butter and mustard ham sandwiches to be made. There’s always Bologna. No copies of his favourite ‘Textile’s Weekly’ magazine? There’s ‘Fabrics Monthly’. Always is there an auxiliary to a primary. So what is there to do when there are no alternatives; No contingencies for the absence of routine? That is the nuance of circumstances. Without the morning paper, there is no routine. There is no substitute for regularity.
These questions change Charlie. So subtly it doesn’t even scratch at his cognizance. It all just feels like an exercise in problem solving. Should I steal his neighbor’s newspaper? Is this a crime? It’s not really a crime. With the tens of millions of people in this city, nobody is going to care about a single missing paper, right?
A voice pulls Charlie back into the hallway.
“Are you alright?”
It’s his neighbor, stepping out to pick up his copy of the news. Charlie was lost in thought, slack-jawed and stupefied.
“Ouh, ahhh…” His lips are dry. The back of his throat is rough. Words like gravel grind against each other in his mouth.
“G-good morning I’m okay, HAHA.” He clears his voice. A cool breeze billows from underneath his robe.
The neighbor is unsure of how to respond, and simply just nods. His attention fixes on Charlie as he reaches down for his paper before backing away into his apartment. The mechanisms of locking steel resonates through the halls.
Charlie is alone again. Everything is quiet. His hand on the door whines the hinges, rhythmically to his thoughts. Meditating on the peculiarities of this morning, he looks down at the other copy of the paper on the floor. Who’s going to miss it?