Mark Fraser: Day Three Hundred and Six – Crack Part IV

Posted on November 2, 2011 by


The final part of ‘Crack. You find the other parts here (I), here (II) and here (III). This part is about 1444 words long, so I apologise for the length.

Robert felt strange about touching a crack in the ceiling. At some stage, Robert toyed with the idea that the crack had perhaps taken the plasterer in some way. At least, that was his last thought before it took him too. Of course, there was also the way it had caused him a minor existential crisis. What is the meaning of this crack’s existence? Should one really approach such a sinister thing if it is somehow robbing people of their existence? Nevertheless, by touching it he had set in motion a rather unusual chain reaction of which the outcome will be less than satisfactory to readers of his story. Robert was perhaps only vaguely aware of the fact he was telling a story, to him it was more or less an internal monologue of sorts. It seemed that things had taken a turn for the worse when he was transported from his living room to a great big gray empty space.
“Hello? Is anyone in here? Where am I?”
Robert’s question echoed in the empty space and he started pacing around the room. It seemed as though the grayness went on forever but eventually he walked up against a boundary which felt, looked, smelled and hurt just like a wall does when you walk into it. Empty spaces tend to a do a lot of this echoing business. I quite like it personally but it seems that it’s difficult to describe in words. Echo is a wholly appropriate word to describe the sound, but there are so many different kinds of echo- och, forget it. I’ve more important things to discuss.
Robert started pushing against each of the walls in turn. It seemed as though it was about time for me to make an appearance so I teleported myself into the room and Robert jumped, clearly taken aback by my sudden apparition in front of him. It might be pertinent to describe how he looked; he was wearing a blue baseball cap, black jacket, trousers and shoes. I really hate giving a lot of description in these things, but it seemed to me that in a completely gray room his attire was quite the contrast and therefore definitely worth mentioning.
“Hello Robert.”
“Who are you?”
“Who am I? I’m the writer, of course. Well, I’m the narrator of this segment, but I’m also the writer. The writer of your thoughts.”
“Don’t be ridiculous, my thoughts are my own, no one writes them or creates them apart from me.”
“I beg to differ. In fact, the readers beg to differ as well.”
“Oh yes, you have readers. I can’t tell you quite how many readers for I have no idea what will happen to this story after it makes its way out into the world, but I can guarantee you that at some point there will be a reader or two.”
“I…I see.”
Naturally Robert looked a bit dejected. Well, how would you feel if someone had just implied that your entire existence was a mere literary fabrication? He took it on the chin though, surprisingly. I didn’t expect that from him, truth be told. I guess that’s the way writing works sometimes – characters act in ways you don’t expect. It does, however, pose a rather interesting question. Earlier on in the story he noted that his objection to children was philosophical. Do you remember that? He thought that since his existence was a bit dull and dreary (or so he implied) that he wouldn’t want to inflict that upon someone else without asking them. Of course, this is impossible. One can’t ask their future children if they want to be born. Sometimes they take on a life of their own. I could tell that Robert was on the cusp of some kind of identity crisis because all of his musings about children and their existence, and by extension his own, were all for nothing as it dawned on him that his thoughts never even belonged to him in the first place.
“This is a little hard for me to take.”
Robert truly was perplexed. He looked at me almost as if I were a ghost, a figment of his imagination. He’d already fallen asleep and into a dream earlier on in the story, so the thought occurred to him that perhaps he hadn’t actually woken up at all.
“Well, if that’ll be all…
“Wait, what happens next? If I’m inside your head, and this room is inside your head what happens when you leave? Am I trapped here?”
“Whatever you want to happen will happen, Robert.”
“Well, what happened to the plasterer?”
“Ah, he’s gone.”
“Yes, I know that, but where too?”
“Just gone. He served his purpose. He vanished. He ceased to be. He is an ex-plasterer. An ex-character. Gone.”
“Can you…can you send me back home? If that’s what I want, is that where I can go?”
Robert had started pacing the room, his head bowed, wringing his hands. I was slightly surprised because I could never imagine him wringing his hands before. Writers – proper writers – say that their creations get to a point where they start acting independently, as if they actually exist as a separate individual, somehow free from the trappings of the writer’s consciousness. This thought was a worrying development – did Robert now exist as a person? I could see his personality unfolding in front of me the longer I thought about it yet, simultaneously, I realised how much I was rambling about my creation. He started staring at me – I hadn’t answered his question.
“Well, are you going to answer my question?”
“If that’s what you want.”
“Is that what you want? Aren’t I your creation?”
Robert made a brilliant point and frankly, he was stumbling into philosophical ground that I was unfit to tread on and existentially, this was a minefield.
“It appears…you’ve taken on a life of your own.”
“Ok then.”
Robert wasn’t convinced and rightly so. Even though he had taken on his own existence someplace else, he was still unsure if this was really an answer at all. Is he settling for this ridiculous answer because I’m making him settle for it, or because of his fear of being erased?
“What’s with the crack in my ceiling?”
“I can’t very well tell you that now, can I?”
“Why not?”
“Fear of the unknown. What would you do with that information? What would the reader do with it?”
“Essentially you’re saying you don’t know, aren’t you?”
“Oh, I know alright. It would be artistically irresponsible for me to introduce such a weighty plot element and then let it slide without giving it a meaning.”
“It wouldn’t hurt to give me a hint now, would it?”
Robert was beginning to irk me. I should have vanished him there and then but letting him go like that without warning would be most unsatisfying. I decided to feign ignorance.
“Ok then. You’re right. I don’t know the meaning of it.”
He smiled the smile of someone who had just won a rather large sum of money.
“In that case, it’s not as sinister as I thought.”
“Your wife knows what she’s talking about.”
“You heard. I think it’s time for you to leave.”
And with that thought Robert was vanished.
I awoke in the chair in the living room, cigarette still lit in the ashtray beside me. The clock in the wall read 3.18am. I leaned back and looked at the ceiling where the crack remained, a crack which had now crept so far into my thoughts that it even occupied my dreams. I recalled the awful dreams I had, instantly remembering the fire, the plasterer whom the crack had absorbed and the narrator. It sent a shiver down my spine. I stubbed out the cigarette properly and went into the kitchen to take some water up to bed with me. Noticing the rubbish needed taking out, I delayed the glass of water and opened the bin, tying off the bin bag and taking it out the front door. The bin was about fifteen feet up the driveway and I decided to make the trek in the dark. Crossing the driveway I felt something sharp sting the sole of my foot. Looking down into the darkness, I could see the moonlight reflected off the fragments of glass on the ground. I deposited the bin and went back inside to take care of the cut, annoyed at myself for not turning the light on.

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