Things I Did the Year After

Posted on April 28, 2008


By Stephen Daniel Lewis

I had amassed unknowable amounts of books, clothes, and furniture in the house I shared with my parents. Soon after they vacated the home, I did the same, leaving piles of things on the floor for termites and moths. I walked out of the house like it had never been there.

I moved into an apartment and furnished it with a cat and several second-hand things. The town was situated so that this apartment was on the opposite side from the vacant house. It was also far from the cemetery. With this, I was able to distance myself from anything that had previously been certain or comforting.

I worked eleven months at a low caliber pizza place. I worked inside, I didn’t deliver, I didn’t have a car anymore. While working there, certain easily forgivable things happened. But these things were slight in number.

I peeled open a banana with still-green skin. After taking a bite, I realized it was completely bruised on one side. The fruit mushed in my mouth. I swallowed and immediately felt sick.

I spent time sitting on a couch I bought from the thrift store.

During a twelve-month period, I didn’t have a car, but then near the end of the period I did have a car. One could say I spent ten months forgetting how to drive a car, or I spent ten months walking to work, or I spent ten months without enough money to buy a car. All that really happened was, I didn’t have a car, but after that I did have a car.

I quit my job after eleven months. I took showers. With the water on, I looked down at the light discoloration brushed around the sides of the tub. This trace was left by the person who lived here before me, or the person before them, and will be left for the person after me, and the person after them, and I thought about the people who lived here previously and the people who will live here subsequently and somewhere it became overbearing because I could feel my body shaking and my knees shifting. To bring myself back in-kilter I looked at the soap and shampoo bottles and realized I had formed red circles on my abdomen from scrubbing against it for quite awhile.

For a long time I refused to glue anything. I was afraid of ruining. I left everything loose-leaf. In this same way I would drive to visit the parents of others. Always different houses. Often they didn’t recognize me. I would drive hours before I gave up, before gripping the steering wheel and thinking of other parts of the world, which always forced a return to my part of the world where, most said, there were over 6,000 ghost towns. When I let the window down a dry or rotten smell would fill the car, and I knew it was true.

I learned that the amount of time spent brushing teeth in the morning has less to do with hygiene and more to do with the amount of un-obligated time that exists during the remainder of the day.

Nearly every night for a month I slid into a stupor about an argument with some faceless person, or maybe a vivid vision of juice glasses breaking in my kitchen. I would always wake up anxious, worrying that the dream was existent somewhere, that I needed to find and dispose of it.

But I sometimes woke and there would be a pool of cinnamon liquor dried on the kitchen floor. The cat would be trying to lick it. I would not know the cause, or the meaning of the spill. It was simply there, and I had not dreamed about it at all.

I tried moving everything out of my apartment. I feared a black hole was attached to my side somehow, and I didn’t want to lose anything.

From now until sometime I will try to clean out my brain. I will become a computer. I will answer yes and I will answer no, or I will answer no and nothing else.





Stephen Daniel Lewis lives and works in Lawrence, KS. He has some poetry published online, and edits Robot Melon. He is 21 years old.

Posted in: Fiction