Nothing extraordinary has ever happened in my life. Or maybe my entire life is extraordinary. It’s hard to differentiate between what is ordinary and what counts as extra when you live where I do. Things just kind of happen here, and since I’ve only ever visited one other place, I don’t have much to compare Night Vale to.
Lucinda – I mean, mom – it still feels kinda strange to call her that – got me this journal for my 21st birthday. She said that when I was younger she didn’t want to encourage the use of writing utensils at home, since “who knew where such dangerous and illegal activities would lead a young and impressionable mind.” But now that I’m an adult and finally, officially out of my teenage years, she thought I was old enough to make my own decisions.
“Even I sneak in a poem here and there,” Lucinda – mom – said in a whisper. “Just a haiku here and there. I’ve tried sonnets, but haven’t quite gotten the hang of them yet.”
The microphone that the vague/menacing government agency installed above the fridge buzzed. Then it beeped three times. Then it made a noise that sounded kind of like the snap, crackle, and pop of rice krispies when they get ingested and dissolved by the stomach acid of a very hungry bear.
We both ignored it. To be honest, I think the agents usually let the whole writing thing slide if you keep it inside the home and all.
Anyway, I’ve never been that interested in writing recreationally. At least, I don’t think I have ever been. I have no idea what my friends from high school and I were recreationally interested in. High school was a long time ago. Decades. I’ve heard people say that high school never ends, but it did for me. It is way over, man.
When I showed the journal and matching pen, pencil, calligraphy, feather quill, blood charcoal, regular charcoal, and paintbrush set to Diane, she frowned with disapproval. She still worries about my safety from time to time. I think it’s, like, kinda hard for her to turn off the mom thing from time to time. It probably costs a lot, too.
But after a moment she remembered that I am a grown adult who is responsible and can make their own decisions within the reasonable limits of time, space, free will, and the wrath of any mountains that may or may not exist. Also that I’m not a teenager any more and can legally drink alcohol now. So, like, that’s a thing.
“What are you going to do with it?” she asked me. I didn’t have an answer for her. I didn’t have an answer because I hadn’t given in much thought. I’m never sure how much thought to give or not give certain things. It’s tricky.
“I dunno,” I replied. “I haven’t given it much thought.”
“Well, it’s a journal,” said Diane. “So why don’t you use it as one?”
“What do you mean?” I asked. I wasn’t very familiar with how exactly journals worked. People bring journals into the shop sometimes, but I never question them about their use. That seems invasive, and it’s not my job to be invasive. That’s the government’s job. Obviously.
Diane paused. “You write things in them. What happens in your day, and how you feel about it.”
“That seems kinda dumb,” I told her. “Since nothing much happens to me, and I almost never feel anything about it.”
“Sure,” Diane allowed. “But you were nineteen for a really long time, and you don’t remember much about your life before that. Why not try writing stuff down? Who knows how long you’ll be twenty-one. Maybe you’d remember things better if you had something to go back to.”
She paused again. The bowl of water in front of her was a deep purple, and it reflected bits of colorful light onto her face. we had been washing our hands for some time, without chanting. Just routine store maintenance, you know.
“I think your mom would really like it if you tried that,” Diane said just as I thought she intended to keep the silence going until it had gotten healthy and strong. “I think she’d like it if you could remember the things that happened, and how you felt about them.”
She had a point. Lucinda/mom has been pretty understanding about the whole forgetting my childhood thing. But now that I see her more, I get to hear her talk about my old friends, school, and dread scout trips more. Maybe this journal thing can help us fight the eternal war against time, which never works right here in Night Vale.
So here it is, I guess. I’ll admit I’m enjoying the feel of the charcoal on my fingers. Makes for a cool change from, you know, everything.
A thing happened today, and I felt something about it.
It was this: I ate lunch at Tourniquet today, for the first time. I had a ham and swiss sandwich. While I was there, I saw Earl Harlen. I’d never seen him before, since usually I’m at work at the shop and he’s at work at Tourniquet.
He’s the only other person I know of that has – enjoyed? endured? enacted? – being nineteen for an extended period of time.
Today he stepped out of the kitchen holding three fried turkey legs, a wedding cake, and a bucket of bright green sludge. Looked like someone ordered out for their anniversary.
Earl stepped outside for less than a minute. When he returned, he was holding a bouquet of plastic forks. A really nice tip. As he walked back toward the kitchen, our eyes met briefly.
And the feeling I had was recognition. Also retribution. I’m not sure if I’ll ever leave the pawning business, but I guess I like knowing that I could have a – normal? ordinary? extra-ordinary? – relationship with time… someday. Someday, I could win.