The man sat at his desk in the darkness. He listened to the reverent hum of the television in the next room, the adjoining wall whispering in tenored fuzz. He imagined the bluecast image of his wife and child spread together on the couch, their attention fixated on the hypnotic glow of the electric box. He could feel the warmth trapped deep down in the upholstery by the heat of their bodies.
He reached to switch on the lamp above his head. Familiar objects spread before him, his typer, his papers and pens and their calculated arrangement like practiced definitions of his existence. A coffee mug half-filled with stale brown liquid, the surface slick with bean oil. He spent most of his hours thinking.
The purpose of life, he thought, is not to become an object of someone’s understanding, though each minute that we are alive appears to be evidence that this is so, that somewhere out there someone understanding us must be tautological truth, that it is necessary for the migration of our souls and validation of our lives that we be understood in all our calculated aloofness. It seems that our lives cannot possibly be dignified without this.
He lifted a pen and drowned the tip in the inkwell. He wrote: Sometimes when I’m writing, I feel like I’m doing it for progeny just as much as myself. If this documentation serves some overreaching purpose, it’s the enlightenment of others to the deep complexities of he or she who creates and transforms the data into language and imagery.
The light went out in the lamp above him. The deep vibrato in the wall continued. He thought it strange how the electricity sometimes failed in this one room but continued in all the others. He put the pen down on the desk and stood to stare out the window to the darkened trees swaying with the mountain wind. Somewhere out there, he thought, an animal is alone, a breathing affirmation of what it is to be alive.
His wife and child hardly noticed his shadowed presence slipping next to them beneath the blankets. It was a film about superheroes.