Simon broke the fourth wall by asking his narrator what he was doing.
“Why does this start with me in the bathroom?” He asked. I didn’t have a great answer for that. “I’ve been done for a while now. Can I get up?”
“It’s a free country,” I tell him.
He’s right; I could make it not so. I could also wonder how free any of us are in the systems we consider “free.” But that’s being pedantic. He’s not talking about that. He is asking if this is some kind of dystopic nightmare-scape. Or, is it some kind of escapist fantasy? Is there anything between the two?
“Yes, it is,” I tell him.
“Then I’m getting up,” Simon pulls up his pants and exits the stall. A couple of other men are washing their hands. They’re taking far too long. One of them takes out a small pack from his pocket and begins preparing a toothbrush. The man begins brushing while Simon washes his hands. The other stranger does not begin brushing his teeth, but instead watches Simon intently while Simon dries his hands.
“Why are you filling this world with creeps?” He asks.
“I’m writing this at night. It’s creepy.” I decide to tell him the truth. What could it hurt?
“It’s not creepy to brush your teeth,” the man brushing his teeth says. However, he spoke through a garbled mouth full of toothpaste with the toothbrush still inside his mouth, so his speech was unintelligible.
“What did he say?” Simon asks, looking in my direction.
“He said ‘it’s not creepy to brush your teeth,’” I tell him. Simon scoffs. After enough times of having his hand spat on in the bathroom by people doing just this, it wasn’t only creepy to him, it was grotesque. Shivers pervaded his body when he heard the scrubbing, scraping sounds.
“Hey, don’t give away all my shit,” Simon says, exiting the bathroom.
“They can’t hear me,” I tell him.
“Yeah, but they can,” Simon waves his arms around. The people walking down the hallway didn’t know what he was talking about. But I did. He was talking about you.
“Don’t tell them!” Simon runs his fingers through his hair rapidly. It was supposed to be a regular day. However, on the way back to his desk, Simon begins to ponder.
“Is being in a story like being in a dream? Can I do anything that I want?” He asked. “Can I fly?”
Simon jumped, another person down the hallway turned at the noise when he landed back on the ground.
“You can’t. You’re in it.”
“Well, that’s a raw deal.”
“It’s not that bad. I already made you a white guy. How much easier do you want it?”
“You could have made me taller.”
“I also could have made you shorter.”
Also, of note, Simon’s 5’10’’. He’s taller than I am. Give me a break.
“Well, if it’s a story, what is supposed to happen?”
I ponder whether to debate the accuracy of his statement. Are things supposed to happen in stories? I mean, they usually do. But is that the point?
“All I’m saying is,” Simon speaks this as he walks by others working at his shared workspace. It is open concept, and everyone is buried in their computers. Some of them are red-eyed from long nights or early mornings while slogging through another endless gigging economy day. “If you haven’t given me the ability to do what I want, you still have that ability. Why is this what’s happening? That’s a lack of imagination.”
“You have something better in mind?”
I think about it. The ground begins to shake. It’s California, so this is noted, people look out the window, but not much else.
“Holy fuck,” Simon says. Outside the window it was snowing. A far more radical occurrence than a little bit of light shaking. Others in the shared workspace leap up and run outside, delighted. Simon follows them outside, but he is one of the last ones. He gives me a knowing look. I’d shrug if he could see me.
Outside, people are all gazing up at the suddenly overcast sky. Snowflakes fall around them, although they immediately evaporate upon hitting the warm sidewalk. Simon doesn’t look particularly impressed. I decide that he starts to float.
“Woah, shit,” Simon begins to rise into the air. The others see him. They begin to point. It takes Simon a few attempts to learn how to maneuver in space. It’s kind of like swimming. It’s just harder to grab onto the fabric of air in order to move yourself around.
“Go wherever you want,” I tell him. Simon gives me a nod and takes off. He’s happy to be away from my presence and even happier to be in the air. I could follow him. But I decide to let him go. The snowstorm stops pretty quickly and the others head back inside. However, all across L.A. that day, there was something streaking across the sky. Not a bird, not a plane, but a fictional character in his own lucid story. But I’ll let him tell you about it.