Thursday, March 15, 2012

Zero(short story by -pc3)


“Zero is powerful because it is infinity’s twin. They are equal and opposite, yin and yang”. Charles Seif.

“A penny for your thoughts”. My mind had wandered off, so I slowly closed   the book.
I am Penny, but my friends from long ago used to tease me, for my thin build and quick wit calling me pencil. I looked out at the falling snow, gently coating the roads smothering all sound. It had been twenty two years and then some, if you counted the days. Memory has a way of blowing away fluff leaving moments clear, covering it again, just as in a snow storm.
Those words tinkled with clarity again today, just as it had on that fall morning twenty-two years back. “A penny for your thoughts”, David had said at the bus stop. A few of us were waiting for the bus back to school after our break. David and I became friends during that final semester at college, and rather quickly slid down to marriage.
It was to be today or never, well almost. This snow will delay my meeting with the attorney. Guess a day this way or that doesn’t matter when you are looking at a whole new life ahead. Questions with no clear answers swim around in my head, swirls of cold snow coat my thoughts chilling them to inaction.
It was one year ago in March on a cold day that I had considered distance as an evolutionary blessing. Yes, last March it was cold and grey, an overhang of gloom had settled in to steady the clouds.
There I was, my pillow hugging my head that just would not stop. I had to stop thinking or die. I had tried for a whole year, to stop all thought, but they just were like weeds, coming alive in moments and ever so frequent too. Yet, they had stayed dormant for so long that I had forgotten that thoughts could exist.
“Penny, indeed,--an apt name your parents found. –You worthless bumbling idiot…zero now that fits --just like the ones you produced, all good for nothing…” David my husband muttered his disgust that slid down the banisters as he walked up the stairs to his bedroom.
He would be leaving in the morning on a trip to start his new job in Florida. I tried not to be bothered by his rants. Besides, I had gotten used to it over the past two decades.
We are a family and families come through always. Of course every family has its ups and downs. Being transformed from penny to a blank.—to nothing, to zero. Guess I could perceive myself as nothing but a floating life form in a vacuum, waiting for death, one day to the next. I tried, I truly tried to stop thinking, but I had loved infinity from the first time I wrote it,  those  slow curves brimming with possibilities.
Now I have to choose between zero and infinity, and then again may be I don’t have to. David always sleeps in the master bedroom and I use the spare bedroom or the sofa, carrying my blanket and pillow with me. That night I chose the spare room. I was in a phase with a burst of nightmares. I like nightmares because it is not the death of sleep...
I woke with a rather vague dream, but still it startled me. The darkness cast odd shapes on the wall as it hugged the cold air. Shifting in bed I heard a door close.  Then as I drifted back to sleepy comfort, Eva my daughter screamed; rather a muffled whiny cry of “mommy I am scared, mommy” as I came up to wakefulness.
“It’s just a bad dream little one”, I whispered then as I rocked her to sleep. I held her nine years of fears and smoothed away the hair from her forehead as I scanned the darkness. I saw the darkness cluster into shape and slide into David’s bed.
I lay there listening to every creak of a bed, every movement, as each room waited for light. David, he would leave by three AM, leaving me freedom to sleep for four hours before I got up to go to work. Eva would wake too and I would watch her get on the bus, before I left.
I closed Eva’s bed room door, then moved my purse with our passports and IDs from the pillow to her book bag and pushed it further back under her bed. Then I lay down on the floor, placing my feet firm against the closed bed room door.
I guess a choice of sorts had morphed from my thoughts. The snow continued to pile higher, blown about in the cold retreating darkness.  I would have to reschedule my appointment. Slowly I moved to the phone as the Zero in me unraveled to form a different curve.