Elizabeth and Fred were at the bottom. And the carpet in the living room was soggy again. It was beginning to reek like the regurgitations of pigs with coronavirus. Dimly fortunate for them they had encouraged all the kids to go outside and swim. They were old enough to get their own gear and be on their way to the deep end whined about for years. All the nagging and complaining in relentless variations of squeaking scratching sentences repeated in awful repetitions that twisted phrases and words into contorted twisting resulting in enormous lesions along muscle tissue throughout most of Elizabeth and Fred's bodies made them yearn to go off the deep end. What came out of the blue disappeared into the shadowy depths.
Nothing beats the smell of a fresh cup of coffee as it is accidentally spilled over one's laptop.
Elizabeth: Aarrgg! I can't believe I did this!
Fred: What can't you believe about it for crying out loud?!
Elizabeth: Why are you saying it like that? You make it sound like I did this on purpose.
Fred: That's not what I meant. I'm just upset with you with what happened with you to you.
Elizabeth: Are you going to help me or do you need to go to speech class?
Fred: I'll get a paper towel. It's just that when I get upset I have trouble arranging words.
Elizabeth: I'll let it dry for a while, but I'm not confident that it'll recover.
Fred: None of us are recovering. How can we at this point in the perpetual denouement of our lives recover from all the events that everyone misinterprets as worthy of gratitude and commentary that obsesses with freedom and abundance and waves and cycles when it's really all just one big whirlpool? Most people who were watching have tuned out thinking that things turned out for the best and they haven't and they are no longer paying attention to see what's going on and how it really is. Now we flounder in our space that's closing in on us as it trembles while keeping the oppressiveness of the world from crushing us into algae for future generations, but yet it leaks in with its increasing pressure that demands obedience and release upon us toward that eventual immersion that will spread sunken treasure that can't possibly be lifted let alone used in this vast forsaken sea of drowned plans.
Elizabeth: Did the children go out?
Fred: Yes, they've been gone for a while now.
Elizabeth: They still have the energy to go right into it, don't they?
Fred: Yes, they do.
Elizabeth: Where do they get all their energy and can they share some with us?
Fred: I think it emanates from their core desire to incapacitate others.
Elizabeth laughs effusively and then begins to sob.
Fred: You just took a sharp turn there. You were happy one moment laughing at yet another one of my witticisms and then you slipped over the drop-off into sadness. Do you want me to hold you?
Elizabeth: I don't think they'll be back.
Fred: Who? The kids?
Elizabeth: Yeah, the kids. I think they know they need to leave while they can and try to make it to the surface.
Fred: It's too far up and we've had to reside deeper down you know that.
Elizabeth: Don't you rip what's left out of me! Do you understand!? It's all I have left. I tell myself everyday with all the rage I can muster smothered under all this exploitation and fatigue that I see the hope in their defiance and in all the times they roll their eyes and scream that they hate me and can't wait to leave that there has to be enough momentum to break that fucking insufferable surface!
Fred: Now you've transitioned into yet a third affect.
Elizabeth: You can kiss my ass. Been developing a persistent sea fungus in the crack.
Elizabeth: The only unifying feature of our relationship is the combining of our odors. The fetid aroma does get to one's mind after a time and time and carries with it the influence of the ever increasing fragmentation as the damp bones roll over into Davy Jones' Locker. The cranium feels flattened and duller with each successive breath. The journals and the ink are so flooded with the leakage and the mildew that the words will be forgotten. It's better that way to see it that way formerly or used to form an image in the skull the brain of pushing the annoying cousin away underwater and watch him float off and blur and fade like a retreating failed predator. The predators don't fail anymore they are depressingly successful all the time consistency and efficiency are the words dipped in the black ink of their dead eyes. No swimming away. They circle and circle until you barf your rationality and strength. Can't see them either can't see anything in this water anymore nothing dawns as you sluggishly emerge into semiconsciousness and discover another chunk taken out of you.
Fred: Tendencies have dangerous drawbacks as the air pumped in does whatever to draw us into or out of or through imaginary penetrations of transcendence that never really didn't happen or never occurred to this before when time could be measured plugged into something where cables didn't have to be so thick and insulate our reactions which can be a good or worse thing. Been stored by those librarians on the very bottom shelf to be kicked by people's pointy shoes and boots and uncut toenails sharpened on stone cold assumptions that overlay our underlying assumptions tabled with tablets that don't make it go away like the last dosage armor plated in so many paradigms catalogued with the classification systems that have a predisposed predilection for being being being myopic sailors splashing about after nautical disguises that have drifted beyond our grasp.
Elizabeth: What on Earth are you talking about?
Fred: Is that where we are on Earth? No longer recognize it or myself or you or maybe all of the above. Or none of the above. None of the below. We are after all underneath it all.
Elizabeth: You're showing more signs of the irrationality we've been talking about.
Fred: Thank you. I've been working on it. I feel a thesis coming.
Elizabeth: It could be a tumor. I have an idea. Why don't we break the windows and let the ocean in and have done with it?
Fred: I thought we shared with each other the ways we preferred to die and drowning wasn't one of them?
Elizabeth: You're imagining things again especially with the state your neurotransmitters are in.
Fred: I am not making this up. I could swear we discussed this during the first 5 years of our marriage or 10 at least during the first 10 tops. Between 5 and 10 years most likely averaging it out.
Elizabeth: We never had that conversation. Never. You are high.
Fred: I could never be high this far down. I could have sworn you said you were fond of being blown up and I said dying in my sleep. That sounds so nice and overdue.
Elizabeth: Blown up? Why would I enjoy being blown up? And what kind of explosive? Grenade? TNT?
Fred: I believe you mentioned nuclear.
Elizabeth: No way. I would have never said that now I know you are definitely making that up since I actually like that idea. To distribute oneself throughout a mushroom cloud.
Fred: You'd be vaporized.
Elizabeth: If I had a choice at this point between being fumigated or vaporized I'd put everything into getting vaporized.
Fred: It does sound rather climactic.
Elizabeth: In that case don't count on it. We have a way of avoiding significance.
Fred: We're like an asymptotic equation.
Elizabeth: Never quite touching, whether it's a change a bifurcation a more promising chapter episode or even the end.
Fred: We are becoming a little less convinced with every subsequent exhalation not much but something.
Elizabeth: There's still always something when we continue to beat around the aquatic bush of the final nothing, but there's still that something that we try to ground into some damp powder in our fists. We are a little less convinced at the very bottom under all those underlying assumptions that float above and keep the pressure all around us. You're a step ahead as you embark on your voyage of irrationality to flush the assumptions that remain within us from so many years after dry land the dry land desecrated with fences and wires. Maybe we can just pretend to break the windows and allow the ocean to wipe out that last tragic memory stuck in my throat like a splintered fishbone.
- Max Stoltenberg