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"The Speaker," short story excerpt (and the 2000th entry of the Many Moments More journal)

Saturday 2/4/23

This is entry number 2000 in this journal. Story excerpt.


He was the most anticipated speaker in the history of Aeolian Hall. Some people said he was the most anticipated speaker in the history of the world. Tickets sold out a long time ago. In the interim, people had been born and died. Married. Had children. Grandchildren. A quantity of the tickets had been passed on and inherited through wills. If time was a river that floated under bridges, then rivers would be oceans and continents would have ceded their positions in the days and nights since the speaker’s initial booking.

The speaker had lived in Antarctica. He had lived in India. He had lived in a palace. He had lived under a castle. He’d lived on a craft in the North Pole. He’d worked in cities. He started museums. He walked hallways without stopping to examine the art on the walls. He taught children to paint with their fingers and abstain from licking them. He’d had many wives. He’d had as many husbands. He’d been a man. He’d been a woman. He hadn’t been sure who he was. He’d known until he hadn’t. He hadn’t known until he did.

He garnered all the honors. He won every award that had been created specifically for him because he’d already swept all of the others. He celebrated commendation as significance. He tried to live with a heart that knew better.

He’d been famous. He’d been forgotten. He’d been unknown. He had roused passions. He had triggered fears. He’d failed to muster any feelings from anyone. He’d had many eyes on him. He’d known only the scores and armies of backs. Sometimes he coughed just so that there was a sound that pertained to him.

He’d been wealthy. He’d been poor. He’d been of indiscriminate means. He’d taken as many jobs at once as he could. He’d begged for food. He stole food. He sold food. He gave food to the poor when he was poor. He gave food to the poor when he was wealthy. He kept that which he did not need because it was his. He purloined. Misappropriated. Delved into malfeasance. Shriven. Atoned. Pleaded the wrong way for the right reasons. Pleaded the right way for the wrong reasons. Simply pleaded.

He’d been cocky. He’d been full of himself. He’d been eaten from the inside out and the outside in with self-doubt. He’d wished he was dead. He’d wished he could live forever. He asked for ten more good years. He was okay with dying tomorrow. He wanted it to be over. He wanted to begin again. He wanted to be a lot better the next time he woke up. He wanted to be a little better tomorrow than he was today and start from there.

He wanted to find a house somewhere quiet and never leave. He’d wanted to travel to another world and live among its beings. He had wanted to do good for others. He had wanted revenge on all. He had wanted revenge on those who had hurt him the most. He wanted revenge on himself.

He ate only plants. He ate a lot of animals. He killed poachers. He shot birds as they commenced their arc of glorious flight. He loved his mother. He hated his mother. He envied his father. He pitied his father. He favored one child over another. He didn’t take the criticism about how he was with the boy and the girl. He was too hard on himself. He defended himself when there was no defense to be erected. He put in the effort and made the time that was there all along. He listened. He asked. He waited. He heard. He empathized. He understood. He understood that he only understood so much but should keep trying. He learned things about the girl he hadn’t known about anyone else in the world because they were her things. He was relieved when it brought them closer. He was surprised. He was grateful. He was full with love. He knew something of joy and how it was different than he had imagined joy could be. He was frightened of impermanence, depending upon the day.


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