The Storyline

Weaving all of the Words-of-The-Day into an ongoing narrative.

In the incipient phase of Anna's oniochalasia, it was Sunday afternoons browsing in the galleries and antique shops of South Waverly Avenue, with their dusty paintings and artifacts of the virtu of generations past.

This morning, as she struggled through her preprandial pandiculations, she suddenly became aware of the growing clutter in her cramped apartment and this brought to her attention the need for sumptuary controls to obtund the ravages of her shopping habits on the shrinking balance of her bank account. As she nibbled on her bagel, she began to adumbrate for herself the options she faced. As she did, she strolled about the space, reviewing the empty vases and rugose pages of old books, showing signs of their senescence. It was hard not to feel a bit lachrymose as she faced the bivious moment - begin to divest herself of unneeded objects or push out of her mind the morning's epiphany and continue down her current path. A twinge of panic set in as she had a proleptic vision of an already empty space. And she was surprised herself to realize  how painful it would be to deracinate the now deeply rooted patterns that had slowly embedded themselves into her psyche. Was it mere edacity that caused Anna to accumulates so much ... stuff, or something more deep seated, she wondered to herself. The thought sent a gelid flash down her spine, that her very quiddity could be challenged by something so trivial as one too many glass apples.

But whatever nascent clarity Anna was about to be upon was wrenched from her consciousness by the cacophony from the apartment across the hall as the boys were returning from an all night wassail. She wasn't afforded the luxury, however, of experiencing macarism for their high spirits; no such supernal sentiments rushed to mind for Anna in this moment. Just as suddenly as the hullabaloo arose, a now decidedly hebetudinous Kurt began mumbling Anna's name through the door. Anna scanned her possessions before moving toward the door and wondered with what ruse Kurt would attempt to mulct some small favor from her this time. She opened the door, but whatever thought Kurt was trying to hatch died aborning and he stood vacant before her. He stood before her slack-jawed and frozen, like some nemoral creature transfixed by oncoming headlights. But she resisted her captious urges and instead ushered the lost lamb to his door.

The door was already open and Tyler was already passed out, face down on the stark red sofa and half-covered with the fuliginous debris from the ashtray he evidently overturned on his descent. And at the sight of that, Anna abruptly turned from her present cause without remorse for her tergiversation and left Kurt slumped against the open doorway, his face pressed against the kerfs in the wood frame left by the ill-advised attempt to cut their way in the last time Tyler and Kurt locked themselves out.

But Kurt was roused from his stupor and Anna wheeled about at the sounds of Tyler's sudden jactations. With so many turns and reversals in such a short time, Anna felt a bit dizzy, as if she had become bilocated or her ubiety was uncertain. And as much as Kurt was by now used to being jolted awake by Tyler's somnial thrashing, it still unnerved him and he covered with a bit of well-rehearsed persiflage, "Hey, doofus, you're doing it again, wake up!" A very fuzzy-headed Tyler awoke but could only manage cognizance of the obdormition of his right arm, followed hard on by the soft torture of paresthesia. While Anna could not hear what Kurt said into Tyler's ear when he went to his aid, she amused herself by imagining some private hypocorism.

And Anna thought back to when she first met the boys, the places they introduced her to and the argosy of goods they, the boys and the places, would become for her - for good and for ill. More the later, sad to say, lately was true: with the growing internecine conflict between the pair and self-destructive behavior evidencing itself presently. So perhaps as a defense mechanism, Anna watched the scene unfolding before her with a sense of detachment, like a zooperist observing rats in an artificial environment, drugged, dazed and navigating the experimenter's obstacles. Right on cue, Kurt began to cavil at the still groggy Tyler about the mess he'd made dumping ashes on their thrift-store sofa. Anna asseverated to herself, "Changes will be made, changes must be made!"

A decided exiguity of options sprang to mind. So, instinctively Anna sought to extricate herself from the situation to clear her mind and quietly slipped back to her apartment. Crossing the threshold was also reaching the limen of another epiphany: she had littered her life with one distraction after another and that was no longer sufficient to keep her self-doubts at bay. Lost in thought, her eyes latched onto the half-eaten bagel she had abandoned earlier. But the distaste in her mouth from the scene she had just witnessed left no room for the simple gustatory pleasures that she had begun her day with.

Crash! Anna heard the din from across the hall. And she closed her eyes and concentrated on her breathing to hold off the fantods. Eyes shut, she imagined for a fleeting moment some exotic peregrination from island to island in the South Pacific - tranquil and serene. It was a moment so detached from her present reality that it felt almost eldritch. The moment passed and she could only rationalize that such a momentary evasion was clearly idoneous under the circumstances.

Anna found her way to her favorite chair to regroup and reconsider and once again adumbrate a plan for her life. But she had a premonition that even her plan to plan to would be foiled by some marplot. And, right on cue, the phone rang.

"Hello, Mother," Anna answered the phone recognizing the caller ID.
"Hello, Angel," Anna's mother replied, her tone both sincere and recondite in its intentions at the same time. Anna knew her mother's invious mind well and so knew better than to try to ferret out her true purpose in calling.
"Your brother just got back from Israel. He and his research assistant where there to examine the Ossuary of James," she started without so much as a how-are-you. "He's been going there so often," she continued, "do you think he's becoming Israelified?" And Anna had to grit her teeth at both the xenophobia and her mother's propensity to make up toponyms. But trying to argue the point was about as Laputan an effort as her childhood attempt to teach her goldfish to read lips, so Anna remained silent. Not that she had much choice as her mother was rambling on tantivy about her brother's trip. And any attempt to interject would be rendered nugatory by Anna's own ambitendency when it came to asserting herself with her mother.

"And I ran into Andy the other day," her mother continued. "He's looking well. He's getting married next June." Anna snapped back to the conversation at the mention of her whilom beau. Her relationship with Andy had always been a multeity of emotions, meanings and states. And now some of those long neglected conflicts were brought again to the fore. "You should find another boy like that. You will, just you see," was both her mother's benison and instruction. She had met Andy, now an expert on early Christian henotheistic sects, through her brother when both men were at seminary. The mention of Andy in this context brought back for Anna the scandal over his departure from the seminary - the assumption that it was about her, and the reality that Andy was fleeing what felt to him an organized menticide in reaction to his unorthodox positions.

Just at this moment, Anna let out a spasm of involuntary laughter when the tail of Max, her cat perched on the back of the chair, vellicated the nape of her neck. This, in turn, elicited a lengthy disquisition from her mother on the topic of "taking life more seriously." And she was nothing if not sedulous when she felt there was an object lesson to press; her ratiocination, on the other hand, was less solid. "Remember that time when you were ten and you didn't get the magic set you wanted for your birthday, you were such a child about it." And so on it went with a series of oft-reiterated lines and anecdotes that Anna knew well enough to be able to compose an opuscule from them. This was definitely shaping up to be one of those days that is more ullage than wine.

Despite it all, she was, however, out of time for self-pity. It was getting late and her job was no sinecure, which should not understood to vilipend her profession in any way, but managing a book store was no cakewalk. So Anna began to wind down the phone call with her mother, knowing that it would take her katabasis on all fronts to pull herself out, but also knowing that, this time at least, she was aware of this tactical move; the biggest challenge being fighting her Abderian nature and resisting the urge to laugh at her mother's unintentional humor.

Finally off the phone and finding a second of quietude, Anna slumped into her chair and let out a wide yawn, staring oscitantly into space before rousing herself and heading off to get dressed for the day. And once so roused, she accomplished her daily ablutions with all due celerity.

And then, when at last she was out the door of her apartment building, she breathed in the fresh air, only to catch a whiff of the sickly and edentulous homeless man that sometimes sits near the entrance, hoping for some spare change from passing strangers. As she rummaged in her purse for some change, the music from her earphones, from a passing car and the sounds of the city formed an odd quodlibet in her ear, which was pierced by a thersitical tirade, from the man Anna had just helped, regarding the insufficiency of the assistance. But she forgave his imprecations with a gentler prayer of her own. And then the man on the sidewalk said something which would prove to be vatic, "Your possessions will be your undoing." Interpreting Anna's forbearance as contumely, the man muttered a curse under his breath.

It wasn't always thus for him. Before the debilitating depression that precipitated his degringolade, he was once a respected teacher. His name was Roger, the homeless man on the street. And he had become accustomed to be both invisible and opaque, neither seen nor understood, neither conspicuous nor transpicuous. It was this liminal space that he made his home, and it played games with his mind. The contempt and mistreatment he had experienced since his katabasis into the underside of society had built an ongoing narrative in his, alternately supernal and fescinnine, that he could no longer turn off. And he decorated that story with the garniture of his new station - the layers of clothing, the abandoned shopping cart stuffed with possessions, ready-made cardboard signs for various occasional - playing to expectations he understood only too well. While once he had aspirations to write a history of the late middle ages, today his lucubrations produced an undifferentiated mix of fact and fiction that helped explain his intolerable circumstances.

Meanwhile Anna was on the bus headed to work, staring out the window at the plants struggling to survive, ill-suited to the xeric conditions brought on by the recent drought. She knew she was running late and she began planning a subdolous ruse to ease her way into her day. As she contemplated, she began to fall into her diurnal routine, which now included flossing on her way to work, owing to her renascent interest in dental hygiene and her nascent willingness to ignore the stares of her fellow passengers. Routine completed, Anna pulled out her notebook to review her notes for her all-in-progress novel she'd never really started in earnest. Having spent so long drinking in great literature, she couldn't shake the feeling that anything she might create would be only an epigone of her favorite works.

She didn't have long to worry about that though. Her bus arrived at her stop.She got off and walked the block and half to the bookstore. She entered, waved hello to a coworker, and paused for a moment at the counter in the center of the store, ran her hand over the smooth, polished ligneous surface and headed towards her office. The unfinished hesternal papers and reports were right where she had left them No kind soul had completed the tasks in the interim and they didn't vanish on their own accord.

"What is this?!",  was the voice that turned her eyes up for the stack of papers. Her assistant was holding the schedule in the new format and was clearly agitated. This was no surprise. Each time Anna tried to innovate or improve, Jack's misoneism provoked a clash. She understood that it just his fear and nescience, but it was still annoying,  not the least of which was due to his pervicaciousness in fighting these petty battles. But Anna's attention was pulled away from Jack's soliloquy by the wound on his had that had begun to cicatrize, that he refused to cover. While only in her late 20s, Anna was the oldest person on the juvenescent staff at the bookstore.

When she managed to break away, she went out into the shop where she hoped to find buzzing, chirping hive of activity.  But what she found was neither apiary nor aviary. The lack of business weighed on her. She'd even considered paying her brother to pray for the store, excepting it vaguely smacked of simony. And this was one of those days that she questioned if all of her employees were truly motile. "Hey, guys," she said in a loud voice when she saw that each person's phone had become the cynosure of their private universe. She tried to paste on her best beatific smile and she tried to formulate the best way to suggest something so temerarious as getting back to work. She decided to proceed by the zetetic process. "Can anyone tell me where they are and why they're here?" Her venial interruption was soon forgiven and the staff returned to their phones.

Anna's matutinal dislocations left her in no mood however for business as usual. And watching the clear disregard her staff had for her moved that mood from sour to foul to feculent. Suddenly she became aware that her headache was in fact coetaneous with the time she'd been in the store. Her integument of self-composure finally punctured. Making sure there were no customers in the store, she issued forth her diktat, "Anyone not back to work in the next five minutes need not come back to work at all!" And while not the rumbustious flurry of activity she had briefly fantasized, the phones were put away and people did pick up their assigned labors, however nocuous it was to their virtual social lives. Most workplaces tend to be fissiparous, with various cliques and factions forming. This one was not. The workforce was a unified force. Now only to put that to good end.

Still in a foul mood, Anna returned to her office to finish her inventory reports shooting her assistant a look to stave off another battology regarding the schedule.  It worked. He could well see in her eyes the absence of her usual longanimity.

She reached her desk again and attempted to bury herself in her work. "Anna," she heard and froze for a moment at the recognition of that unmistakable orotund voice. Sluggishly she looked up as if her neck and limbs had become filled by something wet and arenaceous. But the face that she saw when she finally looked up wasn't the one she expected. It was the same person, but altered, changed by a weariness and weltschmerz etched into the lines on his face. "Dad?"

She hadn't seen him since he ran off with the woman who facetiously became referred to as the quean. She scanned his face for signs of some reason for the sudden and unexpected appearance. But his motives and countenance remained tenebrous. Whatever it was, she couldn't fight the feeling that she about to thrown of a steep escarpment. Right on cue, in walked an unfamiliar lissom younger woman who stopped and stood just behind Anna's father. Anna started to ask who the stranger was, but doubted the answer would be veridical. Seeing the look in Anna's eyes and then turning around, Anna's father announced, "I'm married again. This is Sara, " thus explaining the maritorious affectation of the woman in Anna's office. At this, Sara thrust out her hand toward Anna - silently and awkwardly. I should charge a capitation for every person that has tried to tax me today, Anna though to herself. But the toll that was being taken was on her. Or was she just a fan of pogonotrophy, Anna randomly wondered of Sara. Anna decided to just be quiet, let her father speak and inculpate himself in his own way.

"We have to to live the life we can, and fully,  to be fully ourselves," he began in his typically gnomic manner. The lecture started to well up inside Anna the obloquy she had been holding to for too long. She thought she had made her peace. And these emotions frightened her a little. The concupiscent looks Sara kept giving Anna's father didn't help matters. "You know the importance I've always placed on being free to be one's authentic self. It's how we raised you kids," he droned on for far too long without reaching the point. But it wasn't true. And the lie brought to mind her repressed resentment of the subtle helotism she lived under growing up.

Anna felt stretched and divided past all tolerance. Moments earlier she had stumbled across a possible defalcation in one of the cashiers' drawer. Now this. Each piece, each affront, each shock was another wall that immured her in an invisible prison. And she felt claustrophobic and confined. Sensing the tension, Sara attempted to diffuse the situation with an inappropriate jape directed at the mess in the office and room fell into awkward silence. Anna's father sought to regain the floor and began to speak, but Anna would have nothing of his revanchist ploy. "Why are you here, anyway?" she asked with uncharacteristic bluntness, thereby regaining some measure of her quondam self-esteem.

"Young lady, remember I'm your father," he retorted. But his role in her parturition was not sufficient to give him the upper hand again. Anna felt cold. Outside it was summer. But in that office the climate was brumal. Finally the dam burst and out from Anna came a wellspring of anger and recrimination. Her father was taken aback and Sara mortified. But Anna was not deterred and feasted on her own bile, even as she was surprised by her own gulosity for vituperation. The effect on Anna of emptying this long contained rage was soporific and upon completion she slumped into her chair before a stunned father and mortified mother-in-law.

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