Distance | Fiction by Glen Pourciau
I’ve been watching you and listening to you. The voice you speak in is not your real voice. It’s a voice that sounds like the person you want people to think you are. You are not here, not completely. You live at a distance from yourself and others. When people speak to you, you put their words in a waiting room and seldom let any of them past the door to the other side. Even you don’t know half of what goes on beyond that door. You don’t want to see or hear most of it. You fear you won’t be able to order it in a way that suits your comfort. You want things to be easy on you, and why shouldn’t they be? Have you done something to deserve worse? On the other hand, have you not done something that would have made you deserve better if you’d done it? How do you experience a knock on your door? Are you disturbed to hear it, even when you’re expecting someone? Do you fear it’s someone who’ll see through you? As soon as they step inside are you already waiting for them to leave? You don’t like it when your perimeter is impinged upon. You don’t want any questions, nothing challenging you, no threatening words or images leaking through. Do you expect the world to apologize for intruding? You sometimes feel an urge to be seen and heard, but you resist the exposure. You use the actor you’ve created to make his appearances, but you’ve choked his spontaneity and his lines are more or less canned. He’s a mechanism impersonating something that shouldn’t be a mechanism. You’re holding yourself hostage, too gutless to show your face. When you try to sleep, what wakes you up? Churning in your mind, heads poking up through the ground? Where do they come from and what are they thinking or saying that won’t let you sleep? A familiar thought in your subterranean world is that life is one long exercise in self-control, but sometimes you come home and rave loudly, repeating to yourself that some people don’t know when to leave you alone. You sit down with a drink after burning through your adrenaline. Was it you rising up in the heat of your tirade, you wonder, or was it your anger trying to shout down the walls you’ve built around yourself? You are responsible for your own misery. Look no further, don’t tell yourself a different story. You want to know what I think your voice should sound like. You can’t be told the answer, but if you weren’t in there somewhere you wouldn’t be in conflict with yourself. The actor is trapped in your waiting room, and though the waiting room is something you created it is not you.
NER Digital is a creative writing series for the web. Glen Pourciau’s collection of stories Invite won the Iowa Short Fiction Award. His stories have been published by AGNI Online, the Antioch Review, Epoch, NER, the Paris Review, and elsewhere.