And Other Stories



It was warm, but the heat was retreating, fearful of the threatening march beaten persistently by the rain against the drums of a small building's roof. Despite the hostility, they had worked each in turn to stay sleep from the eyes of the house's sole inhabitant, as he lay uneasily in a bed. His home was plain, simple, unadorned and humble. Homely, in a word. In another, unremarkable. But that was a lie. The man shifted, as his thoughts raced.

They were fixated on a word. "Unremarkable". It hardly described itself, if several moment's sudden occupation had provided any glimpse into that. Beyond its simple status as a concept ironically worth description, something about it was sticking with him. It felt appropriate, in some sense. It was mingling with something almost like dread, although he couldn't place its object.

He ruled out the idea that it was some haunting ghost of self-doubt, dismissing himself. It was more than that, in some frustratingly vague sense. Something was wrong with the word, or perhaps something was right. Still, he made no progress, gained no foothold against the bulwark leveled by this sudden enigma his mind had presented. Finally, as more heat was leeched from his room by the cool night air without, he drifted off to sleep.

He dreamed, but not of anything worth note. Outside, the rain beat on, growing much stronger before it finally began to wane. All around the home, plumes and fronds waved and swayed in the winds, roots slaked by the downpour. Eventually, after the rain had ceased, the clouds parted to better reveal the rising sun they had conspired to obscure. Warmth was quick to follow, triumphant in its return, ferried along by humble daylight. They both struck against the thick glass of a window, and the thin cloth of a curtain, before reoccupying the home.

The man awoke in a start. He scrambled out of his bed, all but ransacking his surroundings for something to write with, and something to write upon. It didn't take long to find the paper or to grasp the leather of his pencil in hand, although it felt as though every passing moment posed an utter threat to the thought so jealously hoarded in his mind. As though it might slip away, ephemeral, unnoticed, supplanted by the light of morning and the faint, lingering smell of rain. He scrawled it out quickly, before letting himself relax, the strange urgency had now passing as suddenly as it had come.

He glanced down at the page, and 'Nothing is unremarkable' gazed back up at him in that hasty, scratchy hand. Under other circumstances, the phrase may have struck him as banal. It was trivially true, if taken literally. What was there really that none could say anything of? Even ideas that could not be represented within the confines of words without losing their essential, ineffable essence in the torture could be described-- just like that. Things the mind couldn't grasp could still be called inconceivable. Someone could lie about anything. In normal encounters with that phrase, it would probably have been meant to carry some positive sentiment. An assurance that everything was special, that it all mattered, perhaps. And yet he was staring at it with something like a muted, curdled horror.

Whatever had spurred him on to write that phrase had slipped out of his mind as it slipped out of the pencil, going with whatever other recollections he might have had of the night's wandering thoughts. But his waking self was fixated on the sentence, and the sort of logic it evoked in him. "Nothing is unremarkable." It followed, then, that everything that existed or happened was remarkable. Remarkable things were. Unremarkable things weren't.

It may have struck another as an easy, tempting, perhaps even logically necessary conclusion to come to, then, that the issue solved itself. Why lament those unremarkable events had never come to pass, when they never could have to begin with? When their occurrence would be more than sufficient evidence that they had never been unremarkable at all, but potential subject to word and thought all the while? Still, he couldn't shake the feeling looming in his mind, threatening to supplant all his other thoughts.

He had landed upon a word to describe that odd, almost fey feeling that had seeped into his gut earlier that night, mingling with the strange dread, mostly subsumed by it. Ever since that strange hour, spent quietly bemoaning the heat and listening to the rainfall, vainly courting sleep, he had felt something profound, which seemed in some sense right. But it had only then dawned what word he could put to it. He had felt remarkable. He still did.

Yet, what had lodged itself so implacably and terribly in his thoughts was the corollary, that nothing of himself or his life before that so arbitrary point had felt remarkable. Perhaps it was only the hour, but he could not dismiss the worry that induced.

If he was, now, remarkable— Real— What had he been before?