Interesting Boredom

I always take a book with me, no matter where I’m going or for how short a time. I simply hate leaving the house without a book. I think the reason for this is mostly a fear that I’ve developed over the years – a fear of boredom. I bring a book with me wherever I go so that if, by some chance, I need to wait at a bus station or for a friend or for something unexpected – well, I’ll have something to immerse myself in. Some people can find a hundred ways to occupy themselves with their cellphones. Some people can file their nails for an hour or count how many red cars go by. I can do those things too, but I simply would prefer to have a book.

Still, there have been times when my fear of boredom has been alleviated by the fact that I can, surprisingly, entertain myself with my own thoughts fairly well. Last week, for instance, I was taking a long bus ride and I began to grow nauseous while reading. I put my book on my lap and stared out the window, trying to calm my roiling stomach and concentrate on my breathing. Soon I found myself engaged in memories and imagined conversations and in musings about this or that, while also enjoying the view and trying to invent details or stories to add to what I saw.

Boredom, I’ve discovered, can be quite pleasant at times.

Victoria’s Secret [Part III]

“…And then,” Debbie concluded, “he said he knew I didn’t aprove of his art and that I was ashamed of him. Since then, it’s been hard convincing him to see me at all.”

“But it sounds to me like you’re proud of him!” Victoria exclaimed. She’d just listened to Debbie describing her son’s rollercoaster-style life for the last ten minutes, and Debbie’s eyes had shown in the faint glow of the cellphone screen with a deep love and admiration of her scattered boy.

“I am. I think his sculptures are beautiful. He thinks I’m full of it, though,” Debbie’s eyes filled again with tears. “I don’t know how to convince him differently. But,” she collected herself. “I do the best I can, as often as I can. I hope he’ll understand about today.”

Victoria nodded somberly. The man in the corner of the elevator gave a sudden phlegm-based cough and both Victoria and Debbie jumped. They’d almost forgotten he was there; he’d been utterly silent while Debbie spoke. Now, Debbie looked up at him with a half smile.

“Rob, sit down, Hun,” She said. “They’ll get us out of here eventually, but there’s no use standing like a lump in the corner. It isn’t going to make anything go any faster.” Victoria smiled inwardly at the motherly tone that Debbie used with this stout, stuffy little man. Rob wore an impeccable suit, obviously expensive, in charcoal grey, and his hair, so obviously oiled, had a little spike standing up out of it, as if he’d begun to run his hand through it before remembering that he mustn’t ruin his exquisite hairstyle.

“No, thank you, Debra, I’d rather stand,” he answered. Despite his look of calm snootiness, his voice sounded strained. His hands were stuffed in his pockets, and Victoria could tell that he was playing with something in his right hand, twisting something around and around in the pocket.

“What have you got there – Rob, is it?” she asked.

“It’s Robert. And it’s nothing.”

“Seems like something,” Victoria smiled at him. She had a way of smiling which she’d used on her younger brother when they were young – she still remembered how to do it. It had made her brother tremble with fear and then submission, and it did the same thing to Mr. It’s-Robert. He looked at her strangely, not sure of what her smile meant, and broke eye contact. He took his hand out of his pocket and showed Victoria a smooth, round stone, the kind that’s abundant on riverbanks. It was, Victoria noted, the perfect skipping stone, because it was smooth and rather flat. But then Rob held it out and the light caught it, and she saw that the stone wasn’t grey, as she’d thought at first, but rather a deep green. Then she saw that through the green were thick veins of a very dark red.

“What is it?” she asked wonderingly. It was beautiful.

“It’s a bloodstone,” Rob answered. “It’s the birthstone for March, and it’s very rare to find such fine specimans as this one. My wife and I went to India for our second honeymoon, and she bought me this as a surprise. It’s actually a funny story – we’d been in the market, and this old man without a word of English tried to sell it to us…” Rob’s voice trailed off. Victoria stared at him in wonder. Here was a man who she would never guess would have gone to India. For a second honeymoon, no less! People only have second honeymoons if they’re married for a while, right? Her thoughts were in a whirl at the image of this stuffy, haughty little man galavanting around Indian markets.

Vicky! she chided herself. You mean thing. As if you know anything about people by looking at them… If the world worked quite so simply you’d never have gotten to where you are. So say something nice now, and close your mouth.

“It’s a beautiful stone,” she murmered.

“Yes,” Rob seemed about to smile but then rearranged his facial expression into a frown. “When will they come to get us the hell out of here?”

“Soon, Hun,” Debbie answered wearily, pulling a bottle of water out of her purse. It was really getting hot in the small space. “I hope. Want some water, folks?”

Move [Part V]

Something was different. Marianne knew it the moment she woke up, because she woke up naturally, for once. There was no rattle of the dumbwaiter; there was no muffled crackle of the speaker. She sat up on her mattress, crossed her legs, and rubbed her eyes. She looked around the room, and immediately saw a difference. A difference so staggering that she felt her stomach clench – whether with fear or excitement, she didn’t know.There was someone in the room with her. Someone was sitting on a simple, steel chair that was right against the opposite wall. Marianne gaped. She took the person sitting there in, inch by inch, while they scrutinized her right back.

The person sitting in the chair was a woman. She had very high cheekbones that were prominently displayed over the black doctor’s mask that was hiding the rest of her lower face. A pair of eyes, the iris’s so darkly brown they appeared black from afar, were above the cheekbones, perfectly framing a slightly long, very straight nose. The woman’s hair was rather surprising – she was a redhead. Though her hair was swept back in a tight bun, it seemed like it wanted to break out and spring back into its normal state of bouncy curliness.

The woman crossed her legs and placed her white hands upon her knee. She then spoke, and Marianne knew instantly that it was this woman’s voice that pierced her through every day, the voice that emerged from the crackly speaker. It was deep, for a woman, and slightly rough, but there was a musical tone to it as well, as if this woman could sing jazz easily.

“Well,” she said. “It’s nice to finally be able to greet you in person, Marianne.”

Marianne didn’t know what to say, so she continued to stare at the woman. She wondered if the woman expected her to be pleased to see a human face, perhaps even be grateful for it. She got her answer in a moment though, when the woman spoke again.

“I’m sure you hate me, Marianne. That’s alright, I don’t really care one way or another,” the woman’s eyes crinkled as she spoke, as if she were smiling beneath the mask. “I am glad, however, of how obedient you’ve been since those first few days when things were… shall we say, difficult. You’ve become a model subject. Your progress is impressive, I must say. It is time, therefore, to get you out of this room and into the next stage of our facilities. I think you will find them more comfortable than these rooms.”

The woman stood up, and moved the chair to one side. The panel of steel wall behind her instantly slid open. She beckoned to Marianne, and gestured toward the open doorway, which seemed to lead into a hallway made of some more steel.

“Well…?” she said. “I hope you’re not going to make this difficult.” A threatening note was evident in her voice as she continued with “You know what happens then, don’t you, Marianne?”

Marianne got to her feet. She strode through the door, shivering slightly at the thought of what would happen if she struggled now. She really, truly didn’t want to know.