Tuesday, December 28, 2010
"Escapism", a short story
Glancing at the clock on her wall, cynthia21 groaned. 'Is that the time?' she thought, 'God, another day I've wasted.'
There were so many things to do - reports to read and stock quotations to consider. Plus, the publishing house had been grinding their teeth at the late delivery of her latest manuscript. No time to do those things anymore; there was a party she had to attend tonight, filled with the modern élite. You know how it is... see and be seen. The busy life of a young urban professional in Los Angeles.
Not that she wanted it, of course. It was difficult to explain, but she'd been overtaken with a bit of an ennui, a bit of malaise about her life. That's the reason why she'd been spending more and more time disappearing into her secret alter-ego.
Not that she'd divulge it to anyone, of course, but about six months ago, cynthia21 had created for herself an alter-ego. In this alternate reality, she was "Gary Williams", a 16-year-old from Des Moines, Iowa. As she had sketched it out and elaborated on it, "Gary" was a clever but asocial suburban teen whose teacher called him a dreamer and whose big brother called him a loser.
Just yesterday, for example, in the depths of cynthia21's imagination, "Gary" had been chosen last for the baseball team during gym class and had been harrassed by his classmates in the locker room afterwards. That evening, cynthia21 had imagined, "Gary" had gone to his house to find a hole in the wall that his drunken father had put his fist through and a ceramic lamp broken to pieces on the floor.
Sometimes cynthia21 would catch herself and feel embarrassed for all of the time she spent in this fantasy world. Yet her life of jet-set modern urban success was getting her down. The three boyfriends she was juggling failed to satisfy her intellectually. Sure, she had a face like she had been torn from a fashion magazine, but looks weren't everything, right?
Escapism, they called it. A friend had explained the concept to cynthia21 at a party one evening. It seems that some people swap a more glamorous make-believe life for the banal reality of their own existences. And who could blame her for a little indulgence? The world was full of fashion-model novelists and independent businesswomen in their early twenties; cynthia21 just wanted to be different. Thus the rôle of "Gary Williams" - a way to overcome the banalities of her existence by pretending to lead a lifestyle she could never have.
"Gary" was so real to cynthia21 that she could even guess how he'd think and how he'd react. There were people out there who unquestionably accepted "Gary" as a real person and would be shocked if they learnt the truth about cynthia21's real existence. Sometimes it filled her with shame.
At once, cynthia21's cell phone rang, pulling her out of her reverie. It was her chauffeur, asking when he should arrive. Sighing, cynthia21 turned to her walk-in wardrobe to choose a suitable dress to wear. 'If this were "Gary",' she thought wistfully, 'he'd wear a Nike sweatshirt and a pair of jeans handed down from his older brother.' Idly rifling through the racks of dresses in her closet, cynthia21 cursed her existence and shook her head at the unfairness of it all.