The Middle, by David Blankenship

“You can’t just start in the middle!” he yelled as he stomped both feet in a kind of bent over jump.  “You have to have a beginning.”  He was genuinely mad.  Not the kind of mad where your face turns red and you raise your voice.  He was the kind of mad where they take you off for seventy-two hours and watch you.  And after seventy-two hours they take you to a place surrounded by acres of mowed lawn but you can’t go out and walk on the grounds.  They say, “It’s for your own good” but you know different.  He was that kind of mad.

“Now maybe you just skipped the beginning.  Maybe the pages were stuck?”  He stopped jumping and started coming toward me his, stubby, calloused fingers crawling the air.

Speaking slowly and so quietly I needed to lean forward to hear him.  “There was no beginning you fool.  Look at the left hand bottom corner.”

I looked and saw the forty-two for the first time.  At least I think it was the first time.  For some reason I don’t remember. I tentatively replied, “I see a forty-two?”

“Do you remember forty-one?”  I shook my head.  “What happened on page Thirty-three?”

“I don’t know,” I said hoping he wouldn’t explode.

“You don’t remember because he never wrote a beginning!” He slowly folded to the ground and giggled.  I usually enjoy it when people giggle but this was a giggle of a different sort. “And what about her?” he asked, pointing to a young lady sitting on the sofa crying silently.  Every few moments she would take a quick breath, shudder slightly, and then go back to her unheard crying.

“I’ve never seen her before.”

“Sure you’ve seen her before.  You could have met on page six for all we know.  You could be lovers by now.  He started in the middle!  Don’t you see what that means?” He was pleading now.

I decided to humor him, “What does it mean?” I asked.

“It means he doesn’t know us, he doesn’t care for us, he can stop without an ending.” He sat on the sofa next to the cute crying girl and started sobbing himself.

“You mean he could just turn us off?  Like a light?”