M. V. Marguerite

18 Year Old Author

“I think all writing is a disease. You can’t stop it.”

—William Carlos Williams



Here is a short piece I've written, inspired by Samuel Beckett. For those of you who are familiar with Beckett's work, I hope you draw many wild and frustrating conclusions. 

For those of you who don't know what the heck I'm talking about... this won't help, but perhaps it will be entertaining.

Of Men and Woman

There is a big road. Two lanes: a double yellow line running along the center of the asphalt, like the spine of some great black serpent.

There is a thick fog that lays heavily upon the land: just beyond the big road, and in the peripheral distances.

The line that extends perpendicular to the road is of men and women. They stand very still, very close. Several streetlights space seven yards apart down the length of the big road, the ones at the very ends barely visible in the thick fog. They leave thin areas of darkness between their intermittent orange glows, like stripes on the back of some great black beast.

The first man steps forward and is animated. He is confident in his early strides, though he pauses when he reaches the sidewalk just before the big road. He looks left, then looks right, then straight again. After a while he steps forward and then right, takes fifteen steps to the second streetlight, and pauses again beneath its bright glare. It is harder, now, for him to see the same distances as when he stood in the dark, but the light illuminates his own features, and he is heartened. He takes a step forward onto the big road, then another, then another, until he is standing on the double yellow line.

He looks both ways again before proceeding in a similar fashion. He doesn’t look back. He walks until he fades into the fog beyond the big road.

The first woman steps forward and is animated. The line behind her moves forward as well, so that the next person stands where she stood seconds before. She walks to the sidewalk and gazes at the fog where the previous man just disappeared. She lingers in the grass before finally moving forward. She chooses the streetlight right before her, without veering left or right, and walks right onto the big road.

About a quarter of the way across a dark figure on a bike whizzes by in front of her. She scrambles back, having felt the tires almost on the tips of her toes. She takes a second to recompose herself, then gets up and looks both ways before continuing across. She disappears into the fog just like the man did.

The next man steps forward. He chooses the third street light on the right. He proceeds to the double yellow line where a dark vehicle careens out of the fog and runs him over.

The next man steps forward. His steps are jittery as he reaches the sidewalk. He immediately veers left, but after a couple of steps, turns right again. He passes his original starting point, the first streetlight, the second streetlight, the fourth streetlight, before turning once again. He passes his original starting point again, the first streetlight, the second streetlight, the fourth streetlight, all the way until he disappears into the fog in the peripheral distance.

The next woman steps forward and is animated. Her steps to the sidewalk are run, and she is momentarily undecided on which way to turn. Finally she chooses to stay where she is and continue straight. She looks left and right before running onto the street. She lifts dust in her attempt to stop when a dark bike rides past her, almost on top of her. Then she takes off again as another vehicle almost collides against her from behind, and runs straight into the fog, constantly looking left and right over her shoulder.

As the next woman steps to the sidewalk, the jittery man reappears again, as if in the fog into which he’d disappeared, he’d decided to turn and come back. The next woman stops to let him by before choosing a streetlight, but there she stops again beneath its orangey light. The jittery man continues down the big road until he disappears once more into the other peripheral distance. After a moment the next man steps forward and reaches the woman, who waits for him beneath the light. Together they cross the closest lane, though at the double yellow line the man stops. The woman pauses for a moment as well. After a while she moves again and crosses the second lane until she, too, disappears into the thick fog.

The jittery man traveling along the sidewalk appears once more, though his presence is faded. His silhouette is smudged, and one might be tricked into thinking you can see the other side of the big road right through his chest. He disappears into the other peripheral distance again, but his footsteps are still heard.

Another woman crosses the big road, then another man, then another woman. The jittery man appears one more time, but fades away before he reaches the fog. The silhouette of the man who stopped on the double yellow lines has dulled. Eventually he will also disappear.

Though no one can see it, though no one will notice it, beyond the big road, in the fog, another line of men and woman is assembled.