Story 1

Karl enjoyed sweeping. It made him happy. It was something easy. He liked the way the dust collected from all over the floor into a neat pile. There were little bits of trash and gravel from the back patio. He swept all this up, and then he scooped it into a dustpan. His back hurt a bit when he bent, but he ignored it. He ignored big things.

            The floor was clean, but miniscule specs still hid by the walls under the tables in the kitchen. It was hard to reach those places. Karl checked the time. It was 11:30. He pushed the broom under the long dining table. Some of the dust came out. A lot of it did not. Karl’s back hurt, so he put the broom away and went to the patio to take the rabbit out.

            The telephone rang. It was the house phone. It could have been for anyone. He closed the glass sliding door behind him.

            There was only one rabbit left now. ‘Whitey’, as Karl had called the second rabbit, had wheezed for some time before he died. He had always wheezed. They said he had trouble breathing when he was young. When Karl first saw him, his nose was covered in crusted mucus. He could not breathe through this. When he died, his nose was clear.

            ‘Blacky’ fought being taken out. She thrashed her powerful hind legs and escaped Karl’s hands. She ran down to the cage’s bottom story and hid in a box in the cage. He opened the box and lifted the cornered rodent out. She did not bite, but she thrashed. When he flipped her upside down she stopped and began breathing hard. He did not comfort the animal. Putting it down in the grass was enough.

            The rabbits never moved when they were in the cages. They ate from their food trays and drank from the bottles, but Karl had never seen this. They never moved. When he took them into the lawn, they ran. ‘Whitey’ had liked to eat the grass. He rarely ventured far from the patio, but he ate until it was time to go back in the cage. And then he would not move.

            ‘Blackey’ explored. She raised her head, much in the same way every time, and smelled the air. She hopped along the back lawn. She hopped for a while, and then became tired and rested beneath a potted plant. She did this after ‘Whitey’ died, much the same.

            Karl wrangled her and put her back in the cage.

            He made breakfast. He did not cook often. He told himself he did not enjoy it. When he cracked the eggs into the frying pan he enjoyed it very much. He called to Kris in the living room, who was playing a video game. “Breakfast. You want some?”

            “Yeah, sure.”

            He was careful with his cooking. He made the egg sandwiches the way he wanted them. He made two, one for him, and one for Kris. They were both the same. A bagel drenched in butter, eggs, fried in a lot of butter, a slice of cheese, and ham slices. He thought they were very good. Kris did not complain. He went back to his video game and Karl did dishes.

            Karl swept again. He went on his computer and read a few of the books he had been meaning to. It was very difficult concentrating on them for the first few pages. He stirred on the bed. Sometimes he had to reread paragraphs, and this discouraged him. After a chapter or two, he was enjoying the stories.

            He stayed away from the computer after that. He listened to the radio as he swept the bedroom. A familiar song would come on and he would turn it off. He only liked new songs.

            It was hot out. Yesterday it had rained for hours. He pumped the water out of his bicycle’s tires. He made sure the bike could always be ridden.

            He sent messages to an old friend from university. It would be days before she replied. When she did, it would come as a large text block. He sent a message to one of their professors. He did not think it was a very decent letter. The language was quick and rambling. He had not spoken to this man in a long time. He asked him what things looked like from his perspective. He asked quite a lot of other questions.

            Karl could not meditate. At night, before sleeping, he would close his eyes and think of nothing. Then, he would watch television. Sometimes he would think of how his friend from university liked television. He would think of nothing again until he went to sleep. 

The End

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