Saturday, April 9, 2016

A to Z Lies in Space - Harlow

I had everything.  I had the whole world in my hands.  Everyone else was just waiting to catch up.

All that sounds presumptuous, but I think it's a waste of time to be modest.  I learned that the hard way.  When I was young, I learned my abilities were far beyond the average, yet I didn't want to stand out.  My brother looked up to me, and I didn't want to betray his trust.  "Ephraim," I'd reassure him, "you can trust me."  I said this so many times even I got tired of hearing it.  Maybe he doesn't even remember, now.  I didn't want to scare him.  The problem was, I scared myself.

The worst thing imaginable, at least as far as I'm concerned, is expectations.  When people find out about what you can do, they instantly develop expectations.  It's far easier to avoid such things, or so I imagine.  Maybe it's actually more difficult.  I don't know.  I spend too much of my time in torment as it is. 

Worst of all are my own expectations.  As I grew older, I couldn't help it.  We all develop goals.  We all want to succeed, to be understood, to be accepted.  When you're capable of great things, you expect to achieve great things.  The problem is, people don't like other people achieving great things.  They develop expectations so that you'll fail.  And you develop expectations knowing you will.  To be someone who is clearly above the average abilities of others is a curse.  It is, truly, an excruciating torment.  It never leaves you alone.

Somewhere along the way, I alienated my brother.  I couldn't even begin to guess, now, how I did it, but I know it happened, because, or at least it seemed to me, we drifted apart, so that we became strangers to each other.  The more I attempted, at any rate, the more I achieved, and the more people expected things from me.  It was, at first, a wonderful position to be in. 

Then it became hard.  Then it became a matter of the impossible.  A situation developed, globally, and the pressure became so intense I could hardly stand it.  The older I got, you see, the harder it was to hide.  I tried, oh I tried.  But I couldn't.  The more exposed I got, the more impossible it became.  Then the truly incredible occurred.  Someone else entered the picture, solved the problem, saved the day.  The weight was lifted from me just like that.

Yet it was still there.  I couldn't escape it, certainly not anymore, despite circumstances changing.  Like anyone else of extraordinary ability, I had developed a kind of following, of sycophants who wouldn't leave me alone.  Yet more...expectations.  They demanded of me a response.  It became known to me that they weren't happy, that I would have to do something about this usurper, that I didn't have a choice in the matter.

"Of course there's always a choice," you say.  You can say that, because you don't have the responsibility.  You can afford to be modest.  I can't.  I don't get to play a passive role.  Sooner or later, my role was going to be the aggressor, the agitator.  The villain.

Fortunately, my brother didn't wait to see how things would play out.  If I had seen him even one more time, I would have repeated, "Ephraim, you can trust me."  But now it was too late.  The great Ulysses beat down my door.  Now I was nothing but a threat.

In a way, I feel honored to have played this role.  In the absence of another threat, someone had to fill the void.  It had to be me.  Of course it did.  Finally, the rest of the world, the rest of the galaxy, caught up with me.  I had nowhere to go but down, to fall, to meet my fate at last.  Not exactly, granted, what I expected, but there you go.  Expectations are always wrong.  Always.  It's best that you don't bother with them.  If you take away nothing else from my sorry life, please heed that lesson.  One day, it could save you a lot of trouble...

"But this is not the story," says Kindly.


  1. Loved this piece, very well written

    1. It's probably my favorite one. Except maybe a few of the last ones...