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The Line
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The Line
A quicky about two fellows in a line.
[1,108 words]
Ezh Mimsyboro
[April 2003]
[email protected]
The Line
Ezh Mimsyboro

"Everyone stay in line please. I repeat - Everyone please stay in line. Wait patiently, it will soon be your turn too." - The loudspeaker was repeating the same message in various wordings for over three days.

The people were getting restless. The waiting wasn't as hard as the anticipation, but even worse was the envy of all those people who had managed to pass through before them. Every year all the attendants, (basically meaning the same amount of people as the entire population of China) used to vow to themselves - "Next year I'll get there sooner. Next year I'll wait half as much time as I did this year." Even the first person in line used to vow to himself that next year he will be at least as good as he was this year.

William turned to his left as Ralph poked him silently in the ribs. "Shhh, I think I overheard that couple in front of us whisper something about a shortcut to the head of the line." William returned Ralph's warm look with a cold stare.

- "Every year you get this urge to cut to the head of the line. What's with you? Why can't you just try to be like everyone else?"
- "You can't get anywhere in life by just trying to be like everyone else. You get to use your elbows and find your place."
- "We've been through this already, you managed to convince me once, and what happened? We got kicked out of the line; we had to crawl back to the end of it. Did you like that?"
- "No, I didn't like that! Stop being so sarcastic about everything, why don't you have any ambition?"
- "Why don't you have any restraints? Stop running, there is no where to run to."
William looked away, he loved Ralph he really did but why couldn't he learn how to calm down, it was the same story year in and year out. He could tell that Ralph was steaming, but Ralph was always steaming, or fuming or seething with something or another. He never was tranquil. As usual it was up to William to make peace, otherwise it would be a long time before the two spoke to each other.

William shyly extended his arm in the general direction of an attractive young lady a few spaces ahead in the line.

- "Look at her doesn't she remind you of Daisy?"
- "No, Daisy was better looking."
- "So are we friends again?"
- "When did we stop? I was just taking a little breather"
(William couldn't help but snort, it doesn't matter how long they know each other the game hasn't changed a bit)
- "I was meaning to ask you,"
- "What?"
- "What did you mean there is no where to run to?"
- "What did it sound like? There just isn't any reason to run?"
- "No? If we don't run how can we get there first."
- "What does it help us to get there first? So we'll be first for once, we can stride around with our chests filled up with pride. So What? Next year we won't be first and where will we be then? Just old faded images of our former selves…"
- "Please stop with the melodramatics, just cut it out. Next year we will also run, we can be first twice in a row!"
- "And then what, don't you see that if you would have to spend life running all the time"
Suddenly the philosophical discussion was interrupted. The man in the dark tan suit came and checked their numbers. He gave them a wicked stare as he continued to walk down the aisle. When the official was about ten paces ahead, he turned back and gazed right between them. The glare of his spectacles blinded the young girl who was standing between them. "You", he said as he pointed at the young girl "get over here, you're out of line!"

As usual the officials supplied entertainment for the long wait. It wasn't great but it was better then the awful monotonous drone of the loudspeaker. William sighed heavily. What he wouldn't give to avoid this terribly long procedure, even if it was just for one year.

Ralph looked at William until the later felt that he was being gazed upon. He looked up and they continued their discussion:

- " You were in the middle of explaining to me what was bad about running all the time."
- "I thought I was finished."
- "You didn't make your case very clear. You said that in order for me never to be let down I must keep running."
- "Yes, don't you see anything wrong with that?"
- "No, it gives me a purpose to live."
- "More like a purpose to die, you never have time to" - William coughed at his on clich? - "smell the roses"
- "I can live without the smell of roses. For what is in a fragrance, it is just a physical pleasure."
- "What pleasure is it that you seek?"
- "I just want to be able to claim - in the end - that I did the best I could."
- "Maybe you should redefine your term for best?"
- "Could we just try to get by one year without philosophical wanderings while waiting here?"
- "Please, I know you enjoy this as much as I do. It makes us feel as if we can really give an explanation, why we do the things we do."

William shrugged, he knew Ralph was right, so he just stared at a particular crack in the ceiling and tried to think of a good argument. Ralph took a loud breath of air and continued, his voice sounded familiarly agitated:
 - "My definition of 'the best I could' is taking advantage of every chance I have or had. Including cutting through in this stupid line"
- "Must we return to this subject? We are not cutting through the line this year. If you really insist I'll give it another try next year."
- "Don't give me that story about next year, I heard that one before, lets go now!" -

The last syllable was pronounced sharply and William could hear Ralph quivering with self-righteousness. Again they both stopped speaking to each other. The silence was felt be everyone around them. It was awkward standing around them when they were in this state.

The line proceeded to advance and slowly but surely so did William and Ralph. The environment has already become accustomed to the silence. It didn't sound so strange anymore. The seconds ticked by and darkness started to fall.

Suddenly Ralph snapped back at William - "I got to admit her legs are better looking then Daisy's".

- The End-



"Very well written...I want to know what happens next." -- Michelle.
"A really well wtritten story although frustrating because I want to know what they were standing in line for and I will bet you dont know why they were either hehehe. You should decide what is going to happen and expand on that. I could tell by about the 2nd paragraph were you were going with the story tho and the fact that we wouldn't know why they were standing in the line at the end of the story. But that doesn't detract from the fact it was an enjoyable read. Its weird how short stories like this give me ideas, because forgive me if I sound strange but half way through i started trying to make endings up for my self and one i came up with is that i immagined that the people talking were actually sperm, all in single file waiting to be shot to the front of the line. you even had the male sperm looking at a female sperm. well i do have a really weird immagination. Any way thats just me. By the way I loved your last line, really good work keep it up." -- Lee.
"Hi, Thanks Michelle and Lee for your reviews. As you said Lee this is the type of story where there is no ending. It doesn't really matter why they were in the line. I had a crazier idea then yours (mine was bordering on sci-fi) but I let it go. The idea was that it should be a 1000-word story, and I decided that it would be fun to "play" with the readers and let them decide what was the whole meaning of the line. I tried to deny the reader of any details that would give away the location of this line. I got inspired for this story by another short story, "The Lottery" by Shirley Jackson. Where she tells about a Lottery that the winner get stoned by the town. It is very weird and lacking many details but I loved it. So that's where the style came from. Again, thanks for the reviews and complements... Mimsy" -- MimsyBoro.


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© 2003 Ezh Mimsyboro
April 2003

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