“Unlike you,” the man retorted, “I don’t spend my life comparing myself to other people.” This caused me to fly into a rage and kill him, which all things considered probably wasn’t the best decision, though it did mean that he, who clearly took some satisfaction the fact that (unlike me) he did not spend his life comparing himself to other people, died doing exactly that. This, I believe, would be an example of irony, though I’m not entirely sure whether of the dramatic, situational, or verbal variety.
Sometime prior to this incident, I was standing out in the cold waiting to retrieve my child from the school at which I had been permitted to enroll him and happened to strike up conversation with a woman who was also standing out in the cold waiting to retrieve her own children, of which there were five – enough to fill up a whole hand if you were counting on your fingers. By chance, my wife and this woman’s husband worked for the same employer, and the subject of our conversation was how much the employer had been demanding of them of late, in which context I commented that I could never hold down that kind of a job as in order to do anything productive whatsoever, I absolutely, without compromise, needed to spend an equal or greater amount of time alone, preferably in the dark, doing nothing whatsoever. She replied that she was exactly same way, which struck me as incompatible, if not altogether irreconcilable, with the fact she had elected to have five children, who in my own experience with only one I’d found do nothing if not eat into whatever such time a person has. Considering that all of her children, with the exception of their height, looked so much alike that when they stood in a line you could have mistaken them for a bar graph, I wondered aloud whether after the second, which would have been a reasonable place to stop, she and her husband had kept on going in hopes of making one who looked a little different. Wondering this aloud when I could have wondered it to myself also wasn’t the best decision, at least in theory, but then one thing led to another and now that woman and I are married and who knows what ever became of the husband and wife we respectively left behind. Meanwhile, I’ve noticed that every time I see my child, he looks more like her children than the last time I saw him, albeit not quite the same height as any of them, and I’ve also noticed, speaking of the children, that when I count them, on my fingers or otherwise, I never can seem to come up with more than five. This has got me thinking that maybe I’ve been this woman’s husband all along, and she my wife, and my child her child and her children my children, which is what would make the most sense but for the fact that it leaves unexplained why we were both standing out in the cold that afternoon when you only need one parent, maximum, to pick the up the kids from school. I’d ask her for some clarification on the matter, but she and I haven’t really been on speaking terms ever since I was sent to jail (my “crime of passion” defense having failed spectacularly in the courtroom) for killing that man who made a comment about how, unlike me, he didn’t spend his life comparing himself to other people. And as for the children, what help could they possibly be when all they ever think about are their own needs, such as food, for example, or a positive male role model?
Eli S. Evans has recent or forthcoming work in, among others: N+1, X-R-A-Y Lit, Heavy Feather Review, Expat Lit, Rejection Letters, E*ratio Postmodern Poetry, 433, Squawk Back, Berfrois, Eclectica, Drunk Monkeys, and Right Hand Pointing (One Sentence Poems division). A chapbook with Analog Submission Press (A Partial List of Things I Thought Might Kill Me Before I Started Taking a Daily Dose of Benzodiazepines) was published in August 2020, and a small book of small stories, Obscure & Irregular, is available now from Moon Rabbit Books & Ephemera (www.moonrabbitbooks.com/product/obscure-irregular)