IT IS A JOKE, I PROMISE. I DIDN’T CRY. PINKY PROMISE I DID NOT.
I am also very late, and I apologize for that.
Suddenly I had Social Plans like every day this week and it’s been a While so I forgot what prioritization of time was.
Anyway, shoutout to @BErixon and @gonzo_rhetoric for their feedback on my story. I really appreciate their critiques and compliments, and their stories are amazing pls go read them.
Here’s my updated draft! With a possible title! And new transition markers! And a kinda new interwoven cyclical theme kinda thing that might be too much! And a shifted scene!
3 o’clock hour. 9 hours remain.
It’s warm in here.
It’s not pleasant, and it’s not awful, but it has its moments either way.
It just kinda… is. And that’s fine. You’re not complaining. It’s just a passing thought you have. And’ve had every day. For…
You fidget on the rickety twin bed, roll over to face the cracked wall. You’ve had urges to start scratching out tallies to mark the days. But that would be a bit much, you think. Make this feel too much like a prison.
But, isn’t it?
With a huff, you spring up, take the few steps across the tiny room of this concrete box of a shack, and jack the fan up a couple notches. It groans with the strain, but the flow of air brings some new life to the room, enough to reassure you some.
This isn’t your prison. It’s your… safehouse? haven? refuge? Those seem too heavy-handed. At least, to your knowledge. Anyway. You can breathe.
So you breathe. Glance around at what you do have. The necessities: bed, minifridge, small bathroom to the back, table and two chairs, little bookshelf stuffed with Things to Entertain Yourself, the radio where she plugs in her…
You blink, skitter around on your bare feet, and check the light coming from the russet window shutters.
The shutters are loud, when opened. It’s almost annoying, but you suppose it’s better than silence. (Just as light openly filling the space is better than even yellow slits, like bars.
Not a prison, you remind.)
You’ve had urges to keep them open, but let’s face it. You’re paranoid.
And you hate bugs.
Suffice it to say, the hill your shack is seated on, surrounded sporadically by lush dark greens and pale yellows, is heavily and without fail stocked with bugs.
Hoisting yourself up onto the sill, you crane your neck to peer over the hill’s crest, at the downtrodden path your only visitor takes to get here.
She’s always on time, so it’s only a few seconds—(alright, half a minute)—before the wispy tufts of her short hair come into view. She’s frowning at her phone, but soon drops it into the big tote bag on her shoulder and looks up. Noticing you in the window, she waves, smiling.
There’s always a firecracker that goes off between your ribs when she shows up. Makes your limbs jittery and useless. You can’t tell if you hate it or not as you raise a hand in greeting.
Something buzzes near you, then, far too close to the tip of your nose. You lurch back with a squawk, recognizing the spindly lines of a mosquito, and tumble off the sill, knocking loudly into the side of your bed.
“Ow…” you groan, rubbing the ass cheek you landed on.
There’s the sound of running footsteps, shifting grass, and the door bangs open. She pants, staring down at you, concern in her wide eyes.
“Are you okay?”
You exhale a laugh. “Yeah, I am. Just a bruise on my ass… and pride.”
Her concern melts to a smirk. “Well, good. Then I can laugh at you.” She then holds out the tote bag for you to take.
Getting to your feet, you scoff, but take the bag anyway. “Just… please tell me that you brought more bug spray. I’m dying out here.” You rummage through the bag, feel a familiar aerosol can, and shout triumphantly.
You douse the window in the stuff and toss the can onto your bed. The minifridge shuts and you look up. She’s shed the heavy green coat she always wears, thrown on the back of a chair, and is leaning against the minimal counter space of the kitchenette, munching on one of the pastries she brought the other day.
“That there’s why you run out all the time.” She gestures with the pastry, spewing crumbs from her mouth. “Spraying it all over the window…” Shaking her head, she takes another bite. It sounds crispy, flaky, and makes you want one, too.
“It’s preventative,” you shoot back. “Keeps those nasty things out—” You gesture out the window. “—and this nasty thing safe in here.” You gesture to yourself with a flourish.
She snorts and rolls her eyes, but her smile is sincere. (You feel a lingering sizzle from that firecracker, all the way down to your toes. You like when she laughs. Better yet, you like when you’re the one to make it happen.)
“So, anyway,” she says, brushing crumbs off her hands and crossing her arms, “what’re we doing today?”
You look around your shack. To the shelf, the table, the tote bag with her laptop.
“I have a few ideas,” you offer, and the intrigued look on her face tells you she likes the sound of that.
4 o’clock hour. 8 hours remain.
“Boring day, today, huh?”
You stretch your arms and legs out, taking up all the space you can on the blanket you had stored under your bed. (She brought it one day near the beginning, calling it “ours” offhand, but neither of you ever mentioned it again.)
With a loud exhale, you go limp, your right arm and leg landing over hers. She giggles; you grin.
“Nothing boring about a picnic and some cloud gazing, man.”
She shifts, and you feel her hand ruffle your hair. “Nah, I guess not. You could’ve been out here without me, though. It’s a nice day.”
You shake your head, making a show of blowing your bangs back into place. “No, I don’t think I could’ve.”
You can feel her wanting to ask. Really ask. How are you doing? Well, you can’t really know for sure, can you? Considering you have nothing to base it on.
(She asked What do you remember? the first few weeks, but has since stopped.)
With what feels like a cloud passing, she goes, “Ah, right. Bugs.”
You laugh, too quickly even to your own ears. “Yeah, bugs.”
The two of you stare at the sky for a while.
6 o’clock hour. 6 hours remain.
Some new tune trickles from the tinny speaker of her phone. (She unplugged it from the radio before and is setting up a movie on her laptop. Some anime thing about firefighters she swears you loved. You weren’t sold until she told you about the homoerotic subtext.)
“What’s this?” you ask, sitting up a bit.
She turns, and it hits you that the sun’s gone down. It’s that exact time when the whole world glows—her included, flyaways lit up white. Some squishy, sappy smile spreads on your face, and the soft beats and acoustic lines amplify and diffuse into the surrounding air. You maybe feel a little drunk, enough that you miss her speaking.
She clicks her teeth, amused. “I said it’s a new Zico track. You like?”
You lower back down to the blanket to hide the warmth in your cheeks—(firecracker embers)—and spread your limbs out again.
The chorus repeats. It’s melancholy, but nice.
You sigh. “Yeah, I like.”
8 o’clock hour. 4 hours remain.
“Okay, that was way too long for CPR.”
“Right? Listen. They know what they did. They know who their target audience was.”
You laugh, bodily, almost keeling over while trying to fold up the blanket. “Studio Trigger said gay rights, huh?”
Silence draws out, and it takes you a second to notice she’s frozen still, looking at you intensely. You think so, at least. The sun set a while ago, so it’s hard to see.
“You… remembered the animation studio’s name?”
Oh. “Oh.” You finish folding the blanket, slower than before. “Did… did you not mention it? Maybe yesterday you—”
“No, I don’t think I did.”
“Hmm.” There’s a pause, and it’s heavy. You kick at a pebble by your foot, eyes fixed to the dirt. “Before you ask, I don’t remember anything else.”
A beat. “Yeah. Okay. That’s okay.”
You want to ask if she even wants you to or not. That was never clear, and you were—are—too scared to ask, so… you breathe. Inhale. Exhale. “Okay.”
10 o’clock hour. 2 hours remain.
“Want a pastry? There’s a few left from the ones I brought. I left the lemon ones since they’re your favorite.”
You hum, fiddling with the tea kettle with a bit more focus.
She’s staring again. You can feel it at the back of your skull from where she’s sitting at the table.
You don’t want to disappoint her even further tonight, but the deflating sigh is telling.
“Yeah, they are.”
You take them out to have with your tea.
Turns out she’s right.
12 o’clock hour.
The two of you are at the door. You, inside; she, outside. The air smells like the flowery tea you drank, along with the heady, humid damp that is the forest at night. She’s leaving, and it’s dark, and you never really know when she gets home because you have no communication to the outside world and you never thought to ask why and it’s too late now, isn’t it—?
“I’ll see you tomorrow, okay? I get off work early, so I’ll try to come by early if I don’t get hung up with anything.”
She’ll come on time like she always does, but—
“Okay. Thanks again for the bug spray.”
She smiles, something you read as fond. “Sure, anytime. Anything else you need? I can bring it tomorrow.”
I need answers. I need to know what I did. Who I am. My name. Your name.
I need you to stay.
“Nah, I think I’m good for now.” You shake your head at the floor. Partially at yourself. Coward. “If I think of anything, I’ll let you know tomorrow.”
She hums, teasing. “Write it down. You’ll forget.”
You huff out a chuckle. “Probably.” You hesitate, then, “Just add ‘em to the list of things I forgot, then, huh.”
You didn’t expect a laugh, knowing it came out too bitter, but you’re surprised when she pulls you in for a hug.
There’s a jolt inside you—maybe that firecracker relit—but you eventually wrap your arms around her in return. It’s tight, and soft, and warm.
(You wish it felt familiar.)
It’s over too soon. She pulls away, steps back, mumbles another See you tomorrow, and then she’s off.
Once she’s over the crest of the hill, hair tufts out of sight, you close the door, kick off your shoes. Fan on low, you don’t bother with washing up, but tumble right into bed, blanket pulled to your chin.
You take a deep, cleansing breath, like she taught you a while ago, in a time you can’t remember. It works for a moment, until it doesn’t. Your next breath is quick and automatic, and you kick the blanket off the most of you with a grunt.
It’s warm in here.
24 hours remain.
Okay. So I’m liking this whole focus on the passage of time, but I don’t know if the way I have it phrased right now is too blatant or wordy or somethin.
Also gives me Majora’s Mask vibes with that last 24 hours remain bit. I’m also not sure if having that after the “It’s warm in here” repeated line takes away from the impact of that or if it just adds to its own new repetitive-feeling mundane motif of the narrator. HMMM.
Also I didn’t end up cutting 700 words fjdksl there might even be more but I’m too afraid to check and I Apologize.
As far as the title goes. basis was stuck in my head for about a week, and I’m throwing it out there to see if it sticks. I was also thinking unknown basis or basis unknown but I thought they were too… telling, I guess? blunt? [shrug] (I’ll try to come up with an explanation of why I picked basis for next week.)
So! Here it is. Fashionably late. Apologies again!
See y’all next week.