Aug 30, 2010
The Inadequacy of Emotions to Capture Words: Flash Fiction
Tobias suggested it, after Mark died.
"It's not crass," Tobias insisted. "And you need the money for the kids. You know Mark's life insurance and the money you're getting from Unemployment isn't going to enable you to keep the house. No one I know has had more tragedy in her life than you. You should share your feelings with people."
Still, she didn't do it right away. She nursed her grief quietly, inside, alone, until she thought she might burst of it. Then and only then did she admit Tobias was right. She needed to share this feeling with someone, or go mad.
She read about a call for feelings and showed up at the audition, feeling like a fool. Hundreds of people waited in the line, which she had somehow not expected. Many of them were weeping openly, or disfigured physically, something else she had never expected.
After two hours, she entered the audition office, a cramped, dark room divided by a wall of one-way glass. On her side, a single chair, resembling an old fashioned electric chair, rose from a metal pillar. She couldn't see the people on the other side, but a male voice said, "Hurry up, babe, we haven't got all day."
She sat down. Seven little plastic cups snaked out of the headrest and bit into her head with tiny prongs. It stung.
"Give us your feeling, babe," said the voice.
And it all rolled over her again, everything she had felt the night she answered the phone and found out Mark had been in an accident, the agonizing days when he was in surgery, the shake of the doctor's head. The months of loneliness and desperation. The guilt she felt that when her kids asked about Daddy, and she wanted to comfort them, all she could do was pour out her own selfish grief, until they comforted her. Tears streaked down her cheeks. The pain felt like nails inside her head, as raw as ever, and as unbearable.
A light flashed, and the cups snapped off.
"Sorry, babe," said the disembodied voice. "We're not going to buy this emotion. Not sad enough, ya know? We're lookin' for real rock-bottom grief here. Thanks for coming in. Next!"