The Needle Eye

The next five years of my life were written on an inky sheet of A3; the printer was heaving by the time it got to me. I couldn’t read the pre-existing text, but I’m quite sure the guidance was inconsequential. There were three whispered outlines of elongated rectangles; three preliminaries; three ideas for how things should be for the time being. If I filled the worksheet out correctly, then they’d all have the same eyes. Our head lecturer didn’t say so, but each plan should’ve been high stakes. The blueprint, the back-up,

“and a proposition that doesn’t consider what anyone else may think about it,” said Jim. 

The first rectangle contained little about what I’m currently doing with myself. The second one probably said something about food and moving away. The third went something like this, 

‘I’d make videos about hair care and upload them to Youtube.’ I’d tried on a vacant mind before taking the plunge. And I was wearing a smirk, I think.  

I traded A3s with the girl sitting next to me. Her eyes went to the right of the page, then, she choked on a rambunctious giggle.

“A joke?” said her face. 

I wasn’t being entirely serious, but I definitely wasn’t trying to make her laugh. Yet, it had to be a wisecrack. There was nothing on my surface that suggested I could pull in an audience. I don’t know what she saw when she looked at me, but she probably didn’t know I could hardly stand the sound of my own voice, let alone the vibrations of anything intentionally recorded. Her judgement had spoken to logic, even if the girl with my paper hadn’t heard their conversation. 

Last weekend, I felt I’d really enjoy it if I watched every Youtube video ever produced by one channel. The home cook I chose was an exquisite blend of ordinary and serene, which meant that there would never be enough videos. And yet, when they advised me to cross the barbed wire to follow them on TikTok, should I want to see more, my lip curled with canonical disgust. That person, in that moment, had become a rep for that cluttered app and all of its mania and delulu. They embodied the very worst of everything and everyone that had ever TikToked, and every one of its associates. It said something about that home cook– their willingness to be perceived. I don’t know what it said. 

Anyway, I did let it go. After I’d crawled my way back to something like sanity, I engaged in a little pretence. I pictured the home cook taking the plunge. I thought of them thinking of me and my dramatics, my minute of intolerance looping to become an age in their mind’s eye. I imagined them estimating me and the bizarre, famous journey my thoughts had briefly taken. It would’ve made them feel like they were standing on an edge instead of walking through a door. 

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