An unpublished scene from To and Fro Upon the Earth: A Novel

Ellie and hotel clerks and Zig and trees and spiders and ex-employees and lawyers with all their judgment and thinking they know how things are and the universe is very neat and clean but they should take care because they do not speak the truth and in fact they are the ones telling untruths and it is not me that should fear punishment but them but they are so unaware it is the ones who think they have it all figured out that have the most to worry about…

The interior affects the view of the exterior. The exterior affects the heart of the interior.

The interior is fickle and malleable and reactionary and easily frightened.

The exterior is solid and fixed and sans émotion and stalwartly impassive.

The interior affects the view of the exterior. The exterior affects the heart of the interior.

The exterior exists. Just that. Exists. It is a granite rock face, and I am a climber upon it. It scares me. I feign courage, I hang equipment from my belt, I dress properly. My shoes are climbing shoes. I know how to find purchase in crevices and ledges and cracks. My gloves are climbing gloves—a pair of the best. I know how to find purchase in crevices and ledges and cracks. I know how to try this hold, try that hold; I can retreat and try a new path.

But the exterior is immovable, though it does change. But only of its own volition. So slow is the change that I do not notice. In my entire lifetime, I cannot perceive it. I react to the face as it is—rather, as I see it. I respond to its immutability and to its present form. Not changing it, but adapting to it. I say, “I am conquering it,” but we all know that is a lie. No one conquers a mountain, claiming victory over it, planting a flag of submission on its rocky summit. It is unchanged, unaffected, unconquered. It remains the same problem and challenge for the next climber—who may not make it to the summit. The next one may decide to retreat, or might even be killed by the “conquered” entity. Even the so-called “victor” can be killed by the exterior, as he retreats with joy.

There is no victory over the exterior. I am only conquering my own fear. I am addressing my own foibles; I am overcoming my own terrible mistakes. The victory, if there is any, is over the interior.

The interior reacts. It is the whimpering dog in the corner. It is the soft adipose tissue, and I am a rider upon it. It doesn’t frighten me. It does frighten me. I feign control; I display words which show confidence. My gestures are gestures of authority, and I know how to speak to naysayers and nellies and brutes and bullies. My expressions are expressions of courage. They are long-practiced. I know how to adopt a countenance for arguments and critiques and guffaws.

The interior affects the view of the exterior. The exterior affects the heart of the interior.

The interior is fickle and malleable and reactionary and easily frightened.

The exterior is solid and fixed and sans émotion and stalwartly impassive.

The interior affects the view of the exterior. The exterior affects the heart the interior.

Perhaps there is another way.


 

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