For Ashley, without whom I would not exist.
Sean told her this morning that she didn’t exist.
“Ellie, did you know you’re simply a corporeal manifestation of my own imagination. Once I’m out the door, the second you are out of my mind you will cease to be. Poof.”
Then he gave her that smirk he always did and bolted for the bus.
From behind the screen door she watched him sprint half a block before the bus finally stopped to let him on. Ellie loved her older brother very much, but he was getting to be a real jerk.
Ellie went into the kitchen and poured herself some cereal. She added the milk and stirred the bowl with her spoon. It was Corn Bran and to her it tasted best a little soggy. She hoped she wouldn’t disappear before lunch. It was her turn to play at the block station.
Ellie attempts to speed the soggifying process along by drowning her Corn Bran in the milk but the buoyant crispy pillows are a resilient part of a balanced breakfast.
A sound comes down through the ceiling. It travels along the hallway and onto the stairs.
Ellie knows this is her mother walking on the hardwood in heels. “Ellie, sweetie, are you ready?”
“I’m still eating.”
“Well could you hurry up? I’m late for my meeting.” These words accompany her mother in the kitchen and into her view. Today she is wearing a long grey skirt with a dark jacket. Her hair is cut short in a neat brown bob. Ellie thinks her mother is the most beautiful woman in the world.
“You’re not eating, you’re just sitting there.”
“I can’t eat them yet, they’re still too crunchy.”
“I thought the crunch was what you liked about them.”
“No, what I like is they don’t go super soggy so fast and make mush.”
“I like them best when they are only slightly soggy but still kind of crunchy.”
“So where are they now?”
“The soaking stage.”
While her mother pours herself a cup of coffee Ellie takes one of the maize and fibre filed bites and chomps it quickly so as not to allow the saliva from her own mouth to influence the independence of the test bite.
Almost but not quite. She takes a spoonful of the cereal and tips it back slowly into the bowl.
“Mom, Sean says I don’t exist.”
“Yes dear, none of us do. Suddenly he’s a solipsist.”
“What’s that mean ‘solipsist’?”
“It means he’s sixteen and no longer gives a crap that the rest of us have lives or problems of our own to contend with.”
“That’s not very nice.”
“No, it isn’t.”
Ellie’s mother finishes her cup and checks her watch. “Alright. Time’s up.”
Ellie takes a bite of her cereal. Perfect. It’s ready. She shovels the corn Bran voraciously into her yap.
“Mmmph…” Ellie replies, her mouth filled with cereal and a line of milk dripping from her chin.
“Ellie, I’m going to be late. Ellie.”
Her mother is at the door holding out her daughter’s yellow butterfly zip-up sweater. “Come ON!”
Ellie stuffs her face with another spoonful and looks over to her mother flustered and pleading, but there is no swaying her. Another three seconds and she will be hauled out the door while her sublimely saturated cereal is left alone at the table to turn into an inedible bowl of milky mush.
Pooh, how unfair. So rather than allow such a hideous fate to be realized, Ellie let’s slip the veil of her encompassing unreality down into the vacant ether of truth. Finally, able to enjoy the ever so satisfying smooshy crunch of her Corn Bran.
Then as she slides the last morsel of her breakfast onto her spoon and up to her widening jaw, Ellie herself ceases to be, along with the chair where she sits, the table, the spoon, and the bowl with the last few drops of sweet brown speckled milk.
Only one little golden brown nugget remains slowly rotating in the everything and the nothing.
Waiting, resting, before starting again the great task of rebuilding the vast expanse of stars, planets and little Ellie Mae June who may eat her breakfast once again. This time on a Saturday, watching cartoons with no silly interruptions.
Wes is a theater major who is currently working in other things (I believe some sort of construction.) He has been writing a lot of nice science fiction lately and once I saw a play he wrote and it blew my brains out.
Wes was my first writing partner. We made a comic together in grade 4 and 5 called Double Trouble. We were pretty much the coolest dudes in class for a few weeks. Look at us now.