You sit at the head of the table, your new students take the other seats at the rectangular configuration, and you know that it is true. The floor stretches from corner to corner, framing the class in a rectangle; this is also true. There are four large rectangular windows and the sunlight comes through them at a perfect forty five degree angle. This is the best time of day. You think briefly of the correlation of the words angle and angel. You wonder if there is a phonetic connection, but quickly abandon the notion.
Language has never been your strong point. Language lies. But then math lies as well. As the students enter the classroom they pass through the rectangle called the ‘door’. They are baptized by holy connections of straight segments and ninety degree angles that separate the world of the hall and the world of your classroom. They know this and it too is true.
Above the door, however is a circle hanging like a halo and proclaiming the time, three O’clock. Here is the liar. Three is a right angle, which is comforting, but the laws that rule the circle around it are disjointed. Tomorrow the clock will tell you that it is the exact same time, exact same right angle, but it is not true. The clock has no regard for the fact that you are a day older. You may think that it isn’t much to lie about, but you’ve seen the tragedies that can happen in a day and you know that a single day is an abhorrent thing to disregard.
Even the internal mathematical properties of the circle you know are lying. Math is supposed to be concrete, firm, universal, but the circle relies on the mathematical properties of pi. 3.14 and on and on and on. You cannot write the number; no one has. You have to round it off. Math is supposed to add up, and has no room for guess work. The circle is unfathomable. You look at it, the right angle is gone, and the clock hangs there innocently mocking you. The world of circles is unknowable, and that is why you’ve removed them when you could from your life. Life is a line. Time is a line. Despite what the clock says three O’clock, or any other time for that matter, never comes back. With time you have no choice, but to move forward.
You are comforted by this concrete truth, and you know the truth to be awful.
You ride the train home. There are curves, but the train moves in a linear pattern. You think of taking a different walk from the train station home, but that would be a change of pattern and you know that you can’t handle that level of uncertainty. You come to the rectangle that is your door, and you reach for the circle that promises entrance to the world of your home, but the circle lies. You fumble for your keys, tools of lines, and as you try to unlock the door it inexplicably opens itself.
You see Debora on the other side. You hug. You kiss. You look into her eyes and you see yourself there, and you know it is a lie. She says I love you and you say I love you too, and it is a lie as well. She is half naked, you are clothed. You see her curves and despite yourself you want them, and you know that they are lies as well. Inexplicable geometry reminding you of passion, kissing, touching, fucking and non verbally asking you if you want more. Right now. Right here. You do. No the curves have caused you to lie to yourself. You know that the only thing those curves promise is a dance of love; all the right steps none of the passion. You keep your clothes on.
You get something to eat. You retreat into your safe house in your home, your office. A paradise of right angles and certainty. A picture frame, you and Debora young and in love safely contained in right angles, has been moved. The forty five degree angle has been violated. You know as soon as you enter the room. You fix it without thinking. Her protest of your bland world.
She says you’ve lost all passion, a robot wrapped in flesh. She says you need to break from your routine. You need to see someone. She used to say she was worried about you. She doesn’t anymore. You suspect she is disrupting your world out of habit rather than worry. You start going through your stack of student papers. You start at the beginning; you end at the end. It is comforting. After you finish you leave your sanctuary, and find your wife in the kitchen. You two talk about your day. You know your mouth is moving and sound is coming out, but you say nothing. You go to bed with your wife. She puts on more clothes because she says it is cold.
You lay there and remember a world of curves. Your bodies would touch, and the air would be cold, and this would just make your skin more sensitive, and you two enter a world with just you two, and you caress with love not with fuck, and she asks ‘what did you do to me’ and you don’t know, but you know she did it to you too, and you think that it will stay like this forever. And it is a lie. You say ‘I love you’, and you say ‘sleep well’, and this is repeated back to you. You know tomorrow will end the same way, another entire day slain. You remember when you looked forward to where this love was taking you. And you wonder when this line turned into a circle.
Brendan Michna lives in Columbus, Ohio where I help run MadLab Theatre and Gallery, and have had several shorts produced.
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