From the author: Micro fictions enable a tight focus on a specific idea or feeling or situation.
“Lost!” He grimaced. “Why say ‘lost’? He died. He wasn’t lost. He didn’t go missing.”
His companion said, “Why get so worked up? It’s just a euphemism.”
“Exactly. Not ‘passed on’, not ‘lost’. What’s wrong with ‘die’? Like saying bathroom for toilet. Another euphemism.”
“So?” she smiled. “Why lose your cool?”
He took a breath, exhaled, grinned. “You’re right. I shouldn’t —” and he started shouting “— it just fucking annoys me.” He shut up.
“It’s not just your cool you’ve lost, is it?” she said. “You’ve lost your marbles.”
“Marbles? Marbles my arse. If I’ve lost anything it’s my ability to tolerate the intolerable. How is taking a stand ‘losing your marbles’?”
“You’ve lost me there,” she said.
“Oh,” he moaned. “Am I a loser?”
He felt sickly, weak, and with it unwanted. He sat up. At least the hospital bed was designed to help him sit up.
He looked around his room. Yellowish wood, or maybe plastic wood, the walls a pale green, with a small bathroom attached.
The doctor had told him he had a growth, a fungus. Growing somewhere inside his abdomen. They’d be cutting the growth out.
He was only 33. He was fit. How could fungus grow? He ate plenty of fruit and vegetables, only a little meat, yoghurt not ice cream, and natural yoghurt at that. He made sure he only drank at most two drinks on any given day. No longer smoked. Except the occasional herbal cigarette.
How could this happen?
He envied every healthy person. Envied their complacency. He’d been complacent. And now this.
He knew it wasn’t lethal. Just a terrible inconvenience and embarrassment.
He was flummoxed. It made no sense. If you are what you ate, what better things could he be eating? His diet — diversity was its name. Did that mean he could’ve been gorging on meat pies and sauce, and fatty lamb chops, and he’d have had no different chance?
One minute before he went on. One minute before he died, as he knew he would. They said fear of public speaking was greater than the fear of death. He could vouch for that.
And they also said your life flashed before your eyes when you die. Well, his life certainly wasn’t flashing before his eyes now.
He checked the clock on the wall, the second hand jerking around — 43 seconds. He gulped.
Why did he know he’d freeze? Why the nerves each time? He felt his cheek whiten. How could he feel his cheek whiten? He didn’t know, but it certainly felt clammy. Maybe that was what whiten meant.
And what was he going to say? He looked at the clock again. Thirteen seconds.
His mind was blank. A complete absence of any ideas. A black blankness.
And then he heard the voice, and it all came rushing back as he took a deep breath.
“And now, ladies and gentlemen …”
And he walked on to the stage, smiling.