This is a surrealist story I began some years ago. I may finish it one day. Or maybe not.
The contemplative and corrugated journey of being Frank
Frank doesn’t often wander about. Usually he sits in the sand and draws pictures. The sand is soft and red, and sometimes he does wonder about why it is red, but mostly he just creates pictures in it with his finger. He has a good finger for sandy illustration, long and refined. Pictures are worth 1000 words each if you’re a good bargainer, but Frank doesn’t really understand words yet and so he is painfully unaware of their true value. He finishes drawing a helicopter, three times the length of his body, then lies down to make small red sand angels. Today they all fly away immediately. He doesn’t get to speak to any off them. He watches them chase the stars, whose actions seem to profess disdain for such activities of the angels, but Frank knows that secretly they love it. One glorious little drop of radiance, like the first light through a battered eyelid, coughs and splutters as an angel prods it, then suddenly, like boom! It’s so bright Frank can’t see anything, just whiteness. “Wow!” he thinks, then the super burst of illumination dies, and the responsible star flickers with embarrassment… the fickle angels avoid it.
Frank lies very still and closes his eyes. He finds he can remember the light in neon wonderment. For the first time ever Frank thinks, it really is quite dark here. A single grain of sand beneath him becomes fed up with existing and so ceases to be. Quite quickly, no sooner then the thought has entered his head, Frank finds the sand beneath him giving way rapidly, and he is sinking. Mild concern floods him and someone pounds on his chest, but then it all stops. He is still again, and he closes his eyes once more. Turns out thoughts are dangerous. That must be why he doesn’t wonder about a lot. Just stays where he is. It would be safest not to think. Oh dear, he thinks, I just thought that. And that too. Eyes open. Above him the angels moon the stars, which turn pink. That’s pretty, thinks Frank. Suddenly he sinks down another few inches into the sand. I must stop thinking, he thinks. Aaargh, he thinks! Just stop, he thinks. Stop, stop, stop, stop, stop. Nope, still thinking. Stop, stop, stop, stop, stop, stop, stop, stop, stop, stop, stop, stop, stop, stop, stop, stop, stop, stop, stop, stop, stop, stop, stop, stop, stop, stop, stop, stop, stop, stop, stop, stop, stop, stop, stop, stop, stop, stop, stop, stop, stop, stop, stop, stop, stop, stop, stop, stop, stop, stop, stop, stop, stop, stop, stop, stop, stop, stop, stop, stop… stop… stop… stop… stop… stop…
Frank opens his eyes. Why is he in a hole? What was he trying to stop? It must have been the sand. The sand isn’t doing anything though; it never does anything, why would he want it to stop. Hmm. The angels have combusted and are falling down, like the sky is crying gold. Frank is sad. I don’t want anything in the world to stop, he thinks. It must have been something he was doing that he wanted to stop. Yes! but what… Maybe he didn’t want to move anymore. Frank lies still for a very long time. All he can see is sand and sky and stars. They all start with s, like start does. He closes his eyes, but he can still see sand and sky and stars, and they all still start with s, like start and still. He tries to remember something else, even though that starts with s too. He can’t think of anything else. It must be because that starts with an a. He keeps lying still just in case. He tries really hard to remember anything. Thinking! He wanted to stop thinking, he suddenly remembers. This thought crawls all over Frank like someone has just told him that they have been watching him all the time since before he can remember.
Trying to stop thinking will be very difficult. As soon as you stop thinking you have no thoughts to remind you to not start thinking again. Then pretty soon you start accidentally thinking without even knowing it. Thinking is so very clever, the way it tricks you like that. Someone really, really bad, as bad as an… egg must have thought up thinking, thinks Frank. There must be some way to stop thinking and stop from slipping back into thinking accidentally and from falling into holes in the sand. At this point Frank realizes that the sand has filled in all around his body so that only his face can see the sky. The rest of his body has made a perfect Frank-shaped mould inside the red sand. Oh well. When he solves this thinking problem then he’ll work his way out of the sand. Maybe he could use an elephant.
Frank doesn’t think he has an elephant though. Yeah, he’s pretty sure about that. Maybe he could use an elephant to stop thinking. It just might work if he had an elephant. Frank thinks about how much he wants an elephant. It’s not that much really. The sand is very warm and the sky is very clear about where it’s going. Which is precisely nowhere. Frank realizes that the only way so solve the thinking problem is to think really hard about it. Frank doesn’t see the irony in this but he does think that whoever thought up thinking must have been exceptionally devious and cunning, perhaps with a back ground in marketing.
Tears start to run down Franks face and he wonders if it is because he doesn’t think he will ever be able to solve the thinking problem. The tears feel warm, like someone is floating above him eating a pizza and dripping cheese on his face. No-one is floating above him; there is just sky and stars that are going home. There he is, thinking away, very hard about how not to think, for a very long time, and nothing particularly bad has happened. Other then crying a bit and we can’t be sure that’s even connected. Perhaps thinking isn’t as dangerous as he originally thought. “That’s it!” exclaims Frank. Antique lacquer ware. No, no. That’s not it. Thinking lots! Yes, that’s it! The only way to stop thinking is to think everything you can possibly think ever. Then there wouldn’t be anything left to think about. Halleluiah!
Frank sits up, and brushes all the sand off himself. There is no more Frank sand mould, no more sand angels and even the stars are hiding. I wonder how long I’ve been thinking, thinks Frank. That’s a good thought, thinks Frank. Now, what else can I think? Hmm. He looks around. Everything looks just the same as it always has. There is red sand, black sky and there is Frank. Same as always. Frank bends down and draws a peacock in the sand. So now there is also a picture in the sand as well. Still nothing much to think about. Maybe he has already thought about everything here already, maybe that is why he can’t think of anything to think about.
Suddenly Frank is struck by a series of thoughts like a surprise birthday party, and he isn’t entirely sure that he thought them himself, or if they just crept up and jumped in his head when he wasn’t looking. This is how they went: I’ve thought about everything here. Maybe I should go and think about stuff somewhere else. Where am I? I’ve never thought about that before. Why haven’t I thought about that before? I’d like some cheesecake. If there is nothing else but here, and I’ve thought about everything here, then I shouldn’t be thinking anymore. But I am thinking. There must be something else. Something other then here, or something here I haven’t thought about. I’m here. Maybe I haven’t thought about me. Who am I?
This last thought makes Frank fall over. He gets up and looks at his hands. He looks at himself as best he can, but it really is quite dark here, and Frank has very little idea what he looks like. He realizes he doesn’t know anything about himself. ‘Who am I?’ he thinks again. I’m me. That doesn’t help much. He doesn’t even know that his name is Frank, but then why would he. The angels certainly didn’t tell him. Frank is temporarily paralysed by these thoughts, but seeing as he wasn’t doing much anyway, he doesn’t really notice. All Frank knows is that he is neither the sand nor the sky, and he is pretty sure that he is not a star or an angel. He’s definitely not a picture, because Frank makes them, and he can’t have made himself. Can he? An idea starts to tickle Frank on the cheek, which feels kind of nice but also annoying at the same time.
‘Maybe you did make yourself,’ the idea says.
‘But I would remember if I made myself, wouldn’t I?’ Frank replies.
‘Not necessarily,’ says the idea, ‘There are lots of other things you don’t remember, maybe you forgot making yourself, too’
Frank starts trying to remember all the things he has forgotten. Soon he has to stop trying to remember all the things that he has forgotten, so he can count them. But then he realizes that once he remembers them they aren’t forgotten anymore, so he then deducts them from the number of things he has forgotten. Fortunately the idea is quite an attention seeker, and so he doesn’t do this for very long. The idea is dancing all around him and fluttering in his face, and says,
‘You know, if you made yourself, maybe you can make yourself again.’
A kind and gentle old breeze blows over Frank, and he feels all tingly.
‘Then there would be two of me,’ he says, ‘which means I would be able to think everything possible doubly fast, so it would only take half as long!’
‘Yes! And you would be able to tell you who you are, as well!’ says the idea.
Frank thinks this is a wonderful idea, and tries to give it a hug, but the idea gets all pernickety and scoots off in a hurry. Franks follows the idea right up to the place where he has to make himself. It’s very quiet there. It’s very quiet everywhere though, so Frank is not worried about this. He looks around for something to make himself with. There are rocks and other rocks and bits of stick here. He doesn’t usually hang out in places like this because rocks aren’t good for sand pictures. Now, though, he needs to make himself again so he starts collecting some of the sticks which look like drink swizzlers made by someone with no imagination and lots of old trees.