Idea for short story/first page

I had this idea a little while ago. I’ve wanted to write a story set some time in the future for a while now, and avoid any real sense of futurism. My vision of the future is perhaps annoyingly dull, banal and lacking any real revelation. I simply don’t think anything will really change. I think there were people working in the vineyards of tuscany while the Roman Empire rose and fell, and they simply never noticed. There are people somewhere in Bengal who still speak Sanskrit (a language that died over 2,500 years ago) simply because their small society never realised the rest of India stopped. I met a man once in Vrindavana who was hailed as the greatest living scholar of Vedic literature because his mother tongue was Sanskrit. He could read the entire Mahabharata and understand all the bits that have been warped or misinterpreted. His translator told me that he now knew there is a massive part of the Mahabharata that is intended as a pun, a sort of Chaucherian short story in the middle of it, and this could only be understood if you spoke Sanskrit in an everyday sense. Anyway, I digress. I want to write a short story about the future that bears a sorrowful similarity to today, because everyday is exactly the same. This is why we write, or make music, or drink, or commit crimes. We are functional rebels, pushing against a resistent societal membrane. This is what I want to write about.

 

Where to begin?

 

Cities, I suppose. I read somewhere the other day that history wrongly places itself in an urban setting; that all we know of the past is just one urbanised side of some huge fucking time-coin, and the other side; ‘The Rural’ is assumed to be unimportant or non-existent, just because nothing ever changed outside of the city.

I’m still reading this book. It’s  a real one. The guy who wrote it was really getting so het up about the fact that the history books forget about all those communities who lived off the land while Rome was rising and falling, the farmers who cleared the way for Alexander the Great or Hannibal or whoever the fuck was trying to conquer the world, and that the real changes were coming about because of those people on the outsides of the uncaring metropolis.

I tell you this now; that’s utter crap on so many levels. Nothing. Ever. Changes. Not anywhere, or in any time. In every generation; this one included, some elite bunch of overgrown science kids claim to have taken human civilisation some giant leap forwards, that the paradigm has shifted and we are kicked out of the dark ages, blinking like naked baby rats or junior Siddarthas in the sun, apparently enlightened and assured of our place as lords and masters of this world, that there has come an end to superstition and disillusionment, cold wars and god and crying over your own pointless face in the mirror. Yeah, these kids will tell you all sorts. And everyone scurries home and phones their elderly relatives and tunes in their television sets all at once to watch Mankind’s new triumph over what has gone before.

And yet, a few minutes later, our eyes have become accustomed to the sunlight. We collectively rub the holes in our faces and realise its not actually as bright as we first thought it was, and we shrug it aside and go back to sitting at our desks selling shit to each other, or illuminating manuscripts. Or whatever.

 

Nothing changes. The drudgery of life and the misery we share is just a way of getting through each day of our existence, whether you are up to your arse in a paddy field or on the eighty-sixth floor of an office tower. Urban or rural; to me, the two sides of the coin of time look exactly alike. Both sides are heads, with a boot-print staining the embossed greasy face.

 

But, maybe that’s just me. I was once described as ‘a frighteningly typical Aquarius’. Maybe you can imagine what my reply was. But, if you are looking for a realistic description of myself, just check out my I.D card and compare it to yours. We’ve all got one, those rectangular pieces of arbitrary plastic that hang from our belts and harnesses, binding us together in a 2010’s ‘back to basics’ sort of way. Some fucking paradigm.

 

Its just an idea.

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About Benjamin Norris

Published writer of short stories, long stories, poems. Well received art critic and cultural commentator for Berlin magazines. Collaborator with operatic societies. Co-writer of fictional historic psycholinguistic journals. Lecturer of architecture and art history at a Budapest University. View all posts by Benjamin Norris

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