Short Story Series: ‘The Short Story About the Blocks’

HERE was a short story: the building blocks were tired. They’d seen five films now in just three days, and being repeatedly run over wasn’t helping anything. There had been a time when they would day-dream about mopping up their surroundings or at least sweeping, but hey, who would take that over endless vacation? Not me, and them neither. Being a collective in their situation was strange, but they generally got along real good. They didn’t have an audible voice, but they heard one another just fine. The blocks thought of news they overheard from the radio and thought of coffee when they smelled it, but never food – they couldn’t smell food. The strange thing was, whenever the kid would walk in and build them into something greater than the sum of their farts, they thought it was their incredible mental ability which had physically manifested and built them together again. They were always odd like that. They understood Croatian thanks to the maid, but hadn’t tried to speak it, and wouldn’t have been able to properly anyway, since they’d learned it after the critical age of about seven. And that was in years, but weeks were like years for the blocks, which never slept. So the tired restlessness they felt now would probably not subside until they died or at least just took a little break from doing so much…
…it was a tough life living like Tahiti Tunas last Tuesday. The blocks had witnessed a beautiful program about the endangered Tunas of the wild waters of Tahiti but hadn’t seen the ending. Charlotte, the mother of the house, had lost interest by the end – but mostly just because she was tired. The blocks thought once again about how tired they had now become. Because really, what would it even mean to be whole? And how could humans ever feel whole? They were individuals after all. The blocks felt they were much happier as a unit than the humans. A collective consciousness really suited them well. Sometimes it even made them feel alive. Things would always come in waves though, rather like the tunas in Tahiti, but also like thoughts…like continuous streams flowing in from a mystic sky-ceiling; flowing straight upwards yet at an angle right out of the ground. There was some sort of beauty to the blocks’ existence. That’s what Charlotte would’ve thought if she’d been conscious of their consciousness at all, but typically she just had bad days instead and thought of her husband Walter and their daughter Mabel. She was so proud of Mabel, and was always ready to hang her accomplishments on the fridge, or on the walls, or the ceiling, or the car windows, or the sidewalks and the neighbors’ houses or at least the dog house. The dog was called McCarthy and the child had named him for a name she’d spotted in a store once when she’d first learned to read.
What was a store? Mabel didn’t think about this, of course, but the blocks certainly did. Sometimes Mabel felt like the context of her life was just within reach, but this did not happen until she was much older and saw a particular film she’d acted in during her last life, and the character’s name was the same was her own: Mabel. Meanwhile, McCarthy was very much aware of where he’d come from and where he’d been. There were no beans to be made about it, although he often wished there were, because he dreamed of baked beans from his cowboy days…
The blocks didn’t know where they came from. That was something they didn’t think about. Not because they weren’t smart enough to consider it, but because they knew the answer: they didn’t know. They couldn’t know. They wouldn’t know. How could they ever learn? Why bother themselves with unanswerable questions? They knew Mabel might be able to tell them but they couldn’t speak to her, so that settled that as soon as they thought of that. What was a thought? They thought they knew. They weren’t usually sure though. They thought a lot about what it meant to have thought. To be conscious meant they were endowed, and yet was it really so special? For all they knew, everything around them was just as conscious as they were, yet unable to share their thoughts, just as they could not. Maybe the carpet was thinking about how heavy everything was and wondered why everyone found it acceptable to walk all over it. (“It” because of course we cannot know the gender of the carpet – at least not in English. Even though they also sometimes thought in Croatian, the blocks still had no idea what gender the carpet might be.) Perhaps the television wondered why it had been endowed with the great power of speech and yet had not the slightest say in what sounds would actually eminate from its being. The window panes were alive. McCarthy knew this, although the blocks did not. Sometimes McCarthy would spend long hours communicating with the panes in silence, reflecting on their past and future troubles. Charlotte and Mabel always laughed when they saw McCarthy talking with the windows. He couldn’t blame them. After all, it looked to them as though he were merely staring (and occasionally barking) at the things outside the window rather than the window itself. This was never the case and never would be unless baked beans started to fly…


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