Becomes One Hundred Stories #45: Agrees to Share

This is a piece of short fiction in the style and universe of three of my novels: Becomes the Happy Man, Becomes God’s Silent Prophet, and Becomes the Meaning Blossom.

Agrees to Share

Philosophy had appeared to the man earlier that day while he worked, but he had not stopped working, so she had asked him why he ignored her.

The man said he was busy. He said to please come back at the time of his noon meal.

So Philosophy went down beside the river and she sat next to the river and she thought about Heraclitus. She could keep herself occupied under any condition just like the man could work hard under any condition.

The man worked. The man worked hard. He worked hard, but while he worked, he wondered what Philosophy wanted this time. They had dated long ago, but he had moved on. She returned now and then to check up on the man, but the man had always been okay. She always asked the man to return, and he always said that he needed something more. He wished she had been enough, but she hadn’t. She wasn’t.

The man did not like being distracted while he worked. He liked to think only about his work while he worked. Philosophy’s appearance in the middle of the man’s work day was the only thing that could distract him like this. And she spoiled his anticipation of his noon meal. Now he would have to have a disagreeable conversation with a scorned lover while he ate rather than think about what he wanted to think about.

The man looked at Philosophy sitting next to the river. He guessed she was thinking about Heraclitus. She was not very beautiful, but she was not ugly either. Rather plain. That was what had attracted him to her. She blended in with her environment, and anyone passing by would likely miss her. And she was quiet. She did not speak often, and when she did, she spoke with purpose.

The longer the man thought about her, the more he remembered their time together. She had been good in the bedroom, but the Marquis had already let that secret out. As the man’s mind drifted into the past, his work began to suffer. He recognized that his work was slowing, so he forced himself to forget about the past. He remembered that she had not been enough. Something had always been missing. He had wanted more, and he was still looking for more. The man wondered if the day would come when she would help him find what was missing. Then he would return to her. But until then, he had work to do. There was always enough work to do. Work would always be enough.

So the man forgot about Philosophy sitting along the river thinking about Heraclitus, and he poured himself into his work.

The man forgot about Philosophy so completely that he forgot about her when the time came for his noon meal.

When the time came for his noon meal, the man ate his noon meal, and he forgot about Philosophy. He thought about other things instead. He thought about other things while he ate his noon meal. And when he had finished his noon meal, the man returned to his work. He returned to his work and he worked hard.

Philosophy appeared to the man once more while he worked. She asked if the man was ready for his noon meal.

The man said he was sorry but he had already eaten. He said he had forgotten about her while he had eaten his noon meal.

Philosophy said but it was only just then noon.

The man said he started his work early and he ate his noon meal early. Earlier than noon.

Philosophy asked the man if he was still so busy.

The man said he had already returned to work. He said she could return at the end of his work day.

Philosophy said hadn’t the man worked hard enough.

The man said there was always work to do. He said winter was coming.

Philosophy said the summer work season had ended weeks ago.

The man said there was always work to do, and winter was coming.

Philosophy said but winter was still a long way off. She said summer was long that year and the man should enjoy some of it before his winter work would begin. She began removing her clothes.

The man said please don’t do that.

Philosophy said it was not for the man’s sake, but it was warm and she always wore too much. She removed her outer garments, but she remained appropriately dressed for the time and place and conditions.

The man continued his work and thought about how to get her to leave him alone. He did not like the way she looked at him.

The man said that if she returned at sunset, when his work was done that day, then he would have dinner with her. He thought that was what she had in mind anyway.

Philosophy said no. She said it was time the man put down his tools and take a walk with her. She said he had worked enough and he had time before his winter work needed to begin. She said he needed to go with her now.

The man did not like being spoken to that way. He said imperiousness would get her nowhere. And he became over-zealous in his work if only to show her that he would work even harder in the face of her demands. But he knew she was right, and he had almost yielded to her before his pique had interfered.

Then Philosophy said please.

The man continued working for a while, but he gradually slowed down, and when he came to a convenient stopping point, he made a show of completion, as though his work would allow him to quit, and he put his tools down and went to the river to wash where he did not think about Heraclitus.

The man said he would give her an hour.

Philosophy said she would not need that long.

The man looked around and wondered where she would like to walk.

Philosophy said she didn’t need to go for a walk. She said it had just been a figure of speech.

The man had by that time looked forward to a long walk. An hour walk. Having set aside his tools, he had in mind a long walk with Philosophy and was again annoyed when she changed the plan.

Philosophy told the man not to look at her like that. She said all she wanted was for the man to answer one question.

The man said what was the question.

Philosophy asked the man why he had left.

The man said he had needed more.

Philosophy said many men had found her to be enough.

The man said that wasn’t much to brag about.

Philosophy said the man did not have to be rude.

The man said no he didn’t.

She said but the man had belonged.

The man said that was what she had said. He said but he had never felt like he belonged.

Philosophy said he had fit in with the rest. She said he had been eager.

The man said so he had. And then he had discovered that there was a big difference between being a simple man and being a philosopher. He said both talked about wanting the same things, but the philosophers never shut up. He said at some point you just have to shut up and be simple, not just talk about it all the time.

Philosophy said but the man had more to offer than just being a simple man.

The man said he had looked for but had never found the structure or the foundation to build on. So he had concluded that being a simple man was what he was cut out for. Not academic philosophy, not professional philosophy of the geniuses who do little more than create puzzles for other geniuses to solve, and definitely not the aggressive militant philosophers who are always attacking and criticizing in the name of Philosophy.

Philosophy said there was still a place for the man.

The man said it all confused him and he never found his place.

Philosophy said she remembered one thing that had excited the man when he was with her. She said when Diogenes had said that an ignorant man trying to be a philosopher was exactly what a philosopher was.

The man said if you replace an ignorant man with a simple man then that would suit the man even to that day.

Philosophy said wasn’t that enough for the man.

The man said it was too much. He said he was a simple man with simple answers to questions that everyone else tried to make more difficult. He said it was enough to be a simple man without considering whether or not that made him a philosopher. He said he had given up trying to be a philosopher.

Philosophy said then maybe he already was one.

The man said she could believe that if she wanted.

Philosophy looked at the man like she was trying to solve some problem.

The man said it’s just not that complicated.

Philosophy said maybe what the man was missing was not sharing his simple answers.

The man said no one wanted to hear his simple answers.

Philosophy said I do.

The man looked at his tools lying stiff in the sun. He said he really needed to get back to work.

Philosophy told the man to think about sharing.

The man returned to work. He returned to work and forgot about Philosophy and all they had talked about.

But late at night, the man woke up from a forgotten dream, and he knew the next day he would begin sharing. He would begin trying to share. Not explain. Share.

He was strangely comforted to find Philosophy sleeping at his side.

To read more stories in the series, see the Becomes One Hundred Stories page.

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