The Sage and the Scarecrow - The Tale of the Flying Paper

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Project Summary: The following is Chapter 3 from my 2004 novel The Sage and the Scarecrow.

At the moment, I am revising the chapters from this book into 3-4 page short stories for posting on my blogs and in literary magazines.

The Novel in Short: Six months after his father has died from cancer, Pierce finds himself in a state of anxiety and crisis. In his mind, there are two worlds. In one world he is a second-year college student trying to finish the semester; in another world, he roams an apocalyptic landscape searching for scraps of wisdom that will lead him to the perfect society. In both worlds, he is on a quest to find a girl named Jennifer, his best friend, true love, and the only person he believes can cure him.



When the apocalypse comes and wipes out the digital world with its digital afflictions, people will seek out refuges of paper. These places will look something like universities but with higher walls. People we might have called professors in the past will look more like monks and will be called something else.

If they are called "professors" it will mean something else entirely. They will seem even more irrelevant than they are today. Still, when the cell phones die and we're left to wander the earth, we will see these places with the high walls and think, "Food?"

Not, "Food for thought?" just "Food?"

*

I was worried that Angie was going to follow me, so I took an unorthodox path downstairs, avoiding the elevator, waiting several minutes on the second floor, and then proceeding down to the first floor. I knew Angie. I knew she might come out of my dorm and try to find me.

As I left my dorm building, I realized that my nerves were pretty shot. I began to wish I'd brought a book or something because reading always calmed me down. I wandered around campus for a little while, just thinking about the uncomfortable experience with Angie.

I would wander around campus and let my own neuroticism swallow me up whole.

No, I couldn't do this. I had to occupy myself with something. Anything. I needed to go someplace where I could just sit and gather myself. I thought about visiting my English Professor, maybe talking about my final paper. I hadn't started yet, and the end of my semester was approaching. I was behind in everything. I had let everything linger.

It suddenly occurred to me that I should see my therapist, Jamie Plath, one last time. Not for therapy, but just to say goodbye. He was a doctoral student who was graduating that semester. I had seen him just once that semester and had never gone back. Right about then, however, I was feeling like I wanted to talk with someone.

Not another session, but a goodbye. Perhaps if he wasn't there, I would book another session. I walked into the mental health clinic. It was much more packed than usual and I tried not to look any of the students in the eye. Certainly, I didn't want to start a conversation with any of them.

I asked the receptionist if Jamie Plath was there. She checked her schedule. Then she shook her head. "I don't think he's going to be working here anymore. He's left the nest already, I think. Do you want me to make an appointment with someone else?"

"No, I just wanted to say goodbye."

"Well, that's sweet of you. I wish I could give out numbers, but I can't. It's clinic policy. Was there something else I could help you with?"

"No, that's it. Thank you."

*

In the apocalypse one of these "universities" takes me in.

They see that I'm hungry. They don't know that I'm made out of straw. They don't know that I'm in love with a girl named Jennifer. They offer me some rice. There is no meat. Meat is hard to come by.

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