A Metamorphosis

by Robert John Miller 

Gregory Samson awoke one morning to find himself firmly rooted in reality. He scratched his soft, fleshy belly, yawned, rolled over and stretched his legs, pushing his feet -- first one, then the other, two in total -- away from his torso, and wondered if perhaps one morning his legs would just plumb pop off while carelessly doing things like this. He turned on his side and pulled the comforter up to his chin, feeling the cold rush into the lair he had built with his blanket, his feet now out in the morning chill, and wished that one morning -- this particular morning, especially -- he had awoken and found himself transformed into something -- perhaps a gigantic bear -- so that he could just sleep through the rest of winter. He smacked his lips as his mind crept back into a dream state, this one filled with thoughts of salmon and wild honey. His alarm clock rang a second time, his eyes opened fully to take in a view of the ceiling, and he lay, supine.
From a crack in the blinds Gregory could see the snowflakes falling in the fresh light of dawn and hear the wind blustering against his window. He recalled days like this 10 years ago -- 10? now 20, more than 20 years since he had started school -- when he would have been elated, a snowy morning meaning extra sleep, a hot chocolate, possibly sledding. But now, of course, short of the possibility of an ursine transformation, the weather only signified danger, discomfort, and the importance of car insurance.
His clock nagged a third time that the morning hour was upon him and Gregory pressed the button to turn off the alarm for another 24 hours -- or, at this stage, 23 hours and 30 minutes -- the thought of which made him question the reasoning behind getting out of bed at all. He was safe, and he was comfortable, and should everything go as planned his great reward was to be in this same position at this same time, tomorrow. Well, he thought, it seems I've already arrived; I can just continue lying here. But, then again, what's the use of lying idle in bed, he said to himself, still slack. Tied between two equally delicious bundles of hay, a hungry but perfectly rational donkey once starved.
And so it was for Gregory, much like our pitiable donkey, that he was attacked by a phantasmic, paralyzing apprehension. It started by squeezing tight his stomach, continued by wrapping itself around his body, then slowly shrouded over his mind until his thoughts ceased, and finally sunk into his lungs and breathed his oxygen. He was smothered; he was suffocating. The tyranny of possibility was upon him, the anxiety of choice. He was in chains; he was awfully free. And suddenly his only certainty was nothingness.
He knew that, for example, very suddenly, he might turn into a bear. Perhaps he would force himself to turn into a bear. Possibly he was a bear already, he could not say. His mind, released after much resistance, was now racing. He wasn't sure what to think, so he thought everything, all at once. He was thinking, therefore, something, he thought, though he had no idea what, and didn't think it mattered, but he thought, therefore, something, and no other uncertainties mattered, which was absurd, as maybe everything is absurd, but this one thing, this something, he can suppose, he was sure, he concluded something, which was enough, was even more than enough, and he breathed in uncontrollable giggles, and they exploded out of him, and finding his sudden enthusiasm unwarranted (for what had really changed?) an even heartier laugh burst forth (for he thought unwarranted enthusiasm was always something to get excited about), and he quickly groomed, and prepared for work, and put on his hat, and grabbed his briefcase with his paw, and scurried into the cold outdoors, growling a barbaric yawp.

© 2010 Robert John Miller.  All rights reserved.

Robert John Miller has been published in PoeticDiversity, Rattle, and is forthcoming in Writers' Bloc.  He currently lives in Cambodia.  One time, he sold an index card on eBay.  You can see his blog here.

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