The couch is a magical, wonderful place to a modern human. Mine is a large sectional littered with pillows, embraced by shuttered windows that open on cooler days, closed off on one side by a pair of French doors into a peaceful sanctuary during Daddy's morning quiet time. The walls of this sanctuary slap you with tomato red (we call it The Red Room), and placed on the far wall, hanging at a slight angle, hovering above us on its throne, its altar, its pedestal, is a 70" Sony, leaning toward us in anticipation. Sony is a jealous god, demanding in worship, seductive with its many recorded shows and one-click movies. After Daddy's quiet time (which begins around 4AM, and ends around 8AM), Sony booms out its commandments, thou shalt buy this, thou shalt buy that, and thus and thus, lest thou misseth this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and be damned forever to the sulfury pit of higher prices. It tells us who we should hate, who we should love, where our beliefs in it and other gods should lie. It molds us into obedient citizens, or incites us to riotous disobedience. It demands thus and thus, and so on, pleading for our attention, insistent, threatening, irrefutable because it will not, cannot hear your pleas and complaints.
Sony booms and stomps through my house as a smaller demigod cradles my lap. Similar, yet different, this deity demands to be touched and tapped, seducing me with fingers not so jealous as Sony. Hewlett-Packard warms my legs with a fan. It stokes my ego with virtual discussions. It provides money for my home, such that I might tithe 10% to the gods of Sony, and to the priests and priestesses who serve it, with a smaller portion to this demigod for its seemingly lesser service.
This second god is humbler, yet no less demanding. While Sony cannot possess me, HP often bows me for hours at its altar, hunched over the keyboard as life — yes, LIFE — happens around me. My young son, sixteen months old, has learned that he need only close the lid to rouse me. So he walks over and presses the lid shut. Stop it, Finn, I say to him. He laughs. I huff, because I am in the middle of something important.
Ah. Something important. I look up. Sony booms at me that I must act now, before it is too late. Now for the news. Apparently I am supposed to hate so and so now, and am no longer allowed to hate so and so. Used to be the other way around. Oh Mr. Orwell, where are you now?
And what is so important anyway, that I cannot rise and play with my son? Well, I am working, and this clamshell contraption is the means by which I earn what, not money, oh no not that, but digital numbers on a banking website, gone before I have time to register the sum in my log book. But who's counting those numbers, and haven't I worked enough for one day? Should I, dare I, shall I disembark from the couch?
And so I do. I let Mr. Finn, Finny-Finny-Foo-Foo as I call him, close the lid. Little Finny-Foo-Foo, gonna make a poo poo, in my diaper, now I need a wiper. That's what I sing-song as I rise, and my wife, stressed because she works in his daycare, stressed because she makes dinner (I clean, so hush up), says, Why don't you take Finn outside to play?
Boy, he hears that and becomes a blur of chunky little bowlegs out those French doors, through the breakfast nook, through the second living area, me rising and loping after him through the playroom, and he's slapping his hands on the front door.
Get off the couch, Daddy. That's all he wants. And we explore the world outside as I did with my older children, teenagers now, both of them recalling sometimes that October swarm of frogs we witnessed, bagging seventeen of them and releasing them at the creek. They recall Ghost Tree, our hikes through the woods, our campouts, how we found a pair of owls and listened to them hoot back at one another. My older son says, Remember when I saved your life from that snake?
Yeah, I say. I just about stepped on a water moccasin, wearing flip-flops. One foot-width to the right, that close, inches, would have earned me a couple of holes in my heel, no doubt about it, right outside my apartment because it backed up to some woods with a winding creek leading out to a drainage dam.
They recall the trip to Colorado, Estes Park, and the week in the Stanley Hotel, home of Stephen King's The Shining. They recall other vacations, other hikes, other adventures, as does my wife, and as will my youngest, still scribing this first chapter of his life and running into the next grand adventure with his arms thrown up and his throat bleating baby chirps and giggles and words that mean something only to the parents and his siblings.
These things I know, and we write what we know, don't we? I know more than the couch. I know more than Sony and HP let on. I draw on this experience when I write, rousing characters who reach into my readers and touch places they forgot were there. I almost stepped on a snake, too, one says. I stayed at the Stanley, too, says another. And so on. We cross paths with our readers, and we cannot do that from the couch.
We must lift ourselves up, off the cushions, let life close the lid on HP and stuff the mouth of Sony with blackness. It only takes one click of the thumb to redeem yourself. Click. Rise. Live.
Then, when you brew your coffee, return to the couch, crack your fingers, and resurrect HP during that morning quietude you have carved out for yourself and those blank pages you fight and struggle with and beat your head against every morning, then you'll have something to write about.
You'll have stories.
Now, off with you.
About the Author
Eric W. Trant is a published author of several short stories and the novels Wink and Steps from WiDo Publishing, out now! See more of Eric's work at:
About Steps, Eric's latest book:
Steps is a well written science fiction novel you won’t want to put down. Following the Peacemaker family through their battle of survival will keep you on the edge of your seat as you wait to see what obstacle is next.