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The Dancing Animal

A Story Every Day in 2024 April 21st 112/366

By Rachel DeemingPublished 28 days ago Updated 28 days ago 4 min read
7
The Dancing Animal
Photo by Daniel Lincoln on Unsplash

Inspired by Kurt Vonnegut

"I'm just popping out for some..." and this is where Fred's mind went blank.

"What? You're going where?" Tanya was in the kitchen and couldn't hear exactly what Fred had said. He was going out? Again? He'd already been out once. Why did he need to go out again?

"Some...thing," Fred mumbled the last word, slipped on his shoes and coat and went out the front door before Tanya could realise he'd gone.

Tanya heard the front door and sighed. She had jobs for Fred to do around the house but he could never settle very long these days. The weekends when he'd still had a job were often devoted to little projects and he had thrown himself into them with great gusto. But since retiring, it seemed like he just couldn't stand to be in the house. She was starting to think that it was her. Did he have someone else? Tanya pushed the thought from her mind as giving it space almost made it feel like it could happen.

*

Fred didn't have anyone else.

What he did have, he discovered, was a lack of purpose. When he'd been working, he'd felt like his days were full of people and stimulus. Nowadays, he felt listless. Tanya was much happier with her own company than he was. He couldn't get over this sensation that when he was within those four cosy walls, he was missing out on something and this had become an urgency that he had to quell. It rose in him like a tide and he had to go out.

He wasn't sure where he would go but as soon as the door closed on his home, he opened himself to life.

And there it was. Sparrows flitting in and out of the hedge. Up the street, he noticed poppy buds were coming out and scents in the air. He stopped and chatted with the postman, who, it turns out, was a train enthusiast. Here was Mrs Burton with her new pup. He played with it as it jumped up his trouser leg with its boundless enthusiasm.

"He loves to come out," Mrs Burton said.

And Fred knew just what she meant.

***

366 words

This story was inspired by a quote by Kurt Vonnegut. It is difficult to know when these things pop up whether they can actually be attributed to the people quoted as saying it but it appears, in this case, that it is true and so, as an appendix here is what Kurt Vonnegut said (September 1996 Technology issue of Inc.), the essence of which I have tried to capture in my story about Fred:

Then I’m going down the steps, and my wife calls up, “Where are you going?” I say, “Well, I’m going to go buy an envelope.” And she says, “You’re not a poor man. Why don’t you buy a thousand envelopes? They’ll deliver them, and you can put them in a closet.” And I say, “Hush.” So I go down the steps here, and I go out to this newsstand across the street where they sell magazines and lottery tickets and stationery. I have to get in line because there are people buying candy and all that sort of thing, and I talk to them. The woman behind the counter has a jewel between her eyes, and when it’s my turn, I ask her if there have been any big winners lately. I get my envelope and seal it up and go to the postal convenience center down the block at the corner of 47th Street and 2nd Avenue, where I’m secretly in love with the woman behind the counter. I keep absolutely poker-faced; I never let her know how I feel about her. One time I had my pocket picked in there and got to meet a cop and tell him about it. Anyway, I address the envelope to Carol in Woodstock. I stamp the envelope and mail it in a mailbox in front of the post office, and I go home. And I’ve had a hell of a good time. And I tell you, we are here on Earth to fart around, and don’t let anybody tell you any different.

Electronic communities build nothing. You wind up with nothing. We’re dancing animals. How beautiful it is to get up and go do something. [Gets up and dances a jig].

There are two key things about this quote that I think are important:

Firstly, the line "And I tell you, we are here on Earth to fart around, and don’t let anybody tell you any different." I love this sentiment. I want to tell people that my purpose for living is farting around. What a liberating statement.

And secondly, the bit in brackets at the very end:

[Gets up and dances a jig]

For some reason, this fills me with inordinate amounts of joy.

I will also add that "Electronic communities build nothing" was written before Vocal existed.

Thanks for stopping by! If you do read this, please do drop a comment as I love to interact with my readers.

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About the Creator

Rachel Deeming

Storyteller. Poet. Reviewer. Traveller.

I love to write. Check me out in the many places where I pop up:

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  1. Compelling and original writing

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Comments (7)

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  • D.K. Shepard26 days ago

    Great story with a cool source of inspiration! Thanks for sharing both!

  • Caroline Craven28 days ago

    Rachel this was excellent. I feel like there are so many ways to communicate and keep in touch these days but most people don’t. Human contact is the best - so is just farting about and doing nothing. Nice one.

  • Shirley Belk28 days ago

    Rachel, this story said so MUCH. Being retired, I sometimes go in search of an envelope, too. Beautiful

  • John Cox28 days ago

    I’m with Dharrsheena here. I loved both stories. As a collector of mental arcana, I’m surprised that I never encountered this story or the lovely quote “We are here on earth to fart around!” Your story captured that sentiment very well!

  • I enjoyed this! And yes we have vocal now lol!

  • TheSpinstress28 days ago

    This is absolutely inspirational. And I love this line of the quotation: "One time I had my pocket picked in there and got to meet a cop and tell him about it." It's such a positive spin on such a negative experience. I'm sure Fred will start to love his new life soon; it sounds like there's a lot of beauty around him.

  • Yes, you always do you. Don't let others tell you what to do or how to do it. Screw them! Loved both the stories here!

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