What do you mean, “Rising Action?” — Pen and Grid Paper

There were some mornings that absolutely were not worth it. The sun came up too early or the morning traffic was too loud outside the window. Some things just couldn’t be helped and there was nothing for it but to rise and stumble to the bathroom, complete one’s ablutions and get dressed. Then to find breakfast and get on with the day’s activities.

Some mornings, though, when one awoke to the sound of rain, and the dump truck was not making its weekly rounds, and there was nothing that absolutely had to be done that day, those were good mornings. When the freedom of obligation meant there was glory in every accomplishment, when the trappings of the day exhibited the lack of expectations quite frankly, when there was no impetus to get out of bed beyond knowing one did not in fact have to get out of bed, it was a good morning.

It was on such a morning as this that Jack awoke. He frittered an entire hour away on his computer, checking web comics, and playing a little of a game he had been yearned for, but told himself he could not afford for months until he finally broke down and purchased it, willing himself to believe that he was allowed this one extravagance. Soon though, he felt the necessity of a shower and cleaned himself up. Dressed, he made a phone call he’d intended to make hours ago, but the rain had made his delay acceptable. That, and the discovery that he was not alone in waiting until this moment, this hour, to make the call.

He was put on hold. He busied himself with another task, researching such methods as might be found to come by some passport photos without great expenditure. An ally had posted up a website that would do them for free, if he could but print them, which meant he had to contact his mother and check if she still had the glossy printer that might be exactly what was needed. She did! And with the revelation that everything was in fact going to be okay, the phone began to ring, signaling his coming moment with a live representative.

Quickly Jack discovered that the representative could not hear him if he left his phone in speaker mode and so switched it back to the usual format. He gave his name and destination and was put on hold again, though not for long. His date of birth and email address were exchanged for a plane ticket. His fate was sealed! Well, almost. The confirmation email spoke of a need to ticket the reservation on penalty of cancellation. When he tried to do so, he found that he would need to recontact the travel agent.

Jack resolved to wait a week to see if certain parts of the transaction had just yet to go through and to try again at that point. And that was it, the sole task he had actually needed to get done. Back into the world of his game went he, commanding a star faring empire which utilized a scientific brand of ethics, leaving well enough alone when there wasn’t any profit in disruption, but still driven by a burning, chilling, gnawing, need to know, to understand. There had been many iterations of this empire, slowly being pared away until he had come up with a name of which he approved. The game had a certain strangeness of flexibility in which it could take any name that followed an adjective-singular noun format of empire name, but could not handle anything that ended in a plural noun. It wasn’t that the game’s engine failed at this point, but some turns of phrase came out rather odd sounding. “Many citizens within the Dealers feel that blah blah blah,” was the style of these breaks in narrative; the sort of thing that could only happen by rigid application of an algorithm that did not recognize a plural when it saw it. It was unfortunate, but what could you do?

You could go reheat the water that you’d meant for hot cocoa many hours ago and this time listen to see when the electric kettle switched off. It was already afternoon, and while Jack’s bedroom was still dark, he could no longer hear the rain. When he returned with his beverage, intended to be his breakfast, the sky was already lightening. He surfed the internet for a bit, looking at the wiki of his game in an attempt to understand some particular facet he might have missed. Nothing for it but to wait and see.

Two hours later he had to admit that perhaps there were other things he had to accomplish. There wasn’t anything pressing, but the sun had been shining for at least an hour and the cocoa, long since gone lukewarm, had done little to assuage his hunger. He collected his gear for class and resolved to walk down rather than drive, so as to avoid having to worry about a ticket for parking in one place too long. Jack liked to linger in coffee shops. He frequented the kind where this was not only allowed, but partially encouraged, by way of an unlimited free refills rule that he was, truth be told, no longer sure really applied. Still, he did his best not to abuse this and had yet to be told he had overstayed his welcome.

Upon retrieving his back pack from his car, he realized one part of the rain that had not been so pleasant. With yesterday’s heat he had left his windows cracked and as such, there were lines of dampness within his vehicle. Still, it would be better to leave the windows cracked and hope the interior continued to dry.

And so it came to pass that he entered the cafe and ordered a sandwich which the barista did not expect. He did not acquire a pastry to go with it, though he did get an iced mocha. Anticipating a good meal, he settled in at one of the counters facing the street and began to work on his language training. The handbook was still just as confusing as the first time he’d looked at it. Asking of the allies on the internet he found that it was not just him, that the book was intended to be used with the actual training he would begin in a month’s time. Such knowledge under his belt, he began what of the current module’s training he could complete without headphones or, for that matter, the privacy of a space to practice in front of a mirror. He was given a choice of teaching some introductions or common phrases.

Jack did not agree precisely with some of the responses given for either introduction or phrase, feeling that some were so formal as to be unheard outside a language class, the most common form following the form of “Greeting!” “Exact same greeting, too!” He felt it was more common for the format to follow something like “Greeting!” “Paraphrase of greeting, too!” or “Greeting!” “Something with similar intent of greeting!” The common phrases were a little better, though some of the responses were a little informal. One of the responses given for “excuse me” was “uh-huh” which Jack felt got into the whole range of United States American grunted and aspirated affirmatives, each of which carried with it its own peculiar place in language. He supposed it would be his job to eventually explain that while a response of “uh-huh” had its place, it was generally not used except very informally, when someone had erred and wished a pardon and you didn’t think it was all that big a deal. Or something like that. How to find a generic explanation for “uh-huh” when its exact meaning varied from region to region? It was impossible, to be sure.

With a couple hours yet before class, Jack turned to writing about his day. And after a very few pages stopped in order to avoid recursion.

via What do you mean, “Rising Action?” — Pen and Grid Paper


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