#6 Man Versus Book

#6 Man Versus Book

/u/MagicofFriendship submitted the writing prompt:
Write a story about your greatest fear and how you eventually overcome it.

“How do we do it?”

“How do we do it? Honey, you don’t have to do anything.” She was ready. Slippers on, cup of tea brewing by her side and a smile I hadn’t seen in a longtime. My hands were shaking. She noticed and placed her hand on mine. “You’ve still got your shoes on! Take them off, you can’t do it properly if your shoes aren’t off.”

With my shoes off, nestled beside the arm chair I sat in, I felt like I couldn’t escape. It wasn’t when I got into my loungewear, it wasn’t when she told me I couldn’t have my phone, it was then – making a quick escape and running back to The Mill in my socks was impossible, because it was fucking freezing outside.

“What have you got?” I asked.

“I’m about half way through. Here.” She handed me the book. I heard my phone ringing on the kitchen counter next door. She could tell I wanted to answer it, perhaps my hands were shaking even more, perhaps I began to sweat or perhaps she knew it was Alfie asking where I was. She held my gaze with reassuring confidence. “Read the back.”

I remember struggling to read it. I don’t have a problem with reading or anything, I’m not stupid, but it definitely felt odd holding something in my hand I couldn’t drink. It was about an old man fishing in a big lake. It said something about wrestling with a fish, man versus nature, that’s all I remember. I handed it back to her.

“Is it good?”

“It’s great. Here’s yours. I spent a lot of time trying to pick one you’d like. You said you wanted something funny. It’s not too complicated either. Here you go.”

“How do you know I’ll like it?”

“I found a line you could read. It’ll make you laugh. Then you’ll know.”

I opened the book to the dog flapped page. There was a sticky yellow tab pointing to a highlighted line.

In the beginning the Universe was created.

I couldn’t believe it. I remember thinking – what the fuck is this? She had tricked me into it, into this night in. I wasn’t at the The Mill. I wasn’t with Alfie, Ron, Toby, Ben, I wasn’t on the fruity, I wasn’t watching the football, I wasn’t enjoying the finest bitters, I wasn’t sharing jokes with Shelley at the bar, I wasn’t chasing spots or stripes or the big 180, I wasn’t where I should be, where I wanted to be. I was at home, at fucking home on a Friday night, and I had a fucking book in my hand and it sounded like it was fucking religious or something. It was 8 o’ clock and I was getting converted by my wife and some Douggy Adams bloke.

I sighed. I went to hand it back to her – I couldn’t do it.

She still held her smile and she read me so well. “Read the rest of the line.”

This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.

I’ll admit – that book gave me the biggest laughs and that girl of mine changed my life.

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