Ben Hsu

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Essay · Fiction · Modern Fantasy

Quandry

One morning I woke up and needed eggs, not wanted eggs, or even had to have eggs, needed them.  It was as if eating eggs had suddenly become an integral part of my life; I needed to breath, drink water, sleep, and eat eggs.  I’d call it an addiction, but I’ve never been addicted to anything so I wouldn’t know.  Fortunately, the little balls of protein and cholesterol were a staple part of my diet, so I always kept a healthy supply on hand.  Without any more thought I moved to my rather cramped kitchen and began rectifying my lack of eggness. 

One greased frying pan later the hearty smell of scrambled chicken fetuses wafted through my kitchen.  As I poked the slowly solidifying mess about I realized that I’d forgotten what eggs actually tasted like, the smell, though intoxicating, reminded me of nothing.  I tried formulating a sentence describing eggs to solve the issue, but my mind blanked.  Mildly annoyed I finished cooking, turned the fire off, and pulled an old stool up to the stove to eat.

The eggs were good, still indescribable, but good.  My need settled I let my thoughts wander slowly to the dream I had last night.  I rarely remember my dreams, only three actually stayed in my memory to date.  As such I tended to treat recalled dreams as treasures, mulling them over slowly in my mind, imprinting the details as one remembers a rainy day in July.

This particular dream was comparatively dull, nothing chased me, I wasn’t looking for anything, I certainly couldn’t fly, and there was a distressing lack of sex.  Instead I dreamed that I’d found a site (on the internet) that held a large list of older games, available for free.  Browsing the site brought me to an old game I used to play constantly, Absorption.  It was a simple game involving a grid and players taking turns placing red and blue squares trying to out maneuver one another.  Elated at my find (in my dream still) I downloaded the game and promptly began playing.  While playing the game I was reminded of when I’d first bought the game, in middle school.  The computer in my room hadn’t been able to run it, so I had to sneak across the hall into the study to install Absorption on the family computer.  Most of the next night was spent wasting time with the game.  Midway way through my reminiscing my alarm buzzed and I awoke with the aforementioned need for eggs.

At that point I was forced to stop my musings on the dream.  I just realized that, in addition to remembering my dream, I also remembered installing and playing Absorption on the family computer in middle school.  The only issue was that I had never done such a thing.  In fact, there was only a family computer growing up, and I couldn’t ever recall playing or even having heard of Absorption before this morning.  Yet there the memory was, glaring against all my common sense and knowledge.  How could I have such a clear memory of something that I was so sure didn’t actually happen?

Memory and the mind were fickle things indeed.  There I sat remembering a memory that never happened.  Yet moments before I couldn’t bring to mind the taste of eggs, something I experienced daily.  Perhaps I hadn’t ever eaten eggs before, and all the memories of eating them were only half remembered dreams.  If so it would certainly explain why I couldn’t describe the taste of eggs.

And if that were true, how could I be sure of anything?  Would I go through the day finding more and more of my life was a lie, brought about by the idle musing of dreams?  Was I to spend the rest of existence as Descartes had, always wondering what was real, never sure of his own senses?  I floundered, looking for an anchor in my suddenly destabilized world.  Slowly, my eye wandered down to the sickly yellow mess on a cooling teflon frying pan.  Was this a fork in my hand?  Was it even my hand?  Did I will the hand to move the wobbly chunk to my mouth (perhaps it was my mouth) or was this another dream and I wasn’t even me?

The eggs were indescribably good, and I was running late for work.

Essay · Fiction · Modern Fantasy

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