Time doesn't get in the way when you are completely immersed in your existence. If I hold my breath all motion stops. I've lived as a paying tenant in my own house for five years now. They live up there; I live down here. It seems to work well for everyone involved. To most, a basement might seem a depressing place to live for so long, but I have managed just fine. I like the feeling of antiquity. Surrounded by forgotten board games and ancient electronics, this place remains my refuge from the encroaching world. Here is the dusty, functional computer circa 1984. Two steps to the left of this sits a trunk filled with clothes that would make any thrift store owner envious. This couch is so old I may as well sit on the springs themselves for all the comfort it affords me. And it's ugly too- blue dotted rough material coated in dust. Folds out into an equally crummy bed which can take up to two hours to fall asleep on if you're lucky. Lying on the coffee stained glass table before me is a dictionary I was thumbing through for inspiration, for some catalyst that might have prompted me to leave the house. The words are a little hard to see, however, due to the lack of illumination down here. Light doesn't matter though.

I used to like going on walks. Recently though I haven't been able to come up with proper justification for any interruption in my writing. Nothing I write would possibly benefit me in a sense deemed worthy by anyone else. It's more of a selfish endeavor, one that helps me establish a connection with something other than myself. Walks used to be good for this purpose, but I have been finding it more comforting to write indoors lately. Today the brightness behind the window shade has faded. No point in leaving my sanctuary now. Besides, the darkness is organic. A solitary streetlamp makes the rain glitter in the gutter that is perfectly level with my eyes. The one surface in here that might actually be of some use to me is covered in boxes and tins containing miscellaneous items- some sharp, some soft, some broken, some complete; all remnants of childhood misadventures. A single Lego man stomps through a forest of Maxwell House coffee cans and Elmer's Glue bottles. These household objects dwarf him and make him look absurd. Next to this junkyard of memory sits an old dollhouse. Actually, it's a tree house made of papier-mâché, but who's keeping track? No one lives in it anymore. Only a few bare white spots mark the places on the green painted floor where painted figurines once stood. I don't remember who made this…

The door just slammed. That should be my little brother home from work. It must be late. Thankfully, the lights are out so he won't find me. Maybe if I just sit quietly no one will know I'm here.

"Hello? Anybody home?" He's clattering about in the kitchen now, not caring that it's eleven at night. I wait expectantly for the sound I know is inevitable. Yep, there it is. Distant footfalls begin announce the arrival of two more players into my story. Rapid, light taps signify my mother's graceful, nervous presence on the first floor. The bass staccato of my father's leaden tread soon overpowers the former sound. It has become very easy for me to discern the location of any person in the house by the changes in volume of their footsteps. Muffled noise corresponds with the carpeted second floor and staircase, creaky steps that disappear tell me when someone enters the computer room- you get the idea. Right now they are directly overhead.

"What are you doing home so late?" Scratchy voice, cigarettes- my mother.

"Um, what do you think?" My brother is being playful it seems. "Work, I had work. God, you people are dumb."

"Shut the fuck up." And that would be my father. Tactful, as always. "You can't just barge in here and-"

"It was your fault for locking the door. If you actually cared where I was this wouldn't have happened."

"Shhh. Calm down everybody." My mom seems to always be pleading with the men in her life to stop being so stupid. I wish they'd shut up.

"No. He can't expect to talk to us like we're the children here and expect to get away-"

"Don't start with that crap now, Dad."

Stupid stupid stupid people. Why can't they just go away? The dark is so quiet, but they're all so loud. When I was younger I would blast music to rid myself of their intrusions, but now I can't stand loud noises. Meditative silence is my only way out. The shouting climbs until my mother's raspy voice breaks through the static. Everything comes to a halt. She never shouts.

"Where's Andy?" My brother is asking for me. How sweet. Hopefully my whereabouts won't be another point of contention between the fam. I'd hate it if they actually tried to band together to look for me.

"I think he went out for one of his walks." It's just my mom and my brother now. Dad's probably asleep again.

"This late?"

"Yeah, why not? He might be in his room though. I haven't really looked."

"Oh, well you might've done at least that."

"I know. Maybe you'd better check. Might avoid an argument that way. I'm going online."

"Right. Night, mom."

No response is offered. Footsteps creak then fade away. Music starts playing from my room upstairs. My entire train of thought has been derailed because of their inability to solve problems like human beings. It never used to be like this. There was a time when familial unity wasn't such an oxymoron. Now all that is whole lies around me. The only imperfection in this scene is the faint rumble coming from my stereo.

The television is glowing. In its faint illumination everything looks different. There's an object in the corner I want to call a heater, but for all I know it could be a stealth ninja. My surroundings have lost their definition. A walk. My mom thinks I went out. She doesn't know that I've filled sixty pages of this little book with my thought. But that's okay. They're not supposed to know. To them everyone is in their right place. And I suppose that's true to some extent. At least nothing has changed for them. Something is different down here though. I must correct my previous observation on the imperfection of this room- it's just not the noise. It's shifted. The interrupted silence is no longer welcoming. I flip the dictionary open again. The word "superfluous" stares up at me. I'm no longer a part of my surroundings. I need to be outside. They won't even notice I'm gone.

Ex*trin"sic (?), a. [L. extrinsecus; exter on the outside + secus otherwise, beside; akin to E. second: cf. F. extrinseque. See Exterior, Second.]

1.

Not contained in or belonging to a body; external; outward; unessential; -- opposed to intrinsic.

The extrinsic aids of education and of artificial culture. I. Taylor.

2. Anat.

Attached partly to an organ or limb and partly to some other part -- said of certain groups of muscles. Opposed to intrinsic.

 

© Webster 1913.

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