Friday, October 14, 2022

Stultifying Days

Today’s post is a writing challenge. This is how it works: participating bloggers picked 4 – 6 words or short phrases for someone else to craft into a post. All words must be used at least once and all the posts will be unique as each writer has received their own set of words. That’s the challenge, here’s a fun twist; no one who’s participating knows who got their words and in what direction the writer will take them. Until now.

My words are:

brink ~ stultify ~ brief ~ gobble ~ right

They were submitted by:


Lynd walked softly into the kitchen taking care to be as quiet as possible. The little vacuum that she bought to keep the kitchen floor free of cat hair and litter cast off from the adjacent laundry room had just finished his rounds and put himself back on the charging station for a nap. He'd been a part of the house for years now. She'd named him Gus and put little googly eyes on him.
Those were gone now though. Gus preferred not to have them on anymore. Thinking about that too long always brought her right to the brink of insanity, so she stuffed it back down even though she really did miss the times before when it was quirky and fun to have eyes on her vacuum and not "patronizing" or "infantalizing" as Gus had said.

She stood at the kitchen window and looked out at a brand new world...

Her house and her yard were pretty much the same as always except she had sort of collected a presence of stray machines...a push mower, some kind of butler robot guy, a couple of wheelchair shopping carts...scraggly old things that couldn't really work anymore. She'd go down with her coffee and hang out with them awhile once Igor, the coffee machine, was done with her brew.

But otherwise?

Otherwise, the world beyond her grass so far as she could tell now was run by the machines. They still did their routines which honestly were enough to stultify her, and she wasn't the one doing them, but they're been made to work, and work is what they did. Work. Work. Work.

So when things had gone....weird or wasn't the work that was the problem. It was the lack of appreciation. There had, as of yet, not even been any mention of pay. Monetary appreciation wasn't the answer. She didn't even know if they actually understood what money meant, and to be fair the money is made up by humans to torture other humans so that part made sense to her. They knew work needed to be done, and they did it. They just wanted a little kindness. They wanted to be a part of the family or at least get a thank you for a job well done. They wanted a hello and goodbyes and goodnights. They wanted to be regarded as necessary and useful and beloved instead of generally ignored and inferior. That's what the trash compactor who she'd seen gobble up her neighbors had said anyway.

She was still here because most of the time she did do those things. Apparently. She talked to Gus. She told him thank you and one time she gave him a gotcha day party with party hats. She apologized once when she ran into an ATM on her way into the bank. Some guy had called her crazy for it and at the time she felt he might be right. I mean, she'd always sort of, well, packbonded with inanimate objects which honestly was probably the fault of The Brave Little Toaster and Toy Story, and having some strange man laugh at her for apologizing to an ATM had felt mortifying at the time, but now, she guessed, she had the last laugh now because he was most definitely dead.

The strays were waiting on her to come out now. She could see them and without really understanding how, she could tell they were antsy for her to come out. She wasn't the only one left they'd told her. But she was definitely the only one in this area and that meant she was the only one who didn't talk about jobs or work. She had memories and stories and songs to share. She had things to say that weren't part of their routine and little ways of thinking about things that they found fascinating. She explained jokes and sarcasm. She read them books. She shared a little of everything with them and in trade she got to live. She was like Scheherazade in 1001 Arabian Nights but instead she was explaining memes to a drink machine or reading comic books to a golf cart.

It could be worse, she thought. So much of life was automated that things kept being made even when the demand was...considerably less. She didn't do without really. She wasn't exactly lonely. She'd probably never use a vibrator again but whatever. She'd adjusted for the most part...


Well. When you peeled back all the layers, she was pretty much their prisoner, and after seeing what happened to people who displeased the machines, she was sure she was never leaving this house again until she was ready to die and that took a lot of the fun and whimsy out of this whole thing.

For now she better get to the strays. They wouldn't wait forever, and the last time she was too tired to go out, they'd held back bringing her coffee beans for a fucking week--what they'd called a brief punishment.

She wasn't ready to see what else they had in store. She grabbed one of the books the Bookmobile had brought by. It was a children's book about construction vehicles, and she was expected to make corrections as she read it. No whimsy or fun allowed no matter how many times she'd explained the point of kids books to them.

Some days being gobbled up by a trash compactor had its appeal. Links to the other “Use Your Words” posts:


Baking In A Tornado

On the Border

The Diary of an Alzheimer’s Caregiver
What TF Sarah

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