Life Force: A Fairy Tale

Life Force knew she was destined to be with Sam. She knew it the way you know that a certain dress will maximize your assets and turn you into a glamourpuss, or the way you know that coffee will lift your spirits in the morning. However, Sam remained stubborn and refused to ask her out. In fact, he rarely left his room at his mother's house. Therefore, to pass the time, and because a girl needs to go out for dinner with someone now and then, Life Force took up with Romeo.

Romeo was no good. L.F.'s mother told her so, and her supervisor at work, and her best friend; in fact, for awhile there, life became an endless litany of all the ways in which the Pearl that was Life Force was sowing herself before one Swine, aka Romeo.

It was all a little obvious, in L.F.'s opinion. I mean, yes, Romeo drank too much, and smoked too many cigarettes, and the list of his ex-girlfriends was endlessly long, while his job history barely filled half a page. And sometimes at poetry readings he would comment loudly and unfavorably on the poet's dental work. Can that be anything but embarrassing?

But it wasn't as though Life Force were blind to these behaviors and traits of Romeo's. Her loved ones and acquaintances, on the other hand, were not aware of L.F.'s secret devotion to Sam, for she shared this with no one. They never realized that she was holding herself aloof from Romeo's more serious shortcomings. Thus, she felt she had one up on them.

In fact, Life Force was holding herself a little aloof from everything, waiting for the day when her life with Sam would begin. She never felt impatient, and she never doubted that her dream would come true, so she felt no alarm as the months and years rolled by, always taking a little something with them as they rolled, like snowballs.

The years take, but they give too. On the whole, they were nice to Life Force. They didn't take too much of her looks, for example, and they brought common sense. Not too much, mind you. Not so much that she forgot to cry each time Spock died in Wrath of Khan, but enough that one day she woke up and realized it was time to take matters into her own hands. Therefore she went to Sam's house and knocked on the door.

Sam's mom answered. Time had been having its way with her, too. Whereas if Life Force had appeared on the doorstep even five years before, Sam's mom (who was still known as Mrs. Previti, though Mr. Previti had wandered off long ago) would have shooed her away, now Mrs. Previti was a little more inclined to see how things would play out.

So there was Life Force on the stoop, holding some sheet music in her hand. She'd heard a rumor that Sam played the piano and thought they might practice duets. Mrs. Previti looked at her speculatively for a moment. Then, "Oh, it's you," she said. "I suppose you'd better come in."

Life Force followed Mrs. Previti into the kitchen, where the latter poured two glasses of orange juice. They drank. Then Mrs. Previti went to the foot of the stairs.

"Sam!" she called. "Life Force is here to see you!"

"Who?" Sam called.

"Just get down here!"

After a moment, Sam ambled down the stairs. He was wearing pajama bottoms and a dirty t-shirt, and his hair looked unwashed. Nonetheless, Life Force felt certain she could see the gleam of greatness on him. No one else but she fully appreciated how his awkward manners hid an acuteness of perception heretofore unmatched. Why, what choice did he have but to hide in his mother's attic, when the wave of human disappointment that filled any room, undetectable to the five senses but discernable to sensitive souls such as Sam, knocked him over like a tidal wave whenever ...

"Um, what do you want?" Sam asked.

"I was wondering if you'd like to go for a walk."

"Oh. Well, Mr. Ed is coming on Comedy Central in a few minutes and I don't want to miss it. Thanks, though."

Sam shuffled over to the refrigerator and poured a glass of milk. Life Force examined him intently. Well, he still has his hair, she thought. And if you washed that hair good, you might get a gleam of gold out of it.

Then she remembered: I don't like blonds.

"All right then," she said. "Enjoy your show." She turned to Mrs. Previti. "Would you like to go for a walk?" she asked.

"Sure," Mrs. Previti said, "just let me get my coat on." She went to the hall closet and returned with a car coat in green tweed.

"That's fabulous," said Life Force.

"Do you like it? Believe it or not, I got it at the Old Navy. It looks vintage though, doesn't it? Do you have any interest in bird watching? I think I saw a downy woodpecker over in the field by the Dairy Queen last week, and I'd like to go double-check and see if it's nesting."

Do I! thought Life Force. She had a passion for birds, a passion heretofore kept secret, much like her former passion for Sam.

Mrs. Previti led the way out the door and to the field, where they did indeed find a nesting pair of downy woodpeckers. After their walk they agreed to meet for coffee the following Sunday. They found they shared many common interests. They took a painting class together, and still meet for lunch at least once a month, more often if their schedules allow.

When she got home, Life Force called Romeo and made travel plans for the weekend. Though he was no good, she liked him. And he wasn't doing her any harm.

As for Sam ... let us not be too judgmental about Sam. After all, Gertrude Stein and Chris Rock both say you need to sit around doing a whole lot of nothing in order to be a successful genius.

Maybe there is a marvelous novel collecting itself, one typed sheet at a time, in Sam's attic room, pecked out on his grandfather's Corona between reruns of Bewitched and I Dream of Jeannie.

He bundles it up in a cardboard box with his baseball cards and comic books, and we won't even get to see it until he's dead.

About the author:

Dawn Corrigan's fiction has appeared online recently at Rumble, Defenestration, Hobart, The Raging Face, and Monkeybicycle, and is due out soon at The Dream People. Her nonfiction appears regularly at The Nervous Breakdown.