As I’ve been posting old stories of mine onto this site I’ve found some characters that I had all but forgotten about. Not because I didn’t like how they turned out or anything in that vein, but simply because it happens. As soon as I start reading a story, however, a flood of memories surrounding its creation springs up.
Such is the tale of Edwin. I wanted to tell a story that was an exploration of pain, both mental and physical. And when I thought of suffering, it led me to that painfully awkward time known as high school.
Edwin is a nerd. Not the brainy variety, but the kind whose main interests lay outside of the mainstream. Edwin loves black and white films of the 1930s and 40s, and straddles the line between fantasy and reality. Tired of being beat up and bullied, he decides to attempt to be free of pain, or rather free of the fear of pain. This leads to the question what is pain? What are the conditions necessary to give rise to pain and what does a “painless life” consist of?
At the time that I wrote the story I was living in an affluent suburb of Chicago with my girlfriend at the time. By pretty much all standards a “comfortable” life, but one that I hated most of the time. My girlfriend and I had been on different pages for some time (perhaps since we met). My writing has always meant a great deal to me and I turn to those closest to me for support of it. I had long asked her to read my stories and tell me what she thought, but she constantly avoided it. I understand this is a difficult position for some people to be put into, but all I wanted was to feel supported. When she did get around to reading Edwin the one thing she brought up was early on where I describe Edwin’s ham and cheese sandwich as “ultra thin pig flesh commingled with the creamy nature of the milk and enzyme food product” and how that would turn people off of the story.
Fair enough, maybe it does. It was never meant as a judgement, but rather the introduction of the idea that one creature’s pain is another creature’s pleasure. Besides which, that’s exactly what a ham and cheese sandwich is. I probably ate about 1,000 of them growing up. The short scene he’s eating a sandwich is intended to be a mixture of sexuality, death, pleasure and pain. Indeed, we were on very different pages. So it goes.
Here’s Edwin. He just needs some friends.