by Sarah Dillard

Illustration by Yuko Okabe

published October 23, 2015

The following is a story, and this story is fictional. It is about a man named Fred.


Fred’s black hair sat on top of his square shaped face, which appeared even blunter—squeezed as it was by the frame of his glasses. He had a gap between his two front teeth that was only noticeable when mentioned recently.


Fred had always been a successful student: he was Ivy League-educated and grateful for the advantages it provided him. There was no misfortune he didn’t learn from, even when that misfortune was randomly inserted into the plot.


Fred was in sales, one could tell by his cufflinks, and he managed a product that was in marginal demand. He commuted every day in a car that was small and compact, black like his hair and as reliable as this description. 


He worked in an office with mineral-wool insulation peeking out from ceiling joints. The building was still able to keep in heat. Living in a duplex with private neighbors, Fred always wondered what omniscient source forced him to inhabit uniformity: The rusty brick homes were all low and attached, each with a set of four steps leading the way to the front entrance.  


Fred’s eyes were often red, for he liked to press his forefinger and thumb into his rolling sockets, causing dark swirls of purple and green to blot his vision. He believed it helped him focus more clearly, to blur the world and wait until everything before him appeared new.


His stomach was large but his arms were long, balancing out the mass of his middle when he walked. But whenever he sat and adjusted his arms to wherever they had to be—typing at his desk or instinctively spread over the back of a neighboring seat—a bulbous protrusion was exposed.


On weekends, when Fred did not have work, he had football Sundays, his acceptable outlet of competitive investment, dedication, and anger. Saturdays could vary, but often included meetings with friends, either for networking or obligation. 


Fred owned a large, L-shaped sofa that was welcoming enough to sleep on. His preferred spot was the corner with the outstretched segment; while reclined, his dark brown fingers stroked the empty space beside him, leaving traces of impressions in their passing. 


Now the writing is over. The story of Fred is left to comprehend.