A Winter Ascetic
The house is cold at 60 and January lies. Outside everything’s washed bold under bright sun and heavy light but the air’s still cold like New Year’s. The shadows are crisp, too, I can see without my glasses, but the lines of my hardwood floor run together at the door. I won’t go outside today.
The dog got walked twice on Tuesday and yesterday the same. He’ll be fine for now with the city paper in the basement. I don’t give him the free paper, though – that I save that for kindling. It’s not as good a grade and burns much cleaner than our subscription rags.
I teach here in the Valley, English at the county’s liberal arts college, and we’re still on what my editor and the administration insist on calling Break, but I don’t get much done. They brought me here after my dissertation because of the exciting work I was doing on cognizance and the nonnegotiable particulars of a working Kantian regime in British Lit. I scrawl it out in pencil or pen on blue lined sheets of paper with thin red ledger lines. They’re curling on my curio and they blur together, too.
The dog comes in with my fedora. The fedora is for Thursday walks, he knows, with the beret and scarf for Sundays. I scratch behind his ears and tell him not today. “I’m working on the ending, Scout, and then I will be finished. Once more through the ending and then the intro after that.” No one reads the middles so I don’t even bother. Better authors put their real points there, buried in a paragraph or single sentence, buried in the middle where no one reads. To me it’s just a vehicle, an excuse for clever starts and pithy, pithy ends and I think maybe I should have been a poet.
Publication notes: This is another of those pieces that is so old that it was published at one of the early online microfiction journals, in this case, a venue called Thieves Jargon. Like elimae and Tuesday Shorts and others from those days, the Jargon is no longer. “A Winter Ascetic” was published there in December of 2007. Copyright Chris Cocca 2007 – 2018 and in perpetuity.