Long as a pen, but thicker, the lancer hides the silver threat of its needle under a plastic knob gauged by dots, sized smaller to larger to signify the penetration that the device will unleash. The size of the dots range from a fine ballpoint to the blurry slop of a wet magic marker. Mine is tuned to a dot too large to write but not so huge as to endlessly weep red into kleenex. I've positioned the lancet on three separate fingers tonight and pressed the button. A small antler of pain in the finger. Squeeze, holding the hand down.
No dribble. No drip. I unfurl my breath and haul in another. Choose a larger dot. Press harder against my skin. The antler swells to a sword jab. But this time a drop of blood appears, is sucked up by the strip. In the same way my blood retreats from this invasion, my thoughts hide from the page. Sometimes it takes gross and blunt instruments to extract them, draw them up. There is no angle in which I can orient myself to squeeze out a better flow; sometimes I must tear a larger hole.
Sometimes I wonder if my fiction suffers from the same conditions which affect my life: the shirking away from bright things; a maudlin attention to details and the infusing of them with import; the inability to have two people sit across from each other and converse; a cultivated hatred of the straight path and simple things. Oh, I have tried to love simplicity. Simplicity in life brings in fresh airs, a lemony, yellow way of living. Clean. Bright. Your hands full of crumbled dirt simple. The simple ache of stressed muscles, the way the body grows larger than its edge in that pain. Those concerns occupy the mind in a way that prevents it from constructing the monstrosities of imagined ills. So many people labor under demands of their making. I come from a generation that has never suffered. Oh, sure we've lost friends and family; we've gone hungry, cold or puked out guts out from illness, but we have not labored under the loss that comes from a national pain, the bellyache of an entire people in need. Television takes from us the need to process and feel large things. Our marriages are sitcoms - or if we're lucky, a mini-series. Our children spinoffs. Some of us are lucky enough to star in a big-budget movie, the rest are cable television.
When I try to draw out blood and thoughts, I wonder if I should just forgo the excavation. Style is a driving force. Style is fun. It's frantic. The rollercoaster of words. What is substance? In the modern world, isn't style itself substance? I try to answer my own questions, but can't. What is substance? Is it a reason behind everything? Pfft. Most things in the world proceed along fine without underlying reason. Is substance feeling? The connections between people? Meaning tendered by a mind focused on apprehending?
All these questions are unanswerable. Here's what I know: if the dot is large enough, my finger bleeds. When my finger bleeds, it produces a number on my testing device. From this evidence of my blood, my next actions are prescribed. Is it not the same for my thoughts?