Short Story, “If I Lie Here”
I wrote this story about 10 years ago after hearing the song Chasing Cars by Snow Patrols. It made wonder about the possibility of a character being so disconnected with other people that if he/she decided to lie down and die, maybe no one will really notice.
“This is called: If I lie here. It doesn’t sound much fun, does it?”
“Whether you like it or not, I want to go and you are coming with me.”
When Jane made a decision, there was nothing Robert could say to change it. Therefore they would both go, the following Saturday, to this unique play that had gained its fame from the fact that it was showing once, and once only, in each city.
When Saturday came, Jane was dressed nicely, whereas Robert was wearing an old tuxedo that his father had given him, along with some advice: “Son, wear this every time your wife asks you to go out, and when she gets tired of seeing you in the same outfit, you’ll be able to stay home and watch the sports channel.” Suits were expensive and Robert wasn’t a rich man.
The theater was full and Robert couldn’t help but imitate the uptight couples behaving in fancy ways. The lights dimmed and the curtains rose. There were just two easy-chairs on the stage and the background set up represented a hotel room. Various actors came on to play their parts and the whole crowd, including Robert, were soon laughing. The play was delightful—until the main actor came on. He was in his late fifties, wearing glasses and a tired look on his face. He stared at the other actors in silence for a few moments, before throwing his first line, watching the crowd burst into laughter.
The play kept the same rhythm for another half an hour but then suddenly stopped. The main actor was holding onto one of the chairs, wiping his forehead with a small cloth. He looked at the crowd and said, “I have been doing this job for a very long time and I feel so tired. I like to make people laugh. I like to play a role but sometimes I wonder…” His body looked weak and shaky, but his voice was strong. “If I lie here, would the world stop spinning?” He spoke quietly and emotionally. “If I lie here, where I cannot be found, would someone look for me for eternity?” Robert didn’t understand what was happening but he couldn’t take his eyes off the man. “If I lie here, on the top of the world, would I be a better person?” The actor fell, a knee to the floor— the spectators brought their hands to their mouths. “If I lie here, where cities fall and humans die, would I be more alive?” His heavy body was now almost down to the floor. “If I lie here, would I die with fame?”
The curtains fell.
On the way back home, Jane and Robert were silent, neither wanting to express their emotions or question why the actor wasn’t there for the curtain call. Only when they were home did Robert tell Jane, with a shy smile, “I’d like to buy a new suit.”