I've Been Thinking, pt. 1 of 2 (Short Story)

(note: I've been writing a lot, and figured I'd share some early drafts. This one hasn't been thorougly edited yet, but I think the core of it is more or less finished. I'm posting it in two parts, with the second part coming up on Sunday. Enjoy. -D.S.)

I've Been Thinking
D.S. Percival (March, 2012.)

“I’ve been thinking,” Lyn says as I brush my teeth before going to bed. She is sitting on the toilet – lid down – painting her toenails and wearing an old Motorhead T-shirt she picked out of a thrift store a few years ago, when doing that sort of thing was considered “cool”.

I don’t say anything, and not just because I have a toothbrush in my mouth. Lyn “has been thinking” since the day I met her, and she voices her thoughts without any prompting. Often, without much tact, either.

A few years ago, after we’d been together for at least two years, she said “I’ve been thinking about how bats perceive colour,” out of nowhere. Considering how we had just made love, and I had, in fact, just rolled off her, I found myself wondering when she had the time to think about bats and their perception to colour. Had this thought just popped into her head, or had she been ruminating on it during the lovemaking? And if she had been thinking about bats during sex, what did that say of my skills in the bedroom? Luckily, I knew her well enough by then to not be offended or worried.


Had this happened during our first time, or during the first year, I’m sure I would have turned into some sort of nervous wreck, like Woody Allen in pretty much any movie he’s ever made.
This time, however, she just looks at me with her large brown eyes – almost black, really, with an Asian slant – and waits for me to say something. I spit foam into the sink, rinse away toothpaste, and look at her.

“You’ve been thinking?” I prompt.



“About the absence of God.”

I chuckle, and head into the bedroom. She follows me, with only half her nails painted. She crawls into bed behind me, her skin cold and her feet colder.


“You’re an atheist, hun,” I say.


“But you’ve been thinking about the absence of God?”


She turns out the light and stays quiet.

“Lyn? Are you going to finish your thought?”

“Eventually,” she says, and drifts off to sleep.


We’re sitting on the couch, a couple days later, watching a hockey game. Lyn is wearing a pair of shorts and a tank top. She is shivering in the cold air, but doesn’t want to get up to wear thicker clothes – she’s instead wrapped herself in one of those half blankets that offers no real warming value. Her legs are draped out across my lap, and I am massaging her feet.

“So about the absence of God,” she says as the game goes into commercials.

“Right,” I say, not at all surprised by her picking up where she left off. As I said, she does this. I’m used to it.

“If God doesn’t exist, and has never existed, where does the universe come from?”

“Isn’t the idea that God never existed kind of the central point of atheism?”

“Yes. What’s your point?” she asks.

“Shouldn’t you have an answer for this already, being an atheist and all?”

“You’re an atheist too, Adam,” she points out, needlessly.


“So you could just answer the question, silly.” She waves her foot in my face, bopping me on the nose.

I grab her by the ankle and kiss her foot. “Touche, woman.”

She squeals. Lyn has always been ticklish. “Stop. I’m trying to have a serious conversation.”

“Fine, fine.” I resume massaging.

A commercial goes by where we don’t say anything, instead watching a woman solve all the problems of her life simply by changing laundry detergent. I find myself wishing I could find laundry detergent that did that.

“So, do you have the answer?” she asks.


“Where did the universe come from, if God doesn’t exist?”

“I don’t know,” I shrug. “I never really thought about it.”

“Oh,” is all she says.

I’m curious. “Why are you asking?”

“If there is no God, then that means that the universe, and everything in it, is random.”
I nod.

“That means everything – you, me, Walmart, the Beatles, Yellowstone national park, the Vancouver Canucks – it’s all random. Nothing exists according to a plan.”

“I don’t think Wal-Mart or The Beatles would agree with you on that one. They had some pretty big plans.”

“But it’s just random. Wal-mart was made because that guy – what’s his name? – saw an opportunity and took it. The Beatles are around only because John and Paul lived in the same neighbourhood as kids. The Vancouver Canucks only exist because –”

“ –Because God wanted to punish the West Coast with a hockey team even less successful than the goddamn Leafs,” I say. Luongo is in net, and he’s not doing well.

Lyn mutters something in mandarin, and hits me with a pillow. “There’s no use talking to you, Adam.”

But she isn’t angry when she says it, and a moment later, she curls into my body and puts her head on my chest, tucking her feet in between the cushions.



It is 3:23 am. I know this because I have been checking on the clock every ten minutes or so. The bedroom is dark, lit only the nearby stuttering streetlight and the safety lights of the street-cleaning truck. I haven’t been to sleep yet.

“Adam?” She asks again, placing her hand lightly on my shoulder. I can feel her hair on my neck.
I pretend I am asleep. I don’t want to turn, because then she will see I’ve been crying, silently, into my pillow for the last two hours.

She kisses the back of my neck and goes back to sleep.


Two days later. We’re driving to Nanaimo to see her aunt. I’m behind the wheel, and she has her bare feet up on the dashboard, her legs catching the sunlight. An old Willie Dixon album is playing on the stereo, until she grabs my ipod and impulsively changes it to Magical Mystery Tour.

“Why’d you do that?” I ask. “I was listening to that.”

“I don’t want any more sad bastard music,” she says. “The Beatles are happy.”

“Seriously? The Beatles are happy?”


“What about ‘She’s Leaving Home’? Or ‘Yesterday’? Or, hell, ‘Run for your Life?’”.

She scowls, and pokes me with a pointed toe. “Okay, those songs are sad. But they’re a different kind of sad than this sad bastard music.”

“How so?”

“When the Beatles are sad, they’re still happy with life. It’s like, things are sad now, but on the whole, life is good.”

I don’t say anything as I change lanes.

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