The Configurations

Excerpted from Big Questions (Nilsen 2011)

The man has a problem and he doesn’t know how to fix it. Then, he does.

The man has an enemy and the enemy seems undefeatable.

The man has a weapon of inconceivable power. He vanquishes his enemy.

The man has a cursed sword which kills any man for a year of its wielder’s life.

The sword is hungry, a year of a life is unsatisfying. It takes the man’s lover instead.

The man has an enemy and the enemy is his blade.

It laps up his blood and burns the palm of his hand.

The man has a gun. When he fires it, people he loves die.

The man calls them his enemies, but his gun knows the truth.

The man has a lover and this lover completes him. Then, she doesn’t.

The lover has died and the man shoots arrows at the sky hoping to bring her back to him.

The lover has died and the man kills himself to be with her.

The lover has not died, but has fallen in love with another man.

The man fires arrows. The sky weeps.

The man wants to go home.

The man has a problem. He does not know how to fix it.

The man has a string of good fortune and loses it all on decadence.

The man is a prince who exits from his gilded cage into a desolate world.

The man is an ordinary man. He lives and he suffers and he dies.

The man asks for help. A fairy answers his prayers.

The man asks for help. A devil answers his prayers.

The man asks for help. In the distance, he can hear the branches beneath the feet of his enemies.

The man asks for nothing. He has to be a man.

The man doesn’t have to be a man. He can be a woman. His lover can be a man.

The man has a problem and the problem is a woman.

The man has a problem and the problem is a man.

The man has a problem. The solution is clear but he does not take it.

The man has an enemy. The enemy is undefeatable.

The man gives up.

The man tells a story about another man.

The man tells a story about himself.

The man has a dream which is like a story. When he wakes up, he remembers everything.

The man has a life which is unlike a dream. When he falls asleep, he cannot forget.

The man has a dream. He works hard, and one day, he achieves it.

The man has a love. He works hard, and one day, his love is returned to him by another.

The man has a love. He works hard, and one day, he dies of grief.

The man has a love. It is impossible.

The man has a lover. The man has a child. The man has a dream he has achieved. One day this is all taken from him. He must fight for what belongs to him.

The man has a lover. The man has a child. The man has a dream he has achieved. That’s where the story ends. But the man is still only a man, and after all this time, the man has a problem.

The man is alone. The man has always been alone.

The man can be any man, any woman, anybody at all. Until he can’t.

The man is not who he thought he was.

The man has a problem and then he fixes it. What now?

The man has an enemy and the enemy is himself.

The man has a weapon of easily conceivable power. He thinks about the exactness of its power on the commute home to his empty apartment. He holds the weapon up to his head in the darkness and cries.

The man is tired of stories, he tells stories that mock stories, that twist them into something else.

The man becomes tired of even those stories.

The man has so many problems and he cannot even begin to fathom them.

The man says he wants to understand.

The man wants to understand.

The man cannot understand.

The man says he is sorry. Then, he stops being a man.

In the distance, there are footsteps on forested ground.

In the distance, there are arrows shot into a dark sky.

In the distance, there is a silhouette of an untold story, burnt black against the light.

Then, there isn’t.


This story makes me uneasy, Internet. This story makes me verrrrrrry difficult. Me, the Wendigoooooooo. Whatever the outcome, tell someone you love them today. If you are incapable of even that, then we have nothing to talk about.

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