prompt: wander, title: just because you can in misc. flash fiction

  • April 19, 2021, 9:05 p.m.
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There’s a saying “not all who wander are lost”, some people think it’s from the Grateful Dead, others think it’s from Led Zeppelin and in their ways, both are close, but it’s from Tolkien, old Johnny Ronald Reuel himself. Second line from the same poem they lifted “all that’s gold does not glitter” from, same way half of their songs were stolen from African-American bluesmen or the opening instrumental to Stairway from a semi-obscure band called Spirit. Everything either seems stolen these days or actually is. Similarly, sure, not all who wander are lost but let us be honest, most of those who wander are indeed lost. Most of them are lost. Most of us are.

She was lost. Both of them were lost. Both the woman who was gone and perhaps dead as well as the woman who most likely made her so. The first of them gone physically, maybe mortally, the other there both feet on the ground but her mind was somewhere far away. Maybe gone for good, stolen from her head the same way British white dudes in the Seventies stole their music from American black men in the Thirties. Delusion had consumed her, finally, and victimized the other woman as the focus of her madness, and her reality had wandered off entirely.

She loved her husband, despite her psychological limitation, her illnesses that waxed and waned. He loved his wife, despite his emotional limitation, growing up in an environment of wealth and cold distance. Their love papered over many of the problems, usually. His family’s fortunes took care of the rest, usually. Their love was a dam, a great and powerful wall, but water is relentless and water is timeless and all things made by human hands are as mortal as they are, even sanity.

They went into one of the banks his father owned, once, to take out some money for something they had both long forgotten, lost to time. The clerk was pretty, red-hair, elegant despite her low position, was very nice to them, of course she was, he was the boss’ son. Maybe she would’ve been nice to them, either way, maybe that’s just who she was. Her nametag said “Jolene”.

The levee broke inside her head, floodwaters rushed into the rickety palace of her mind. Jolene, she was certain, was trying to steal her man. Jolene, she supposed, may have already succeeded. Jolene, she assumed, would be successful if she didn’t do something about it. She peppered her with notes and calls and e-mail begging her not to steal the only thing in the world that mattered to her. Jolene had no idea what the hell this person was talking about. Then Jolene disappeared.

The police never found Jolene and the woman’s mind fully left to wander, only humming some song as the men in white suits took her corporeal form to stay until it ended. Her little song, well, maybe that was stolen too. Most songs are, from someone, somewhere.

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