Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Microstory 1383: Solitude

News Reporter: Solitudinarian, thank you so much for meeting with me. It is a great honor.
Solitudinarian: Thank you.
News Reporter: First question, have you found it difficult to reintegrate into society, because of all the technology you’re not familiar with?
Solitudinarian: Because of all the technology with which I’m not familiar.
News Reporter: That’s one thing that’s changed in the forty-two years you were away.
Solitudinarian: Grammar? Grammar doesn’t change.
News Reporter: Okay.
Solitudinarian: It’s been tough, but I’m not sure I would use the term reintegration. I have no interest in remaining in your world, even after all I’ve seen.
News Reporter: But you returned to society because you needed something?
Solitudinarian: Yes, I was dying of an infection. I was feeling desperate, and I came back for help. I had no idea there would be this huge media frenzy about it. I only agreed to this interview, because you work for a station that I recognize. I don’t understand all these padcasts, and computer bogs.
News Reporter: So, you still feel disillusioned with civilization?
Solitudinarian: I can’t really answer that honestly. I mean, I don’t know everything that’s been going on. I still see racism, though. And I see the government is still standing, which I’m opposed to. It may be a better government. It may even be the best possible, but I still do not wish to remain under its rule.
News Reporter: Fair enough. Tell me about how you were living. What did you do day-to-day?
Solitudinarian: Well, I stuck near my cabin. It’s by a bountiful stream so I never wanted for food. I learned what plants were edible in my area, and eventually cultivated, so I could grow them in a more controlled environment, and in sufficient quantities.
News Reporter: Did you hunt?
Solitudinarian: ...
News Reporter: I’m sorry, I didn’t know it was a trick question.
Solitudinarian: I’m ashamed to say I did. Very infrequently, though. If I had a bad winter, I might have to catch a rabbit or two. But I still consider myself a pescatarian. I don’t even keep a goat for milk, or anything.
News Reporter: When you started getting sick, had you experienced anything like that before? What were your thoughts?
Solitudinarian: I’ve been sick before, of course, even after I left home. I always got through it, but I do understand that I’m an old man now, and my body doesn’t get over things like it used to. According to doctors, all I needed were antibiotics, and they were pretty convinced I did the right thing by seeking help. It was definitely a last resort, though. I didn’t want to do it.
News Reporter: Well, we’re all glad you survived.
Solitudinarian: For your interview?
News Reporter: Nope. Just because you’re a human being, and we could all do a little bit better at looking out for one another.
Solitudinarian: I see.
News Reporter: Let’s switch gears a little bit. Has anyone tried to teach you how to use a computer, or a phone, or any other tech that wasn’t around before you went into the woods?
Solitudinarian: They’ve taught me some. The social worker the state assigned me gave me something called a flip phone. They tried to give me this crazy device that you’re supposed to use with your fingers. There aren’t any buttons on the thing itself. It all comes up on the screen. Anyway, I’m sure you know what I’m talking about, and I sound like an idiot.
News Reporter: You do not, sir.
Solitudinarian: I couldn’t handle it, so they just gave me a regular one, so they can keep in contact with me. I still have to remember to plug it in every week, which has caused some problems, because in my day, phones just stayed plugged in.
News Reporter: So, they set you up with housing too? You have a room?
Solitudinarian: Yeah, I live in something called a halfway house. It’s for people who just got out of prison. They got ‘em all over, but this particular one is designed for old men like me, so I don’t have any problems with them.
News Reporter: But you’re trying to get back to the woods?
Solitudinarian: The doctors say they want me to stay to run more tests, but I’ve made peace with my condition. If anything like this happens again, I’ll just stay in my cabin, and wait to die. Like I said, I’m old. When I was born, life expectancy was only around seventy, so I would say I did okay. My life’s been pretty great. I don’t pay taxes, or deal with nosy neighbors. I’m ready to go, if it’s my time.
News Reporter: In terms of taxes, how does that work? Are they saying you broke any laws by leaving society?
Solitudinarian: My social worker is helping me with the legal stuff, to make sure I didn’t do anything wrong. I think it’s gonna be fine. He’s confident, even if I do technically owe the government money, they’ll waive it, because I haven’t actually done anything bad. The fact that I was so young when I left, I don’t own any guns, and I’ve never stolen, works in my favor.
News Reporter: That’s interesting. Thanks for speaking to us. I hope you go back to the life you want, but I also want you to be safe and healthy.
Solitudinarian: Thank you very much, madam.

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