Ben was jogging. He was dressed well, although he was way past the “I need to look good to impress the guys” phase. He was focusing on keeping his form and breathing right. He had had a good stretch and he was planning a good stretch when he was done. All manner of modern technology was tracking his route, distance, speed, time, and heart rate. He was all set.
But somehow, he felt hollow. He passed the bench where he first saw Mark. Then he passed the two trees where they had a picnic one Sunday. Then he passed the gazebo where the had “the talk” before they broke up. Now he was with David and they were married. Love was no longer a thing he would chase after, it was no longer even important. Neither was sex.
So why did he work out? To be healthy, that was the obvious answer. But health, just like love and desire, were fleeting. His body was degenerating, he could already feel it. Despite rigorous training, his results were getting worse and mornings when he woke up without pain were scarce.
He passed the little pond and reached the open space. The sky was enormous, its blue cloak tearing into his pupils. He had to stop. The sky broke apart and he saw the universe, its inner workings like clockwork, with only one possible sequence of events, leading towards one inevitable conclusion. Then the universe broke apart to reveal endless other universes and in each he saw God fighting the Devil. Millions upon billions of Gods and Devils were fighting a pointless blood feud. Then it all started shrinking and shrinking until it became a rotting apple and a giant octopus reached out one of its tentacles to grab the apple and eat it. Ben looked into the octopus’s eyes, begging for some words of direction, begging for an answer, but there was no response there. The octopus was primordial, mindless. It devoured the fruit without a single thought having ever crossed its mind.
“Excuse me, are you okay?” somebody said.
Ben snapped out of it. A handsome young man was standing in front of him.
“Yes, I just got lost in thought,” said Ben and the man smiled with relief.
“Good, you did not look too well just a second ago. In fact, you looked like you were having a stroke. I was ready to call the ambulance.”
“No need for that,” Ben laughed.
“My name is Robert.”
“Ben,” they shook hands.
“Ben, that means ‘son’ in Hebrew.”
“Is that symbolic?” Ben asked.
Robert shrugged his muscular shoulders.