Every night while you sleep your soul leaves your body and journeys down a long dark corridor. At the end of the corridor is an ice-cold room made of shiny grey stone with a ceiling so high that it might not even be there and in that room stands a dark figure. He patiently waits for all of us at the end of every day. In front of him is an ancient table made of black wood. On the table sits an archaic iron scale. The scale has two platforms; one for you and one for him. This man in black stands perfectly still behind the table. The cold breath flows from his face like icy smoke. As you timidly approach he already has his side of the scale in order and he is ready to do business. Every night whether you like it or not you are going to make a deal with him. On his side of the scale is the previous day of your life that is now his. The scale solidly tilts to his side. Your side is empty. The moment of truth comes when you place what you have made of that day on your side of the scale. That is when both of you will see who has won the better deal.
Most times you bring something weak and valueless and you meekly lay it on the scale. You place a day of working a job you hate, an hour on Facebook, an episode of American Idol, a few hours at the mall shopping for iPhone accessories and jewelry and maybe on one of your better days some sex with a person you don’t care about anymore. You know what the outcome will be but you have to do it so you gently release your creation from your soft hand. It floats ever so slowly towards the scale. It moves with all the power and weight of a down feather. The chill air in the tomb is perfectly still but if there was even a hint of a draft it would blow what you have made away from the scale and onto the beautifully polished floor. When it finally reaches your side of the scale it doesn’t even budge. The scale stays completely tilted in his favor. He stares at you and his grim expression does not change, he wants to laugh but he is a professional. But when you summon the courage to look into his vacuous black eyes for just a second before you slink back to your sleeping body you see a glint of arrogant satisfaction. He has won again. He has been at this for so long and he’s been winning for so long he is almost used to it but he still savors every one of his innumerable victories. You turn away with your head slightly lowered and your shoulders slumped. You almost don’t expect to ever win at this point. On the way down the black hallway you console yourself that tomorrow is another day and so is the next. Damn, you think, I’ve got plenty of time left. Eventually I’ll beat that bastard. But you know that it’s a probably not true so you decide that losing isn’t that bad. My iPhone cover looks sweet and American Idol is awesome, you think as you approach your unconscious body. In the morning you wake with a sense of melancholy and you spend the rest of the day thinking about Randy Jackson.
Every once in a while but not nearly often enough you are possessed by a sublime inspiration that ignites a fire inside of you that forces you to abandon your fear and you live a beautiful, epic day. After one of those rare days you confidently stride down the inky hallway into the cold room. As soon as you enter you look at the dark figure; you stare straight into the black holes that serve as his eyes. His face, that has the color and kindness of granite, glowers back at you. You slowly stroll to the table. The scale is perfectly set up as always but tonight is different. You look at the day that he has claimed it’s so small and innocent and pure. It was once yours but you won’t miss it. You feel your creation in your hand. Fuck, this thing feels good you think as an explosion of pride detonates in your chest. It is heavy and powerful and joyous and sweet. You almost can’t believe that you created the object in your hand and that it’s yours but its absolute comfort and familiarity leave no doubt. You savor its warmth and power and you don’t want to let it go but you also can’t wait to win. No, not win, dominate and take revenge for all the times you lost. You are about to make up for all the days you wasted.
You wait as long as you can but soon you know it’s time. You ever so slowly extend your hand over the scale. You pause for just a moment with your clenched fist floating above your side of the scale. He leans in just a bit. You release something so heavy that it makes a low-pitched hum that shakes the walls of the tomb as it falls through the air. Its gravity sucks a little bit of the oxygen out of the room making it slightly harder to breathe. As it accelerates it fills the room with its smell, a potent mixture of the ocean, lavender, sweat, clean sheets, rum and an autumn day in the Midwest. It’s shiny and dark, and it’s every color at once. It shimmers as it falls, gaining terrible inertia. You watch it move and you can just make our flashes of white smiles and green waves and sunlight and beautiful blue eyes in the sparkles of light that it fires into the shadows of the tomb. In its dreadful hum you can hear the sound of joyous laughter, a cool breeze and a chorus of insects in the jungle at dusk. He cringes ever so slightly as he watches it descent toward his ancient iron scale. It falls slowly but its power is obvious. His somber grey visage winces. And then your precious creation impacts the platform of the scale. The dark metal arm slams against the base of the scale with a sharp metallic crack but the weight of what you dropped is too much and it keeps moving down. The arm of the scale shatters and your creation crashes through the dark wood of the table and accelerates towards the stone floor. Finally it slams into the dark marble ground of his perfect chamber but even the solid stone is weak in its path and it punches through and continues on shinning and humming into dark infinity. You look up from the mess that you have made and stare directly into the abysses that are his eyes. You savor the brutal deal that you have struck. His expression doesn’t change but you feel the defeat and rage flowing from his grey face and then you turn your back on him and arrogantly walk out his door.
He watches you leave. He has no choice. He has to play by the rules and he has been beaten before. He sighs ever so slightly and with a wave of his horrific twisted hand the pieces of the broken scale jump from the stone floor and reassemble perfectly on the table. He is ready for the next night. He knows you will be back and he doesn’t think that you can beat him again.