Traveling Without Purpose
A Short Story by Jeremy Benjamin
Written using the suggestion "Liberty"
Originally featured on 06-30-2009
As part of our series "The Summer of Our Hopes and Fears"

I was feeling hungry, so I went to South Africa. I got bored, so I cut down some trees and set fire to them. With an eerily familiar twist in my back muscles, I found myself incarcerated. I could not sleep. I still miss you. I miss you so much I sometimes climb up to the roofs of churches and stand there watching the sun until it looks funny. My actions do not concern people. That might be what I intended to learn by coming here. Nobody wants to stop me from doing the things people imagine I might do.

I miss you so much I want to stick my hand in a bucket of salt, make a fist and not let go for thirty days. Do you remember when you bet me that you could visit every major city and tell the truth to at least one person who did not want to hear it, and return home with eight hundred dollars in your pocket? I bet you I could do it faster than you could, you said on your mark, get set

I still pick up pay phones any time I’m walking and I hear one ringing. One time I was sure the giggling voice on the other end was you. I was in Australia. I shivered in the middle of my spine when I heard it ring. It was a lady who wanted flowers and did not know what day it was. I talked to her for the span of time it took the ice cubes at the bottom of my three dollar iced coffee to melt. Then I did not hang up but I let the phone dangle. It was still dangling, I think, when I booked my flight back to Ohio.

When the sun struck my eyebrow, I looked down. I should learn better.

Read More By Jeremy Benjamin

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Portland Fiction Project

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