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The Shifting


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The Shifting

By Trab

‘Damned computer. I don’t know why it’s acting up again’ I muttered in my head, feeling like a total victim. It didn’t seem to matter how much effort I put into it, nothing could keep the silly thing working right. Each day it seemed like my world would come crashing down; programs corrupted, files lost. My misery was interrupted when I heard a car race into the driveway and screech to a halt.

My brother screamed out, “Help! Now! You have to get me to the hospital!”

I raced outside, to find him staggering towards my car, both hands blackened and his pants burned away just below his crotch, with burns and charring over half his inner left thigh. With the door to my car quickly opened, I got him in, and squealed out of the driveway, racing for the hospital, only about 2 minutes away. With no time to think rationally, I could only wonder at how quickly I could shift from being miserable about the minor problems in my life, and without any deep effort on my part realize I am the luckiest person in the world, with my health and family still intact.

Copyright 2008 by Trab. All rights reserved.

Note: He has third degree burns to leg and both hands from a marine flare that discharged unexpectedly and he tried to put out this incendiary fire with his bare hands. He is now in a burn unit, with probably many weeks or even months to recovery. He also had his two dogs with him, and going to the hospital directly would have resulted in the attendants being attacked by them, when they tried to protect their master. Update: two weeks after the accident, and he has received skin grafts and will now be going home. He will need to do rehab work for months and months.

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I have been having trouble coming up with something to reply to this piece. And that doesn't happen often, as usually I can always find something to say.

I believe, knowing a little bit about your personality and your battle with AS, that you meant this piece to show how easy it is for a person to lose themselves in petty day to day problems without looking at the big picture. And in this way, this piece makes perfect sense and I fully understand what you were trying to convey.

But I wonder if the casual reader might interpret this piece a bit differently. As I did upon first reading. I wonder, if you are so incline to want a differing opinion, to do a bit of re-writing on the last paragraph to soften the blow of your brother's accident. Because I believe as it stands, it seems you are a bit callous in relaying these events in a cold dispassionate manner that is so far off the true nature I know you are comprised of.

Of course, this is my opinion and means nothing.


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The only ambiguity I found in this little gem was, what made him feel like the luckiest man alive? Was it the fact that he didn't suffer the same injuries that his brother had, or was it the fact that his brother was still alive and able to request help as he did? Stepping entirely away from that autobiographical nature of this story, I'm viewing it entirely as a piece of literature, and that means I can allow my opinion of the narrator to be based on the content of the story. If it is the former, than I will form one opinion of the narrator...if the latter, then I will hold an entirely different one. Perhaps that's the point of the story, though: the shift of opinion that can happen with only a couple words added or deleted.



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The point of the story is to show that what seems horrible in one context (computer troubles in an otherwise safe and happy environment) becomes completely inane and unimportant in the context of near loss of life and certainly loss of health. Basically, our perspectives in life are all relative to everything else in our lives, and it takes but a moment to change that perspective if our lives alter in a dramatic way.

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