- Books, Literature, and Writing»
- Commercial & Creative Writing»
- Creative Writing
The Back of Beyond: A Short Story of Utter Nonsense.
The Middle of Nowhere.
Once upon a time there was a little boy who lived all alone, by himself, with nobody else, in the middle of nowhere. Now that might strike you as being a strange place for a little boy to live, all alone, by himself, with nobody else. The middle of nowhere is neither here nor there really, nor anywhere else for that matter. Of course it had to be somewhere, or else the little boy wouldn't have lived there, all alone, by himself, with nobody else. Why he chose to live there, however, nobody knows. Not even the postman, who would always have incredible difficulty trying to deliver letters to the little boy. No matter how often the postman asked "Could you tell me the way to the middle of nowhere?", people would answer, "No". Some people of advanced intellectual capacity have suggested that the postman could search for the outer edge of nowhere and then mathematically work out where the middle is, by using the square of the hypoteneuse of the other two thirds, or something complicated like that. Sadly, however, the aforementioned postman was far from being a mathematical genius, having majored at university in needle-point and basket weaving, and frankly, even if he had been the foremost authority in mathematical equations, it still would have been a fruitless exercise, because he couldn't work out where the outer edge of nowhere was.
Consequently, the little boy who lived all alone, by himself, with nobody else, never received any post. Tragic, you might think, but in truth, the only person who ever wrote to him, in the forlorn hope that such a solitary little boy might actually exist, was the little girl who lived all alone, by herself, with nobody else in a thatched cottage in the back of beyond. Had the lonely little boy actually received any of her letters, there would be little likelihood of him being able to reply to them, bearing in mind that nobody knew where precisely the back of beyond was! Not even the confused basket-weaving postman, who could only work out that beyond must be farther away than the middle of nowhere, or else it wouldn't be beyond, and that the back of beyond must be farther still. That is, on the assumption that the front edge of beyond and the farthest edge of nowhere were facing in the same direction. Nevertheless, the postman at least had the intelligence to work out that the middle of nowhere and the back of beyond were a significant distance apart to make letter writing a necessity.
There were, of course, other reasons why the little boy who lived all alone, by himself, with nobody else, in the middle of nowhere, could not have replied to the letters from the little girl who lived an equally solitary existence in the little thatched cottage in the back of beyond. Primarily, I suppose, because he never actually received any of the little girl's letters, thanks to the mathematically inept postman who couldn't determine where either of them actually lived. Consequently, the little boy was not even aware of the existence of the little girl. No doubt he may have dreamed that such a solitary, and probably exceptionally beautiful, little girl did exist somewhere and was just waiting to be discovered by him, but this particular tale is not of dreams, but of reality. On top of that, the little boy couldn't write. But even if he had been capable of writing, and had had an astonishing vocabulary for one so young and out of touch with the wider society, what could he possibly have had to say to the little girl who lived you know where.... or rather, you don't know where.... nobody does!
He could not have sent her love letters because, frankly, they were both too young to know the true meaning of love. Nor could he have sent her birthday cards, because neither of them knew when the others birthday was. In fact, they didn't even know when their own birthdays were, except that they were a year after the last one, and very probably twelve months before the next one. In all probability, then, they would have had little or nothing to say to each other in their letters that they never actually sent.
But let's get back to the original story, which actually has nothing to do with the little girl who lived all alone, etc... in the little thatched cottage, etc.... but it does concern the postman who was vastly more accomplished at basket-weaving than he was at mathematical equations, and who didn't know where either the little boy or the little girl lived.
One day the little boy who lived all alone, etc, etc, decided, "I'm tired of living all alone in the middle of nowhere. I think I'll go and live somewhere else." When he finished his breakfast, he put on his little coat (for it was a chilly morning) said goodbye to his cottage and his pet lizard, and stepped out into the big wide world, of which he knew so little. He began walking in a northernly direction, thinking to himself, "I wonder how far it is to the outer edge of nowhere, because until I pass that point and exit from nowhere, I won't be somewhere else!" Indeed, he worried that it might take him days to find somewhere else, and he had only brought enough food with him to last for 24 hours. He was just considering the possibility of working out where the outer edge of nowhere might be by using mathematical calculations when he was unexpectedly approached, from the opposite direction, by the very same postman of whom we have been talking in the previous paragraphs.
"Excuse me." said the postman in a casual and entirely unthreatening tone. "Can you tell me where the middle of nowhere is?"
The shock of being spoken to by another human being, the existence of whom the little boy had had no previous knowledge, caused the poor little fellow to have a heart attack, and to drop down dead, right there and then, at the feet of the postman.
Sad though it may seem, for death is surely a matter of much grief, the story has a kind of a happy ending, in so far as the little boy who had lived all alone, by himself, with nobody else, got his way and stopped living in the middle of nowhere. Indeed, he stopped living altogether, unless of course it's true about the immortality of the soul, in which case the little boy has still achieved his desire to live somewhere else. Where THAT somewhere else might be, Lord only knows, and you can bet your bottom dollar that the postman will never work out where it is, even if he takes a course in applied mathematics.
Anyway, not realising that the little boy who had collapsed and died right there beside him was the very same little boy who had once lived in the middle of nowhere, the poor silly postman is, to this very day, wandering around the country side looking for the middle, or even the outer edge of nowhere.
As for the little girl who had lived all alone, by herself, with nobody else, in a little thatched cottage in the back of beyond, she stayed put, happy and contented to be the only living imaginery person in her imaginary thatched cottage in that imaginary place that we know as The back of Beyond. Rumour has it that when she grew up, she became an imaginary nun, taking a vow of silence, and never, ever relating the story of her lost love for the little boy of whom she had no knowledge whatsoever, who lived..... well, you know where he lived.... but you don't. And you won't, because he's dead now!
Some folks believe that this story is a metaphor, but it isn't.