The Parthenon

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CHAPTER 1: Strings

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Blythe Anderson sat in the wooden chair, legs crossed, chin resting in hand. She gazed out the window of the small, stuffy coffee shop, watching the unending stream of cars making their ways along the paved road, the people hurriedly crossing the streets, entering and exiting shops and businesses. Her coffee in the mug before her had long gone cold, and the book she’d brought remained unopened.

It occurred to Blythe that everyone she saw had a destination they were hurrying to. Every impatient driver, every well-dressed man and woman, briefcase in hand, shopper and client. They all had a place to be.

She cast her gaze about the small and warm cafe, taking note of the busy barista and hard-working students, the enamored couple in the far back corner and the quiet old man reading his paper, who continued to soil his graying mustache with each sip of coffee. It seemed to Blythe that wherever she lay her eyes, she saw business, preoccupation, purpose. But where did all of this come from? Surely there was a source, something that propelled the people around her forward. Yes, obligation is a given, Blythe thought to herself. But why should one feel obligated to follow a path only visible from one’s own mind? A word appeared from her mind’s periphery.

Strings.

The cars, the pedestrians, the shoppers and business people, the students, the lovers and the mustached man who clearly wished for a straw. They were all being pulled by strings invisible to the obvious eye, but clearly felt by all those they affected.

Blythe’s inability to control the actions of others in her life caused her to take comfort in the freedom of her own decisions, her own path. And yet, she realized she felt the pull of these strings. She knew the compulsion of responsibility, the explanations that at first glance appear to be concrete, but upon further inspection dissipate into nothing. They leave in their wake a heavy question that demands an elusive answer: why?

Yes, Blythe knew what strings felt like in her life. But, she wondered to herself, what would it feel like to break them?

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