The man hoped the truth would come to him in a dream. He considered that he had tried to learn the truth many times. He had reflected on what was true of him and settled for that the truest thing he could say of himself was that he was quiet and thoughtful. He was bookish as well but this did not seem essential. Even less essential seemed what he did for work since he had disliked it recently.
Besides by reflecting on himself, the man had tried to glean truth different times by talking with people. He heard his wife sifting through the drawers of her desk in the other room and had gone to ask her what she did; he hoped in other words to learn the truth of the event. She explained she had misplaced a favorite book from her friend and was trying to find it. This was what had happened, he thought: the truth behind the noise in her room. Another day, he heard his son talking on the phone downstairs. From his room, the man could not hear the words the boy had said so went downstairs when the call ended and asked with whom his son had spoken. His son explained it had been his friend and that they had been talking over their class trip to the Peabody. Here was the truth of his son’s phone call.
In both his wife’s and his son’s cases, the man felt he had not gained much truth. His wife and son had explained the things they had done and there seemed little more to say about it. He wondered if truth was always as meager as he had found these times. He considered if truth was only a view that explained little more than the events that had suggested it. He wondered if any broad view that tried to explain many things—a really good truth as he felt—might heap together ideas that did not connect really. The man however felt the truth could not have these failures. If he did not know what truth was, he felt it was not a disjointed heap of thoughts. Nor did he feel truth explained only small things like the noise he had heard in the other room. Truth was broader, more encompassing, just as he felt an untold number of times.
He remembered when he looked down from a high place on the mountain last summer. He had believed truth in the scene, in the light that fell on the trees, the warmth in the air, and the noonday quiet. He had felt it like a tension in the shadows at the edges of the trees. What was more, he felt sure that his friend Peter knew the truth.
When Peter spoke of his work as an architect, the design of structures, putting arches under bridges, the man trusted his friend had a better sense of truth than anyone else. He had thought once to ask Peter what he knew of the truth but realized this would come across as awkward and decided against it. He did not want to come across as strange even when talking about the beautiful thing he believed truth was. He hoped therefore a dream now would reveal him the truth without any further frustrations. He saw no reason a dream could not; it might even show the whole truth at once.
Many dreams had convinced him that what they showed was true, at least while he had them; maybe tonight, he told himself, he would have a dream that went a little further. As he lay in bed alone that evening, he felt in the heaviness that came upon him something powerful and controlling that he trusted as he would a sense of truth. He shifted and felt the bed sheet form a crook against his back. He grew quiet, then silent. His mind went black and he slept.
The man awoke in the morning. From his bed, he saw the sun shine in a patch on the wall across the room. The light blazed white without substance or form and held his attention. He remembered suddenly his hope to know the truth, but did not know if he did for seeing the light on the wall or for some idea that he had dreamed overnight.
Norbert Kovacs is a short story and flash writer who lives in Hartford, CT.