story teller vol. 3: serious


the serious world. loss of being silly and free. loss of laughter.

“Everyone’s so fucking serious. Like life isn’t hard enough. Where’s the laughter? Where’s the humour?” Jasper bickers with his conscious, huffing and puffing after he leaves the art studio. His brushes are straggled by his firm grip. He clenches his teeth. A further indication of his frustration. Of his anger. And to some degree humiliation.

He shoves past the sidewalk dwellers and pedestrians. None of it made sense anymore. Laughter, he thought, is the answer to a broken heart, to a broken spirit. “But, no,” his instructor argued, “the wound inflates and damages the creative soul. So, please, Jasper, take the assignment seriously.” The final instructions are given with a creased forehead and mouth. The disappointment in the teacher’s eyes was enough to plunge Jasper into an angry outburst. “Middle finger is not an answer,” the instructor shouts as Jasper sped towards the door.

EXIT sign gave him some relief but didn’t extinguish the fury, and now that he’s dodging the glances in the exhaust-fumed air, Jasper realizes how silly the world has become, cementing his ideas of the world as complete truths.

He sets his painting of a middle finger against the stone wall and examines it for a moment. The sun hiding half of its face behind the grey cloud illuminates the imperfections and the rainbow colours melting into each other from the top of the fingerprint to the bottom of the wrist. The space surrounding the hand, Jasper splashed with white and black. A canvas of colour, mismatch, and chaos. “It lacks stripes,” Jasper whispers to himself. But a sudden lightbulb thought crashes into the whole moment, “Be thunder!” Jasper shouts. “Be thunder!” And swings his arms upwards and smiles. “Brilliant,” he reaches into his pocket and takes out a lighter and a piece of paper with Giselle’s address. He sets the paper on fire and places it on his painting, letting his creation turn to ash. Or at least scorched shards of coarse material. It’s not a political statement or a guff.

One of the passersby stops only to say, “You can’t start a fire here,” and then moves on.

Another leaves Jasper with a quizzical look. Another with a shaken head of condemnation.

But none of it bothers Jasper. If anything it ignites his euphoria. He wants to destroy more. He wants to take a creation and damage it. Destroy it. Eliminate it. And he leaves the patch of his painting to burn and begins to walk away. He takes off his scarf and sets it on fire. “Free the scarf!” He yells and begins to jump in a circle, moving forward, and waving the fire engulfed scarf above his head.

After a few moments, it falls to the gutter where the melted snow douses the flame.

He grabs a hat from a man’s head and sets that on fire. The man shouts and shoves Jasper out of his equilibrium. They begin to scuffle and taunt each other. The fight doesn’t go on for long as a traffic officer joins the commotion.

The man shouts, “This douche snatched my hat and set it on fire!”

“You should be glad I didn’t set your head on fire!” Jasper shouts back.

The officer snaps his fingers and yells, “Hey!” to get both of them to focus but Jasper only jabs the officer’s hand with his pointer finger and laughs. The humour of social norms and conduct made Jasper question reality. But the officer isn’t amused shouting at Jasper, “Stand still!”

Jasper however likes to aggravate and mocks the officer in return and then drops to the ground without a battle. His torso to the cold concrete. His hands are behind his back. “Don’t be so serious,” Jasper utters with a smile before his cheek is shoved to the pavement. The clunk of handcuffs locking quickly vanishes, replaced by black chunky boots and footsteps. “Take me home,” Jasper adds. “Take me home,” he echoes listening to the muffles of the sidewalk, people talking, and the cars. His lightbulb shuts off. The night has come to calm down and Jasper breathes in the musk of salt and dirty water. His heart rests at normal. His thoughts jot back before his anger. It’s not the first time that he has snapped. He remains disappointed at the cruel world and how it hardens a person. Makes every soul a stone. Conforms everyone serious. Now, the laughter flees him as well and he’s tuning out the noise suffocating the streets, the buildings, and the trees. His eyes draw cold and still, lying and waiting for the next instructions, so he could bend and fix more to the norms, and laugh much less.

Be serious. An echo that never dies.

ยฉ Jacob Greb โ€” 2023

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7 thoughts on “story teller vol. 3: serious

  1. edythasjourney says:

    We all seek freedom in some shape and form. I think madness at times overtakes us when we have to oblige to so many of the social rules. At least it’s nice to be free in our imagination. Well done and thank you for reminding me to take things a little less seriously, at least for today.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. jacob.greb says:

    This story came from personal experiences where I have been told too many times to be serious because that meant that I would be also seen as normal. For the longest time I felt that I was forbidden to laugh, to be silly. My childhood environment was too strict to dabble in such emotions. Now I make laughter a mission, obviously in non-destructive type of way. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Patti Moore Wilson, wednesdayschild2 says:

    Iโ€™m glad you seek out ways to highlight the comedy in the darkness when you can: I know from experience that can be hard when you grew up having to keep a tight hold of your emotions and oh, Iโ€™m really am sorry about that… ๐Ÿ˜• You did make me smile, starting with โ€œHe sets his painting of a middle finger against the stone wall and examines it for a moment.โ€ I was the ultimate people pleaser most of my life and am only just breaking out of my shell in my sixties. I always silently applauded the rebels, though, and am now learning to be a little more vocal with my approval ๐Ÿ™‚ Going forward, I wish you much more โ€˜funnyโ€™ and WAY less โ€˜seriousโ€™…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. jacob.greb says:

      Thank you Patti. Truly, I owe a lot to my wife. She was one of those people who didn’t and still doesn’t care much of what people think of her and she would be the person who would say silly things and laugh and dance in the rain. Just be free. She helped me come out of my shell and become the true me and taught me that it’s okay to say no and be authentic and laugh.

      At times, I wish I had that rebel spirit as well. Hahaha.

      And thank you for reading and commenting. It’s nice when people reach out.

      Liked by 1 person

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