I have arrived here after the failure of six other containers. Hulls have been breached, seams exploded, sutures popped, on and on, everything vaporized. I can’t construct a satisfying answer. I return to the beginning, the beginnings all look the same. Why do I write? I don’t know.
     When I write nonfiction, I place memories in sequence until they form a tidy package. On second thought, the package may not be that tidy. There may be some questions about the package. But the questions are usually accompanied by potential answers, and I wouldn’t have thought about those answers had I not assembled the package.

    When I write fiction, I understand people. They make sense like an equation makes sense: stability plus surprise divided by indecision times thunderstorms equals epiphany. Or, they don’t make sense at all. Either way, there’s a hint of order in a fictional world -- even the characters who end up in odd equation-busting places are easy to find when tucked into a tiny page. They’re always where I’ve left them.

    This is what I do know, then: when I write, I’m building a container.

    More importantly, why do I show people what I write? I have a lot of questions. Or one big question. I wonder if there is order in the world. Frequently, I think I have everything figured out. Then other people show up. Also, I keep returning to one idea: that nothing matters or can be changed or can be understood, but we all move forward anyway. Well, we move. Sideways or backwards or up or down. Even if we hold ourselves very still, we’re doing so on a spinning planet that’s whipping through a galaxy. We all have to deal with this. I find the situation amazing and hopeless. I don’t know what to do about it. The people filling my stories and essays draw circles around these questions. They come up with varying solutions to the overall problem. None of the solutions, to date, are definitive.

    I can’t say that directly to you if you’re standing in front of me. I’m afraid that I’ll look lost or sound like I can’t manage the words properly. You’ll frown and smile a polite smile. The worst kind of smile. I have to say these things here. When I send a container of words into the world I hope that you pick it up and see something you recognize. I picture you staring at the container, turning it over and over, and thinking maybe just part of what I think. Then I picture us as friends.

    I write because I don’t know, and I need you to not-know, too.

Alex Moody lives in South Carolina. His stories and essays have appeared, or are forthcoming, in Southern Humanities Review, DIAGRAM, Johnny America, Pisgah Review, and FRESH YARN, as well as Stymie Magazine’s Trading Card Fiction contest.