Act One: That Familiar Feeling
“I’ve done this before,” I thought as I traced my pencil lines with the jigsaw, “I think I’ve done this a lot of times before.”
The blade jigged through the last bit of siding and I knelt to the ground to retrieve the tiny corner piece.
I carried the thin sliver of wood in my fist, hoping, praying, “Maybe this time.”
But when I ascended the ladder the truth was evident. The piece did not fit, and in an instant I was back at my sawhorse table, measuring, drawing, sawing.
Act Two: Time-Loop
For how long nobody but me and now all of you know (it was an hour and a half), I measured, drew, sawed, placed, and cussed at my siding before starting again.
I found I had a small influence over the time-loop I had been caught in. In one cycle a piece would be too large, in another too small. Sometimes I would go to the left side of the house, sometimes to the right.
But it always ended the same. Me, back at the sawhorse, measuring, drawing, sawing.
I thought if I could just do it one more time, I could escape the loop. If I got it right, it would all be over but no matter what I tried I just couldn’t.
I thought about jumping from the 160House roof but morbid means never worked for Phil and besides, I would probably just twist an ankle.
Then it occurred to me. At the heart of every awful time-loop plot is a simple trope. The loop allows a protagonist to hone skills to perfection but the skills are never the point. It’s not Phil’s piano lessons that free him.
No one escapes a time-loop without learning a good old fashioned life lesson.
Act Three: Fuck It
On my lucky 13th try I carried my tiny, precious corner piece to the back of the house to once more fit it into the last blank edge at the top of the hutch.
I stood frozen, defeated. I felt as if my entire self-worth were wrapped up in this minuscule piece of siding. Why couldn’t I do this? I had a shiny degree from a prestigious university, right? Haven’t I built this whole house? I’m so good at putting together IKEA furniture!
I stared the piece down, and it stared back at me, taunting me until I declared, “Fuck it!”
Here was my life lesson all scrunched up into a 4ish inch long triangle. I don’t have to do everything right. I don’t have to learn every skill. I just have to finish this fucking house before I lose my mind.
I glued that piece into place, resolved to caulk around it over the weekend, and went home to order pizza. Time-loop broken.
End of Episode.