Disclaimer: I do not own any of Fitzgerald's mentally unstable characters. Nor the stable ones.

Something Better Than This

by Oliv

I stand here, once again, to meet the dawn of a misty summer morning. Beholding the gray clouds sweeping over the landscape, I can glimpse the smooth grassy land below only every few moments through a break in the fog. Some might call the green course beautiful; as for me, it is the symbol of a pursuit; a chase after something that always seems to elude me. I am a champion here. I have conquered this course; I should regard this ethereal scene with satisfaction in the knowledge that it is mine to enjoy. But I do not. Rather, I am eager for the sun to gain strength and dispel the mist so that its suggestion of philosophical reflection might be long forgotten under the bright shallow daylight.

I first came here looking desperately for something I could never reach; to even name it is difficult because I cannot comprehend what it is like to possess it. I hoped that by returning to the place where I had excelled as a girl—indeed, golf was the only thing I excelled in—I could find this obscure thing and finally have everything I wanted. I hoped, in vain as always, that if I could become a champion at golf, I could alleviate the utter emptiness that haunted every moment of my life.

I worked harder than I ever had before in order to prepare myself for competition, coming out to this course at the first light of every summer day and not leaving until the weakening sun touched the tips of the western pines. I finally deemed that I was ready for my first tournament, and played exceptionally well but for a poor stroke during the semifinal round, which left my ball in an unfavorable lie. I moved it discreetly to set up for a clear shot so I could proceed to the final round. There were few witnesses, and they were easily bought off.

I knew that if people were to find this out, they would judge me as dishonorable. But of all these virtues that some value above all else: honesty, integrity, and honor, none have any extraordinary meaning for me. Nothing has meaning. Nothing pleases me, nothing pains me—I lead a life devoid of passion for anything. Day in and day out, I follow the same tedious routine of social engagements and meaningless love affairs that are supposed to satisfy the hunger of the female mind. Yet I cannot escape it. I try to find purpose, a meaning for my existence, but the search is always fruitless. The palace that I return home to every night might as well be a single block of stone if happiness was measured in marble.

It seems a cruel irony that I could have anything I could possibly want besides that which I most desire; that I, the girl with everything, could be lacking something that is possessed by some of the poorest of vagrants. All of my wealth, golf trophies, and social status never seem to bring me the fulfillment I long for, no matter how fiercely I try to deceive myself that they are all I require. Where can I discover the reason to put true joy into the ridiculous insolent smile I bear every day?

This is the face I put on for those that believe they know me closely: Daisy and Tom, and even Nick cannot even imagine that such agitation governs my thoughts. Every moment I must spend lounging on a divan in the image of a goddess is a moment that reaffirms my value: measured only in beauty and wealth. But I do not change it. The passivity that stifles my cries for something better than this, for a life, not merely an existence; the passivity that I created for myself to conform to the absurd standards of the American aristocracy, has become so resolutely a part of me that I would not even end my own life, only hoping that perhaps my death would occur as some horrible accident by the hand of someone else. My reckless driving, condemned by everyone I know, gives me hollow hope that I may meet someone as careless as I am, so that maybe this wasted life might be over.

One quick to judge might falsely accuse me of hatred of the world in which I live—which is truly no more than a golden cage. I do not hate the world; much worse, I do not have any interest in its fate, or even in my own. I will continue living the way I have lived so far—pursuing a meaningful life until I am too old and weary to justify it any longer. But I do not hope to acquire it as I did when I first looked out onto this course.

Below me the course is waiting to offer me a revelation, some sort of epiphany as to where I am supposed to go from here. The pensive mood is lifting now; wisps of clouds slip away, trying to escape the harsh glare of the emerging summer sun. At the disappearance of the brooding fog, I am provided with a sense of liberation from the heavy and exhausting thoughts of the previous hour. No longer will I wander the corridors of lost wishes and dreams, no longer will I contemplate such awful and outrageous notions as I have allowed myself under this ominous pall. Brilliant light shines down upon a new day, and I smile coolly as I step onto the green.