Decision At Breakfast

She sat down beside me at the breakfast table and looked at me expectantly. I didn‘t like that look. I knew what was about to come: one of those incredibly complicated children‘s questions that no one is able to answer. She was in her mid-thirties, mind you, but nobody had broken her of that habit. I decided to ignore her and attentively spread jam on my toast. She pulled her worn bathrobe a little tighter around her shoulders, sat back and lit a cigarette. “How do you know that the room isn‘t going to dissolve into thin air the moment you open the jar of jam?” I knew it!

Immediately, I stuffed my mouth with a big piece of toast and began chewing slowly. She exha- led smoke. “Because it‘s a fact,” I mumbled, my mouth half-full, and bit off another piece right away.
“Exactly,” she said earnestly, as if I had announced the Wort zum Sonntag. “But in your head, how is it there, you know? If you have all the options, how do you know what is fact? How do you make the right decision?” I thought about it. “You mean, when I‘m working?” I was trying to play for time.
“Yes, when you‘re creative.”
“Well, I abide by rules too, somehow. Exactly those facts, like the one with the jam jar. I assume they’re a given and let them flow through my work.” Wow, that was a damn good answer. “Like a common thread, you know?” I added, feeling strengthened. I had to get it out there – here was a question I could actually answer. “It’s like writing a novel. Even if it takes place in the past, and even though it is long gone, you still know that your hero needs to sleep and eat. Unless you decide otherwise, that is. But if you‘ve decided that these rules apply, and he faces a great desert, then he can either turn back – if he‘s smart – or try to cross it, in which case he has to die. That‘s some kind of fictional consequence, you know?”
“And if I, personally, have decided to work with shades and silhouettes, for example, I simply don‘t have to worry about bright colours anymore. I take the decision for granted and don‘t go astray, at least not in that direction. Maybe into another direction that I haven‘t thought of before ...”
“You restrict yourself willingly?”
“If you want to call it that. I prefer to call it decision-making,” I answered gently. She poured herself some coffee in silence. This time, she was satisfied. I closed the jar of jam triumphantly.