Throw a glance at where all the furniture is pointed at and the room gravitates to an old TV. It could have died a quiet death long ago, but it lived to see it self in indignity, dusty and having the furniture under it sag ever so slightly.
On the screen is a face, we cannot tell if this is man or woman, youth or elder but the pose marks a quiet resignation. A stillness that comes with defeating contemplation. The mind wanders, soon the memory of a fledgling town where it eases into night, faces peering into a house to catch a glimpse of a TV. They stand outside and are colored in festive lights.
Somewhere unnoticed the memory morphs, turning from wondrous capture to little threads of other people’s stories guiding one through an ever changing maze. These stories begin seemingly vital, great tales that must be heard but seem to end in some dull and familiar cliche. Was there meaning or just color? Too late to say.
Slowly a mindless routine eases in, treading a well beaten path. It was too much to ask to begin unraveling the noise, the senseless broadcast that ends with a despairing figure. Grey expression on a grey screen, un-death on an old frame. When was it that its time passed?
We’re thirty minutes outside town when the roads clogged. Luggage racks, road snacks, dogs barking out windows.
She’s thinking behind a pair of sunglasses. “You want coffee?”
After much thought. “It’ll be a madhouse. Don’t bother.”
Her mouth forms a perfect “O,” then shuts. She says the word “Fawn” to no one in particular.
The first thing I noticed in her room was the mess. Clothing and food wrappers rose like hills over a dirty floor. I unearthed old novels, brown, with their covers ripped off.
The best secret was camouflaged; incomplete love letters. Suddenly I wasn’t sure who the fawn was.
Born with two faces, one located conspicuously behind him, the doctors decided to leave it be. After all, it was merely skin accompanied by no organs or anything of its own.
His parents did notice he had a tendency to talk to himself a little more than normal and a little longer than was age appropriate. They saw him ask them to do something about it soon enough, it’s a terrible thing to carry and the stares must have really weighed him down.
But what was truly frightening was how they remembered him crying to himself, telling them it whispered things in his ear, and it smirked when he smiled, of how it sneered when he cried. What reminded them was a quiet two faced smile, a silent arrangement from the wrong directions.
Mournful Watson couldn’t solve the murder.
Only the post-it was louder, freedom on the wall yellow and lively.
While mundane chatter drowned out all thought, the room is a broken landscape of farmland. An escape that isn’t quite far enough. The wood lining the windows seems close to rot, the lamp a sicking yellow.
A spine cracks, daylight robbery at a book-sale she still had to steal. The creaks, the moans- excesses permitted only to the oldest of homes. Yet the neighbors stir, the thud was from an unfamiliar language.
On the door, a yellow note now usurped, by a lively shade of blood.
Somewhere a hundred miles away, someone began a letter. I knew I couldn’t have heard it but the noise insisted.
I could hear the curves and edges as they were written, as the paper was smothered. First the words seemed upside down, backwards in form and sound. Then they were just reversed echos. “Mirrors are more fun than Television” they seemed to say. Then crunch! With swift and firm fingers the paper was crumpled and tossed away.
Then unfolded, hands studied the creased, whispering the words, admiring the contours and mountains that had broken the flat white sheet. At least I think the paper was white. I liked to think so while the writer paused and thought. The words were written again, different this time, but the same sounds stayed. A pen rapped across the tables and around the walls of my head.
Very anxious I took an gander, wondered who’d write me. Alas the doom of speculation and the memories of pen sounds inside my skull. The letter was written and filed away, never mailed.
The trouble began when he wanted to stop returning. Indeed he would have much rather have taken a long leap away from his world, a swift hop out of reality.
Initially he kept it well hidden. He had thought long and hard on where he would keep it. How had it found him? By chance you would assume. But he was afraid that it was more than just chance that had held his eyes, firmly attached to an old bit of paper he chanced upon. When he pulled away the words melted, oozed and formed. Every time he’d look at it, there was something else.
He took home, he took it somewhere where his eyes would’t want to lie to him. He didn’t get it. Some days electric with a curious charge he’d loose himself in the tales it told him about little nameless people who lived hundreds, sometimes thousands of years ago. Faithfully it reported an hour or three of someone’s life. A hermit on a riverbank, a washerwoman remembering colors from her dream. Unflinching in it’s reportage of histories private hours he couldn’t help but read into it.
Eventually it found itself out of his locker and into his coat pocket. Here and then a private moment of quiet reflection he’d picked the habit of. It seemed natural to look back at little history, his little peephole into sometime elsewhere. It seemed to grow more natural to ruminate, chew up the scenery he’d seen from a hundred years ago. The weight of private lives sprung on him. He had to think and wonder on who they were, but faster and faster his list of lost faces grew into a blur. Melting and escaping him in haste.
Once only slightly disarrayed, it grew crumpled and creased. It yellowed and so did it’s people. He swore it echoed. Had he seen them before, weren’t they doing something he thought of or wondered about before? It drew him in and the impression of his hand would appear before the words. He need more time with his paper, less to do with outside, less time to go back to his world.
Did he realize he was freezing into his escape? Molded like the private figures, in their private lives, a man lost to stories.
Solemn, the pharaoh floats downriver. The words come before the image. Did you know that ever year the pharaohs would descend before the crowds and offer the river their seed?
The ritual doesn’t concern me as much as the idea that you would need to offer life to the river, the one that’s feed you, the one who’s end you cannot begin to see. Could you oblige it, to serve the dusty oasis from where you came?
Somehow long after your language has been forgotten the river still flows. Is it really the same one that feed an entire civilization, the same one the pharaoh offered tribute too? It seems to have forgotten everything, while rocks are worn away and a Spinx stares out at sometime we can’t see.
It’s a mirror to the after life, where you might live forever. No, it’s something more than that, it’s conjoined, said their religion, inextricably linked to the dead who pass through the river. Long after they’ve gone the souls of the dead are still weighed as the river flows.
I dreamt back to when it was was four am, when our cat lay a sparrow by the nightstand. The bird’s chirps sounded like twigs breaking. Its eyes looked like they’d eaten the night sky. My voice cools when I try to talk to it, a cold I remember from a bicycle.
The frighting artistry of rust, it’s slow cobweb cutting through metal, pulsating as it feeds. Sharp corner and residue where once I ran my hands across cold steel after I rode through elephant grass. To shine it would have needed year after year, day after day but abandonment brought to a cycle- introspection, madness and nostalgia. It’s jagged edges threatening, the past takes on it’s own life, decays and rots on it’s own terms.
I remembered the bird, the cold monsoon night, the water in the air when I woke up to rain.
March 23rd, I wake up from a dream 12 hours long, after a night of 7 hours. Day after day I remember dreams far, far too long. A week later, my dreams took a month but I was back by morning. In time, years seemed to go by.
Soon I was gone for longer and longer, I sought council- doctors, shaman and mystics, but the dreams pulled longer. They weighed on me, pulling my sleep down, down through my bed, breaking into the earths core.
Years of cramming for a test, flying through glass doors, when I came back it felt like decades but they talked to me like it hadn’t been two days. You fear of course, dreams that grow to centuries, millennia in vortex and reading though life in subtext.
You can’t live a million years and come back, the horror of real life.