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Archive for the ‘Short Story’ Category

He had lost her again. Not that he had ever had her, or known her, beyond some name – which was probably little more than syllables used to disguise. Elle, what sort of name was that? Clearly a fake name, a pseudonym, to hide some life she tried to escape from; little more than a desire for fantasy, no more or less than a child’s desire to escape into a world of pretend. Yet, she had escaped to him. In her fevered mind he had become a hero, a knight, or an entire kingdom for her to exist within, in the most purest of ways, devoid of any possible lie.

And he had lost her. Not her, in her body, as herself. But her in the fact that she was every girl he had ever met, or known, or not known, or even loved. He had made hasty retreat in the face of something unexplainable, something frightening, as such was a woman’s eye. He had not left without anything; however, from that dusty old study long entombed by an abandoned building.

He barely noticed that it was raining. Under his arms, half his loot was now getting damp. It was an old copy of Dante’s Divine Comedy, complete with Gustav Dore’s illustrations, and a preface written by Aldous Huxley. His other loot could not get wet for it was well enclosed within a solid bone bell jar. Within the fertile soil of his mind a seed had been planted, a seed which would grow into a kudzu of words, growing and devouring the nutrients of the field until all but it had died. Then he would arrive to harvest his bounty, but for now he just let it grow.

That, after all, was why he did this. Why he held such treasures only to discard them. Why he insisted on knowing only a first name. He couldn’t trust himself to not know them deeply. Even now his skin stripped of his flesh in the face of an insurmountable wet wind. It dissolved like sugar in the rain, running in the streams along the side of the road back toward her. She was still there; he could make it back before morning. But then he would forsake the kudzu for a flower, for the two cannot share the same soil. To write, or to love. His mind was burning with toil.

To make things worse the nausea had returned. The nausea he had felt only once before, in the presence of one girl, before writing books was even an option for him. Back when his fallow fields had not known a seed, before he knew what a harvest he could yield. It was two years before the shared the same bed. It wouldn’t be an entire year before the harrowing. Madness returned to his mind, blinding his eye, and making all houses look the same – he walked past his house.

He could smell her still on him. Some mix of exotic flower essence and distilled spirits. He needed to get her off him. Her weight had stripped skin from his bone. The hollow banging sound of his legs brushing together accompanied the wind howling through his open ribs. Beneath the once opaque calm sea was a violent muscle floor showing its labored work. Such footsteps that he made were the heaviest to make and were the footsteps of giants.

His transparent body made people passing by fear what thoughts raced through his mind. His eyes darted around, looking for something to explain or to understand, but found only blind colors. Answers were hidden to his eyes like the fish of the sea, like the leviathans in her eyes, like the words in her mouth. Strangers understood his confusion, and knew it well, as the mark of a madman who wanders around the streets looking for prey.

By the time he reached the bar all vital organs, all muscles, veins, and tissues had left a trail through the raining streets. He was an empty, hollow skeleton save for two objects: a brain, and a barely beating heart. He put the book on the table and motioned for a beer – since all words had left him.

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The unfurling sky known only as ‘Elle’ hung over the world of things briefly as her once vertical body had become a horizontal mirror to their reality. The hanging white sky had patch work clouds made of shadows mocking the objects around the room on her back. The distant and unknown mockeries of real things grew bigger and in so doing, marked the acceleration of a woman caught in gravity plummeting onto the world of things.

The desk was alive with passion and heat. What objects were lucky enough to roll of the edge could only imagine the reality of those left under the soft flesh of the fallen sky. The lamp tipped, landing on its switch, and turning on with a flash of brilliance. Meanwhile, the only thing standing on the desk was the globe who supported an upside down atlas on its brass top. The pages marked where some forgotten traveler once peered allowing the waters of the Mediterranean to become alive to his eyes, before turning them over and making them the sky atop the globe, whose base now found itself intimately close with the nape of the young woman’s neck.

Beneath a rolling white sky the spines of several books cracked. Sweat caused thin pages to stick to flesh – Shakespeare’s Tempest clinging to the posterior of the whispered ‘Elle’. Her head gently forced up by a thick anthology of Plato’s complete works. Her back arching over volumes of assorted poetry. The rest of her bed was too dense to be described here. The still erect bronze sun stood over her, reaching his fingers down to pluck a single page from a book, pinned while escaping, just out of reach of her left bosom.

He read aloud: “I have awakened from the death of absence, my Elle! my spirit arises, strengthened, as from sleep”. His other hand ran over soft stomach and rested on her hip. It was now, as she hanged limply over the antique desk like Dido, that she gained the strength of Antaeus. The leviathan’s again awoke and met the man’s eyes.

She whispered: “A sin so sweet, I think I shall indulge twice”. The two lay together. A day had passed, and now a night. The room had only one inhabitant again. On the second day the morning appeared in the window of the old study and the woman was alone. As if it had all been a dream, but it had not. She turned the paper in her hand over, and read aloud: “‘Silly! what is parting?’ she whispered mysteriously, with the smile of an immortal”. She allowed the paper to float to the ground. “Parting is such sweet sorrow.”

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Inhale. Exhale. Inhale. Exhale. In…

From underneath the horizon a hand latches onto the nape of her neck. Her breathing is cut short by the emergence of another body. The life giving in and out, the gentle airy wind, now filters through another mouth. Again silence lays heavily on the world of things below the spectacle. What splendor, what sorcery. From one body arises another as if called from within her.

She closes her eyes, and the world-gorgers disappear as if turned inward. They hide under the surface of eyelids and lashes. Who knows what other worlds they feast on. The hand around her neck slips off, allowing her to emerge over the leveled desk. Her once large proportions suddenly becoming titanic. Rising like a mighty tree whose canopy cannot be seen. Her once intimate details are no longer visible as endless curves flow toward the heavens.

The ivory landscape is uninterruptedly smooth save for a small divot whereupon hung a metal loop still within reach of the desktop world. The gemmed whole hung like the moon, a dark hole in a white sky which appeared to suck in the viewer as if by gravity or some other natural force. Yet its contents where obscure, forcing the untrained eye to dart about the fleshy horizon out of shame.

Her sunrise fingertips run along the desk, writing history in the dust. A single wave ending at a small ornate bookmark that bisects the plot of a hefty Russian novel, one typical to the snowy tundra – a handful of lovers, tormented by their own minds, and subject to a fate written out as history by the narrator. The bookmark would never know the end, probably for the better, it had been abandoned by the reader who got bored of reading about a hero confined to his couch.

Her right hand was not so worried about the world of things, it grasped for a companion still hidden from sight. She motioned, and a new horizon emerged. The landscape was rocky and tough. Compared to her, its ground seemed muddy, red, and infertile; but strong. He too had eyes – dark endless eyes that cast shadows over the world. They were deep like calculation. They moved back and forth with purpose and determination, leaving footprints wherever they trod. They were the eyes of naming.

He was a striding colossus beset on the world. He towered even over her as the night sky towers over the setting sun. His worked soil stretched a hand and covered the jeweled moon.  The other works with the strands of hair that taunt the mighty leviathans by hanging out of reach. She turns to embrace him, separating the sky into two halves, as if a painter had created dusk by separating the best of night and day then resetting them next to each other.

He whispers “Elle” and for the first time, brings name into the world of things.

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In the still dark universe a single bass line rhythm emerges – a metronome keeping time without light – a stable beat from which existence draws its life without the presence of beings, a primal heart beat. What little light that exists is spun from the reflection of a red-dwarf silk worm billions of miles away, and it clings to the side of a crystal decanter whose amber contents puff concentric rings in tune to the primal drum beat.

Across the room, barely lit by the moon’s webbed light, the contents of a polished cherry wood desk jump slightly up and down. A half eaten apple gains life and rolls casually off the side of the desk. It joins a discarded pencil, made dull by endless notations which now scattered half-opened books. Having long been forgotten they remained half open impregnated with the cryptic half-hieroglyphs on the desk. They undoubtedly echoed some thought that was sparked in the mind, quickly jotted down; to be returned to after the smoke was completed.  

Hovering over the slowly decomposing library of unfinished works a globe hangs like the moon. Its half lit Western Hemisphere is a world too far away for the works to ever reach. Darkness cuts from the Black Sea to the Red carving Asia in twain. What was hidden under the endless black was even less known to the abandoned works than the face that showed to them. Such was the condition of the room before that night, when the heart beat began.

The black, still, void waters had been infused with life because of the beat. Its measure gave it all a history, stability, tangibility. Before light even permeated the blinds, sound moved everything into rhythm, into being. Yet, once initiated, it had to grow. The once slow and methodical beat increased to a powerful writhing seizure – the birth pangs of a universe. Accompanying them was the rise of a violent quake that shook at increasing intensity. On the bookshelf the crystal palace was so shaken that it fell from its heights and shattered on the Persian rug – spilling its fine amber brandy.

“Oh God.” Through the silenced awe of inanimate objects a voice arises. It has a softness to it as it unfurls over the room. It is a whisper, a worried yet somehow preoccupied whisper. Immediately emotion is infused to a lifeless room. The voice hovers over the dark stillness like a face as soft as the voice’s tone. Another noise arises shhhh as if it pleaded with the first – urgent yet gentle like the wind.

Suddenly, without concern for the awe stricken inhabitants, a new thing emerged – life. A single porcelain hand with five pristine digits rise like the sun over the cherry wood desk. The finger tips spread a red painted dawn as the soft white skin gathered light previously invisible as its garment. Everything was about to change; it moved.

As quickly as the sun had risen it fell with an open palm. Life had arrived with a bang and trailing from it raised more life. In the wake of the sun was a pearl column that showed signs of tension. Inside life the gears of machinery coiled and twisted as if holding the weight of the world. Then came the origin of the voice being pulled up from under the desk by the fallen sun.

From behind cascading brown hair, two eyes pierce the darkness. Whatever it was, it saw. With the turn of her eyes she could swallow the entire desk. Two churning blue leviathans, both frightening yet alluring, sank into her face, as they concentrated on the darkness below the desk – as if calling something from the deep…

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A burning, searing, painful light pierced the windows to the car. The smell of half-digested whiskey would induce nausea in any man not half-dead or half-drunk. Luckily the only occupant of the car happened to be both. The sun cut through the queasy blue sky and reflected off the empty fifth of Jack Daniels now located amidst a treasure trove of forgotten trash in the back seat.

Sigmund Cane, whose name is known to us but not by himself at the moment, was a simple man, the last of his kind. Utterly content with his decisions, although such as they were no reflection of any former or present dream he ever had for himself, he was free to make ad hoc amendments to his ethical beliefs. Such amendments, so nearly as he could tell, lead him to late night revelries on Thanksgiving Eve in some dive bar neatly tucked between a church and a construction site. Although in his foggy memories it was a graveyard and a house.

“Drink on Saturday, confess on Sunday.” He laughed pouring himself head first out of the back of his car. “Crazy Catholics.” Another chortle was cut short by the realized sensation of grass on his unshaved face. The green horizon was cut by two deep brown wounds leading to his back tires. Gathering his wits about him, Sigmund realized his location was in the middle of a field – luckily not to far from home. Unluckily the field was surrounded by an old stone wall. More accurately, it had been surrounded until a local gentleman had disregarded its existence and driven his car directly through it.

The car itself served better as a bed than a form of transport now. It’s owner looking on for a brief moment as if calculating some abstract quantum equation.

 “I’d better start walking” Sigmund mumbled as he retreated from the field like a child learning to walk and how to fall properly. He left a scribbled note on the windshield explaining various situations which had theoretically occurred the night before in hopes that perhaps a Thanksgiving dinner might serve to cure his hangover.

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Thanksgiving was just another opportunity for a full garage and an empty house. The silence of the broken car radio reminded him of his recent money problems. Why had he traveled so far? His body had been trapped, although his mind admittedly far away, within the 1996 Jetta recycled tinfoil coffin while the same street front repeated every 3 miles: empty house, closing store, market, church, bar, construction, another house. The entire city was the color of a shabby paint job.

 The dull gray fog made the ordinarily boring place, even more boring, the color of a man’s eyes who had given up. Despite the constant rain the only rainbows that existed on those streets were oil spills walking on water. Gray tombstones were camouflaged by the dull sky. The dead only parade by day light. This was a miserable place, a place he had regrettably been born in. 

Beneath him miles of gray tar stretched back to his home, his origin. His former home, his new destination, lay through a giant mossy tunnel, one last stint of darkness. A cornucopia of bad habits itched underneath his skin, the sort of bad habits that a family will allow you to have out of love. He had once traced this road going the other way, running from a nightmare, rather than chasing a dream. The running was pointless. The umbilical cord had pulled him back like a man with a rubber band attached to his hip. The Jetta increased its pace.

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