Sunday, March 16, 2008
Saturday, November 10, 2007
Door and Knob
In the office there is a room Alice has never entered. It has a doorknob and hinges, and Alice walks by it on her way to the copy room. If Alice bothers to do the math, she will figure out that, given its distance from other known rooms and the distance of room's door to the oft-trodden hallway that runs behind the the room, plus the known distance of the floor to the ceiling, the room must be less than or equal to fifteen feet in length, twelve feet in depth, and seven-and-a-half feet in height. If she bothers to ask her co-workers what is inside the room, they will quickly change the subject. If she tries the handle, it will not turn. If she knocks, there will be no echo - her knuckle's thud will die before leaving the door's wood. If she works late one evening, dragging her bones across the keyboard for hours past the cleaning woman's last round, she will think she hears an incantation just penetrating the door to the room. The language will be strange, but she will have no doubt that its words are directed at her. If she hears the murmured language, she will get closer, and she will know its murmur and rustle is for her. When there are silences between the mutters, she will know those are for her as well. Still, if she happens upon the door late at night, when she should be home replacing her marrow, she will not try the knob, though she has some glimmer of what's behind it. She will know that it will not open.
Friday, October 12, 2007
Some Trees and Some Crackers
Recall a game you played as a child: you put your hands on a tree, close your eyes, and count to one hundred. You open them, turn around, and your friends are gone, so you go home and eat starchy snacks. Alice works in the office that clarifies and enforces corporate policies for the workers that manufacture and distribute such snacks. Because of her efforts, little yellow crackers have, in your mind, become synonymous with "quality." Alice pops her knuckles and the world becomes visible just over the tiny, cheese-flavored horizon of the cracker's edge. Your memories are governed by rules, like any other branch of the company. Alice makes sure everything runs smoothly, the olfactory sensations kick in just so, you open a box of crackers, you feel bark beneath your fingertips, you see a wisp of adolescent fabric shrink from the corner of your vision, and the world of the trees disappears as you count, one, two, three ...
Tuesday, September 04, 2007
The season begins in hope and slowly unravels until only its cork'd center remains. Alice has nothing left to show for her tribulations -- she has buried the silverware, she has wrapped the baby hamsters in plastic and sent them floating down the river in hopes that they might find themselves adopted by the pharoah. They were prized once; an infusion of royal blood will set their little hearts pumping. In a possible future, their organs sit beneath the earth's surface in mason jars stalked by snakes.
Alice lives in a quiet, suburban pile of rubble. Every morning she sweeps part of it away, binds her bones together in rubber bands and heads to work in disposable skin, a paisely flesh she bought off the rack. Co-workers find themselves hypnotized as Alice's lungs expand, as she weazes out clouds off ash. Her forearms sit limp on her desk for most of the day. Her pancreas splurts bile and the office explodes into applause. Not much work gets done, the company's going under, but the Workers With Disabilities Act protects what remains of Alice's ravaged frame. She pours milk over romain lettuce and goes face first into lunch. Her hands flop about, semi-autonomous and clacking against office-desk material. Around three, when swirls of humans clot the coffee rooms, Alice's skin begins to flake and peel. She spills fluid as she jangles toward the door at the end of the day. Frank is a pervert, but he takes pity on her and shuts down her computer, as her clicking finger does not click, but bounces uncontrollably.
When she returned to the office after the fire, everyone applauded her mutilation with flavorful martinis. They chucked her on the chin like her father. They lashed their sadness to Viking boats, but could not spark the flint in that kind of weather. They sit, forever docked, ready to burn, and so they celebrate Alice, returned from Elysian Fields with an every-changing array of tarps holding her insides inside, a gift from the Gods.
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
Sense of an Ending
Alice finishes the final installment of J.K. Rowlings's Harry Potter series and feels a lingering sadness. It's over and so is her childhood. Boo-hoo, thinks Alice. At least she still has witchcraft. So she grinds a wooden stake into the middle of the putrescent carpetting in her living room, douses the place in lemon vodka, and has her formerly sunny disposition bind her to the wood as she ignites a spark using only her profound understanding of spatial relationships. As the flames consume her, she despairs, realizes it's no consolation, and tattoos her now-ashy skeleton with the same twisted pattern that adorns her ex-bride's face. Sitting in the living room's smoking remains, she ponders transmigration's metric weight, its proper accenting, utters the word, and, as if in an underwhelming dream, the television turns on. A blind horse gnaws peanut butter and appears to talk. Alice mouths some words too, it doesn't matter which ones. She and horse are speaking the same language. The horse's show ends, but Alice's jaw keeps working, the hinges creaking, soot falling like pencil-scratched lead residue.
Friday, July 06, 2007
Alice Takes A Bride
Rather than concede that, yes, a corpse is the totality rather than the excess of life, Alice gave in to a life-long fantasy and bought a mail-order bride.
The bride arrived two weeks later, still frazzled from the whirlwind cab ride to the airport, then the plane ride with two layovers, then the cab ride to Alice's apartment. Alice took her inside and attempted to make the bride a sandwich, but the bride simply looked at her as if to say, "Not without a ring." Alice pulled off a ring and slid it onto the bride's finger, which seemed to placate her, though the bride's cyrillic mutterings could well have been annoyed talk about home and hearth and such. Alice made a sandwich of various pig parts, and the bride ate it happily, despite her culturally acquired dietary restrictions.
After the bride finished eating the sandwich, a kind of silence fell over the kitchen. Alice picked up the plate, carried it to the sink, and rinsed it off. There was a kind of humming that was always present in the kitchen, and Alice tried to think of a gesture that would express the phrase, "Sorry about the humming, there's nothing I can do about it." Nothing leaped to mind. Alice looked at the bride and realized that she was humming along with the humming sound, humming at exactly the same pitch as the whatever machine in the kitchen's bowels generated that noise. Alice took it as a sign, or omen, or something - a sound preordained, some perverse sphere song. This Russian broad was really something, something mythically tuned-in to the house.
Alice climbed the staircase and the bride followed her, and the door closed behind them, and they both made noises that, thinking back, were pretty hilarious.
Saturday, June 23, 2007
The Hyper-Condensed Pocket of Pure Distance
There was some kind of distance carried by the air. Alice moved down the sidewalk from concrete square to square, but everything around her carried some kind of space within it. She moved forward one step and found herself in the middle of a hyper-compressed pocket of what seemed like pure distance. Everything was, I don't know, really far away seeming, and the next chunk of concrete slunk horizon-wise as she approached it.
A curious feeling, she thought, moving through totally unoccupied, utterly vacuous space, while nothing around her moved. She walked forward, but the trees stood their ground, refused to fall behind her. She could not cross to the next chunk, even as she pushed forward. The hyper-condensed pocket of pure distance totally enveloped her. She turned left and ran, and still, though she was certainly moving, she was not going anywhere. There was a weirdly uneven temperature, and as she ran and ran, though the sky was clear and the colors sharp around her, she passed through shifting climates, cold patches and gelatinous globs of amniotic warmth.
Alice just kept moving. What the fuck else was she supposed to do?