Friday, August 17, 2012

Eulalie stretches a plastic container she finds on the floor to its breaking point and beyond, the sound it makes like a gunshot, if, that is, you are standing thirty feet or more away from the gun at the time it goes off. Her nervous energy keeps her slender, as does her diet of almost nothing but kale. It makes her tense on occasion and causes the skin around her eyes to sink in and turn a not-unflattering shade of salmon. I would follow her almost anywhere if not for the fact that she keeps following me, and the habit has become so ingrained as to stir comment among those who (for lack of a more surprising image) spend most of their time on the sidelines, who promise themselves each morning that, from now on, they will keep their mouths shut, they will count to a pre-determined integer and then wait an additional minute or two before unleashing whatever invective or platitude, whatever torrent of wit or hysteria, has backed up against the easily-breeched barrier of their teeth. We find both the evolved and the rudimentary portions of the mind entirely unsuited to the task at hand, the breaking down of experience into component parts usually no longer than an eighth of an inch and carrying with them the promise of a complicated code. Something to be deciphered if only we can burrow far enough down, to that place where sediments no longer cover over and preserve objects by replacing them, bit by bit, but instead repulse them forcefully, like a handful of magnets. That place where, were you to be able to glance at your own reflection in a mirror, you would see merely a smattering of light waves and plus signs, a vague outline collapsing in on itself in volcanic earnest. Eulalie plucks a bit of rye bread from my lips, examines it in the light thrown by a bare bulb overhead and warns that our desire to slice too thin, to have at the core of all things is akin to our desire to read other people’s minds and will have much the same consequences just as soon as we are successful. There will be a scramble for higher ground, a complete breakdown of trust among all but the most vulnerable individuals, and even they will wander around for a while in packs become so ruthless and unpredictable, we will wish we had been kinder to them in high school. We will spend hours trying to atone in our minds for actions we can’t even be sure we committed they happened so long ago. The tossing of someone’s windbreaker into an open well. The misidentification of blood types. Imagine for a moment if everything that had ever happened to you and everything you had ever caused to happen to someone else, was suddenly common knowledge, the sort of thing we speak about only in whispers and undertones because we are ashamed of what we know. We want others to think of us as, not blank slates, exactly, but perhaps erased ones. With a few numbers scattered her and there and maybe a recipe for a favorite cocktail, all of it made illegible by someone’s purposefully going over it with a moist paper towel or accidentally rubbing up against it with his shirt.  

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