“By chance are you single?” the girl with the crumpled fender, steam erupting from the gaping maw located on the side of her bent hood, asked.
Some people have such a casual relationship with life. I could see she was one of those who possessed uncomplicated expectations that all things would work out in her favor. This presupposed notion suggested whatever she might say would be as appropriate as congratulations cavalierly tossed about wedding receptions.
The Northman knows there is a world below his own, but that so long as he bears witness there is no world above him. The Northman knows that putting ginger in beef jerky is a good idea. The Northman knows art – the Northman knows that art is what happens when he is left alone for a very long time with a camera. The Northman knows his place; he knows that stagnation is transitory, like the stop his bicycle must make when the bridge lifts to allow a barge passage upriver. Where is the barge going? Hasn’t he told you?
He wrote his manifesto at the typewriter desk his mother had given him for his eleventh birthday. There was no typewriter, only the little wooden parts that swiveled in and out like miniature shelves and made the whole thing seem more like a bizarre contraption than anything remotely functional. He had wanted a new skateboard.
The first time my dog Ginger-Blue had a fit, the cat died. They were pretty close so maybe it would’ve been a normal reaction, except Ginger-Blue, she’d thrashed around epileptically before the cat died.
When my parents planned an unexpected visit Ginger-Blue flipped out two days in advance.
When the sausages were off, Ginger-Blue had a fit before I even opened the fridge.
By the time she threw two fits before the bounce of the Richmond-Carlton AFL final, I didn’t even turn the telly on. I could see what was happening. Ginger-Blue was articulating her ESP of bad omens through her epileptic fits.
“It’s very simple, remember….” Zarak paused for a moment as he looked down at the two wires sticking out of his vest.
“You just touch the two wires together. That’s all you have to do. You won’t be harmed and you just run back to the others.”
“D’you know where we’re going?”asked Shaukal.
“No, I heard them say it’s important that where we go is a surprise,” said Zarak.
“D’you think it’s far from here?” continued Shaukal.
“No, I think it’s near. I think it’s the checkpoint on the mountainside or,” Zarak hesitated, “maybe the police station in the market. No-one will stop us going through the checkpoint to the market so early in the day.”
I wish she would have waited until we got home from Florida to tell me what was bugging her. She pouted the entire plane ride down there. At first I thought she was unhappy with the amount of orange juice they gave her on the plane. “Why can’t they just give me the whole can?” Then I thought she was annoyed with the size of the towel at the hotel. “It’s too small! It barely covers my body.” Then I thought she was mad because they didn’t give her enough melted butter for her lobster. “I’m going to soak it all up with the first dip!”
There was a man sitting in the sky. Mum said we’d have the beach to ourselves so I was a bit cross when I saw him. He had a bright blue kite-thing that was really shiny underneath. Mum called it iridescence (she spelled it for me). It looked like the inside of the shell I found last summer, creamy and smooth. I wondered where he could have come from because we hadn’t seen him from the car. When I said he’d flown across from America mum told me not to be daft. But that’s where ad is and he flies back here.
Under the big blue sky, even in the dead of winter, I was not changed by the structure of modern life outside of my tribe. Like any other day, the felt was unloaded from the oxen and wrapped around the yurt timber skeleton to ward off the chill of early winter. Mountains loomed in the distance, preluded by the rolling hills. They were a constant reminder that my tribe was still strong. Yet even as I worked, I felt something change, a tear in our way of life.
My father felt this too. As I continued to work, wondering what this strange sensation was, he looked off into the distance, toward the trees, like he could see something coming. “Fewer will come this time,” he said. He spoke softly to himself, but I could hear his gruff voice carry on the cold breeze. There was a particular tone of grief to which I could only relate to the death of the khans.
I read all the books you left behind. What? I couldn’t help it. You had, by then, stopped answering my calls and it was the closest thing I knew to hearing your voice again. Pathetic, I know, to think that I could find some part of you in a line by Carver or Munro. But, by then, I was not thinking clearly and each new sentence seemed to shine like a clue that, if studied hard enough, might lead me back to you.
I read them all in public, in coffee shops and cafes and on all those little benches scattered through downtown that nobody ever sits on. My arms would get sore from the angle at which I held them, an angle designed for you, just in case you happened to walk by. I wanted the sunlight to fall just so and the cover to look as lovely as an outstretched hand. I wanted those books to bring you back.
By Aaron White
Your naked feet suspended sugary off the edge of the porch swing. It was painted as white as your skin. Your head rested in my lap. I tied knots in your honeysuckle-scented hair and read aloud from the newspaper. Somewhere in North Carolina, turkey vultures swarmed a quiet neighborhood and preyed on pets. We laughed and speculated neat squares of yard sporting tall, trimmed trees overtaken by black coagulations as big as children.