It came from out of my head
By Ken Sparling.
The chair instantly swallowed the shock. I shook off whosever’s hand was touching my back. Don’t touch my back, I said, haughtily. I wept. I put my hands over my face. I smelled my hands. They smelled like me. My hair fell about me. I was hungry. I blamed Margaret Huckle for not knowing about chest powers. I sent in my fault. Then, going further away, I got closer to home. I cringed.
Mom, remember when you lost account of me?
The bell jangled above our heads. They’ll be waiting for their tea, I thought. The fuckers. Mrs. Wiggins was a fucker, as was Margaret Huckle.
You’ve had your cry now, I thought. Now get the post up. I lifted my head. I could see faces. A sea of faces.
If you listen, you might hear what your words are trying to tell you, the girl whispered into the boy’s ear. The boy’s name was Myron.
The girl whispered his name: Myron. You might find a way to help your words tell you what they are trying to say, Myron.
She finished with a breath that feathered Myron’s earlobe.
Find the tree, the boy heard.
Are you next in line? he heard.
Thankfully, no one else heard what the boy heard in the instant the girl stopped whispering.
Thank you for being such a beautiful rent in the universe, the girl whispered.
The girl called Irma called for help. Help, she said.
Dear God, wrote the boy, if you listen hard enough, you might be able to hear what I am trying not to say to you. I want to tell you some things, God. I want to tell you a lot of things, actually. But the things I want to tell you are always the things I am never going to actually say to you. But you hear the real thing the words are saying. You hear the thing inside the words that the words are trying to cover. I want to tell you things about the sea in my chest (also known as chest power) and the buzz in my ears that won’t go away. But I keep saying the same thing, and that is the buzz in my ears, isn’t it, God? How does the same thing I keep saying never get said?
I walked to the river and sat down on my bum. After a time, my bum felt damp.
I wanted to do a river, Marlon told the girl in his dream. The girl in Marlon’s dream said nothing. She was a specter. But when she held Marlon’s hand, it felt real enough. The experience of wanting to do a river became carnal. It’s like the sense you have that you’re doing some exploring. You are doing an exploration of sorts. You are exploring the object of your scrutiny. The object here is your scrutiny.
The girl was buttering her hair. She was sitting at her vanity, looking in the mirror. She took into her fingers the two braids of her hair that she had woven out of cords of her hair made up of individual strands of her hair and intertwined the two braids above her head. She held them like a princess, her eyes flat as puddles, then let them down, like two snakes falling into sleep.
The result of all this, the result of the river, and of the slipping away of the river, and of the two people moving into a canyon, is that drops of water that were rain just a few days ago now suddenly meet to become a river. The drops of rain become a sinewy creature intent on intrusion. Intention is rain. Rain is the coming together, and that’s all it is. The barricades between drops of water are lost, they cease to delimit. All individual identity is lost.
Wake up, Sara Jane.
In the worst case, thought the girl, he just won’t come home. And what’s so bad about that? Do I depend on him to come home? But if he doesn’t come home tomorrow, if he doesn’t come home for a few days, who will I blame?
In the most obvious case, it becomes a case of something easier for us to arrive at mutually, Eduardo.
The girl dove into her pillow. She prayed for sky. She prayed for the sky to open above her home, for the roof to lift, for her life to spiral up into the stratosphere like some kind of sound made of a rocket.
What if you listened to words? What if words were wind and you listened, but you could not hear the wind, you could only hear the leaves in the trees, and you could only hear the plastic bags stuck in the branches of the trees, but you could not hear the wind itself?
What if you tried to hear what the wind was calling for, what the wind actually wanted?
We needed to fix a few things. We had sentences, sure. Good sentences. Really good sentences, in some cases.
But there were other things to consider.
Some of the sentences were sentences beyond anything you could ever imagine.
Sentences are really just words put together in various combinations.
I mean, if that’s how you want to look at it.
But, I’ll tell you something. Some of these sentences were pure magic. Combinations of words, yes. Okay. Sure. Maybe that’s how you want to look at it.
To tell the truth, it broke my heart when some of the guys started suggesting that there might be problems with things like semicolons and periods. I hadn’t noticed any problems myself. Like I said, it was the sentences I was looking at. I couldn’t take my eyes off the sentences.
Obviously, I wasn’t equipped to deal with it. We called in the experts. A whole slew of experts. Thirty guys. Maybe more. There was one guy who dealt only with semicolons. Needless to say, I told the guy where to stick his semicolons.
I’ll tell you something else. Maybe you think a guy like that has a life outside his work. Maybe that’s how you manage to forgive a guy like that. But that guy talked about semicolons on his breaks. He drew diagrams while the rest of us had coffee and tried to forget where we were.
Finally, one weekend, I told the guy with the semicolons I was going out of the city, would he like to come. By this time, four months into the project, all the sentences had lost their flavour for me.
I told the guy with the semicolons to bring an overnight bag to work with him on Friday and we’d head out of the city for the weekend.
I took him to a forest I knew and handed him a chainsaw. We sawed down trees all weekend. Left them where they fell.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ken Sparling has written six novels. His latest is Intention, Implication, Wind from Pedlar Press. His first, Dad Says He Saw You at the Mall, published by Knopf in 1996 was recently reissued by Mud Luscious Press. He curates his own on-line library.
First published in 3:AM Magazine: Thursday, June 13th, 2013.