Hoy nuestros cuerpos se hicieron extensos, crecieron hasta el límite del mundo y rodaron fundiéndose en una sola gota de cero o meteoro. Somewhere between asleep and awake, Amara lies at the edge of a swirling landscape of pillow, blanket, and sheet. She imagines her state to be a marriage of the waking and dreaming world, where the real and unreal coalesce peacefully. The illuminated darkness deprives the room of color, leaving only outlines of the room’s contents intact. Her usual flurry of emotions has subsided this deep into the night. There is something comforting knowing that nothing of any consequence could happen. If she fell asleep right now or stayed awake another five minutes, no difference.
She stares up into her ceiling fan. With enough focus, she can catch sight of one of the blades and follow its rotation. If she lost concentration, even for a second, the whole enterprise would have to be restarted. Not that a lapse of focus or losing one’s sight of a singular fan blade amounted to anything much. Though she could never ascertain if it was the same blade when she returned. Amara was the type to get caught up in such uncertainties, not now though.
Sleep–alarm–morning–shower. She turns the knob from cold to hot. Frigid air is seeping in from outside the edges of her floral-patterned curtains. She pulls them closed as tight as she can. A shower had always been her escape from it all: complete isolation where nothing is felt but the tapping of water on your back and the sound of water drops against the porcelain interior. Complete sensory control. She turns the knob from hot to cold. She runs shampoo through her hair, hoping she could wash her thoughts away as well. A cute metaphor, the shampoo washing her thoughts away, she thought. She smiled as she watched white foam swirl into the drain. She turns the knob from cold to hot. The impending doom of leaving the shower becomes apparent as she washes her knees. A cold world beyond her control awaits her on the other side.
She turns off the water. She opens the curtain and a naked Muslim man with only a turban on stares at her. She screams. The man pulls from behind him a full bottle of cognac. He downs the drink with one swig. She still screams. He then coughs up a snake that slithers out of the room.
The ceiling fan is spinning. Only a dream. Amara loosens her grip on her bed and rolls over. I will never understand why I am the way that I am. Entre tú y yo se abrió una nueva puerta y alguien, sin rostro aún, allí nos esperaba.
- Plant seed in the ground.
- Water daily.
- Amara was shaken. Her eyes were wide and her expression was blank. Two years? Was that what the advisor said? The man’s glum expression and sad hollowed out eyes worked liked a mirror for her soul. She was scared shitless. The decisions of today would carry large implications over the course of a life much longer than the one leading up to it. Pause for a brief moment of considering flipping the off-switch for good. Walking out of that advising department building, finding the nearest sidewalk, waiting, and leaping out for the next bus off the face of the Earth. Woe is me, come on Amara, you are better than this. Quit being stupid, she told herself. All this pressure had been amplified by the man’s matter-of-fact, nonchalant, nervous more about his job than about you delivery with which he explained to her the situation. Two more years of education would be required to get her degree. Entering her senior year the following fall, this was not an option. Even if her parents could foot the bill, and they wouldn’t be able to, she could not let them. Would not let them. Two more years of tuition for a piece of paper that said more about the hell she put herself through than about herself at all. She already loathed her major. There she said it. Not aloud, but in her head. Oh, she was lost. Far too close to any of the events to make any sense of them. Think, there must be something I can do.
- And she finally grew up and left the advising office. Made a few calls. Did some real self-reflection. Thought about self-worth. Thought about what she wanted. Enough making the same mistake. Enough impulse decisions, that was how she got stuck in this major. No. Now it was time to do what her parents had been begging her to do all along. Be an adult. Act in her own self-interest while not fucking over the ones she loved. Be an adult. Act rationally and research. Look for alternative options. This is when all those backup plans come into play. Survival. Decisions worth impacting the rest of her life. Never shutting the door on anything, but not being flippant in her choices. Conviction. No longer a martyr. Be an adult. The only person’s opinion who matters is your own. No longer searching for a plan that will appease others, but one you can stand behind. One that you fully created. Time cannot move fast enough for Amara. God, I hope I am not an idiot.
- Let time pass.
- Look, there’s a tree!
So I was taking a walk the other day and I seen a woman, a blind woman, pacing up and down the sidewalk. She seemed to be a bit frustrated as if she had dropped something and having a hard time finding it. So after watching her struggle for a while, I decide to go over and lend a helping hand, you know? “Hello, ma’am, can I be of any assistance? It seems to me that you have lost something. I would like to help you find it.” She replied: “Oh yes, you have lost something. You’ve lost… your wife.”
This all proved to be rather awkward. I did not have a wife. I replied, “I am sorry, I do not have one.” She frowned in disappointment.
“Well, all right then. Take this instead.” She pulled out of her purse a cd copy of the new Kendrick Lamar album. Even though I already had Apple music, I really did not want to let this poor blind woman down again. I took the cd. She walked down the street and, confused, I continued back home.
After some contemplation, I realized that she did not say “wife,” but instead said “life.” After making sense of the whole scene, I shrugged. My answer to her question remained the same even if I had heard her correctly.
Forgive me, my memory is rough.
A false promise of cinnamon buns evaporates as soon as the door to his apartment opens to a cloud of vape. He drops his suitcase next to Tomi’s food dish on the floor. Coat and shoes removed all within the small square of a placemat. Welcome Home. A Pure Leaf Unsweetened Iced Tea is taken from the fridge. Cap is removed and tossed into a pile of garbage gathering in the apartment’s barren corner. He moves to the living room.
None of his three roommates bothered to notice Andrew had returned until he plumped down on the couch. These three roommates were Ted Conway, Dave Harrison, and Sebastian Voss. Three-fifths of their band, The West-North Tomahawk Gang. There was an ongoing joke that when only Conway-Harrison-Voss were playing that they identified by the moniker, The Three-Fifth’s Compromise. Given that this was a group of white upper-middle class adolescent males, this ongoing joke was decidedly kept within the group’s members. They were a messy bunch with each never having been able to hold down a job for very long, yet somehow rent was always accounted for. It was a decent enough group to come home to.
Ted, the lead guitarist and the one currently vaping, was absorbed in Dave’s second run-through of Silent Hill 3. He held the silver tip to his mouth and pressed down the button. A billowing cloud left Ted’s mouth and dispersed outward, sheathing the room in an opaque fog. There was something unnervingly sexual and compulsive about the way Ted ceaselessly returned to the tip before exhaling completely. If the taste was lacking, why not go out and buy cinnamon buns to eat. They were far too deep into Ted’s residency for a complaint to be filed.
“Ay, Andrew, failed to notice you there. How was work?”
Ted and Andrew were old college buddies, having a friendship established on a mutual love for all things cinema. Andrew could still recall long nights huddled in front of their 24” Samsung, surrounded by empty cans of Red Bull, watching everything from Wes Anderson to Stanley Kubrick to Woody Allen to Werner Herzog to Martin Scorcese to David Lynch to Steven Spielberg to Ingmar Bergman to Charlie Kaufman to Quentin Tarantino to Paul Thomas Anderson to Francis Ford Coppola to Sophia Coppola to Roman Polanski to Coen Brothers to David Cronenberg to Alfred Hitchcock to Terrence Malick to Sam Raimi to Akira Kurosawa to Brian DePalma to Spike Lee to Sergio Leone to Darren Aronofsky to Alejandro Iñárritu to Denis Villenueve to Alexander Payne to Alejandro Jodorowsky to Fritz Lang to Robert Altman to Richard Linklater… This was during the height of the Binge Era of consumer entertainment. When there was a multitude of different streaming services to be taken into consideration. When one had to spend time investigating whether Hulu or Netflix had more films unseen. Though, they had a subscription to every service available; a respect for the art left torrenting completely out of the question, well that and the fact that wealthy parents can make anything possible.
“It was okay, a few leads came up dry, but tomorrow I expect things will change.” Ted was a Hunter S Thompson type.
Their old friendship had consisted of going to Barnes and Noble and just marveling at their Criterion Collection. They name-dropped and quizzed each other about anything from what Phillip K. Dick novel did Linklater originally sought to adapt to the ways the Fargo television series deviated from the Coen Brothers ethos constructed over the past several decades. Of course excluding Intolerable Cruelty, Burn After Reading, and Hail Caesar!, which they considered lazy and subpar for such masters of cinema. Andrew often argued that perhaps Burn After Reading was poorly received because it was released on the heels of No Country For Old Men and Ted often argued that Hail Caesar! was amazing if you ate an edible at just the right time before viewing. So that Channing Tatum’s dancehall scene coincides with the effects setting in. Andrew, himself, was not into the whole altered thinking method to watching movies. He actually rarely indulged and could be seen as the beginning of a rift in a friendship that was so incredibly dependent on one another. Almost five years later they still hung out nonetheless.
“No, no, no. You are thinking about it all wrong. It is not so much that there is a side that is right, rather that the act of siding is inherently flawed. We are talking about commitment in every sense of the word. To commit. To carry out, to perpetrate a mistake, a crime, an immoral act… One does not commit a great deed, there are connotations and denotations here. To pledge or bind oneself to a person or certain cause. Have you ever heard of narrow-mindedness? To entrust or consign someone and, may I ask you, when has it ever been a good idea to put one’s trust in another? We’re moving towards this raw transcendental notion of ignorance. Of doing without thinking. Even commit, in its relationship sense has never proven a good idea because as soon as one opens themselves up to another, as soon as one lets them in, so to speak, one has made the greatest error in judgement because committing to anyone is pure fantasy given you can never know for sure what they will never know for sure and it is all just one big ticking time bomb until that commitment is put to the test whereupon you will be committed for your lack of commitment and you will commit to trying to get your loved one to see how embarrassed you are, that she never meant a thing to you, the other woman, but that above all else it was the unbearable anxiety of committing to a woman so beautiful, so beyond compare that made it impossible for me to commit to a person like her because how could I commit when every guy that passes her does a double-double take, that is a total four takes, and when the commitment proves invalid and one is left alone the only person at fault would be the one who started the commitment in the first place. How can you not see this?”
A cold night, a streetlight casts a neon haze upon the corner. Blurs of cars move left and right. Waiting in the glass shelter of a bus stop, water droplets roll down the glass encasing like tears upon a face. The rain is coming down hard. Some sit on a bench, cramped together– either holding a child or being held by a parent. Others stand, huddling close together for warmth. Never had the world felt so close. Tonight, everyone is family.
Not her, though. She stood outside the crystal prism, an umbrella propped out from her backpack, face glowing from the screen of an iPhone. A lifetime passed the moment his eyes met her face. Smudged eyeliner transfigured into a circle of burning ash around eyes spotlighted from a dim iPhone glow. Light entered and refracted itself within her retina, amplifying a brightness her eyes welcomed. A kaleidoscope of chestnut, umber, and kobicha swirled in the body of each iris merging into the point of her pupil. The blithe twirling of her headphones in her hand manifested as an invitation. But an invitation for what? All he was certain of her eyes wrecked both himself and the rest of her face. For, how could a smile compete with the breathtaking beauty of those two blinking worlds? A smile can be worn, even put on, but one cannot fake what is in the eyes. So, when he noticed that the rest of her expression was rather empty, he was unsurprised. Perfection elsewhere would have distracted from the gift she possessed.
“You do realize she’s a n—-r?” His associate whispered, nudging him in the ribs. Though he did not hear a thing, he was completely gone. Nothing could touch this moment. Never had the world felt so close.
“Oh, you have finally arrived.” Surprise rings forth from his smooth, warm voice accented with a renewed sincerity. “You must forgive my insolence, I am afraid I had not noticed you until now.” Descending into the mouth of his grand velvet modern-wingback chair, he places his glass on the table designated for when an unexpected visitor arrives and one must sit and set their glass to allow for events to be, how would one put it? Set in motion: As if the clock’s ticking responded to one’s presence in the first place, or vice versa. For, the natures of abstractions can never be construed with certainty.
“Or can they be? It all comes full circle to the children’s question of a tree falling in a forest, no one being in proximity, and so forth. Would you care for a drink?” A genuine smile masquerades itself upon his face, born with anticipation for the rest of the evening. “Oh, you would? Excellent! Lucy my dear, could you please fetch our guest a glass of,” lowering into a whisper, “How does vermouth sound? Fantastic,” louder and directed at Lucy, stirring somewhere beyond view, “A glass of vermouth for our guest.”
He clasps his hands together with much content. “What a beautiful thing, to have a guest that is.” There is a swirling glimmer in the man’s eyes, never wholly revealing itself, yet promising that an awakened soul has become overjoyed by the presence of an old friend. “And you were always such a good friend, you always were.” A tear forms in his palpebral crevice and he quickly dismisses it with his handkerchief. “Look at me, tearing up over the sight of an old friend. Palpebral being the anatomical allusion to one’s eyelids, but I rest assured you knew that. Could not even say why I bothered to bring it up at all, to be honest.”
A long streak of black approaches carrying a filled wine glass in her hand. Her tall ominous figure hovering over you, she hands you the glass. The streak’s frame is otherwise straight until reaching higher altitudes near the shoulders whereupon a hunch develops, dangling her head and hair over her shoulder’s edge. “Thank you, Lucy. Oh, and please stand up straight in the presence of our guest.” His smile is uneven and she leaves the room.
Of course, there was the question that loomed in the room’s ether. “Yes, the question.” A question which would not be outright difficult. “But may take a bit of time to unpack.” He leans forward in his chair, his hands forming an interlacing triangle. “There are those who would say, ‘You could find everything in nothing,” while others would propose, ‘You could find nothing in everything.’” So, which is it?
It was a push pin. There was nothing really to it. A delicate plastic side opposed by a needle-sharp edge. To call it a needle-sharp edge brought up an oddity, where the adjective needle-sharp effectively described itself. Would you describe blue as appearing blue? The push pin was one of a pack, nothing entirely significant. There were no poetic threads to be tugged at neither were there dormant stories within. The piece was unnatural, factory-made. The push pin was one of a pack, nothing entirely significant. The body was transparent. Though there may be some implications of using the word ‘body’ to ascribe a term to the plastic part of the push pin, none such implications amounted to very much. Writing could be made fascinating by consolidating great lapses of time, you could tell of an entire decade in a single paragraph. Reading novels, I was given the personal experience of what it was like to see through the eyes of an author. And here I was, looking at a push pin. It was quite evident that my view was lacking and the push pin was waiting. The push pin was waiting for something, anything, interesting to be brought forth from its existence. May this push pin not be just another push pin amongst the pack. But it was. Words did not fail me, I failed in my search for words. My descriptions were sparse, I was striving to be descriptive and was barely reaching Carverian levels of detail. I could write so many sentences and still say nothing, every piece fell inward and I lost sight of the outside. Look it’s happening right now.