Search

"Evening Day", excerpt

Saturday 11/30/19

Time to climb, shower, get cleaned up, maybe get a haircut. I have now finished "Evening Day," which ultimately created a second story in "Metacarpal," far shorter, completely separate, no plot overlap. This is from the former.


***

Kylie was not normally brave. She seemed so sure of herself. She stood first. She put out her hand. Frances used it to help herself stand up. Her legs felt waxen. She thought she could have shaved off their edges with a razor like they were pink pieces of candle, and there would be no pain, just the pleasure of something sharp going through something offering little resistance. And smelled nice. Her mother always lit candles along the edges of the tub. Not for Frances—for herself; but also for both of them, in a way, because that was when they had some of their best talks, Frances sitting on the bathmat, or the toilet, looking at how pretty her mother was, thinking her far kinder and better still.


“No wonder dad loves you so much,” she said one time. She hadn’t planned to say it. Normally Frances liked to plan what she was going to say. It was a good thing she could plan quickly. She usually felt embarrassed without the planning, though that time it had been okay. On normal days she took stairs two-at-at-time. She wouldn’t have thought it possible to go up them half-a-stair-at-a-time, but that was what she and Kylie did. Maybe because they were holding hands still. There were not any bodies on the ground. There were not any teachers in the hall. There were no children, nor their sounds. There was no sound from outside. As they climbed, where there were no windows, she wondered if the sky was still black and cracked with red. Being in a building away from the windows is like being in its stomach, she thought. Or throat, or thigh, or tail, if buildings were more like animals than people.


Frances heard a flapping, fluttering sound at the top of the stairs, like a one-winged duck desperately trying to get itself airborne with only half of its flying apparatus, feathers beating against feathers and panicked muscle. Kylie had released her hand and Frances watched as she walked ahead, moving into each classroom and emerging again, alone. If anyone had come up the stairs, they were not here now. Finally, Kylie entered the room at the furthest end of the hallway and raced back to get Frances, once more reaching for her hand. She felt like regular Kylie again, the girl who took her lead from her best friend, but could still do things on her own, this being one of them, bringing her friend along. The fluttering, flapping, became louder as they walked, reminding Frances of the water cascading with greater intention, it would seem, a higher level of aqueous purpose, as she sat, waiting for her mother, candles lit, prepared to turn off the taps at just the right moment. They walked into the classroom, where a projector was running a reel of film, a ragged, loose end of celluloid going round and round, accounting for the sound of the grounded duck, who immediately became no more in Frances’ mind. Kylie watched the film, she looked at all of the other children, the teachers, sitting at the small desks in the darkness, the people Frances could not see, and she saw the movie as it played over the battered screen pulled down from the top of the blackboard. She let go of Frances’s hand, took a seat, the last remaining seat, though Frances only saw empty chairs.


Back down the hall she walked, as the flapping sound died away, the duck flew off, the projector halted, whatever it may have been. Sunlight coursed through the windows of the first floor, rivers of light with powerful currents that nonetheless looked like citron-colored mirrors, panes and planes of conveyance and passage for life forms smaller than herself, diatoms ferried by solar boards and belts.


***

Okay. Fucking good, my brother. Good job. Way to fight and work. Heart health now. NB: I will be discussing all things Handel's Messiah on Downtown this week. In Chads Say What: Being a Novel Novel in Laughter for People Tired of Crying But Relieved Not to Be a Bro (and the Unification of America), there is a passage where the meathead--Chad, of course--goes on a first date at Messiah. It doesn't go awesomely. People make the mistake of thinking that Messiah is all about the Hallelujah chorus, but the work concludes with one of the most stunning displays of artistry in Western culture with the Amen chorus, in which Handel uses a single word--one bloody word--to convey the epiphanic cloudburst of the soul's awakening. Note the violin cadenza--it's more like a fill, actually--at :58 seconds. Such beauty. The power in this moment, which is self-contained, and yet we feel what is coming, we feel it like we feel faith. I am not talking God and hocus-pocus in sky. That's not what I mean by faith. And he builds and builds off of the amen. It's painting, architecture, poetry, writing. If you have actual talent, you can learn so much about how to write with what he does with his word.