The following are two works of fiction that deal with the rhythm of motion and stillness. We treat you with two different texts lying on the intersection of movement and language.
Short stories by Alexander Teaspoon* and Lucy Cameron
It’s like someone is shooting bullets at your leg and screaming Hunger’s Empire!
Desktop pictures, all empirical and shit, on your mantelpiece where you keep your computer. Why do you keep your computer there? What’s the use? Like he said, “what’s the use?” What? Animals and trees and people and more people crowd my vision of nothingness to keep me in touch with the earth I once knew.
Fuck that, I still know it like I know my feet jogging, although I never do that. Dancing bullets hitting my peripheral view (if I would have eyes in my legs, that is), everywhere whooshing by like I could hear them. I want to hear them so bad, so bad that I could not cry. You know when you want to do something so bad you’re crying but really you’re not, like you’d want to cry but not really although you are but not in the sense you’ve been taught by having to fake cry for your girlfriends who think you aren’t sensitive enough so they shoot bullets at you and then you cry because one of them hits you where your eye would be? (If you had eyes in your leg, that is.)
Okay yeah, he has beautiful eyes like a captain out of a clear blue sky (that’s the colour of his eyes) and I can’t imagine how life would be without eyelashes protecting you from shit penetrating into your eyes like the lead perforating your every tendon like a boomerang. Boomerang fucking bullets. That’s a new concept, probably not. Fucking war and shit. Whoa what’s happening, do I even want to know? Do I? Do you? Are we the same or thinking the same or acting the same or is that all the same? I don’t know if I want to know if I do? If that makes sense, I don’t know. So your fucking Stetson is crooked. Like I care, although I do. Because it’s important for the cold you know, modern fur or whatever. So the bullets all ran out and my vision is clear, thanks captain! You’re a blast!
A rough draft is what this is. All nervous like inside. Proper fucking heartthrob you are! Whatever sprung to your feet or where they sprung when you ran which is pronounced the same in Swedish. Like her asking what the time is over and over again and people actually believing her like “muppets,” as the captain would say. Going inside and stealing stuff because that’s what you do when you’re a prolific Swedish thief. Right? Yeah right. So moving forward which is backward and nowhere to be seen as the bullets start raining vertically in the wrong direction. The earth saying: “Fuck you rain, I’ll just make you feel what I’ve been feeling like for the past forevers. And yeah you are afraid, of course, why not and why yes. You are completely utterly aware that you are inexplicably right. Like everyone that ever lived before you, even those who didn’t live for very long. Like my Mother’s miscarriage. Sister. Which is a dire subject to point out, as I have no idea what that is like and I hope you won’t ever know. What it feels like.”
That’s my thought about the current crisis in the midst of my own crisis consisting of fucking bullets flying everywhere. Dance dance dance. And dance faster not that the bullets are increasing in speed but you are. You are so excited about everything that you can’t stop so a bullet hits you. Whatever. Like you would care now or at any other time? This is what everything you’ve ever felt before feels like. This excitement towards moving towards something new. Like the door that will get you out of here, like the different door which you got out of involuntarily, now referring to my mother’s miscarriage of course! Which I am very sorry for addressing again. Trigger Warning, Trigger Warning. Like the articles with the comments you know? The comments everyone fucking lights up like Christmas fireworks in the countries that do those sorts of things. I hope there are countries like that, otherwise this meaningless tradition will have meaning like the turkey instead of swine at the table, waiting, while you’re calling your relatives masturbators with your grandmother in their graves. At the cemetery which has the gates that you want to walk through very fast, like the door. Or the shirt or whatever people walk out of.
And I, yes I (it changed, see analyze the shit out of it, like now, please) will now walk out of the saloon because, surprise; (yeah fucking semicolons) this was me all the time like everything is all the time and you can’t escape it (me) because I made you shoot, I put the bullets in. The fucking boomerang bullets I picked from your mantelpiece next to your computer that splintered my already fucked up leg. That’s it, now I can’t walk anymore, ever. So I’ll run out of this place. Now.
this is the whole thing
“this is the whole thing” is not a part of this
Chat conversation end
This is the whole thing. “This is the whole thing” is not a part of this. Oh wait now it is. Chat conversation end.
*Alexander Teaspoon is the penname for someone who may or may not be a U1 Arts student, depending on the immigration workers’ strike, which he supports.
Where we’re at
We are driving through the Fairbanks hills, past the stables and butter-coloured mini-mansions, through orange groves and strawberry fields, as I administer Sonia’s vitamins. Her hands are calm at ten and two; her head barely clears the dashboard. Sonia is a tiny person, and when we drive together I am always somewhat surprised she can reach the pedals. In public, from behind, she looks like my child. In the passenger’s seat, I am sifting through a canvas sack filled with supplements, vitamins, pills, eyedroppers, and some immuno-gummies that are rejected on the basis of their sugar content. I help myself.
“This is where my energy healer is,” she points as we fly past a new shopping centre. The green arrow that is us inches forward on the screen embedded in the dashboard. “She is amazing. I walk in with a cold and come out completely healthy and balanced.”
We wind further through eucalyptus trees and arbutus, past the produce stand my mother used to shun when we were growing up. I can’t remember why. I am trying to remember exactly how long it has been since I was here last, but I am getting the numbers mixed up with the pills, and Sonia weighs the handful I offer her with some suspicion. “The person who owned all of this land just died without a will,” she says, waving her hand vaguely at a thick forest to the east. “There’s like 16 family members in court about it.” “That’s crazy.” I am mildly concerned that my sweat and hair dye are staining the cream-colored seat. The woods give way to clusters of low-lying gated communities named after trees before we are sucked up onto the 5. No one feels compelled to shift lanes to accommodate the merge; the cars find their places intuitively. Two by two like reindeer they adjust, and once in traffic we float north effortlessly.
“Good thing there is no traffic,” Sonia says. We haven’t moved in five minutes, or maybe we have. The sign imposing the fine for litter on the Sea World-sponsored highway seems slightly bigger than it was.
A few hours later the sun has set, and the sky is still blue. The backseat of the car is filled with the harvest of our errands: boxes, strings of white lights, and bridesmaids dresses body-bagged from the dry cleaners. We are waiting patiently in a semi-circular line-up for a double-double, no tomato, no onion, a hamburger all-dressed, a small order of fries, a small vanilla shake. A young man with a southern drawl and a microphone in his ear leans in the window of our car to take our order and tells us it will be about eight minutes. Sonia considers this figure and grudgingly accepts, as if she would have abandoned the wagon chain if he didn’t cut us a satisfactory deal. “We are all at the mercy of her blood sugar,” Sonia’s mother once said to me.
Sonia looks like a small gray bird at this time of day. She is giving her friend advice over the phone, chewing the insides of her cheeks in concentration. The friend, I am briefed, has just gotten out of a relationship and does not see any point in anything anymore. I suggest that not seeing any point is maybe better than seeing no point, but Sonia rolls her eyes. Her phone sucks life from the cigarette lighter as she composes her statements thoughtfully. I am staring at the lights reflected in the lagoon that was virtually lifeless when I left ten years ago, but has recently been experiencing a resurgence of biological activity according to the woman at the juice stop this morning. The line-up of cars isn’t moving forward, but Sonia keeps absently relaxing her foot on the brake so we are inching slowly closer to the massive chrome bumper of the truck in front of us.
“She wants to know when it will stop hurting,” Sonia explains. “She thinks that if she has a timeline to work towards it won’t be so bad.” She pauses. “The not-knowing,” I add dumbly. There is a canal of waste waters unknown beside the In-N-Out directly down the bank and to our right that leads into the lagoon. It is cordoned off by barbed wire, which seems excessive. For a moment, I imagine what it would be like to leap from the car, vault over the fence, and swim the ravine down to the lagoon. “I don’t know… yeah.” I must have some advice to offer this situation, but I can’t focus. It won’t be articulated. I remember a kid who sat next to me in an English class in early high school who refused to speak in class, and when called upon would snarl angrily under his ketchup breath, “The revolution won’t be televised.” I thought he was brilliant, and years later when I figured out this was a popular slogan not of his own invention, I wasn’t really disappointed. Slogans are great communicators. They are the hamburgers of human experience.
“It doesn’t get easier,” I go on, and Sonia looks at me like why do you have to be so negative and I look up and left like I don’t know. She sighs and hovers over the glowing screen, looking for something to say. The car in front of us rolls up to the light of the window, and the forearm of a man who must barbecue often extends to collect his bounty. “You learn to be quiet about it,” I am rambling. “It doesn’t get better, but if you can get good at keeping silent then I think everything that you aren’t saying eventually just dissipates. Quiet is safe.” I don’t know if I agree with what I am saying, but Sonia is typing quickly, and I don’t think any of it has to do with what I’ve said. She nods digestively, her eyes screwed to a focal point. “Oh. You can go now.”
We jerk forward to the open window and slam to a stop. The kid in the drive-thru window is attractive and there is some sort of subverted balcony scene playing out between him and Sonia as she pays and asks for extra ketchup. There are still the same soft peaks of green-gray foam in the ravine amongst the cattails that used to excite me as a kid. Once on a field trip I studied and recorded them for an entire afternoon.
It is almost completely dark as we pull into the parking lot of a campground two exits south to divide our spoils. I am trying to speak under the radio rather than over but end up muttering like the woman on the bus who gets two seats to herself. It seems to me that all advice is wasted; people are going to do just what they want, what they have been unconsciously counting on, whatever it is they think will make them happy. Sonia doesn’t agree, and says, then no one can really communicate, with an implied, Idiot. We listen to a full song without talking. “She isn’t having a good time,” Sonia says finally, about the friend I presume. We watch the horizon purple and grow darker and flatten. Sonia’s burger is getting cold and the fat ossified, self-loathing. “No,” I agree. I want to say something else, to feel for this friend of my friend, but the words are stillborn in my stomach.
The link between cause and effect seems broken, or like it was never that simple in the first place. My milkshake is turning into cream in the cup-holder as I watch a man with a shopping cart cross six lanes of traffic in the dark. We head home following the instructions of a disembodied car voice that can’t pronounce the street names but whose superior directions are unquestioned.
Lucy Cameron is a U4 Philosophy and English Literature student, and an editor for The Veg Literary Magazine.