Saturday, April 18, 2009


Seth saunters slowly out the door and down the short, green hallway and takes a right, but not before a quick pull at the water fountain. He stops in a sudden skid, his left leg kicking out like a mechanical arm, his right leg a thin pillar of support. Grabbing the rusting metal handle with his right hand, he applies all of his weight upon this one fulcrum, balancing himself on the integrity of the sink’s fastened body. The white porcelain fractures slightly away from the wall, revealing a dark, line of empty space between the pale green paint and the dry, cracked caulk at the edge of the pale watering bowl. The five-pointed handle gives way to the forceful twist of Seth’s clenched fist, slamming its way to the full throttle of its point of resistance. Cold, smelly water slowly dollops over the spout, lightly flowing out and down with baneful impotence.

“Suck,” Seth says in disdain, his face crinkled in disgust. He curses in his mind. “Stupid…fountain.” Angry, he nevertheless perforates the water with a cautious slurping, his lips only micrometers away from the tainted, defiled spout, no-doubt caressed by unclean lips of many. Satisfied, but furled, he walks boldly out the door, stiff-arming it open like a ramrod. The expletives echo in his brain, but quiet down with a new idea.

Hopping onto his brown, banana seat, Seth meanders slowly like a drunken sailor, his front wheel swinging this way, then that. Heading west, he races down Taylor Street, with the wind slamming his hair behind—almost off—his head. “I’ll head there,” he thinks to himself, glaring ahead. Taylor Street is the biggest hill ever. It has two, yellow lines in the middle of it, and a red, eight-sided sign with white letters in it at the bottom. It’s the kind of street you don’t see the bottom of, and it slowly unfolds before you as you set off. In nothing flat, he’s at the bottom, heedless of any oil burners freezing with grinding halts in order to spare his life. He flies through, his wheels not touching the ground. Then, a rolling coast, the whine and whip of the wind in his ears cowers away like a satiated banshee retreating to her abysmal den. With a hop over the city curb, he enters into earthen terrain, where a wide field lays open before him, welcoming him like any field would: with a silent, green yawn.

The field backs itself into a corner, surrounded by benevolent sandy slopes covered with pines, elms, tall oaks, and maples. The boney fingers of these deciduous friends bear the stripping of winter’s wear, slumbering awake in the clamor of long, cold, rest, turning toward the glowing Spring orb set higher in the late morning sky, whispering in quiet praise. The apex of this corner houses a naked dune, a stretch of sand inhabited by only one tree.

Seth’s bike slows to a motionless rest. He stares at the ground, his eyelids lowered to half slits. His hands rest on the plastic, grooved, handlebar grips, moving in half circles back, and forth, back and forth with white, tense knuckles. The color of the grooves matches the long seat. He starts to murmur. The sand entrenches the rims of his bike, dragging them down into a soft blanket. Raising his head, he looks at the tree. It stands alone like a beacon, with the perfect roundness of a rainbow, its green buds ahead of the other trees in this vicinity. Below its massive trunk, a thousand tentacles and snakes stretch out as the exposed root system. In the middle of this tangled system sits a black hole at the back of a short tunnel.

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