Friday, April 8, 2011

G: Genesis

This is the piece I submitted to win my ten pages in Notes From Undeground. I thought it would be a good example of how loose you could be with the Fertility Challenge. And I rather like it.

The silence was first. Then a word. Tangible or not, life began.
Some called it the void but can anything really be void? Can even nothing be not at all? We have tried to answer over and over what that word was that began life but what came first? What was the darkness that was nothing?

“I am dead.” The girl threw herself onto the bed and pounded at the floral bead spread. “I am dead, I am dead, I am dead.”
“You are not dead.” The mother stroked her long thin hand against her daughter's black colored tangles. “You are heart broken. It will pass. It always does.”
“It won't.” the girl said. “It doesn't. I might as well be dead.”
The mother looked out the window at her gate's broken hinges then back at her daughter's young face, puffed red with tears. Not as young as it had been a day ago. Perhaps not as young as an hour ago. “No.” she said “It doesn't. It won't. But you aren't dead.”

Connie watched the small plant grow. First a small white streak poking its head out of the soil then a tiny shoot in pale green with thin papery leaves getting ready to spread from the center. She'd never planted it. It could have been a weed. If she had been a clever gardener she would have removed it. If she had been a clever gardener the geranium and lavender seeds she had planted in neat little rows on the other side of the yard might have grown larger than her hand before they shriveled. But she was not a clever gardener and the weed –if it was a weed –showed promise.

The child pointed up at the stars. “Big Dipper!”
The grandfather shook his head. “That one's Virgo. The virgin. She's a mother.”
The child scrunched his chubby face with stubbornness. “Teacher said Big Dipper.” He stretched his voice on the word 'big' and held his hands far apart.
The grandfather smiled. “If you want to call it the Big Dipper you can.”
“They followed it.” The child said. “The slaves at the war. Teacher said.”
The grandfather looked again, imagining the child trapped in the mother's womb. “You may be right Danny.” he said “Maybe they did follow those stars.”

Everything wise has already been said. Has it been heard?

Art is the scream of humanity. A piece of ourselves trying to break out of the confines of our bodies. Of our lives. Of what we have defined ourselves as.


The streaks in the mirror were cracks. Fragments of slanted reality. Her fingers rubbed themselves raw through the thick weave of the rag in her hand but they would not come off.
“They won't come off.” Rick said from the other side of the one room apartment. He rolled over in the bed and let the sheet fall off the surface of his chest. “You can't make a smooth surface out of something rough.”
Viki turned around and gave him a sardonic expression. “That's what glass is.”
He stared at her.
“A smooth surface made from something rough.”
“Oh.” he yawned. “Well you can't do it again. Not unless you have a furnace.”
Viki looked again at the mirror. The snag of green fabric from the cloth. The spec of blood from her finger. The way her crooked reflection made her left eye look three times the size of her mouth and her cheek look like she had a scar across it instead of yesterday's makeup. “Ok.” she said. “I’ll find one.”

The streets were dark, the stars a faint sprinkling of dust over the towering height of the skyscrapers. Viki clutched the heavy round form of the mirror under one arm and her heels clattered against the concrete. It was early morning but not quiet. A car's horn sounded from somewhere. The door to the pizzeria on her left opened and a young boy with dark curls and a dreamy expression shook a snowfall of flour out of a rug.
Ice. Viki was looking for a fire. Where could she find a furnace in the city?
The jeweler maybe. Still. There was something in the boy's eyes. He would know a fire if he saw one. He shook out his rug again. Bits of the powder got caught in the cracks of Viki's mirror.

He opened his eyes and the light pierced through to his mind. He closed them again, smarting from the pain. It had been a long night. He wasn't ready for a long morning.

Viki looked at the bright orange streaks the sun made across her mirror. Now there was a furnace. So far above her she couldn't see it. Only the reflection of it from millions of years before she had been born. The heavens. The only place the distance of time could be breached. Or was that light?

He slept on, dreaming deep where there was no sound and no sight. He tried to open his eyes again inside his mind but he only saw more darkness. More silence. More stillness. His own body would not move.

The plant thrived. Connie watched as the leaves opened up beneath the light of the sun. She watched as buds began to form and then fan out in a delicate trumpet shape. Soft sky colored petals on a long vine of green. A weed? The woman down the street said it was. She said morning glories would take over a garden and choke out all the wanted plants. Well none of the plants Connie had wanted seemed to want her and she wasn't sure that she didn't like the morning glories better anyways. So she watered them.

Viki stopped and let a taxi drive by. The tourists were across the street fingering through the glass beads and polished stones of the craft fair.
A smooth surface made from something rough. A stone. That was what had cracked the mirror to begin with. A decorative piece of earth she'd placed too close to the edge of her shelf.


He woke. The darkness was real this time instead of in his head. It had texture. Pieces of gray that formed shapes around him. The piano. The drapes Viki had closed before she left. Her shelf of nick-knacks. Recognizing what they were didn't make them any less sinister.

The glassblower twisted his lips and bent low toward the melted sand. Air trickled through his teeth and then it wasn't melted sand anymore. It was a boat. With a tiny flat sail the size of a paperclip. Viki looked at the miniature flame blower in his other hand then at her broken mirror. A piece of glass fell out and landed with a clink next to her pointed heel.
The glassblower smiled at her. “What can I do for you?”
Viki picked up the piece of glass, careful not to let it cut her finger. She held it up to the light, watched the sun warp into a piece of glitter, then looked at the glassblower. “Can you make me a piece this size? In violet?” She pulled another piece off the mirror. “One like this too. In amber.”

The morning glories died. Connie went into town to visit her mother for a few days and when she came back there was nothing left of them but a withered vine of gold that crumbled at her touch. Perhaps she ought to have asked the woman down the street to water them while she was gone but the spring had plummeted into a sweltering summer. They couldn't have had too much life left in them anyways

Viki hung the mirror back on the wall, admiring the scattering of color it cast over the window.
Rick looked up from his plate of eggs. “What's that?”
“My mirror.”
He made a gurgling sound as he swallowed. “What did you do to it? How will you see yourself?”
She turned to look at him. “The way I am.”

An unfinished story. A piece of nothing. A shriveled plant. What came before is what comes after.


  1. Lovely writing here. Nice to "meet" you from the a-z challenge.