Saturday, May 14, 2005


It was Thursday. I was in the woods building a strange child. Birds fled from branch to branch like restless salesmen hawking manic and euphonious wares. A sudden, crashing din erupted from the rich man’s house, spewing debris from a third floor window. I set down the child to investigate, but then remembered what Pa had said about other people’s business and eventually sat back down. For days I had been unable to escape the ghostly chime of a coin dropping into the crowded guts of a machine. The denomination was either a nickel or a quarter and I was pretty sure it was being inserted into a payphone. Just as I picked up my tools again, the rich man’s car tore along his driveway, chucking up clouds of dust, a clump of auburn hair protruding from the sunroof. The dust made its eerie, gradual way through the leaves to where the child and I were sitting. I could see tiny motes glinting and swirling as the birds rushed around noisily. I was letting the plink of the echoing coin tumble back and forth in my head when suddenly it was interrupted by a small, fragile cough. I looked down to see the child—the strange, uncanny child I had been building was now gently quaking, as if caught in the oceanic throes of a dream. I took the child into my arms, one hand on its back and the other under its knees. Every five minutes or so another hiccup would emerge. Even after the body had gone basically still, its tremors subsided, the hiccups continued, like a drunk sleeping breathlessly. At some point the sun went down and I myself began to shiver, having only dressed with the expectation of being out for a couple hours. I could barely remember leaving the house, or when was the last time I had eaten. Ever since Ma and Pa died, I had been growing more absentminded, my thoughts stuck in some kind of feedback loop, abandoning practicality for weeks at a time. It was a small wonder I even knew what day of the week it was. It was Thursday, I said to myself, somewhat less sure than before. It was Thursday, I said again, spacing the words out so that the coin’s plink could travel between them. It was Thursday, I said once more, this time waiting for a hiccup to proceed from syllable to syllable to syllable to syllable.

No comments: