Memory Elision

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I’ve contemplated death since the age of four. I remember the year of inception only because I spent the hours of my fearful occupation with mortality beneath a birch tree in the front yard of a house my family lived in but a year. We changed residences often back then. Nothing seemed permanent to me.

(Every relationship of mine has ended in abandonment. Perhaps they all do. In time–slow may be its passage–people allow you less of themselves, of touch, word and emotion. Deprivation unto detachment.

My father, on the other hand, just disappeared
one day, left no clue as to where he absconded.
I felt that loss unlike every other: I did not weep.
I’m certain he’s found happiness . . . )

(I know however that memory remains ever fallible. All the love, nurture, and affection; the pain, cruelty, and silence could be mere imagination, the creative ends of self-pity meshed into desire. So, when I reach that penultimate moment of my existence, will the accounting of all my travails then be truer? more real than experience itself
ever was?)

At that tender age I convinced myself that I’d one day invent a machine or a medicine that would extend my life forever. What now lacks clarity is the knowledge of whether I believed that it was me
            or the world
                        that would end up
dying.
 
 

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History as an End in Itself


 
They arrived at their new home having traversed an arbitrary road, one of many, all an arrow to that domicile.

“All paths lead to here,” he marveled.

She disagreed. “Every one of them leads from here to who knows where.”

The relative nature of time and space: we’re mired in our own perspective and its peculiar gravity.

“Yet here we have come,” he said intent on her eyes.

She turned her gaze to the ground. “Where there are multiple and inviting points of departure . . . ”

We fear loss more than we desire gain — unless we believe our grip unbreakable.

As love is a selfless form of lust, we unmask ourselves in the taking.

Home. “If anything sacred remains.”
 
 

Commercial Pitch: Zombie-Off

Zombie-off

SCENE – A typical suburban home, specifically the messy bedroom of a teenage boy.
Said adolescent is lying on his bed engaged with his smartphone.
Mom enters.

MOM (wrinkled nose.)
Eww . . . It smells like rotting flesh in here.

TEEN (eye roll.)
Aww, mom.

Mom raises an aerosol can and sprays it about the room.

TEEN (wince.)
What is that?

MOM (chipper.)
It’s brand-new Zombie-Off, the first and only room deodorizer designed to handle the fetid emanations of the hulking undead.

VOICE-OVER
If you have teenagers in your home, you might just have a zombie problem. Yes, kids love those lurching ne’er-do-wells, but parents don’t love those odors.

MONTAGE of various zombies maiming and eating people.

VOICE-OVER [continuing.]
Made with the latest scent technologies, Zombie-Off provides upto 48 hours of undead-odor-eating power. It’ll zap that morbid stink leaving behind only a noseful of cleanliness and a fresh lemon scent.

CLOSE-UP of Mom taking a deep, blissful breath.
She holds the aerosol can up at chest-level in a presentation pose.

MOM (directly to camera.)
I use new Zombie-Off. Because death stinks.

FADE OUT

Copyright 2015

Martyrs

*

Saint:
One of the more striking definitions of Hell is
the ability to imagine a perfect place but not
being able to access it. We need not wait thus
for our demise, as suffering would be innate.

Sinner:
What do we make then of the hopeful man who
needs not even imagine perfection but knows it
exists, doubtlessly? Who would tell him he is not
contented and is the object of his own violence?

*

Nothing Happens Twice

I emerged from the blankness of my depression when a nearby man of less than average height began his futile attempts to reach a book upon a high shelf. I suppose my intent and wordless gaze fell on him far too long. As he finally looked in my direction, I lowered my eyeline but didn’t turn away, a misguided motion of guilt.

HIM: “Do you mind lending me a hand? I can’t quite reach it.”

ME: “Sure. I can, sure.”

My words carried me up out of the plush chair I’d slunk into and away from the news magazine that heralded all the ill-fated people and places of recent weeks. I went immediately to this stranger’s aid at only his simple request. He pointed me toward the book that troubled his reach as I came forth, arm raised.

HIM: “Thank you, sir. I don’t know why they make these stacks so tall. Shrink them a couple of inches, and I’d have no problem, you know?”

ME: ” I know. They’re probably much taller than they need to be.”

That library in particular was spare in its selection. Most of its shelves held less than half their capacity. Why use the top shelves at all? A man of less than average height likely needed this variety of assistance often. I could scarcely deign not to oblige.

HIM: “Thank you again, sir. I do appreciate it.”

ME: “Absolutely. You are quite welcome.”

He smiled and I returned as much reciprocal emotion as my mood allowed. Then he strode off to some other part of the library where, hopefully, his intentions lay within easier reach. My eyes returned to the voids in the shelves. It flashed into my mind that in movies, tv shows, and other depictions of libraries, books fill the premises almost to their limitations. Reality, of course, demands excess capacity, a place for everything when it is not wandering the world.

ME: What a strange place to be thinking about nothing.

These last words I murmured to myself, still standing, eyes fixed on the heart of the quiet buzz of activity all around me, desire for re-engaging that aforementioned periodical gone. Yes. Strange indeed.

Copyright 2015

(Note: The title of this piece is a reference to the Samuel Beckett play Waiting for Godot.)

Love Is Blind, Part One

He considered himself clear-sighted, as near to omniscience
as a mortal mind could construe. He perceived, uniquely,
the way the world was, unlike all the others (sheep, he
congratulated himself on calling them) who deluded
themselves with so many false conjectures. So, what
became of this Arrogant Man when he encountered the
Blind Man who knew the color of darkness?

Arrogant Man:
It must be a pity not to know a true image from a
false one, for all descriptions must mean the same to
you. Yet, you must have a sharper grasp of detail where
other senses presume priority.

Blind Man:
I do not claim to see more than I should see. I do,
however, endeavor to make large truths, as anyone
would, out of my small experiences.

Arrogant Man:
And I am sure you must abound with insights a sighted
man would not ever himself obtain. For one, you do
know the color of darkness.

Blind Man:
Is that not within your visual palette? Yes, I am truely
intimate with the dark, but you know it too: in the
deepest night, when your eyes are shut tight and
wheresoever light hasn’t the means to reach.

Arrogant Man:
However, it is not a permanent fixture of my vision–
merely a state rather than a feature, for the rainbow
does not contain an ebony stripe. Yes, my knowledge
of light, its prism, is imperfect, something any man
limited from a valuable experience should lament.

Blind Man:
What would you hope to gain? The only currency of
darkness is humility. And anyone who tries to reach
beyond his means can acquire it.

Arrogant Man:
But this is the greatest truth: your vision has no means
with which to overreach, toward neither sun nor void.
It is mired in its own unary spectrum. Who wouldn’t
weep at that?

This was the Arrogant Man’s gift as he supposed it:
pity against what could not be rectified. What he
did not realize was that he gave himself away, for
even the most Blind among us knew which of these
two men were the most hardened and unyielding.

“…and he who is stranded in his own self-contained
world, denies the brightness of others’ stars.”
 

Untitled

“Charlie, please,” he said, “Don’t let
your dreams drift in the winds.”
Yet he found himself face-to-face
with a great wall.

“Charlie, please,” he said, “Don’t let
love draw you head-over-heels
away from contentment.”
Yet he found himself head downcast,
eyes askance of a headstone.

“Charlie, please,” he said, “Don’t let
your passion extinguish in the
tranquil, solitary night.”
Yet he found himself plucking
a tiny pebble from the dirt.

“Charlie, please,” he said, ” . . . ”
Yet let his own words fail him
and found nothing at all
at every distance
in all directions.

Voiceless, he stood, for the longest time,
then cast his fate into the winds,
the swirling lushness.

*

Copyright 2015 by Michael Marsters.
All rights reserved.