Golden Age of Insect Aviation: The Great Grasshoppers from Wayne Unten, an animator at Walt Disney Animation Studios. (His tumblr).
Tomorrow is Rabbit Hole Day.
Because Ben Peek wanted to see my ankles bad enough that he wrote a naughty story about it:
When she was thirteen, she decided to hide her ankles beneath thick stockings.
The decision was reached two days after her birthday, a quiet day that was marked only by the twenty dollars her mother, in a new relationship of divorce and unemployment, gave her. Being quite indescribable (and by this, I mean the author refuses to divulge, and shall keep a secret just for himself) she caught the bus into a cold, grey sprawling shopping complex to buy a Joy Division album that she would not like much, later. It was on the return cold bus ride where, sitting at the back, that she met a man who offered her forty dollars to show him her ankles. He, unlike her, was describable, but only by his one defining characteristic which was that he had legs made from hollow, but polished wood, and which stuck awkwardly into the isle as he turned to face her. He was young, also, though older than her by her life at least; the rest a reader will have to decide, based on tone, sympathy, and their own imagination, just how much older, and how attractive or not that he was. Still, back in our bus, and our girl, the heroine, reasoned in a pragmatic way that if she didn’t like the black covered album in her bag, that she would come out no worse for wear—and in fact would come out better—if she agreed to his proposition.
So she took off her shoes, which were sneakers, and then her socks, and then pulled up her jeans, and let him look.
"Beautiful," he murmured, once. Then he stared without touching, and with a hint of sexual desire, but mostly with a longing that left her with the impression that he saw her in a way that she had never been seen before, until his stop emerged from the grey skyline fifteen minutes later.
Then, having paid her, he walked awkwardly, stiffly, and with apologies to the driver for being so slow to do so, to the front door, and into the cold, uncomfortable air.
She did not like the Joy Division album, as I have previously stated (though again, there are no details as to which one she bought; perhaps you bought one you did not like, once) but on the following day, she did not buy new music. Instead, she bought three pairs of stockings. Red and black, purple, and rainbow: a mix of clashing colours that her mother viewed with the distaste of a very proper adult who saw her child’s dress sense leaving her own and could only view it as another loss through the losses she had already occurred. But even she, later, would admit that she never suspected this change in her daughter would result in the purchase of so many stockings over the years (which was more than five hundred, but less than seven hundred and twenty eight) and that she would leave them covered for what, now, was a strangely lingering period of time.
Of course, there was never another man who offered her forty dollars to see her ankles, and certainly no man with wooden legs, and that perhaps that is the most important of the absent details in the end.
I wavered over the Emily Dickenson, but I took Alan Moore: Portrait of an Extraordinary Gentleman off the shelf instead and gently flipped through it as I sat on the bed, brushing my hair with my fingers, before deciding I lacked the proper background and putting it back. Paul caught me in the hallway and offered me Gravity’s Rainbow, Kathy Acker’s Great Expectations, and a collection of short stories by Robert Coover, so now my bag is pleasantly heavy with books I’ve never read.
Today’s Sunday Tea devolved eventually into a Jean-Pierre Jeunet double-feature, Delicatessen and City of the Lost Children. Tomorrow, I’m not sure what I’m doing. I’m told I have the option of being picked up in the morning by a “new fangled horseless carriage” to Darwinismas, the celebration in honour of this humble scientist and his epic martial arts hand to hand combat battles with the magical Jesus. I’m not sure how long I would stay, as I’ve also been adopted by the Elliot’s and I’m trying to find time exploring Persepolis.
A wax paper packet of home made toffee, soon to be marked with the name of her lover, sits on the bed. She is clothed in black rags, shreds of leather, dreams of crackling silk.Tired to the point where her own voice feels distant, her thoughts are a dense forest, decorated with curious wild flowers that are beginning to wilt. In the hall outside her apartment, there are footsteps marked in water. Small, precise as velvet, they can be followed back to the mouth of an oven. Her belly softens at the memory of children, creatures who don’t know how to be quiet. Dusk coils between the harsh trees in her mind, waiting for her to sleep. Instead she smiles as she lies on her bed, as a memory soars bird-like between the huddled branches to drop upon her, swift like hunger and as downy soft as a bleached story.
She sings old songs, stretches her arms greedily above her head so that pale skin can be seen, alabaster fighting against coming night. The bird, its beak opens, drops a pebble into her hand. Her fingers move to catch it, and pulse, the smile. The stone marks the path of a child, unconsciously walking and barefoot, led by a woodsman, too wise for his own good. His head catches on clouds and brambles both. To her flicking eyes, her fingers are handling the shape of a hand, tracing the edge of a family written in curls, and she is not alone.
In certain lights, she would be pretty. Now she is merely strange, clucking her tongue like a pigeon might, cooing protectively over a plate of breadcrumbs and the head of an axe.
She looked all curves and shiny eyes. Posed as woman as a simple cure-all, her body a pill, the waiting chemistry of the word Yes. One word untying every victim of life from the railway tracks. New blood, brooding on the futility of sexual capacity. Those bastards draped in honey-suckle, in ample feeling. Hands with too much strength trapped inside. Drunk on missing lovers, driving to the homes of people they all used to know together, they never had each other biblically, except in her city-block verses and tired dreaming. So she hotly looked at him and thought, I could leave right now. I could walk out that door saying, hey, just don’t call me for awhile, okay?
Shuddering into a more sober awareness, the touch of grass beneath her reminds her of fiction. Stains of umbilical fantasy grabbing at her memories, images of kissing, of improbable situations where she gets to be impressive. Doctors saying, we don’t know how long until she’s leaving, but out of everyone, she’s asking for you. The scream of anniversary panic, not in this life, she thought of carrying him through passageways, his body light as music, until she comes to a door with a red exit light and puts him down as if that was the plan all along. Running from wolves, pulling him from fires. Solid threats she could rescue him from. Gratitude dripping from his smiles, another day blocking the doorway with her body.
She can put an edge on any word, turning it on the lathe of her tongue to remind him of all the things that he hasn’t given her, treating him like a sarcastic stranger. The verdict, hell to pay. Incredibly, they kept going. Independence a death in the family. It was like the stop-gap job she took in college, steady, with no real reason to leave. It had never been meant to last so long, but it paid the bills, and she kept hoarding his voice in her fantasies. She began to smile as if goodbye was one last joke between them, and she saw instantly how easily he could defeat her. All he would have to do is laugh. Laugh and turn to her and all her certainty would vanish, replaced by his universe. How can you leave someone who implies that black velvet threats are the smallest plant in an undistinguished windowsill garden?
This was all part of his plan, a map of telling secrets in her dancing. He knew how to pull her hair, how to find her fingertip sounds. Her limited view gave her this, like dust that persists, in spite of the fact that he’d never touched her. It was a game as sharp as the rays of daylight that sent her to sleep on winter mornings. Tall, she thinks, staring fixedly at the ceiling as if there were nothing blocking her gaze from the mirror of the sky. Did I used to like them tall? She thinks she’s stupid and immature, only able to think in boy with girl relationships, unable to conceive of a place where she understands only friends. Fifty ways to leave your lover – by keeping her adoration a secret, by winking uncertainly at a taxi-driver and paying him all the money she could find, by suddenly playing aloof like she was on t.v. Running out of fingers, counting issues instead, so much baggage it’s a matched set.
“You know, most people don’t do that,” the farmer remarked off handedly as he tilled his vegetables.
“What?” the girl asked, genuinely curious, as always.
The farmer stood up straight, wiped his brow with his red kerchief and locked eyes with the girl. “Walk around with a flower in their mouth,” he replied, nodding to the phenomena.
This gave the girl pause, she tried to look down at the flower but her eyes got all crossed and made her dizzy. She looked up at the farmer and asked tentatively, “Why?”
He gave a long sigh and continued with his tilling, “‘Cause it’s strange, that’s why.”
“Oh…” She thought for a while, her bare toes stabbing idly at the dirt as she balanced on the other foot. “But it’s not strange that people don’t have flowers in their mouths?”
The old farmer snorted, “That’s right.”
The girl considered this further and said, “What do you call it when a girl has a flower in her mouth and yet is able to speak without it falling out?”
The farmer grinned and looked up at her, “Bad story-telling.”
The door opens and a man walks in. (The beginning of a thousand stories.) Tall in a brown suit and tan shirt, his tawny eyes scan the room, glancing off strangers, trying to pick out a face. Dark shoes, no cufflinks, a tie close enough to straight to count. His fingers snag a drink off a passing tray and an intelligent smile slowly finds his face. A girl is animatedly talking at a small table crowded with people, a bundle of personality traits he’d always wanted to meet. He can tell from her coloured hair.
she’s staring up at the building, not certain how she came to be there, because she should have called, but it would have been awkward to say hello in front of people because she is shy of their so called intimate relationship and so she decided she would call as soon as she was alone, but then the bus was there and it would be another twenty minute wait if she didn’t get on as it pulled up to her feet, and then it was her stop out front of his building, and her heart feeling heavy and
At his apartment, she is quieter, tired. Taking her shoes off, she pulls without any of her previous grace. “How many times are we going to do this?” He takes off his jacket, sits down in front of his computer. “As many as it takes.”
A nightclub, dim lights and a red fish-tank behind the bar. The crowd is helplessly young. Older than they are, the man walks in wearing the same long suit, the same discovering smile. He carelessly pays for a drink with stolen quarters from a laundromat. A girl is dancing to the thunder, clever porcelain hands trying to grasp the sound around her, everything he wants to change about himself. He can tell from her painted nails.
she’s arrived, so it’s pointless to think of calling, and it’s always like this, indecision making her decisions, but she could go across the street to the public telephone, but then she would have to walk past the building to the corner and then she would have to backtrack and that would feel so stupidly inexperienced because of course it’s okay that she’s arrived and why is she calling from the corner, come up, come up
Damp from a shower, she drops to the couch, a towel wrapped around her head. “How did this even start?” He offers her another towel, “You’re dripping on the carpet.” She looks to her pale feet, looks back up and slowly accepts the second towel. “I remember when I loved you.”
Surrounded by pigeons, a girl is sitting on a bench by the water. From a paper bag, she is scattering birdseed. Her friends are laughing at her attempts to have them eat from her hand. Every time they laugh, the birds startle and flit farther away. She does not care, the sun is warm. The girl laughs too. Under a tree, the man in the suit waits with a box camera, the carapace of an enthusiastic black insect. He raises the instrument like a hammer. It chitters when the shutter snaps. With her, he would not have to sleep to dream. He can tell from the shape of her name.