Wayside, 2.D.1, 500 words

Jack stands and leans like a cobweb, brushing against the walls the scrape of his hand side, drawing down skins of condensation or sparse pelts of woven floating fibers. Jack stands in a high arcade outside a closed room, in a large toilet stall that cannot lock, against a flat pillar on the darkened sky lounge story, in dim, between hoops of carpet pattern, against streaked glosses, streaked flat concrete, under drips dripping down his collar, sucked against air grates, holding up the paint, holding back the wallpaper, held up by glass, held up by curtains and sliding walls, and finally in exhaustion staggering down and round into the dark drain enfilade of held-open doors to rosy and mouth flesh ballrooms. Consider the contents of an opaque bottle. Enormous folding panels interrupted by small man-sized doors partition the great rooms into smaller rooms filled with rows of chairs separated by long tables. Someone moves from cell to cell always just ahead. The rooms are vaguely trapezoidal. Tartan flashes daub into the curtained periphery from where Jack makes tracks. Neath a column of nested chairs amidst other columns of nested chairs in a pose of such haphazard collapse the chair legs seem after the fact, lies Connie. Deep shadow packs under lean-to tables all surrounding them like a strangely sloping feature of the desert. Her bleary eyes are narrow, shrinking and diminishing like cold displays receding then blooming into rayed crystal precision, icy twinkles. Jack curls in beside her. “Jack.” “Connie.” After such sweeping movements and so much alighting, seeing eyes that don’t see, the two lay succumbed to tremendous gravity deep beneath the earth, pressed by geometric necessity to one another. They fade from each moment only to find its successor out of sequence, racing to order it in retrospect, not sleeping but not lucid. The intermittent questions and answers seem to them both, for questions and answers lead, as if in a causal chain, to some shared understanding and synchronization, a proper acquaintance. “Children?” “No,” and into breathing again. His knee slides over her legs. Blood sounds drown them both. Their audible breathing is maddening, until a prolonged inhalation or apnea throws them both back into silence which too is fearsome. Nothing is secret, nothing secure. An oscillating vibrating distant in the silence, perhaps shared by their adjacent ears, rings faint. Near to the body, the body’s arch crumbling, nearest to the powdered rock, the transmogrified skin given to the pulp of time terraforming the roots of carpet fibers, the clouds that erupt from concrete and tile and rug with each living footfall, the paralysis of blue sky, the consciousness of dead-tired wanderers and surrendered prisoners does not walk the earth alone, it too sleeps. The two of them they freeze looking fearfully at the column of chairs over each as if they creep apart imperceptibly though they two remain pressed together. Jack tugs a frond of hair out from her collar. His fingers burnish it into the carpet.

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