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From why at poignantguide.net Tue Jun 21 18:38:40 2005 From: why at poignantguide.net (why the lucky stiff) Date: Tue Jun 21 18:34:10 2005 Subject: fragment of "The Colors Have Left" [1/6] Message-ID: <42B896F0.firstname.lastname@example.org> Since so many of you are hanging out here now, travelling through these dry spots between chapters, I thought I would entertain you with some serialized stories. This one is called "The Colors Have Left" and it's a six-part story. Every week or so. And you can certainly offer back editing contributions. What a great thing that would be.
We ran into each other at church and right away we recognized each other as orphaned twins, separated at birth. She looked so much older than I, so tall and upright. First, I saw her from the side. Her teeth came together and her elbow wrinkled at me. Most of all I recognized her eyes and nose, right where the raccoons wear their mask, for I had her very same mask. The layout, the flickerings, the shine of the skin, everything.
"You are Char Tenniol," I said to her.
"And you are Penn," she said.
"What are you doing on Saturn?" I asked.
She flattened her collar with her hand, patted it. "Well, now I am beginning to think I am here to reunite with my lost brother."
As if we had a purpose! I laughed at that and she smiled. Her eyes smiled, her elbow smiled. There, already we shared a sense of humor. Look at us, both standing in the dark corridor at the age of twelve, both driven by selflessness to worship under the roof of Kingdom Fled.
"Did you know? We're twins," I said.
"I've never heard that," she said and wiped eyelashes from her face. "I don't think it's true."
"Curses," I said. "It did sound like a lie."
A choir moved into the chapel. I could see the flash of robes through the parted door.
"Who told you the lie?" she asked.
"Our uncle Jeff," I said. "He's a filmmaker. Dead, though."
"Please tell me he died beneath the glacier."
I nodded. "He did."
"What a meaningless life he must have had." She paused and touched her lip thoughtfully.
"It's true," I said.
"Yeah, I'm sure you can tell." she said. "I was under there for four months. I lost this leg. It served no great purpose, though. I'm sure of that more now than I ever have been."
"You are lucky to have lost," I said politely.
I swept my hand down and brushed fallen eyelashes from my shirt. The choir was singing: /Take now thine depature, Lord. Upon the towering sea. Where'er thou goest, please, tell me not. No blood nor bone is left in me./ They sang with such unbelievable dissonance, such poorly calculated rhythm, the hymn tore apart and uncharted notes spilled everywhere, up the walls, into the bowls of chandelier. I was powerfully moved, to the brink of tears.
"The tenors are all mentally retarded," she said, peering back over her shoulder, through the cracked doorway. "It's cute to watch. The other sections really look up to them and try to mimick them."
I held back my cry, in favor of a crawling chill that rushed through my neck.
"It's sad that our parents died," I said.
"Actually, I don't think it is," she said.
"That's true," I said. "That's very true. It's not been sad for me."
"But how wonderful that we've been separated. I'm so glad we've stayed apart so long."
I caught her hand. "I haven't had to think about it at all."
"I just think it adds so much to the purposelessness of my life to have you away and alive and so terrifically safe." She had that cool detachment which was so common in the church. But it wasn't like it had rubbed off on her. She spoke like she'd invented it. Everything she said was heaved out in a very obvious downplay, which exhausted me in a fashion. Yet, how I loved her again, within seconds. An ethereal love, as if for pure starlight. I wanted her to be tied against me. I hurt deeply, frustrated that the talking would cease, even in this stilted, regimented tone. I held her hand tightly, but was unable to convey anything at all through it.
"And you're fused?" I asked, and looked just past her, at the giantess duckling that glowered behind her, wheezing lightly. Char affirmed that she had been fused to other animals under the icy crush of the glacier. I clumsily swung my head up to greet the broad beak and puny eyes of the massive chicky, who wore the same dress that my sister wore, although my sister's share of the material was minor. She amounted to nothing more than a knee patch, sewn to the hip of the bird. The bird's stance raised Char off the ground, leaving Char's free leg to swing carefree, idly swaying, as if from a porch swing.
Allowed a better investigation of my sister's couplings, I saw that just beyond them, fastened toward the bird's rear, were a swordfish (also wrapped in the folds of the dress) and a little man with a porkpie hat whose mouth was frozen in a treacherously wide scream. The little man's eyes darted around in primal panic.
"I'm not sure what to say," I said. "I'm not really... I mean... Do they speak?" In particular, the bird's wheezing had grown louder since I had acknowledged it.
"I speak for all of us," she said. "There's nothing you need to say. I love what you said. That you're not sure. It's really such a perfect thing to say. It leaves us right where we are here." She brought her hand up and brushed away piles of eyelashes from her dress.
I helped myself to another long look at the wrinkle which then danced out on her elbow.
by why the lucky stiff
june 21, 2005