Friday, May 25, 2007

tales from the end of our world

reynold throws stones at the floor-to-ceiling windows of his penthouse apartment. water sluices from a functional sculpture, tumbling over paddle wheels, splashing on black rocks painted with the words “joy,” “gratitude,” and “sky.” a stunted bonsai lies on its side in the corner beside a lacklustre rubber tree plant. sometimes reynold hits. glass shatters, disturbs the sound of water, the gentle background music, the still leaves of the dusty plants.

denise likes to eat french pastry from larks, the latest trend in high fashion eating. you fill you cheeks with soft yellow cream and chocolate profiteroles, pause and spit. the thin and stylishly dressed waiter to your right holds a bucket and wipes your mouth when you’re done. you feels as if you’ve indulged in gustatory excess, yet when you leave you are empty. strangely empty.

zoe rides a harley hog across california’s coastal highway number one and listens to the grateful dead. she wonders about her mother, ashes and bone finally cold in an urn on her mantle in the family home where zoe dreamed of escape. she’s given her mother everything she wanted: non stop big screen colour television and the security that nothing will ever change.

bridget’s eye is still bruised from the old lady’s fists. she wouldn’t have sex with him, the man her mother sold her to. she discovers a gray army blanket and an old box of crackers. for the first time in weeks, bridget sleeps. in the morning her body is so frozen with cold she can’t feel her toes, her fingers. there’s a hole in the roof of the shed where she’s run to. winter light melts the ice. she opens her mouth and gulps.

david composes text on a typewriter, blots empty spaces with gray smudges caused by eyes that refuse to remain dry. he takes a sip of his morning martini and watches the words blur out of sense. a long list slides slowly down the refrigerator door, its overwhelming and impossible to complete obligations too heavy to be held by magnetic force. david shoots out six typewriter keys and saves the last bullet. t h e e n d

cassiopea makes the best pizzas in the city. the teenage boy watches the curves of her body bounce as she twirls another circle of dough in the air and laughs like she means it. his mother kicks him under the table and tells him to chew his food and stop gaping. his father folds the pages of the business section until the creases are so sharp they cut. while his mother goes to the ladies room and his father pays the bill, he steps through the kitchen and out the back door, a still warm ball of dough cradled in the palm of his hand.

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