Sunflower Skins

August 10, 2010

Sketches, Experiment 14: The Leech Man

Filed under: experiments, prose — Tags: , , — Sunflower Skins @ 10:12 pm


He hunched across my vision, leering his disfigured, distorted body and turning the sky uncanny. Already it had become a sickening shade of orange, a Creamsicle in the freezer too long, gone gooey and gross, and I stood on the sidewalk gaping at the sight in the heavens above me. This being of supreme and magnificent evil. His humpback I recognized like the monster who lived under my bed when I was a child; his nose reaching like tentacles, squiggly squid lips feeling for any life-form or bacteria/eggs to suck up and destroy.

Destroy me with his proboscis. Exterminate the leech babies.

The day had been weird all along, sky half-awake and shadows passing like everything was gonna fall down at any second—everything just come down and the world end. Sometimes I get these feelings. And when I went outside at about 4:30, I tripped on the porch stoop like I used to when I was really little, before our house became familiar. Tripping—familiar—used to the gap. Looked up from the sidewalk—askew—tilted—I felt nauseated, my stomach bloated.

They sometimes said bizarre things about me, things I couldn’t understand. Gossipy groups discussing what will come after. I think I get what it means now, but I don’t like to talk about it. I just pat my belly and hope everything will be okay.

Even if I know it won’t be.

They said I would be the first one to see it, that I’d be the eye of the future. And that it would come in the form of a monster, of a hunchbacked man in the orange sky, reaching toward me, reaching out to me—

Upon insemination there would be a choice; at the end of the world there will be a choice, one made by the frail girl on the cool concrete. Sweat forms in droplets on her skin. Time comes together. And if she is the future, she is either the future or nothingness, and she must choose. The leech man who sucks your bloodlife away—or you destroy the seed of darkness within you and create a world better than this—

less angry than this, less disappointed and ashamed. Melt away the clouds.

I went outside and saw the leech man and he was coming for my heart. God damn him to hell if he dared reach for me.

I went back inside and ignored the omen.

Risk everything and create anew.

July 14, 2010

Sketches, Experiment 13: Dramatics & Secrets Over Tea


My o my, am I exhausted! From dawn til five o’clock shadow I’ve cleaned this house—our cozy, two-storey house, so quaint and yet so sophisticated, with old toys and new robots mingling amongst each other—I’ve cleaned this house and paid the bills and gotten the kids safely to and from school. Phew!

I throw myself down on the antique sofa to rest. Actually, we’re not supposed to sit on it; I move aside the doll collection when my husband isn’t home. I should tell you about my husband! We’ve been married eight years in October—I just love fall weddings—and he has given me the two most adorable children. They’re in kindergarten and first grade, my oldest being considered for the gifted program! He looks just like my husband, I tell you—the eyes are the same. Our youngest looks like me, but the older one is just a spitting image of his father.

We didn’t imagine we’d have both children quite so close in age; in fact, we hadn’t actually planned to have both at all. After several years of being newlyweds, my husband and I tried to have children, but my uterus wasn’t receptive—though I’m not really supposed to discuss matters of that kind. Anyway, we finally agreed to allow my husband’s wiring to be replicated for familial purposes.

The DNA sat for months and we were told that if the reproductive process hadn’t began by now, there was little chance that the cells would ever divide and create a new being. So my husband and I returned to our daily lives without hope of children. Perhaps we’d adopt? We weren’t sure.

About a year later, my unpredicted, miraculous pregnancy was predicated by an even bigger surprise: there was also a mutation from my husband’s cells, already into the second trimester! Somehow, by some trick of fate, our baby in the womb was younger than the baby in the tank, but it didn’t matter; my husband and I were thrilled.

Ooh, what lovely children we have!—so bright and clean and inquisitive. I tell them it’s good to ask questions, it’s good to know where you came from, but to mind whom you ask and when. My husband and I may disagree on some issues, but we always encourage our children’s obedience in this world. I mustn’t tell you this, but my husband nearly lost his job because of an offhand comment to a co-worker at the factory; you never can be too careful. After the close call, I wanted to relocate, for the threat of unemployment was unfair when his very creation was conditional upon being put to use—but my husband just closed his mouth and shook his head.

He told me to keep my lips sealed, and here I am, yammering on like a mad woman! Perhaps my husband is right, that he and our oldest will survive the extermination because of their encoding—because they’re encoded, because they are not human—but I just can’t imagine not having this sweet little life! If I just curl up here—on this old sofa, centuries and centuries preserved by a local company specializing in antiques before the 3000’s. They have the most interesting things. For instance, the other day I went into the store and saw a bed with tall iron posts at each corner; the salesman called it a canopy­-style—but I was too embarrassed to ask what that meant. Sometimes I feel so much more unlearned than the rest of the community. I know there are other female human beings in my neighborhood, but I doubt they get quite so much pleasure from their housewifery as I do. I simply love the old way of things, the manual way to clean a floor or to dust the bookshelf.

Imagine: If I just stay here a little longer, on this island from long ago, will I remember the old times? Beside woven ragdolls and knitted blankets, will I connect with where I believe I came from? Or am I eternally in this present—the glossy, automated makings of a dream.

I am: one of many sent through to this world from what you call your present. Maybe it would be mine—if I were not in this particular pink and green-polka-dotted dress, with this specific checkered apron—but those circumstances differ only slightly. Maybe that’s why I’m so chatty today, feeling like an old neighbour dropped by for tea.

Imagine, if that’s what we were—so close in time, our neighbouring selves—from my future-present to your past-present, one moment comprised of us in all places.

July 7, 2010

Experiment 7: Metamorphosis

Filed under: experiments, prose — Tags: , , , , — Sunflower Skins @ 8:20 pm

Outside: stars blinked through shifting pockets of clear sky, clouds pushed around by early autumn winds. At times the moon interrupted the swirling darkness below—the serene, celestial divided by the horizon from the embittered, landed. And that space between our world and the infinite unknown, from my words to your ear.

Little changes take place every day. You either realize and acknowledge them or you don’t, but life continues more or less the same as before: the same as yesterday—or two hours ago—or the last moment that passed. Moment to moment. Larger changes, the less frequent occurrences: they are also either acknowledged or not—but far more intensely, either extremely embraced and personally treasured or equally denied, rejected, and distinctly ignored.

You step around a flaw in the system—in the marriage—but that one change was going to happen one way or another, whichever way you pushed the energy—whichever way you shouted, “Move.” The sky seethes with an eternity of choices, but you must choose and be bound by one only. You step around the manner and refuse to acknowledge its relevance, or you accept it and step forward.

No time to think of consequences.

Inside there is turmoil brewing, twisting your heart & your gut into true recognition of your place in this world. Because we only live in this world. We only have this chance. The transfiguration won’t be gradual this time—it will shake your entire life and perhaps those of a few others—but it will not affect the outside.

This system was built for metamorphosis. Your desperate decision, or your petty obliviousness, comes down to the physics of space—space and spots of light—the inner spark between us—the humanity either blazing or extinguished in your eyes.

June 15, 2010

Sketches, Experiment 6: Power Lines

Filed under: experiments, prose — Tags: , , — Sunflower Skins @ 7:37 pm


When I was little I used to believe that aliens were watching over the people of Earth, protecting us. I thought they took the form of UFOs, Northern Lights, miracles (specifically in the form of speaking in tongues and other related religious phenomena), but mostly, I believed in the power lines, a stoic army standing guard.

Now, flick away my cigarette, shove hands in pockets.

The grids across America have produced such cultural phenomena as strip malls, fast food restaurants, subway systems, and used car dealerships. Mass amounts of electricity, sent at high voltages to minimize the energy lost in long distance transmissions, now beyond any nightmare I had as a boy.

I wasn’t much beyond acquiring language at the time of the oil spill, but I was perfect for producing the next generation of Thalidomide babies, war amps, PTSD patients. AIDS. Bubonic plague. Unknown outbreaks, particularly in the northeast. New York City, or what remains.

Spare some change?

Cynic, someone sneers.

I have been watching, been part of it, all along. Part of the machine, just like you. When I was little, even, I believed in something constricting. I was born into a tyrannical world—a choked, ruthless, conservative world.

Crimes against humanity?

Yeah, right. What remains.

Do I have the energy to tell this story? My exhaustion seeps like sweat and smoke from my skin. Pockmarked. Slight jaundice. There’s little vegetation readily available. If I can find something to revive me, maybe find a place to spend the night before returning to Toronto. Tomorrow.

Tomorrow I go home again. Back to my own city, where no one has missed me—but I can’t afford to be caught across the border, and urban sprawl ensures watchmen, so I must keep going. Keep walking, stumble through the alleys. Beware of strangers, dizziness, and air planes.

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September 16, 2008

Excerpt from “Paradise Within”

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