Black shadow, hands praying. Dim moonlight coming in from paned, stained glass windows, see-through shingles on a rooftop. Glass houses. Cast no stones here. She’s just a silhouette in the night, taking a knee to pray to a God more distant than the moon; Trying to reconnect with the silence and trying to recreate something she felt forever ago. Putting forth her attempt, she clasps her hands intently. It is cold in the church. Empty, the sensation before dawn. But there are pinpricks and the distant thought of, perhaps I am the only one awake in the world. Outside there are no cars rumbling to get to where they’re dying to go. Birds are still asleep in their nests with their heads tucked into their wing, sitting on eggs, or newly hatched offspring. A breeze blows ever so slightly, promising no illusions. Potion bottle tumbles from a bag, and she wants to capture this somehow. Fleeting transcendent thoughts, she wants to remember this tomorrow. Her hair hangs down her back, it is smooth, straight, and expertly conditioned. It is soft and silky, like a Pantene commercial. She gently runs her hands through it.
White crystal mountains of ancient molecules. Stick out your tongue like its snowflakes, making your taste buds salivate, enhancing the flavor of everything.
Beth works in a pretzel factory. The dough churns noisily behind her. A massive steel vat with an attached dough hook. When complete, the dough then rolls out of the vat by workers and gets made into a long, never ending roll (untouched by human hands). That roll gets chopped at intervals and Beth folds these smaller roles into pretzels. Then, one by one, that make their journey on their conveyor belt into the over. The become dark brown. The factory smells like carbohydrate sin. It’s like a drug. Once out, these pretzels get brushed with a little water and salted by hand. Jeremy knows the perfect way to salt; the perfect ratio so that there’s enough, but not too much. He feels like rough crystals being held between his thumb, pointer, and middle fingers and sprinkles all over. Again and again. Over and over. 8 hours of tedium. For the love of salt.
The margarita glass turns back over with its salted rim. The green liquid gets poured inside, a lime placed on the glass. It gets added to the waitress’s tray and walked over to the table. A margarita in the dead of winter. Unbelievable, she thinks to herself. But puts on a happy face when serving it, announcing its arrival.
Ice on a snowy mountain. What they need is more salt. But the county has run out. Up the hill there is a sick child that needs care. The ambulance cannot make it up the hill. The EMT volunteers step out into the blizzard, take the stretcher and between the four of them, trudge up the mountain, wind, snow, and ice whipping into their faces. It’s a reality like they’ve never knows; A thousand microscopic daggers attack all at once from all sides. They are careful on their footing.
Dark shadows morph into giant abstractions of themselves, extinguishing every candle and lamppost in its wake. A big blanket that soars in its blackness. The fireplace crackles and hisses, the flames grow tall (like a Bunsen Burner), taking my hands and playing shadow puppets against the wall. Jekyll and Hyde – Shadow creatures of the night where nothing is swell and I’m racing against time; A pocketwatch, and old grandfather clock. I can smell the stone and dirt and wood. In the forest alone, encased in a din of shadow. This otherworldly grey demon that mimics our every move. Can we trust it? Child-like amusement somehow grows into very real adult terror. Paranoia in a bowling alley. Strikes and Turkeys and Spares. To cast a shadow of a doubt is to incriminate in a court of law. I hear the wooden gavel, the scraping of the chairs as we stand as the judge enters. “The Shadowlands” by Ryan Adams is the only song I really liked by him, that I feel into sort of after a period of grief. Too bad his track record isn’t that great. Criminality. Unzippering the folds of my mouth to tell a secret.
The foamy sea churned around the rickety wooden boat. Slapping waves from the sides could make anyone seasick. The pirates, adamant not to abandon ship and in turn, not wanting to abandon their treasure, pressed on. The gales were so strong that it lifted the captains hat clear off his head. On deck was pandemonium as the crew frantically ran around pulling every rope, calling out to one another, trying not to get swept overboard. The plank had clear snapped in two, the other half of which was long gone. The air was humid and tasted of seawater. Everyone’s mouth had the taste of bile. This was a time to believe in God again; Come back to center and realize there are forces greater than ourselves. How does one protect herself against a raging sea? How does one control it? They can’t. Black and grey clouds seem to multiply like smoke. The heavens brewing a constant fire with its cruel rain, making visibility a challenge. Stomachs flip-flop, no where on board is safe until Poseidon –
A cold, grey, metallic container. Dust is inside. Dust we have given meaning so that the pain hurts less. It enables this type of sunset clause of pain. As time goes on it gets less and less. The greater our love was, the longer it takes to get over this loss. And vice versa, I suppose. Urn above the mantel keeps watch over the whole house – until years pass and we forget that it’s there. It is a depressing reminder that brings sadness in its wake. Urn filled with ashes. Imprisoned in its metallic tomb. On display like zoo animals.
An earthquake rumbles from the core of the Earth. It falls, the lid opens, and the contents spill out. It’s almost like another death. Peter bends down while the room still quakes, and tries his best to use his hand to sweep the ash back into the container. But as he does this, he notices there is a piece of paper in the urn. It is white and folded up into quarters. Looking up, he sees a vase falling and moving his head, narrowly misses what would surely have been a knockout. Anna is terrified, balled up under the table sucking her thumb. He should be comforting her. He takes the paper and runs to her hideout as the tremors continue to wreak havoc on their home. The noise is eerie. The minutes feel like days. He holds Anna close as she buries her head in his chest, silently crying, clutching her stuffed bunny rabbit. He stays on alert, making sure nothing else can harm them. Earthquakes are an irregular game. There are no rules, nothing is certain, and the range of play is undetermined. Suddenly, quiet. Peter’s bones are still vibrating. He feels Anna hold her breath. He reassuredly rubs her back and pats her hair down. Slowly he makes his way out from under the table with her, opening the front door. Other people on their streets have also decided to peak their heads outside, to see how bad the damage is. There is a crack in the street. A telephone pole has come down onto a tree. Peter forgets he’s holding the note until Anna asks him. He’s startled that he’s been holding it for so long without opening it.