Wednesday, November 28, 2007

unfinished fiction, part 2

He woke up. The ceiling had a gentle bubble forming next to a naked bulb. It looked like a milky tit hoping for a mouth. How had he never noticed the needs of the ceiling above his head? A smell tiptoed its way to his nose, welcoming the new day with the essence of old sweat, bad dreams and lonely handshakes with the stranger between his legs. To start by washing the sheets.

He rose from his ten-year nap, stumbling on his tangled beard, and began to strip the bed. The upper left corner of the fitted sheet resisted, and let out a tiny whimper as he tore a small hole in it. Perhaps he would buy new sheets today? The old ones hadn't started out yellow. He took the wrinkled old sheets, like a pile of dead skin stripped from the tired body of his bed and threw them in the garbage on his way to the bathroom. Turning on the light he noticed that of the three bulbs in the fixture only one had not given up on shining, though it looked to be contemplating the point.

He walked to the kitchen, noticing for the first time the extent of its neglect. A crusted microwave and a rusting tea kettle watched him open and close empty cupboards. He found scissors he didn't remember placing in a drawer where one would look for scissors. The drawer where one would also go looking for double A batteries and old rubber bands removed from newspapers never read. He found bulbs he didn't remember buying next to a mop that was still in its package. He stood there in the pantry thinking of the boy that had intended to keep his floors clean.

He returned to the bathroom with his scissors and his bulbs and lit the space to reveal a man he had remembered a boy. As he cut, he watched the dead fibers of days neglected fall from his face. He found a razor where one would look for a razor, next to the escaped hairs curling and clinging to the soggy bar of soap. He steadied his shaking hand and scraped at the face he did not yet understand. He was astonished at the strength of his jaw, the confidence of its lines. It was as if his jaw had remembered his integrity while the rest of him forgot. He was suddenly struck with the question, "What colors are my eyes?" Not what color, but what colors? Not green, but aquamarine and gold with tiny flecks of burnt orange and a blue-gray line drawing a circle all around this unique firework that was lighting the sky of this face. His face. A face not disappointing in its beauty.

to be continued...

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