spikethemuffin: (Default)

Here is life, in the Great After:

"Stop!" she calls. She might have stamped her foot a bit. The children roll their eyes, but they do make eye contact. Good. She glares a bit, and pats her chest where the pockets of her outdoor vest would be, then her hip pockets, then the front of her thighs. More eye-rolling, but the children do the same. Water, wood, whistle; blade, bell, bullets; salt, silver, sprig. She sighs... "Sean... your holly is probably between Court's bunk and the wall. If not, you can use mine, it's in the top drawer of the sideboard. Just cut me a new one on your way back." His posture as he skulks back to the cuna somehow mutters, but a Flyer wouldn't let him bluff his way Outside without proper protection just to save face, either, and if he thought a chewing-out from her was a more unpleasant alternative than long-clawed death from above, then that was fine with her for now. If she didn't need time alone, she would have kept him home from foraging.

She doesn't need time alone. She needs time with someone she doesn't have to be a mother to.

She needs a stiff drink and good loud music with a throbbing bass line, too, while she is wishing for the impossible. Oh, and that quaint stuff they used to call "modern medicine" would be just fucking super.

Quizzes, let them leave sharpened like knives: "What do you do when your partner is trapped in a Circle?" They drone, they groan, but they intone: "Reach, throw, don't go." Everyone is visibly carrying ropes. Good. "Now, which partner stays put and which partner goes looking, if you get separated?"

"Yes, Mama, and 'mirror is wise don't trust your eyes,' and F-U-M-B-L-E and 'hairy rope, nope, nope, nope.' We get it." Lily is the daughter she started out with. The girl who lived. The girl who mostly makes it through the night without screaming flashbacks.

Sharon ignores the sarcasm, and kisses her forehead. "Good girl. And 'crickets stop crying, think or you're dying.'" She waits, and plants kisses in each of the six reluctantly upturned teenaged palms. "Bring them back to me." They file out and the silence in the cavern is somehow profound.

Here are the things she knows that she wishes her children would stand still long enough to hear from her:

There are different kinds of memory.

There is the memory of the eyes: images and events that slap briefly against your consciousness and leave an impression. The fluttering of the dress at a windy outdoor wedding. A homeless woman on a street that feels like all the people on earth are rushing past, how she stands with zero concern, daisy-printed underwear gaping about her calves as she scratches her bare ass in the noonday sun. An anise and a black swallowtail studiously ignoring each other as they methodically sample every flower in a sunlit patch of weeds. A grocery store just as it opens, all the food (all the food!) perfectly aligned and almost shining. The way snowflakes float in yellow lamplight. Your husband's hairline, just at the neck where the follicles must tell each other "here bee dragons" and suddenly grow finer than silk. The irrational stab of affection that made you blink the first time you saw that, yes, he had developed the first hint of a bald spot. Eyes that have not blinked in days staring up at you.

There is the memory of the tongue, the stories we tell ourselves and each other, handles we put on the world or just outcroppings to help ourselves clamber over its rocky face. That time your grandmother killed a rattlesnake with nine iron. The Anansi stories. Wise Vasilisa and Huckleberry Finn, as best you can remember. That song with the periodic table of the elements.

There is the memory of the skin, the things we use to keep ourselves putting one foot in front of the other: your best friend's soft hand slipping into yours to make a circle in kindergarten and the kid on the other side squeezing too hard because he can and he thinks it's funny. Getting road rash from falling off a motorcycle and the endless debriding afterward. Sex. The soft (static?) energy that starts about eight millimeters from your new baby's head. Collapsing after a hard day's work, well-done. The drip of polish into the back of your throat when you're getting your teeth cleaned. How odd, to think that this hot melt of bizarre grit that tasted absolutely nothing like cherries will never, ever be anyone's new memory, ever again. How strange, that this feels sad!

And here, here is the memory of bones, the things we do every day to make our world and keep the unmade world at bay: the way from your house to the stream, which every so often you realize you have woken up from rather than traveled. How to tie a shoe. Sighting along the shaft of an arrow. "If the bole turns blue, it's not for you." The thousand singsong rhymes and acronyms that served so well in nursing exams (and how she curses that one diagnostic that popped into her head as she was bathing!), turned to matters of survival and the magic humankind had longed for for centuries and learned so quickly to hate and fear.

HALT. Hungry, angry, lonely, tired. She puts off the decision every second, because she can't remember the last time she wasn't all of these things.

She knows, and she wishes her children would stand still long enough to tell them, that she is dying faster than the rest of the world. Some people would want their children to have memories of the eyes, the tongue. Some women would like their children to remember their smile, their scent, that time she took them sledding despite. Some women would write a journal, create works, make buildings, gather art---- a memory, one supposes, of leaves. This mother is passing the memories of bones down, a hope her children might have children's children, and as long as the human race persists (and humans are good at persisting, she will not let herself think otherwise), the memory of her bones will live within them.
spikethemuffin: (Gardening)
"The bomb that destroyed the world before it was built." "The lion that squeaked."

A small, mostly-neutral country develops a desktop weapon that could kill off two-thirds of a world's population. A war breaks out over who will "protect" this innocent, peaceful nation/ who will protect the world from this wicked, power-hungry country, eventually killing off three-quarters of that world's population and literally wiping that country and its people off the map.

If I had the teaching experience, or any experience at all with a model U.N., I'd write this as a "fox in the henhouse" story of a model U.N. in high school. Were I in the Silver Age, I'd write this as a Just So Story of How the Asteroids Came to Be--- but we are wiser now and besides, archaeological narratives are quite done-to-death, unless you project them on the rocky screen of some terribly poignant love situation, which is done-to-death and artificial.


spikethemuffin: (Default)

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