7.02 / February 2012

Crowds

listen to this story

It’s a lights out kind of thing with strangers gathered naked all around you – clasping each other’s hands and genitals; a glowing growing around their eyes because there you are too – nude, tiny, suddenly feeling like a child, but for what? These are instances of proof. Evidence substantiated. Here, look: you are going to die.

In a masterful way the naked people are moving their lips to speak something all at once, but you can barely hear them at first until enough breath gathers and then they’re all like this is the day we die, which you find more than a little disconcerting.

And so you’re wondering now if they’re ghosts or about to be ghosts, and whether or not you yourself have died – if that’s even an option. And if when you were a kid you filled those scantron bubbles in carefully enough. You wonder if you’d know if you were dead. You wonder if you’re dead then how come you’re attracted to this crowd of naked strangers. Some of them not bad looking, sure, but in this freezing cold absence of setting? In this moon rock void of rationality?

Some days you wake up early and then turn over to try to fall back asleep and can’t, some days you sleep until three thirty in the afternoon and then wonder where the morning sunlight went, some days you don’t sleep at all – just sit staring out a window wondering if the green grass you see out there is actually out there at all, or if it’s just a reflection of somebody’s else’s green grass, or even if it’s just something else entirely.

You’ve been late for work four times in your life. Today makes five.

But then, how can you leave when you’ve got all these people here, all of them demanding breakfast and panties, all of them shivering with the cold and where did your kitchen go? What happened to the refrigerator?

In scene four something weird happens with Ophelia and the play breaks open like a watermelon.

Which is strange because you haven’t read Hamlet since high school and suddenly you’re all there’s something rotten in Demark, but not Denmark, more here-now, wherever here-now is. And when will all these people quit complaining? Did you tell them you lost the stove? Did you tell them there’ll be no fried eggs and toast?

Sorry, it’s just I happened to wander in and saw them all here, just sort of at you and I wondered if you needed any help, but if you don’t I can leave. I don’t know what I meant by lights out. I don’t know what I meant by moon rock void. I don’t know what happened to the sun. I’m not ready to speculate about what will happen to us without it.


M.R. Sheffield's work has been published in Fiction Southeast, Spring Gun, Epiphany, Blip Magazine, and other publications. This is her second time in Pank, which fills her with abiding joy. Her cat keeps this blog:whyismycatsosad.blogspot.com wherein he discusses literature, popular culture, the inherent absurdity of existence, and general malaise.
7.02 / February 2012

MORE FROM THIS ISSUE