7.02 / February 2012

What Hangs Up, Must Come Down

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Peter orders his eggs over hard so he can assure himself the pleasure of clean cuts and small bites that never endanger his shirts or hands of a yellow yolky smear. When he orders them, he is fully aware that some people think that he might be crazy, but Peter knows otherwise. Psychological disturbance may very well come from the human tolerance level and the fact that deep down, at some point, we’ve all had enough of this silly planet. But Peter is not fed up. There is no psychosis behind his solid yolk, his need for perfection. He has been categorized as obsessive compulsive, but he is simply in love. With his love may come a certain obsession, but first and foremost he is comfortably infatuated with what hangs waiting at his home.

When he gets to his house from the tidy café around the corner, he is presentable as ever for the objects of his affection, and when the door opens they surround him. Frames. From the baseboards to the crown molding and beyond to the ceilings, hung in closets, spilling into bathrooms and stairwells, the frames, empty frames, hang everywhere. Not a single Indian church, or painted feather lie within their borders. Some of them are worth three times as much as any painting that will ever occupy them, and to Peter, each has a purpose to fulfill. He is a connoisseur, a caretaker. He is a private frame collector.

From all over the continent museums reach his phone, mounted on the wall aside a small mahogany that only a Tom Thomson may fit, searching for the frame they need for their exhibit.

Peter’s frames are in mass quantity. He collects them, he restores them, and then he lets them free. 1532 Frames.

Without them a piece is like some sort of generic dream; with the wrong one it is a mishap turned to disillusionment. A rustic landscape might pair with an antiqued oak hanging in the basement closet, or a Renaissance portrait might belong with the oversized gilded currently covering the ceiling of the master bathroom. From simulacrum to statement, Peter holds the missing link and an eye to sort out a match.

He dusts them daily with precision, dreaming of a glacial Harris to fit into its borders or a certain melancholy woman to live inside. It was that kind of care that turned Peter’s classified obsession into love. Dust. Polish. Dust. Step back. Polish. The tedious tango of pure enchantment and care.

It is a process, as is Peter’s life.  His compatibility with the frames stems from their ability to separate reality from imagination, something Peter himself is capable of. Without borders art is mere silliness attached to a corporeal wall. In a bordered world, events can be predicted. Sitting amidst his empty, eager frames Peter checks the forecast (a wooden frame is most comfortable at 20% humidity), takes his multivitamin, and clips his toenails every night before sleeping, then rotates which individual frame he will check over once more. On one particular night, the rotation fell on a 19th century cherry wood painted with a thin, gold outline by his bed.

While clipping his toenails, however, he thought he could feel the floor jolt. His right hand slipped and snipped into the skin on his right toe. Peter watched a tiny drip of blood rise and fill the little snip, and again, the floor jerked and the drip slipped down his toe.

Peter could hear his house rattle with the vibration through his feet. The frames shook with symphonic vigor. He ran to his bedroom to check on his cherry, bedside frame. He ignored the earth’s shaking. He hadn’t planned for this. The cherry frame shook and jumped against the wall, growing with intensity. The frames jumped together, crashing loud against the wall. Peter stared at the cherry frame until a crack crawled down the center and it broke, at first into halves, which quickly fell to the ground smashing into tiny pieces.

Peter ran at the sight of it, ran for a shelter. His house rained frames from the ceiling and the walls. Each one falling around Peter, splintering off pieces, flying into companion frames, cracking slowly and then all at once. He took cover under a doorframe, the only frame left standing. The orchestra of lightly rattled frames, now a cacophony of mixed up wood and precious detailing.

When they’d all fallen they danced and rattled on the floor, a sea of woody, rolling waves. Peter’s eyes moved up and down with the shaking, his heart shuddered with the sound.  When the frames stopped, so did his eyes, so did his legs. He slid down the doorframe and woke in the morning broken like his pride, his love.

Peter lay there poking pieces, shifting around the dust. The other houses hadn’t been such a disaster, they’re frames were filled, and didn’t bounce so freely off the wall. Peter, there on the ground, was the only thing to ever lie within the frames. He had no reason to believe he was reality now, lying where the illusion lives. His borders mixing the world and the unworldly, not gating them.

While not busy in classes as a writing student at Colorado College, Samantha roams the mountains by foot or by ski. She recently spent time in New York City touring the boroughs’ tiniest cemeteries to work on her first novel and apply to graduate writing programs. Her past times include the use of bowling shoes, books, and fancy beers.
7.02 / February 2012