The following is a short story I finished writing half a year ago. I am now posting the piece since its release is no longer restrained by other obligations.
The bird with feathers of blue
Is waiting for you
Back in your own backyard.
“Funny how I can remember the lyrics to that old song but can’t remember what I was just about to ask you,” my grandmother says cheerfully to me as she mimes a shuffling jive—our last evening in her kitchen. It has been a slow decline so far, but disease is a mercurial beast, and it works quickly on her in the end. The next month, she is bedridden, leaving me to ponder her condition alone. I sit next to her in her room and casually look through old, Eisenhower-era magazines I found by her television, but eventually growing bored of the reading materials, I give them back their abeyance. Her head moves slightly, so I come to her, touch her arm. I sit and close my eyes. My grandmother is dancing—imperishable felicity. And I fall asleep.
Lying in bed, she notices, three feet away, a hand resting on a chair’s arm. The hand does not seem to belong to a person; it is just a hand. It is a nice hand, a recognizable hand. She has seen this hand. It shifts. The hand shifts, and an arm is revealed, and for her, it is a revelation. He flips a page. He, just out of view. Time passes. The woman sits quietly in a controlled silence, feeling she must not disturb him, the hand, the arm. He flips a page. Time passes. He flips a page. Time passes. She contains a cough. Time passes. He flips a page. Time passes. She thinks back—back to the contained cough, a page-flip previous. Something startles her. Time passes. He flips a page. Time passes. She addresses something. Something. She thinks the containment involved too little. It was not enough effort to be actual, rather it was a non-event. From this, she is not sure what to conclude. Time passes. He flips a page. Time passes. The conclusion is difficult. She finds it difficult. Why? How? Who? Time passes? He flips a page? She suppresses questions for the sake of him. Time passes. He flips a page. Time passes. She comes back to the conclusion, deciding her unconscious mistook the lack of stimuli as stimuli. Stimuli? What stimuli? She feels she would have understood these thoughts if she would have had them younger. Time passes. He flips a page. Time passes. Younger? She tells herself she really meant earlier. Yes, if only she would have had these thoughts earlier. She forgets about the cough. Time passes. He flips a page. Time passes. He flips a page—suddenly he stands, flipped pages under arm. A mass, the most flattering sense of mass, passes through her vision. She has been waiting. An effort, a confirmation of past non-efforts and non-events, is actioned, her head, or upper head, or lower head propping upper head, moving to an ideal vantage of the mass, and with the mass, the hand. The hand, moving away, until—consequently, surely, of her recent effort—the mass and the hand begin to move back. The mass envelops her view, so she puts her head down, but the mass remains—if vision is all and all is vision—all, but suddenly, the mass moves away, gracing her with view of the arm. The arm and hand are put down. She can not see the hand; it is a struggle. With a sole thrust, her head is down, with view of the hand on the arm. The arm. How can the hand be on the arm? She knew the hand to be part of the arm. She puts her head down another few degrees. The arm connected to her head: her arm—the hand is on her arm. She must know what caused this occurrence. She must look up, a new direction, a new axis. It would use her known remaining strength, but she knows the knowledge to be worth the trade, but how she knew, she does not know. She makes the shift. On top of the mass, a face. A moment—a set time, an elfin length for those without it as opposed to within it, a sum of infinite shorter moments or a sum of infinite longer moments, within it, all the same—passes. Within this time, there is a recognition. After this time, the seven earthen layers of the face, the subsurface, the scattering of light below, bursts forth. It bursts forth with so much zeal, that from the nowhere-sailing ship, she falls through the leaking hull.
She looks up. Darkness, darkness, darkness, light. Blinding in comparison. White light. No color. She looks farther ahead. Darkness, darkness, darkness, light. Another crack in the hull. Neither large enough for reentry. But why consider reentry? She looks down. Darkness, darkness, something. A color. Ambiguous color, but not darkness nor light. She moves toward it. The movement creates a vibration. A sound. Two sounds. One on top of the other. They are both tuned precisely, but neither tuned for each other. She stops. Examines. One is fainter than the other. She takes the time to examine the louder. It is grinding, a barrage of textures, superficially appealing but painful when listened to closely. She continues moving. The fainter of the two sounds increases in volume. Stop. The sounds. Clashing. Each overpowering the other. Each beat fighting the last. A beat... then a beat—beat... then a beat—beat... then a beat—beat... She continues moving. One step each beat. It is impossible otherwise. The bombardment lessens and dissipates and out comes something synthesized. Not the fainter sound. The fainter sound covered in the other sound’s exiting fluids. An asymmetrical synthesis. She hears the synthesis, and rejects it. It still contains traces of the grinding, the unappealing textures. She continues moving. She comes within a distance of the color. It arcs towards her. The luminosity adjusts. It emits a bright mist. The luminous arcs—over her head. She follows it with her sight, and the blur of the continuous arc mixes with the emitted mist in her vision. Figures. Movement. Flashbacks. Or flashes of existence. In the mirage, she sees a girl—recognizes her. She looks back toward the leaking hull. The girl enters. She attempts to communicate the ship’s destination, but she reconsiders, not in an act of non-effort, but rather by decision. The girl will make her own way, while the woman, she is finished. The arc collapses behind her. It fizzles, stretches, and sinks. She looks down. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. Then something. The hand reaches out. When she grasps it, it pulls her in.
She is greeted by the sight of the mass, the arm, and the hand. The mass turns to the side, hand gesturing behind it, and she walks by. She sees a breeze of new light, similar to past lights but softer, flipping the hand’s pages. Futilely, she attempts to look around the breeze, but there is nothing behind it, and this nothing leads her to refuge, within the pages. The wind lets fall a page, and she peers in.
An azure meadowlark hovers by a child’s chair, staring at some point behind her. Her presence does not seem to affect the bird, so she walks over and sits on the chair, silently, in the vacuum. She looks at its eyes for reference and looks for herself but hears a knell and reacts to her left. The meadowlark stares unabatingly. She adjusts and looks back, and now she sees—the leak, gone, a hull, wholly new. The children’s chair crumbles beneath her, and she falls back, but there are arms to catch her fall, those of Eos, warned of her fall by the call of the bird. The two and she, draped in the arms of Eos, make leave from the vacuum, floating, at a steadfast speed. They move towards the sailing ship, and with every moment’s passing, it becomes larger in her view. She looks up, away, content with her destination, and above her, she sees the darkness calmly blur. She closes her eyes and falls asleep.
You’ll find your happiness lies
Right under your eyes
Back in your own backyard.