Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Natural Disasters

The child vanished. A short muddle of eureka discoveries and fears of shadows in the night. A producer of tears and scentless sweat. Innocence not anticipating a sudden plunge into fissure in the road. The juddering tremors threw his mother against a tilted car, her arms splayed as if in preparation for a hug, her hair in thick braids dancing in a disjointed boogie with the vibrating air. Around them the town vanished, as erasable as a sandcastle competition at high tide, the dust clouds blasting in slow motion into the orange dusk. The collective order of hundreds of lives fragmented into drifts of divorced shoes and food cartons as misshapen as the hands that had held them a ridiculously short time before. Those ears not ringing with the screech of steel as it unknotted itself from concrete heard the feral bleat of random sirens and the serpentine hiss of shifting masses in the gritty gloom. The pet animals fell as silent as their stray kin, and birds fell in shock from shifting perches, dead before striking the kinked surface of the paved yards and newly mapped streets.

The girl smelt herself as she looked at the rear view mirror, unused to the musky scent her friend had spritzed her with. The slight fizz of excitement in her veins overcame her unease about an unfamiliar fragrance. She recalled the months of heated promises in hurriedly but lovingly written notes passed between clammy hands in breaktimes, feet scuffing the chips in the marbled linoleum tiles of the bricked hallways of the school. This was Act two of what could only be a swan-like lifetime partnership upon her, her final cygnet down left in her room with the dormant dolls and eyeless bear she still tucked under her chin at night. She’d nicked her newly grown legs while shaving experimentally with her father’s razor, and had been briefly anxious that the short dress she had chosen for this, her free-sample honeymoon, would not cover the livid scratch lines. An expanding patchwork quilt of promises, desires and commitments, meaningless without the challenge of responsibility was around her. She heard the CD player cut out as the car engine puttered to a standstill. Looked at the school hall, the dance lights like reflected traffic signals against the windows of the gymnasium. Go. Stop. She managed to say goodbye to her father without catching his eye, excuses and platitudes ready on her lips should he attempt to lay down the rules again, but this time he was silent. She saw him smile as though in confused wordlessness from the periphery of her vision, as she slid out of the seat, and walked towards the door. Her hips picked up the rhythm of the music within, and, her transformation almost complete, she sidestepped through the doorway, and into the arms of an adulthood she’d never quite master.

4 comments:

  1. Yeah- something like that- the fear that a father has that he will be as unable to protect his daughter form growing up as he would be unable to prevent an earthquake, I guess. Random thought.

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