Thursday, 13 December 2012

Why Humanity Needs A Dissolve Function To Convey The Passage Of Time - Friday Flash

He emptied the sachet of packet soup into the jug of boiled water. The powdery clumps sunk to the bottom of the Pyrex, where they maintained their integrity. He jabbed the point of a spoon at one, but it squirmed away as the spoon thunked against the thickened glass bottom. He began stirring, the clumps lapping around like an underwater camera capturing the convolutions of a shoal of fish avoiding a giant predator. Eventually the liquid was clear, all the granules having dissolved. He removed the spoon and the solution gradually ceased its eddying.

She raised the tumbler to her lips. The lemon's acidity stung the chapped skin. She winced, but her interlocutor either hadn't noticed, or wasn't taking it as her judgement on his interminable prattle. More's the pity. Damn, now her mouth felt all gritty, as if somehow the dry skin had flaked off and lodged itself inside. The rum couldn't purge it clean either. It was only serving to give her a headache, or maybe it was the guy's blether. How could she break off the conversation? She was wedged between the fridge and the sink unit, so there was no way of sidling away casually. He was prattling on about his passion for newts and salamanders. Beam me up Scotty she thought to herself. Her lip was really sore now. He was rhapsodising about the salamander's ability to cast off its tail to distract predators and to secrete a toxic liquid over its body when backed into a corner. She wished for the same gifts. But one thing she did know, salamanders were reputed to be immune to fire. When she needed to melt away from this stagnant party.

The sex had been unremarkable. Clumsy, fumbling, faltering. Pretty much what you expect from two bodies that have never encountered one another before. Where both topographies are strange continents and remain so when charted under cover of darkness. Her thigh was throbbing where his haunches had accidentally landed on her with all his weight. While his ribs had a swelling contusion where her bony elbow had clipped him hard while trying to manoeuvre herself clear enough to breathe. Both instinctively knew there was likely no real future in it. That their mutual need had not engendered being complimentarily met. They had given it a go, really put their back into it, but for all the sweat neither had melted into the other. Nobody was to blame and at least nobody got hurt. A couple of flesh wounds, rather than wounded flesh.

But for now they were each consumed not with the despair of failure and renewed loneliness, rather both were contemplating the propriety of how to break their current physical conjunction. He had a hand cupping her shoulder, though his other was implanted between his own head and pillow, as if he was concerned with not shedding any forensic trace of himself there. And while her head was lying on his chest, she too had an intercessional hand between her cheek and his hairy torso. Her other hand idly curled his follicles, but she had no sensation of doing so. The lumpish pair were no longer even involved with themselves, as they maintained a vigil for the first crack of dawn to crawl under the door jamb and dissolve their clinch.

The man was down, nevertheless his assailant was still kicking him. Even when his victim's body had stopped recoiling under the blows, the aggressor was still blinded with furious perspiration running into his eyes and a wounded sense of pride. "I'm gonna pound you so bad!" Finally the lack of response penetrated his steaming indignation and he reined in his jackhammering leg. Blood had started pooling by the man's head. The pugilist hopped backwards to avoid its tarnish. But the insult was still vorticing within his clouded mind. So he advanced once again and landed a dropkick. It relieved none of the roiling in him. He stamped on the sitting duck, bringing down all his weight. That had felt more cathartic, as his boot plunged into the receptive flesh of the man. He felt the deep impression of bestowing that blow. That would do it for now. As he reclaimed his foot, he almost lost his balance and tipped over. He lurched his body backwards away from this human quicksand. So irate that his adversary had just seemed to have snatched a last tiny chink that denied him the claim to being pulverised, he again hurled himself into another leathery wallop. He was about to turn away for absolutely the last time, when he decided one more punt for good measure was in order. Then he stepped back, straightened his rumpled clothes and made to move off. Yet still there was something unresolved about the foe's pulpy mass. Completeness was all. But how to define and measure it? He didn't yearn after killing the geezer. Notwithstanding endangering his own liberty, he wanted the man to come back round and appreciate who had crystallised this unimpeachable message. He ran full tilt to deliver another flying kick at the prone form... He suddenly felt very tired. How long a beating was long enough?

When he had been erect, he had needed to tilt backwards as he walked. Else his feet sunk into the sand as it gave way beneath his weight and they ended up travelling further in a downwards direction than actually impelling him forward. But this had only served to lever his head up towards the sky, forcing him into a dazzling confrontation with the mocking sun. Shining like a warder's flashlight, illuminating his open aired captive status here in the relentless desert. It felt like he was clambering along a ziggurat, preparing to have his heart ripped out all of a piece. It certainly seemed to want to escape from the collapsing cavity of his chest.

Now he could no longer stand upright. Crawling on his hands and knees. It was only muscle memory keeping his arms churning, since the scorching sand had burned the skin on his fingers and blunted his nerve receptors there. The sand was abrading his skin, shaping him for one of its own. His deadweight body felt like the sediment immersed in the liquid sand as it subsided around him. He really couldn't tell if he was making progress anymore. His body no longer had the definable compass points of his limbs. There was nothing to orient him at all. He ceased his motion and flopped over on to his back. His eyes were watery, but he managed to clear the mist with his bandana, if only to replace it with fiery grains of sand that scratched the lens of his eyes. The air to the side of his head was shimmering. It was as if was dissolving before him. He raised his eyes to the skies. A buzzard was languidly lapping in and out of his vision. But then the very air melted and wrinkled in the heat haze and the solidity of the buzzard disappeared beneath the waves. He shut his eyes, yet the sun illuminated the blood vessels behind their ineffectual shutters.


Taken from the flash fiction collection available on Amazon Kindle


Tony Noland said...

Amazing how much more of this story there is in the blank spaces between the paragraphs than in the paragraphs themselves.

Larry Kollar said...

The point, as expressed in the title, was well made by the succession of scenes. It left me to ponder how they are all connected, filling in those blanks.

Icy Sedgwick said...

In a way I think the stories AREN'T connected, and that is its genius. All these things happening everywhere simultaneously but with no rhyme or reason - we just try to find patterns where there are none.

Tim VanSant Writes said...

I see this more like Icy does. Dissolves can be used to change location as easily as to show passage of time. Nice one.

Helen said...

It felt like I was reading different snippets from different stories, the interconnectedness comes from not being connected at all, yet the common factor that connected them was they were all occurring together.

Interesting concept - was this experimental writing for you?

Katherine Hajer said...

Loved this! Loved how dissolving was so important for so many of the scenes before they dissolved.

Dawn Huddlestone said...

I'm intrigued by what may have happened during the dissolves between scenes. I do have the sense that this is linear in time, although some of the dissolves cover less time than others. Very effective!

Sulci Collective said...

Thanks Tim, yes definitely space as well as time. Being wedged between fridge and sink and needing to escape, the "Beam me up Scotty" plea!

Helen - I'm never quite sure about the word 'experimental' ( though I did tag it thus for the Collector. Experimental always seems to suggest something unfinished, a thing launched more in hope than expectation. I'd like to think I was in control of this text as any other narrative I write. Yes it's different from the norm, which may make it seem experimental I guess. But I was pursuing my febrile interest in narratives that are both not linear and not beginnings, middles and ends. Other ways of constructing stories, with image at the centre rather than plot. Imagine having a gemstone in your hand and you rotate your wrist so that the light enters all the different facets of the stone and shows off all its differing lustres. That was sort of the effect, by throwing light on different aspects of the same notion, in this case, that of dissolving.

Anonymous said...

Your title had me wondering, but the paragraph changes made the point well. As always, your inventiveness with language was gorgeous and inspiring. Very well done.

Take care,

Helen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.