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"Fate is this child."
“Fate is this child.”

A room stands in the middle of a man so bare, it and he appear vacant. The sun bends through curtains, the curtains bend back, each bend a blade of fire grass reaching in to ray and reclaim the house. The morning cold rises heavy like lost sleep. The world is turning. Everything is still.

There is a life beating heart in this house. Its butterfly wing sound reaches the man and rests on the nape of his neck: the tentative motions of a heard child body, the hesitant early life exertions which are always a surprise to witness, the discovery of a familiar waking child.

He glimpses a moment of his childhood: he is lifted into the air, weightless ascent from the ground, a secure flight away from the acuteness of limited childhood; that rising up into sun and light felt like immortality and had within it the believable thrum of possible flight. Now, everything is weight, laughter has to be dredged from heavy depths and yet there are smaller joys, more profound, less palpable.

The man is always on the verge of tears, unable to tell if he is about to have a nervous breakdown or an orgasm. He attributes this to his advancing age. The baby waking up across the hall is in a moment of indecision: to coo, to scream, the wall unable to contain either. The weight of the choices is slung between needs—all of them urgent, two at most—and the determination of which one is most intolerable. Already the man feels that he has lost a battle and, even though he expects it, the scream is alarming and sleep shrinks from him in dazzled shadow. The morning makes a cold upright block of his body. Creeping light brings no heat in the dead dawn.

While nothing is done, the baby goes unfed and bawls as the man lingers, reluctant to begin the day and watch it immediately slip away. Life—the man says the child—has such rage in it, for it to survive against continuous impossibility. Such survival—the child says the man—the power of it, is, could only ever be, the child.

This house: inside it he can’t remember its outside, and on some anchorless days he thinks that it might have changed, they might have moved, or shifted, and that they did so with him all the while within it, his life completely housed. They cannot have lived in the same house all these years, not in the same place for all this time, or else it would mean that he had walked only these halls, only these rooms, all for a time imprecisely remembered.

He hears the flowing of water, a subterranean seesaw susurration awoken after long dormancy. With each earth breath, water sluices through the house, casting pool water shimmer shadows which are cold to the touch and have skin thin, reflective, doorway transparency. He dries his hands repeatedly with his shirt, changes it several times a day but feels wet always, drenched cold by the ever running stream beneath the house, misted over by its churning spray.

Attending to the child, he finds her urine is warm. Like the pitch of her scream, her liquid warmth is unexpected, body borne, held in that round body form as though in a flask, warm, not boiled but baked under an insufficient source of heat. Warm and cooling, warm and unpleasant, sickly when cool, pungent when drying, the urine has a smell that is deadened only by the persistent application of furious bleach and, even then, it lingers. There is no bleach that can attenuate the child’s scream. Even after she goes silent the scream remains, echoic in ocular space.

Changing a diaper is no magic trick: towel, place baby, undo flaps, lift baby-bottom, remove diaper, clean baby-bottom, dodge the spurt of well timed baby-urine, place clean diaper, wrap flaps, dress baby, throw away dirty diaper, consider throwing away towel, consider throwing away baby.

The home is in the man all day. The baby gazes, her mobile eyes on a journey of discovery, her fragile body demanding constant care. Within mere hours of painting an egg, the embryo contained in it begins to perish. There is always one more thing to do to secure the child’s comfort. He hands the child a warm bottle loaded with formula, gunpowder in water. The child, with her barely formed strong fists and arms, is a drunken human gulping from a massive barrel, her gaze wandering. In the royal court of Zamunda, court jesters were decorated in gold paint and they died within hours.

Towels, cloths, clothes, all laundered. Wrung dry by the sun, fate is still young.

The baby reaches soft arms towards all life. He steps away. Fate is this child. Her body is a constriction of space, a narrowing of time, a channelling of all energy. She will grow and he will be shackled to her until she deigns to be free. Self giving him until her then. He is wracked by terrible pain guilt when he imagines a life without her, when he imagines leaving the house and cutting the day air with quick sun steps.

He feels the child to be no part of him. He doesn’t question the fact of paternity, merely its lubricious possibility—the how of it—which seems so well stuck in the past and too mechanical an act to be obvious. Masturbation, always innocuous, gives no hint that this stuff spilling here could form that child warbling there. The child is every part of him. Convalescing from a vehicle accident—thirteen dead, only two survivors—many years before, the child mother described her memory of lying down in the dark with hundreds of newborn babies crawling all over her, holding her, comforting her.

He wants to be the child’s friend. Her small elf self, her clear eyes, her pursed lips with their sheen of buttery drooling: all these make him want to be this child’s confidante. Other parents: their invent-and-narrate relationship with their babies, their convoluted no-sense songs, their infantile glossolalia. Baby clenches fist and we must analyse this movement because somewhere, somewhere, there is a planet she has set in motion.

The child’s filth forces the man to come to terms with his own unconsidered body of filth. Shitting becomes a structuring event: he times his day according to her predictable bowel movements. His ordered day is further broken apart by unforeseen, inevitable eruptions. Thus she punctuates his life, one burp at a time.

After cleaning the baby and washing his hands, he finds that faecal matter has somehow settled on his own cheek, or his lip, or is in his hair, or wedged between his toes, or is staining some part of his shirt. The continual cleaning after her is a dirtying of all of his life. Cleaning oneself after cleaning her becomes tedious: if they are to live in filth then all this washing, a level of hygiene that he has never demanded of himself ever, becomes absurd. Like the medical student who learns to take his meals in the morgue, the man feels that a bit of shit on his hands, or a bit of urine or vomit soaking his shirt throughout the day, won’t kill him. Each of his shirts has an oval discolour patch as though his heart were slitting luminous through him.

A baby can survive an astonishing amount of neglect. In a book, a baby survived a week alone, but for severe malnutrition, and went on to become a great biologist.

The man decides he himself can survive anything.

Every day, as the child mother leaves home for work in the city, she reminds him, “Don’t kill the baby.”

The child mother is now a collection of unfamiliarities. Her sight body refracted through the birth. Her life body mutated through pregnancy. Her skin smeared, dried, a luminous body shield. Her shape along line seams, seals her within herself, an emotion of self swelling out of herself. New postures attain her new body, new urgency of step and speech, a new hardness of stance and stare, a visible completeness of day end fatigue. She is a disparity of body being. Familiar ways of holding her become clumsy offences.

When the baby was born. Nurse arms whisk away birth egg. A nursery confusion, so many, which mine, call out, blood hearing answers back shout, him, it’s a girl, so her, alien eyed, trauma small, incubatum, mouth open persisting shock, poor thing. Children are wealth.

The man walked into the room, a zone, echo of many births, reverberation of many deaths, a couple exiting weeping, the other room, joy or grief, grandmother yet not, or maybe, shouldering an emotional son. The child mother’s face was ashen, lined, stern, her eyes defiant but vulnerable. Sweaty, bedraggled, hair string wet tissue, the bed air sewery, dense, violent. Having ventured so close to death and survived, the very continuity of her existence posed a question in the face of a universal affirmation. Our lives are changed forever. He saw and wondered what he had done, how he could have done something so irreparable. A wheeled table askew, sheets creased and bunched, her pillow stained grey black, Sangita braids melted in natal heat. He alighted on the smouldering aftermath of a great struggle.

A moment unadorned, a recovery intercalated by his unknowns. They were completely alone, the man and the mother, the man, the mother, his mother’s strong long gone presence alive. Of what is a baby aware? Women of every era birth with such ardent ferocity, such grim grit. An intensity of collected memory, his own, others their own, a vague yet close-by recollection in edge light extremis. Her, a newly greater thing, her substances oozed, oozing, undiminished, substantial. Nurse shoes left flat efficient steps in birth canal hallways. Cleanly outfitted doctor sounds, a world beyond in motion, in recovery, scrubbed and recovered, a mothered child mother, a child who never before existed, a mother more of a being, more to be, and him attempting comfort as simple as, I am here. Here he is. Here she is. Her, always a mother now and then, now and before, always. Always her. Her place in the world fortified, yet her body lying weak, like a baby.

Was there a baby? Was the baby well? His worries multiplied when he saw the blasted, damaged, splayed, open-hipped woman body. He wept. She sat quarter then half-way up, her body useless and unmoving from her diaphragm down, except to leak, drip, expel, expunge, and recover. Hollow, carved out, emptied out, eviscerated, liquefied, and poured out. Grief from him and an urge, with her legs so spread, her pelvis so broken, to slide onto the blood bed and make love into birth her. Asleep already, her incubus.

The man takes to sitting on the floor in the baby’s room, awaiting its next need, moment by moment, attending silently to its impermeable child mind, attuning himself to its gentle movements, its brief energetic bursts of arm and leg, its raucous implacable raging at a world it already senses is unjust, its gasp at each new discovery and each remembered thing that confirms the solidity and stability of this still born universe.

The bars of the crib pose her life’s challenge and as she leans towards them he finds himself hating them and so the only way to make the moment tenable is to hold her in his arms, against his chest, her head in the nook of his neck, the both of them, child and father, waiting, the child more patient than the father, the child ready to wait for the growth to come and the life to be, the father sad because the peaceful joy of this moment means that there is no room for him in the future in any form other than this one. He sobs, sometimes, while holding the baby. The house is large and safe around them. It is also inescapable. He doesn’t want to go anywhere.

During periods of her infantile discomfort, he finds himself licking her shit from his fingers thinking he can discern, from its taste, what ails her.

The bead of sweat at the back of her neck, a perpetual warmth at the base of the skull, hotness under the collar, and he retrieves a pill which he gently introduces up her bottom then waits half an hour for it to calm her incipient fever.

Each illness she weakens him. He knows illness and will know it ever more intimately as the years cart him along. He scrutinises every inch of the child wondering if by some dreadful illumination something already bristling within him will be exposed as blooming underneath her skin. A child, a new emergence into a seething existence, a formation and a formulation of the earth, of the cosmos—or perhaps not of the cosmos—a physical being that has come from the life of death that encircles the earth of life, a force exuded into life, a life intruded into body, a child. This child was battling death even before it had embraced life.

The child mother also plunged into risk, plunged against risk, marched into the headwind of time—and yet, when the risk is death, one is really relying on faith—to be saved by the years and bodies of labour that were all concentrated into a multitude of pills and an assortment of professionalised hands. The pills saved her, dissolved into nothing what poison he had flowed into her. The pills reached chemical tentacles into the foetus she had, ripped away from its cells what inheritance he had forced upon it. This was the salvation the child mother promised him. He would be reincarnated as this child, he would die too soon but live on in this child.

He attempts to grasp the suffering world of which he is a remote part. Stories join each other and become an uncharted expanse. A white lifeless sea stretches before him in all directions. He reads studies on children raised by imprisoned women, accounts of brutal violence in far corners flung from near country. He wades through detailed land acquisition records. He highlights and collates reports on fertility rates in university campuses. A country forms under his eyes. He feels he is coming upon a great knowing. What he wants is the flow feeling against alone current, upstream swim away from desolation. He listens, wary hunted, eyes wide to visible sound to see the crumbling sands of life within him. Suburban silence entombs warmth.

The child mother, free of the gravid burden, moves with a slightness and quickness that he can’t recall her ever having had. She has deposited a hefty load and in depositing it, has reclaimed an urgency for life which he never knew she had. While he, thin and weak, feels immaterial, on the verge of fading away altogether, she remains, flourishes. When she moves in any room, he is shadowed by a mobile change in light. She is breathing down his neck from the kitchen, opening and closing cupboards while she is showering.

At four o’clock in the morning, the bed is a slow twisting, heavy heaving which births him into a frigid world. The house is moving through other rooms, animating the dark, giving it a strange life, an absurd source of no light, the child mother navigating by second memory, or perhaps by second sight. She is the home. He and the baby are safe within her. He hears her voice from a distance, cooing to the child, then with great severity, talking to someone, possibly on the phone, then her voice is above him, wishing him a good day.

At night, the child mother returns home and her perfume, its edges dulled on accumulated sweat and dimmed in the heavy light of the day, settles throughout the house. Her dress, as she moves, and as she takes it off, sounds like a trawler’s fishing net hauled out of water and dragged across a vast stretch of sand. This is her hour, when she inspects the baby. The house opens itself to her shadow, slowing down, then settling, warming up, then embracing. She talks to the man through a backlog of her own fatigue and he feels happy that he can manage this aspect of her life for her, allowing her to have a measure of peace. For the first time in his life, he feels that he is useful to someone. Her words slur and peter out into a weakened snore then a mute deathliness. An hour later, her breathing becomes audible and regular. The house is vague, its walls thin and heaped around her sleep.

He lies down next to the child mother, he closes his eyes, he rises into a hectic wakelessness. The world uncurls itself into a fluid unfurling and the man rides a wave, slips down its crest, swings up its trough. He is perched on the world, arms aloft, leaning back like a boxer sitting on his rear leg, and he is surfing through space, through time, descending while moving forward, ascending while moving backward, moving. The world grows small as it curls. It shrinks beneath his feet. Soon it will shrink to zero mass or density and he will have landed on the shore of his destination, at a point.

Tomorrow is not a new day.

The man cannot recall the last time he left the house. He opens the front door, looks out into the oppressive absence of night. He feels a surge of energy. He hears the child cry. He reminds himself to go outside, to walk in the small patch of grass between the house and the street, to smell a flower if he can find one. The day is so hot that he can hear the rays of the sun burning through the air as they make their earthward descent. Static electricity frizzles in the distance, flies sizzle in mid-air.

The baby has taken to sucking the man’s fingers. He lets the child grip his palm and select a digit. The man recalls that he has not sanitised his hands. The child gnaws bare gums against knuckles, staring at him the whole time. He attempts to pull his finger away but the child holds fast, moans in anger, then bites down, and this hurts with such intensity that his wrist goes limp. When the child releases him, her lips and tongue are covered in blood. The tiny cave of the child’s mouth is the inside of a plum.

The blood drips fast from the man’s hand and stains everything from the baby’s cot to the floor between the child’s room and the kitchen. His blood is a plasmatic watery gruel tinged scarlet. He fears that he might be so weak as to bleed to death from a cut finger. He returns to the baby’s room to find the cot soaked in blood. He lifts the baby from the cot, checks the baby for injuries, undresses the baby completely, and checks everywhere for a wound but there is none. He bathes the baby and flushes all of the reddened water into the toilet, fearing that if he pours it into a sink or the bathtub it will clog the drain.

His hand aches and the aching becomes worse over the course of a few hours. The baby is silent once bathed and fed, her bedding and clothing changed.

Now, the moon is a mark in the sky throughout the day and the night. In the night, it hangs outside the window, a bright hole in a quilt of darkness. During the day, it is a thumbnail error in the perfect limpid blue above.

At times he glimpses the baby and sees her entire future in a facial expression. He sees the young woman she will be, the multitude of new bodies she will occupy at different stages, the life that will stalk and claw at her being. In that future, she looks nothing like her mother when she is a young woman but in small moments a suppressed laugh at a boy’s poor joke gives away the strength of her lineage. On some days he can’t locate the baby in the house and thinks perhaps that she has grown up, that twenty years have gone by, and that he is old, alone, and confused.

Love for this child takes the shape of colours that flow in streams. He resists thinking of her as angelic but her room is hallowed ground. Its walls, which he papered, story-tell an imagination both his and not. He feels her space and her time, he sinks within her presence as an ant burrowing into the ground to be saved from a storm. How can he think of twenty years hence when he has no future. All that he is, here is.

The child mother talks to him in the same cooing tone that she uses with the baby. Cooing, she allows him to be silent. Restfulness comes in dulcet waves, memories of something outside of memory—how do babies remember. A mind so plastic that it remains unable to take the shape of reality, reality that moulds souls into forms. His own mother: so vivid are his dreams of her the more he thinks of his own death. Men in battle—boys in battle—are said to call upon their mothers at the moment of dying: blood-spattered, fingers with greased veins curled around triggers, bayonets carving no futures, and mothers called upon. Holy mother, Birth mother, my mother. Dying men call.

See: the world wide, unformed within therefore unformed without. A glittering of questions, the safety of kindred arms, sounding out the world by trusted heartbeats, navigating my heartbeats, all sounds incomprehensible except for the heartbeat. This heartbeat, mine, tiny, strong, constant, resonant. Heartbeat speak says synchronous sounds are worthy of trust, like me, beating, thus this is another body, like mine, larger, arms around me, communicating hearts, sotto voce.

Sound scratches linger dissolve barriers between thought and sound, heard and felt, outside becomes inside, in the bowl of his her inner ear, alive. Where is the border that marks one life begins and another. Texture straddles the border between sight and touch, the basis of faith, of healing, of love. How to love a person one can never touch. Hate most potent in the lack of touch and yet in that video, the man watched two loving men beaten to death by a hateful crowd, each member of the crowd inflicting a touch. Love and hate textured rough, smooth, other-ways. The television advertisement that would have unmade now showed studded condoms. That was before condom advertisements were prohibited on public television. Rough love, smooth sailing.

Having heard sound refracted in-utero, all sound is clay-form, shifting half-forms, amorphous echo-forms. Trans-amnio radio sending life through to floating ovum-space. To locate oneself when one cannot tell where one is. Who to ask. A life so completely contained, shrunken, rounded off. Horror perhaps to know that this is the entirety of existence: liquid, small, dark, distant, half-audible, alone, and lost in space but for the warmth.

When the man hears the patter of feet, he turns to face his door, expecting the baby to be standing there, watching him.

He does not know how to tell the child mother not to treat him like a baby. She touches him and the prospect of their intimacy seems like an outrageous humiliation of which she wants him to be the victim. Such touches are interrupted by her sleeping and he is relieved when her exhaustion wins. He wants to tell her to take the baby away from him for a few hours, maybe a few days, or at least a week. The prospect of the baby being gone scares him: alone, he will discover himself to be non-existent.

The baby cries.

The baby whimpers.

The baby is silent.

The baby screams.

The baby is hungry.

The man’s stomach rumbles. He brings the child a feeding bottle. He pours the contents of the bottle into the child. The child stares at him, reaches up her arms, vices the bottle between her fists, takes charge, takes the bottle. The man feels rejected. A strange impulse to violence, like a knot of twisted muscle lodged under his ribs. Such a voracious child, loud thirst, she will grown up to eat green salad and drink human blood.

The child has not yet mastered the mechanics of swallowing. Her drink pours from her mouth as though her tiny body is only the size of the bottle and is already overfull.

The man is dying on the vine, his body withering around his spine.

He is clinging white-knuckled, wind whistling dangling feet, and that to which he is clinging is dissolving in his hands.

A long drop and a sudden stop.

The baby gulps short breaths, her eyes glazed. Can so soft a thing—too soft—get injured? Can a pillow? The child moves less, and winces when replaced in her crib. Silent tears and panic leak from her eyes. She looks at him, at an angle, as though frightened, shocked out of complacent trust. He feels her limbs, massaging them slowly, and feels what were strong baby bones within her. She doesn’t move her head or her neck. Her soft spine is broken.

“Please don’t kill the baby.”

This child and me are one and the same, tethered to life, and to this space, by one another, anchored against each other, but it is this child who has the pull towards life, dragging me towards death. The child wrapped in a body cast is like a small vase.

The man thinks of his empty bank account, frozen by the bank because it has lain idle for so long. He thinks of his single pair of shoes, worn down into the shape of his foot so that they are not much better than wrapped cloth. This child demands too much from him; she demands an entire future; when will she release him? Old mechanical thinking: what does he want with a future. There is no need to invest any more in himself. His blood boils and what it contains is eating him alive. The ultimate telomeric truth: within the man’s cells is contained the promise and means of his destruction.

This child has imagined him. How did he come to be here? The man wants this child to remember him but he can hardly remember himself, his own life, his own past: erasure catching up to the present, photographs fading into now, now also fading, no tomorrow, repetition and rote to create an eternal present in the plague years, the plague era of no future.

The most he can recall of his childhood is his mother’s smile. Vast years, blank spaces, her smile.

What to do with a broken child.

The neighbour wife brings men to the house over lunch and the man can hear her screaming like a creature of the wild. For her, sex is screaming, the entire suburban estate evacuated to let her yell. Does she know the man is there? That the hurt baby is there? A lover would be frightened by such screaming if without warning. The female of mammalian species controls the male’s arousal and triggers his orgasm by her deployment of sound. The females of the animal kingdom are always patient and nonplussed, perhaps contemplating grazing, as the hyperactive male works on them. Human beings scream. The child hasn’t screamed in so long.

What does the woman think in that blind vertiginous second within a second unspoken question moment before the all answer door slam lover into lover—the moment that hovers and then plummets as her lover above or behind her. The space to be the tween of their bodies is nothing more enduring than the gap between desire and breath. Lovers, pressing to like god’s clay kneading palms against each other, silent claiming and reclaiming of lacustrine love body, this movement an inexhaustible secret whispered for life length. The man and the child mother, the child conceived so quietly that the moment might have been dream.

The neighbour wife speaks to him with a sneer even as she packs her garbage bags between his. She is sexually complete, the world vigilant around her. His starved dog desire of zero wattage is visible and repulsive to her. A man who lets a child come to harm in his custody is worse than a murderer.

There is another man in the house. The man is sure of it. He has heard his partner walk in, heard her shuffle out of her heels, and in the swish of skirts he has heard the rubbing of sturdy trousers around male thighs. He steps out of his study and watches the heel of a stockinged leg lift and disappear through a doorway. The air in the hall is a haunting of the ghosts of flowers.

Whispers disappear into the malicious space between the floor boards and from them, cutting splinters emerge. A shut door breaks a conversation, seals it away. The unwillingness of the child mother to take him out to dinner this month or next month. The baby’s defiant mouth, shut when he must feed it, open when he must sleep. His own body, its quick untraceable sharp pains reminding him that he is breaking down, cracking from within, dissolving into inner crevices, crumbling along flesh fault lines. There is hostility everywhere.

The man can hear them; too much motion for her to be alone; too much sound for one person; the creak of the couch is too heavy, too heavy; she’s walking too eagerly; the opened tap jets water thirst urgency—the solidifying sound of a glass water, hollow then filling then filled; radio, music, a television channel, a notch too loud for the hump of the week, a notch louder than the sound she prefers, why have the radio and television both on at the same time; more steps, baby, more, baby steps, then the door shut a bit too emphatically; a conversation—maybe she’s on the phone—too mixed in with music and the beginnings of rain to be audible.

No words appear on the white paint of the wall. Any sound, no matter how slight, is a jolt. With a twitching ear and a crick in his neck, the man attempts to catch a sound. He walks to the door, then to the far wall, then back to the chair. Rain drops chatter as they fall, the space of them erupting, for a moment. A laugh like that. In need of a pretext, he makes a searching walk towards the baby’s room, opposite hers. Her door is shut in the resolute way of locked things. He can smell the shadows moving within. He leans through the door, glances at the baby, and rushes back to his study before she can start cooing.

Time through, backwards, walking, is he, him. Touch anticipated by tenderness. Making into, unmaking out of; the things of love, gathered, piled; a heart heaped, hearts heaped in the past to be transported away; hand-cart to hell. Send hope into the future to make a home where we will live. Send hope into the past to retrieve that dream. Put our heads together to form a roof under which hope will find a home. Curl up under the roof, against hope, against each other, make a notch in space to scar space, make a kink in time to stop time. Time bent extends the coursing of us into infinity, the grinding of us against each other like the sands of flowing, piled-upon time. If he were not to die, the man thinks.

Her door opens. Conversation. Conversation? The man hears conversation. Her walking, barefoot, sticky against floor panels, light as air, rain pounding. Did she open the door, or lock it, or did he. She patters back to the bedroom. The rain roars, an engine replies the challenge, call-response, need in between, squeals of tires crunching gravel like glass. Is she asleep already?

The man wakes up at noon. He walks to the child’s room. He can hear screaming, its swollen welling rising to jostle for zenith-space with the sun. When she, baby, screams at her loudest, the sun goes dark, defeated.

He wants to be created by a lover, but such creation collides against walls which do not move or break.

The past year and a bit: a reclamation of the eroded space of his heart, a process of acquiring trinkets of feeling and storing them inward, acquiring scraps of hope and collecting them neatly in intercostal nothing, one future day to build his soul into something solid.

The bit of the past that has no justification is the present. Knowing that he is dying of the incurable, why does she keep him around. Knowing that his path to death was broad and able to spread beneath the feet of anyone who walked beside him why did she urge him to create with her a child. On bad weeks he requires more care than the baby does: unspiced and unsalted meals studiously boiled, a conveyor belt of expensive pills and potions, a medicated massage several times a night to quell both the sores and the hacking, pneumonic coughing that is worse with each relapse. Their wordless home-making is for her an act of self-fortification. He weeps, thinking of the relief that awaits the both of them on the night when nothing is left of his breath.

Erasure remains untold. The letter that recounts the moment tells of the future not of the end but of the consequence. Implicit: By the time you read this. Also implicit: As I am writing this. Explicit: Remember me even after I am erased. Totality: I am doing this because, now I am writing this, for when you read this, you will—a desperate inscribing on all time.

How can a disease so large roam in a body so frail, fragile, and small. Once the body is consumed where does it go, this disease, as the body goes into the earth. This plague is desire made cellular, incapable of reining itself in, it destroys itself in an inferno. Why worry about the nothing that will be left.

The sun is an orange protrusion against the curtain. Evening is so far away. He makes a weak wish to be saved. Blood pulsatile bursts. He holds his breath and it slows. Release of exhale and more blood flows. His body is dissolving in waves into the sun. He can’t tell what the child is doing. Then the child is moving, waddling. Good girl. Bones are crunching all around him, the sound of a strange dense fireworks, a run through thicket breaking, the first twig step into the other wild. There is no pain.

Parts of his flesh as they are tugged torn away. Parts of himself were always missing.

Pieces of his body in pieces.

The long feel of his legs long gone into painful stillness. Below his neck, an empty store of life. Arms at the hands of which hold heavy invisible bricks. His jaw hurts. His body pours down the drain. He falls asleep and waits for the child to consume the rest of him.

The world is still. Everything is turning. An infinite depth supports a surface of floating day. The sun cracks through curtains, each razor ray cutting in to reclaim the man’s life. He is lying in the middle of a room vacant even of himself.

Orem (@nochiel) is a lapsed mathematician and perspiring writer from Kenya. He blogs inconstantly at Life As Fiction.

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