Wednesday, January 13, 2010

with his heart in his throat and sugar on his lips

Sometime in the past, a few centuries perhaps, there lived a family of orphaned Irish children. They stayed apart from adult society and when they traveled, they'd walk one behind another in a line, all draped with a giant gauze blanket, moving as if a single slinky animal.

These children discovered a cave. The cave was mysterious and dangerous–It drew them to itself one by one, like fireflies to a bug-zapper. Of course, the children imagined themselves less like bugs and more like soldiers. It began with a curious younger girl, followed by the vengeful eldest boy… In turn, each ventured bravely into the cave, a loud splashy explosion occurred and no children came out.

Eventually, the turn had come for the last boy of the clan, the smallest of his former comrades. Outside the cave, he bid farewell to a girl in a pink petticoat (who was not of the clan, but to whom he still felt he ought to say goodbye). He armed himself with a pointy stick and entered slowly, with a light step, fearful of making any sound. Inside, the cave floor was pocked with deep craters and a few shiny objects could be seen half-buried in the lumpy soil. The boy carefully made his way into the cave's center. Once there, he waited.

A long while later, when nothing had come out to eat him, the boy's boredom overcame his fear and he decided to investigate the shiny objects. He squatted down, reached out at stick's length, and poked at a green and silver object. It burst open, forming a new crater in the cave floor and splattering his face. Wide-eyed and terrified, the boy stayed frozen still. Some drops of the sticky liquid dripped down into his mouth and tasted sweet.

With his heart in his throat and sugar on his lips, the boy gradually excavated a nearby can of Coca-cola, like a little paleontologist removing a land mine. He held the shiny red cylinder in his hands and made his way out of the cave.

Outside, there was something different. There were still familiar boulders and trees, but there were other trees–naked–with lines strung between their tops. Big vehicles whooshed by, down on what was formerly a dirt path. A little girl who looked not-quite like the girl he'd said goodbye to upon entering the cave saw him and asked, “Oh! May I have some of your soda?” Disoriented and not wanting to be responsible for exploding a little girl, he took off running down the roadside.

Frantically, the boy turned around and around like a dust devil, hoping perhaps to catch a glimpse of the world he knew before. But he didn't, because when you spin around fast, all you'll see is a blur.

1 comment: