WORKS OF ART is an exercise in serial flash fiction, as part of Declaration Editing’s Super-Short Summer Serial Challenge (S4C). Part seven, BETWEEN THE ACTS, is below.
“Between the Acts”
Lil stood on a banana crate in the middle of her living room. Normally the crate was an end table. Now it was a stage. One of her friends held a half-gallon of cheap wine up to her. She didn’t need it, was already enjoying the glow of a warm somatic experience thanks to the ecstasy, but what the hell, it was poetry, and where there was poetry there should be a poet drinking bad wine straight from a bottle.
“Oh to be in one’s body again,” Lil said before she swallowed. Someone against the wall started to howl. Soon the entire room was howling. The noise moved around like a wave amongst the 30 or so bodies that had crammed in, taken turns reciting, orating, singing, quoting, misquoting. Everyone had a turn. Now Lil was up again.
The hostess. The emcee. Call her what you will. Right now she was a famous poet, on her way to fame at least. That’s what her mind kept saying, kept flashing a golden star labeled You Are Here.
The eyes of the room said so too, as did the gaping mouths, clapping hands, stomping feet. Someone banged a cane. The floor called up to her, sent a reverberating shock through the crate, into her feet and straight to the top of her head, where her soul, it seemed, kept coming in and out.
“To the body,” someone yelled. Lil took the toast and swallowed another slug of wine, then passed the bottle down to the person who was reading next.
She hushed everyone in a theatrical way, the sound off her lips louder than the noise she was silencing. She was about to start when she heard footsteps enter the room from the stairs. She looked and saw Angel in the doorway, a halo from the hallway light over her head.
“You’re late,” Lil shouted. Angel blushed.
“There is no late,” she said. Lil started to laugh. She knew as well as anyone time didn’t exist, at least not during a moment like this.
Angel slid in against the wall to watch her friend read. Lil asked if she brought her fire. Angel nodded. Then Lil began.
“This piece is called, To Virginia,” she said. Someone howled. Lil smiled.
“Let’s put on our overcoats,
pockets full of stones, walk to the river
near home. It’s cold for a swim.
No one minds no more than no one’s mind
finds these times ground for fertile soil.
When we concentrate on the greatest
happy gift, I wonder if we’ve been
what we can. I know a hundred ways
to live through your disease.
You figured one hundred and one.”