In a perfect world, the blithe field album I’ve been working on for what seems like forever would be experienced as a downloadable ROM of a 16 or 32 bit point and click plot-less game where each track has its own scene to explore. For this track, likely the penultimate, you would find yourself at a campsite in the woods with sun coming through the trees and a small campfire near a tent and picnic table, barely still going. There is an unidentified white substance on the table. If you click it, you are given the options “???” And “NO THANKS”. If you click NO THANKS, you see a brief animation of a tent door zipping shut from the inside and it fades to black. If you select ???, the light outside changes and the message “GO TO BEACH?” appears. If you select “IT’S AWFULLY LATE…”, you view the same tent animation. If you select “SURE, WHY NOT” you are now in sand near a shore, alone. If you click towards the water, a figure appears out in the tide beckoning to you. If you click out in the water, you find yourself in the same spot the figure was, but the figure is gone. The screen fades to black while the sound of low bit rate tide plays out and you wait for the final area.
You wore seven t-shirts to create the illusion of a human form; but underneath your poly-cotton rainbow, with two blues, you revealed yourself to be coils and coils of earthworm, tightly wound into the shape of two arms with fingers and an head with no eyeballs.
In the same regard I often thought of myself as a wire-hanger bent into the outline of a man. I would try out new clothes but they would slide right off.
It was a cold day for a picnic, but Ryan insisted. This was the first weekend he’d had off work in months, and he aimed to make the most of it. He gathered his family, a kite and a basket of cucumber sandwiches (butter, not cream cheese– he hated the texture) and piled into the car. They were all smiles as he backed their beat up Toyota Camry out of the driveway and headed into the city.
On the interstate the radio played a couple of songs he had almost forgotten. His wife hummed along, and he smiled. Jeanine smiled back. The kids shoved each other in the back seat. It was the timeless portrait of the American family.
They arrived at the park as the sun disappeared behind an ominous gray cloud. It was the kind of cloud you don’t want to see on your picnic. The family had found themselves a running joke; they were a rewritten line from Ironic.
Ryan set out the picnic blanket, an iconic red checkerboard number, while the kids expended some energy chasing after each other with no apparent goal. “Let them play,” his wife cooed as she unpacked the watermelon, BBQ chips and ambrosia salad with the little marshmallows inside and set to divvying up the portions. Ryan slyly removed a bottle of wine from his backpack and a smile glanced across his partner’s face. She brushed his elbow. They clinked their glasses and called the children over.
They were enjoying their meal while the littlest boy shared the most minute details of his latest little league practice. The child was obviously entranced by the sport, and Ryan was filled with pride knowing that some day he would be a starting player on his high school varsity team; he wondered if he would take after his old man as an all state second baseman. He was about to share this tidbit with his son when a loud clapping noise suddenly overtook all of his senses. A strange circular breeze billowed the grass.
The panicked family looked all around, they looked to the sky and noticed the helicopter descending upon the field. The other families in the area covered their heads with newspapers and ran in terror; ducking the way people who’ve watched too many television programs about War would to avoid the blades. Ryan stood with a bizarre sense of purpose. Jeanine was a little bit confused, but full of pride as she watched him walk towards the helicopter.
"So brave," she thought. As he approached she saw a man in full Regalia climb down and shake her husband’s hand. The two exchanged some quick shouts, but they were inaudible above the whirring and gnashing of teeth. After a moment Ryan jogged back towards his family.
Ryan patted his sons on the head and leaned down and kissed his wife on the cheek and said, “My country needs me.” He then turn around and jogged back towards the helicopter. Ryan stood on the runner and signaled the pilot. Jeanine watched her husband rise slowly into the air. As the helicopter headed out into the country Ryan waved to his family.
Jeanine wasn’t sure what to think. Is my husband a spy? A secret agent? What branch of the military was that uniform? She’d been so startled that most of the details were a blur.
Jeanine puzzled for days over what story she was to tell her friends. Eventually she decided to simply tell them he was away on business. She was pleased with her own cleverness, but was decidedly less pleased with Ryan’s when the bill for the helicopter rental arrived.
You are a tall, tall man. You are so tall I bet people say you block out the sun, or ask if you play basketball. You are so tall I bet you have to shop at Big and Tall. I bet if you put on stilts you would be even taller than the tallest person to ever live. Probably even taller than the tallest person on stilts. I guess that means you are the tallest person.
I bet people are always asking you to help them change lightbulbs or hang pictures. Is that a pain? Does it trouble you to always be asked to help people, even people you don’t necessarily want to help? I bet you do it anyway because you are so tall, that if you weren’t helpful to those in need people would be afraid of you. They would be afraid you would eat all of the leaves off the trees and the whole world would suffocate. I bet people are afraid that you’re going to cause automobile engineers to build even tallers cars.
Do you have to drive an SUV? Have you ever ridden in a Mini? Have you ever comfortably sat in a covered ferriswheel? What’s the last thing you hit your head on? Do these questions bother you? Can you even hear me all the way up there, in the ionosphere where the air is so so thin.
Nel is a practicing vegan and volunteers at a local organic farm. She owns two rescue Chinchillas. Nel’s favorite drink is “Whatever he’s having.” Nel’s spirit animal is Dying.
Nel tells everyone she’s an Earth Sign, and hopes people will just leave it at that. She doesn’t understand enough about astrology to actually carry on a conversation; just enough to seem interested in it. To seem interesting. Nel is very preoccupied with peoples perceptions of her.
Nel owns two sets of Tarot cards, a book on palm reading, a Ouija Board and three crystals (Rose Quartz, Chrysoprase, Pargasite) which she also knows nothing about. She’s been overheard calling herself “Spiritual.” Nel doesn’t really know who she is anymore. Some nights she opens a second bottle of wine.
Julie’s been getting really into utensils. She eats her pizza with a knife and fork, claiming it keeps her from burning the roof of her mouth. She stirs her coffee with chopsticks. She’s ruined several dinner parties, complaining about the number of tines on our salad forks.
For Christmas she bought all of us egg slicers, she said she’d be lost without hers. She’d also be lost without her Mezzaluna. Her Tamis. “If I didn’t have my Chinoise, I’d die!” It’s obvious Julie’s just hanging on by a thread.
I walk through a spiderweb and it gets tangled in my beard. The spiders get tangled in my beard. They lay eggs in my beard and birth a thousand little spiders into my beard. The spiders weave a nest around my head. My little angel head becomes a cloud which the spiders begat. The spiders begat the cloud around my head that lifts me up to the heavens. I float away from the ground, up over the coffee shop. “I am a cloud now,” I think I am a cloud now.