Thing

r|A|i|N

United States

"ending a sentence with a preposition is something up with which i will not put."

Message to Readers

plz plz plz plz plz let me know what you think
i have long slaved over this piece and would love some comments!

The Piano in His Ears

April 27, 2019

FREE WRITING

14
    The beetle struggled on the bathroom floor.
    Its thin and glossy legs asserted blindly forward, spindly, hopeless.  Maybe it wished for a scrap to cling, or even a boy’s outstretched fingers meaty for grabbing.  But it only lay on its back, black shell glinting prettily on the tiles. Troy expected little else.
    He too was lying with his back on the floor, the same floor, the grimy unwashed stretch prickling with cat litter and pocks of old shampoo.  Toilet paper lay in flowered rolls on the ceramic. An artificial mouse was pasted in the corner, muffled in old and silvery hairs. Its owner had been dead for years, but Troy had never moved it.
    The room was silent but for the whirring of a fan, Troy’s oxygen stirring the condensed and stinking air.  The world he breathed was hot and faintly soggy, swirling like steam on a parched tongue, and the humidity trickled down his forehead in clear beads.  He tilted his head back into the mess of cat litter, and the sweat traced back into the locks of his hair, dark on thick blond tufts. He carefully rubbed his hot face.  His actions were calm––a gentle kneading of his fingers, a soft toe twitching in lack of use, his waxy ear serenely detecting the ringing of silence. It was remarkable; in fact, the boy barely betrayed the thunderous crush of his heart.  Yet inside his sweating acne-clad brow, his mind worked in delirious frenzy. What had it been, now? What had it been? He smiled and ached. The questions hit with each heartbeat.
    But all was fused now.  If he paid close attention to his ears, he might hear all kinds of things—a piano, for instance.  He didn’t know when a piano had played, but he knew it was melancholy—a concerto, Brahms, sweet like a lullaby.  He raised his hands, but of course not—his fingers were stiff and spoiled. His shoulders slumped back onto familiar tiles, and here was another thing.  He had done this all before.
    When was the last time?  His eyes rolled backward into their pockets.  Maybe if he looked in the crammed corners of his skull, he’d see right through to the other side of time.  When? When? The last time he had lain here, here.  He stared into the cat litter.
    The cat.  The cat.
    The cat!  Maybe it had been when the cat had died.
    Oh, that one hurt.
    Troy opened his lips, vaguely surprised at how easily they hinged.  Without hesitation, he spoke lucidly into the empty air.
    “The world is stupid.”
    There was nothing else to say.

    Earlier that day he had not been lying down––in fact, he had been standing on the sidewalk, and his fingers had been picking idly at his face in his cynical and secretive teenage fashion.  He had been supporting a gray backpack on his shoulders, which had been a considerable feat of strength. His eyes flicked this way and that with superlative energy. His feet were firm and durable on the ground.  His eyes blinked ably.  It had seemed like nothing at the time.
    The bus stop was ten yards away and clumped with a lot of unpleasant-looking people.  Troy was eager to join them, to mark his presence, to part the hollow bodies and speak empty, humorous words.  He scratched his acne absently and his face flickered with frustration.
    “I need lunch!  Or some money!” he had called into his house.  The man was late again, goddammit.
    Silence greeted Troy’s words.  Feeding the birds, maybe. Troy strode nimbly onto the porch and peered through the open door.  His lips snarled irritably.
    “Dad!  Lunch!”  By God, that man was stupid.  
    Silence again.  The backpack was beginning to weigh on Troy’s shoulders, as it was densely packed with books and mismatched gadgets.  He hoisted the straps onto the heels of his hands. He was strong. He was so strong.
    “Dad!  Dad!
    How the straps cut into his palms.  You’d think him Superman.
    “Dad, come on!
    It was a funny thing, really.  No one ever answered.
    The backpack hit the porch.

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4 Comments
  • r|A|i|N

    thank you so much!


    3 months ago
  • JCWriter

    The description in this is stunning. Absolutely stunning.


    3 months ago
  • Julius Caesar

    goddammit why am i crying??


    3 months ago
  • halcyon

    Whoa. this is amazing. I don't know how to explain how much I love this... wow.


    3 months ago