Collaborations of Abstraction

So much left unsaid

Posted on: March 21, 2011

We climbed into bed and she whispered, “He said you weren’t supposed to drink anymore.”

smallest girl - border town, Cambodia

Her eyes shone up at me with a combination of fear and adoration, and it was then I realized my face was less than an inch away from hers. A four-year-old should not know what liquor smells like, I thought sadly.

“It’s only beer so it’s OK,” I say quickly to reassure her.

I don’t move away from her, even though I can tell she wants me to. I probably didn’t even need the drinks; her anxiety mixed with the intense love only a child has is intoxicating enough. Her innocence, her desperation. It would be so easy to take advantage of her.

We’re in a bed in a room with yellow walls and two windows. I look out one, and I see it’s night. But there is light out there, a bright one, and it summons me.

It’s a second-story window, and the tall pine trees only start to slim at this height. The backs of the trees are black in contrast to the illumination coming from what I first thought was the moon. But what’s in front of me is too colorful, too bright, too big.

The Earth hung outside the window, and I motion excitedly for her to come look. I’m surprised to see she is now much older, perhaps 11 or 12. Her eyes are more dull. The fear (and perhaps the love) they used to exude is dull. It’s lost its shine. She peers out, suddenly enlivened.

“Look at all the beautiful colors!”

The planet is right in front of us. Earth, closer than the moon ever has been, spins quickly on its axis, showing off all its property. We gasp at its brilliance. The blue of the ocean radiates; the deserts glow a subtle purple; the grasslands scream neon. It glows outright, as if part of an eclipse.

“It’s so close, and it’s moving so fast! Look! There are the two capitals of Tokyo.”

I smile, knowing that this little girl is far more intelligent than most people give her credit for, and they give her credit for a lot. It’s a sad smile, though. She’s not set up to go very far; everyone  had silently agreed.

I fumble for my camera. It was moving fast and this is the perfect opportunity for a photo. The trees would soon block the view from this window. I’m afraid that if I move, everything will disappear. I try not to breathe.

As I struggle to turn the camera on, I turn to the girl and say, “Today’s the Solstice. Do you know what that is?”

As soon as I say it I realize of course she knows. There I was not giving her the credit I know she deserves. Booze’ll do that to you, I guess.

“I know the reasons. Would you like them all together or shall I list them one by one?” she asks, intensely.

I’m distracted. What the hell did she say? Children can be so irritating sometimes. Why wasn’t this … working?!?

Yes! I rejoice silently. The camera miraculously works and just in time. The trees are obstructing the view, but in an artistic way. I can still get the shot.

As I put the viewfinder up to my eye, I hear a faint, high-pitched noise. It grows louder and sounds eerily like a bomb on its way to meet us.

She looks in my eyes and very solemnly says, “I’m sorry.”

In one exact moment, my finger presses the shutter of the camera and Saturn, with its rings and its moons, all too quickly comes into view. It rockets into the Earth with one giant explosion, stealing gravity and our breath with it. 

I sit stunned. Shocked. My mouth hovers right above the ground. Now I really don’t inhale.

Earth is gone. Saturn remains but is maimed. It slowly starts freezing. It turns to dust, which falls, blows away. Everything around it soon follows. The stars, the trees, the window sill. 

I stare at the camera and think about what a pity it is that I won’t be able to share this amazing photograph with anyone.


2 Responses to "So much left unsaid"

This is now far more fucked up than when you described it to me, thanks I love it

Glad you love it. It was always that fucked up, just swimming around in my head. I’m a better writer than orater I guess 🙂

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Collaborations of Abstraction

Two close (though, unfortunately, not in proximity) friends – a Welsh man living in Ireland and a Minnesotan woman living in Germany – come together to share musings, wit and random things of interest in this journey called life



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