Fiction / November 2007 (Issue 1)

Cutting Down The Sway

by J.A. Tyler

From his bedroom they were whispers of olive green dragging tendrils on the rotary cut lawn. And the bed was a poster king masked in blurred white net. And when he returned from the cragged eastern islands there was a click inside, something like the tip of a record player arm touching the rivets of black waxy music. And then he'd cut them down, each one, to the stumps and roots and base of everything.
His daughter was an actress loving men on stage and raising kids at home and his son was skipping universities through his veins and preparing press clips for news feeds. And his grandkids were round-faced and cuddly or gaunt-eyed and happily pretending and he loved them all with speed and the arm gathering hugs of a weathered salt and pepper beard.
But his wife was stone cold dead in the midst of it all. A disease named for discovery and not for cure had eaten her blue eyes from back behind, creating rims of milky moons that pricked her eyelids into endless twitching. And she'd needed a check-up the Christmas before last and a cane at her niece's wedding and a wheelchair the time they went to Disneyland. And she'd broken her softened jaw chewing the easy tangibility of a morning granola bar.
Business for him had been full of languages learned piecemeal and weeks away. Climbing up from a funeral that cost more than his first car and dragged his already limpid heart underneath shovelfuls of dirt. Sales were strong and money was right but there was nothing to stop the wind from searing through the cracks in his walls.
And suddenly, when the click inside occurred, he could no longer take the peaceful bliss of black and white yin yang. But the beauty of it shattered on the hallway hardwood was sunny and glorious and made him smile again. And then it was the small figurines of Asian heroes and religious statuettes and a plate declaring Sun Tzu phrasing that joined the smattering of glass and ceramic and paint crushing between the floor and the hiking boots he'd taken in exchange for his well-worn sandals.
And later he'd burned his small collection of curious anime and desecrated the stacks of digital kung fu because even in the violence of these arts he saw her face stolen in gouging chunks by the slithery eastern moon. Because he'd been gone too long and the ravishing had progressed too fast and when the kids were out of the house it was hard to stay connected for longer than a meal or a heated night or a balancing of the checkbook.
So when the slivered moon rose in the bluish end of a summer sky and the arms of those weeping trees brushed taunting him, he lay in a motionless and lonely bed envisioning chainsaws. And as he watched those swaying liquid branches they were resonant of the loss and the pain and the self-loathing he felt after losing her buttery crested and silk-lined heart. And he slept much better having reduced the yard to rubble. But even in his dreams he still longed to break that moon before it could drift from here to the east on a dazzling horrible boat of black glass and stars and the loss of something sudden but somehow already mostly missing.
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