FragLit

an online magazine of fragmentary writing

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Solitude

Fall 2010 :: Current Issue

2010 :: Issue 7/Fall :: Solitude

Assays

James Geary

Fragile, gelatinous, bubbles ripple into existence from the thinnest of liquids, composed of nothing more substantial than some surface tension and the syrup of their own viscosity.

Perhaps the precariousness, and ultimate futility, of their lives makes them corpulent, lazy. At first, they seem to want to climb but are quickly resigned to their fate, drifting gently earthward at a grave yet stately pace.

Still, they are never less than elegant, shimmering and flashing all the colors of the spectrum during their descent.

Exhausted by the effort of holding themselves together, they pop with an almost audible sigh of relief.

We are in awe of these lovely blobs of ectoplasm because they do, however briefly, defy gravity.

This is also why we’d like to live inside them, preferring to ignore the enormous destructive force unleashed when they burst.

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Doors. What are they but holes with hinges, lidded interstices?

They are almost nothing, a frame around empty space, yet everything swings on them.

They stand there indifferent, impenetrable, not caring whether we go out or come in.

We hurry through them, never sure in doing so whether we have just accepted an invitation or ignored a warning, never even sure if we’re entering or exiting.

Some doors open so fast and so wide we mistake them for abysses; others shut so subtly and so slowly we never notice them closing.

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Dust. It is ubiquitous but hidden, until sunlight streams through a window to reveal that we are swimming in it.

It swirls around and surrounds us like krill in an ocean current. We cannot escape it. It falls like rain, incessantly, until it covers everything, like silt at the bottom of a lake.

The slightest movement stirs up whole galaxies of the stuff, spiral nebulae of hair follicles and skin flakes. We move from day to day, from room to room, like comets, shedding shreds and fragments in our wakes.

When the light changes, though, the trail vanishes. Dust still swarms in secret onto every surface, but we can’t see it.

Even what is nearest, most prolific, is invisible unless properly lit.

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Ice-skating on a frozen lake at night is the closest we come to flight without actually leaving the Earth. Each stroke slices off another layer of ice, leaving you with that much less ground beneath your feet, speeding between two great darks.

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