Tuck is a torch.He is alive in an allegorical cave, giving life to the skeletons within his walls.An insect on fire—the lord of the ants which have besieged the corner
of his lawn, bitten by summer.
Yet, Torch—no, Tuck—lives in his cave, an insect under a magnifying glass, his belly made into a waxen petal, his thorax pinched into a stalactite and his complexion privy to the light:visible only at noon, dissipated in the proliferation of morning as the hungry aardvark, sick with sleep, extends its long tongue, devouring a turgid expression as night does the moon.
Mid-afternoon and the roach wears a crown, his body cocooned—a stalagmite.But, what is that which is on his head?—a grapevine, connoting his kingship, or mourning it; an olive branch, begging the aid of my scorched hands—unbeknownst to him, my fingers are wicks, guilty of his punishment.
A mister, a tormentor, something decrepit painted "father", causes no raucous in his sun-soaked entrance."The usual" sends fingers buzzing and clattering despite the soft bread—bigger from inflation, or is that simply my eye, stubborn to see illusion where truth lies—choke it with meat and those star artichokes from the jar upon which our town prairie chuckles, itself a façade for a place where stones and premature passions lie.One slice, not two—have you no respect for the cost of cheese?—and don't forget the pickles—forgotten.Forgivable, as the tormentor is one by default:a Xerox of something human—once wedded to a country star look-alike, another copy—who would not find comfort in the salty and sour, as these feelings are incapable of him.
Is this grace, the coins realizing fragile desperation as they hang suspended in air?—turns to hung as gravity makes them clank, a quarter inch beyond the perimeter of hearing."Every Man's Sandwich Shop" is a paradox.This static alcove is far too simple—and therefore stark—for more than one sense to pervade.I choose touch, a nasty habit—Mother:don't touch this, don't touch that; led me to learn by osmosis all thirty six sandwiches (by then, my flesh had become the bread itself, fallen into an inescapable equilibrium—Father:his future is in the shop)—and, presently, a conversation with the wood:where did you get this scar?
Mister Tormentor is a quiet man because I am deaf; because it is true.The pickles go unnoticed.The adolescent smiles his pariah smile—it brims on something sanguine, but is muffled.
Ah, and there it is—the shame!Tuck, I have sealed your fate just as much as your tormentor has:let him in at the sandwich shop, and my heart he has tainted.My words are flowers, but they are impure:"I will rescue you."
Colossus, I am.Vengeance is cast upon silence in the form of rank and file:feet, frightened by some ancient fear, abrade.They manifest, my Romans!—and I lead my conquest to the barn where my fingers make lovers of latches, their bread drawn out by iron—this is what I am meant to do (did princes ever fall for other princes?)
Twelve, noon (remember those pickles!)—out of time if not for the adolescent's clumsiness—and the door springs open to reveal Tuck, metamorphosed into a voyeur:naked.What is this?A line, drawn by the sun, between us—in which I see what is on his head and realize he is a king, I a prince:on knees I sink (coins kiss death).Our gazes meet.I am sorry; I am a prince, never a king, and cannot walk past this line without being set aflame; and here are the tears, fresh and acrid from guilt—I'm sorry.
Tuck takes three steps forward and becomes an angel.
Yet, when he remains still and does not rise, my eyes come to focus:Tuck is no king or sorcerer—most of all, no angel.That is an illusion upon his head:a trick of the light, the true magician, who, after his prestige, has made his way through the barn door.
Tuck is a boy.Gaunt-faced, made barely human by a subhuman tormentor—who is just about to return!
"Run!" for we do not belong in heaven, or a kingdom, or anywhere quaint—here—
The sun scalds down our throats.Blinded by light, we let our senses devour us.
© Copyright 2016 Diana Christina. All rights reserved.
Short Story / Young Adult
Short Story / Science Fiction
Short Story / Science Fiction
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