In the seconds between glimpsing away and back again, as I watched the sun, the cat rubbed me against my legs. I have seen her become thinner; her bones rearranging themselves and her deafness irrelevant to her calling. She has taken to lying with legs pressed tightly against the floor in strange parts of the house; I turn around a corner and she’s there, trying to call out to me. I walk outside, my bare feet raking over the dry ground as if it were late in the summer, maybe August and I go toward the Magnolia tree at the edge of the lawn, the folds of green leaves threatening to swaddle me; something like the thick, sweet humidity that closes around our throats and presses us face down in the dirt. And I would become irritable. But, I stretch toward a white flower; I can’t reach it and pause as the smell flares up primal, and then I am blindly stumbling, reeling back to my place inside.
Right now the wasps surround everything: one tapping on the glass, legs dangling in the air. More fly around the red brick house in dimmed monotony, and I remember the times I lived here with the deaf lady that we took care of when I was only eleven. I wanted to write under that tree but I had no notebook or pen. The air was cooler now and it caressed my face. I took two stones and hit them together, watching some sparks as they flew into the air and they turned into fairies and danced around my head. I was obviously dreaming now.
“Reality made more room for imagination”, I heard someone once say. I think it was John Lennon.
It’s the first time I’ve seen summer fireflies this year and I smile up at them. I remember asking my mother what it was holding, when I was very small.
“It looks like a lantern.” I say. “Maybe it’s to help them see at night?”
“Their butt lights up.” She told me.
The lights of other cars reflect the grime on the windshield; beyond this are their bodies, like lighthouses, guiding each other. One sparks up near the black forelock of a mare: she is mine as much as the earth is mine to own, but she stands beside us, her hooves rooted in the clay.
After a moment or so a beetle is struggling on the pavement, as I sit under the magnolia tree. It’s wings fluttering and full of tremors, trying to right itself again and again. I watched it, closely until it started to grow in something bigger growing legs and soon his wings turned into arms and a head appeared with long hair and slight rugged beard. When he stood up, it was a man in a suit. But it wasn’t just any man. It was John Lennon.
“Hello Mate.” He said.
“Yes. That is right.”
“You were a beetle.”
“I was a beetle. Now I am a man.”
“Would you like to take a walk with me?” I ask.
“That would be very nice.” He said.
As we walked down the block, John asked this question out loud.
“Imagine how simple the world would be if we were all just beetles?”
“Yes but things wouldn’t be the same in the long run.”
“Never underestimate the power of ones imagination. A beetle if given a chance could prove to be just as powerful as humans. Evolution is about chance and so is life. It’s all about chance. Imagine if what the world would be or could be like if that rock never hit earth millions of years ago. If instead it was thrown out of orbit, away from earths atmosphere, if Jupiter had gotten a hold of it in time and smashed it with its magnetic force? Things would be different. Very different. We may not have had a chance.”
“My cousins used to say that the only creatures that could evolve into an intelligent species are ones that have opposable thumbs, I would question them and say what does a thumb have to do with someone’s intelligence? I also said: disposable thumbs. And they’d correct me, “It’s opposable. Disposable is something you throw away.
You don’t decide that you don’t want your thumb anymore and throw it in the garbage so you could grow a new one.”
We walked together pass my old school and the deli and gas station I used to go to when I was younger that since then has been closed down for years. Under the glare of the gas station’s lights, the heat of the day is plastered on everyone’s silent faces as our glances beat against one another; my knees could buckle under the rolling weight of the air.
“I used to always go here when I was younger. My best friend and I would take walks and get sandwiches at this deli.”
“So what’s stopping you now?”
“It’s closed down.”
“What do you mean? The place looks open to me.” He said.
“This is how it always appears in my dream. It’s been years since I’ve been back and everything changed.” I said.
“Let’s make the best of it now.” John insisted. “You want your sandwich and you will have it.”
We walked in and he bought me my sandwich: liverwurst on a roll with mustard, tomato and cheddar cheese, he the same and for a drink the choice of Yoo Hoo, chocolate milk. We found a park bench and sat on it and enjoyed our lunch.
“John, do you think things are going to get better in the world?”
“I sure hope so, but our society is run by insane people for insane objectives. I think we’re being run by maniacs for maniacal ends and I think I’m liable to be put away as insane for expressing that. That’s what’s insane about it. People are so depressed lately. The sun barely shines as bright as it used to. Here comes the sun. That’s such a happy song. I don’t think it has the same meaning for people now it did years ago. But I wish it did. The sun is our life giving and the foundation that we arrive from. The sun does not take anything away from us. It just gives life. It is selfless. It gives and never asks anything in return.”
I nodded. I completely understood.
“I don’t like the way things are headed.” I say.
“You don’t have to head there. The maniacs, they will try to break down every individual that has the power to strive away from that madness, which is also insane on their part. You can’t let them control you. If you want to fly you can fly. If you want to sing, you can sing as loud as your heart is content. You want to believe that unicorns, or dragons or fairies exist so be it. We’ve got this gift of love, but love is like a precious plant. You can’t just accept it and leave it in the cupboard or just think it’s going to get on by itself. You’ve got to keep watering it. You’ve got to really look after it and nurture it. Love is the answer, and you know that for sure; Love is a flower; you’ve got to let it grow. Yeah we all shine on, like the moon, and the stars, and the sun but we push ourselves to get there by moving, not by sitting and waiting for the opportunity to fall into our laps. We either progress or deteriorate. It’s all down to you, mate.”
I watched the sun as it hid behind a cloud and I thought about a question that was sitting on the tip of my tongue and whether or not I should ask it. I just knew I had to know the answer. I may never have had the chance to ask him again. I turn at John as he seemed to be fixated on his own thoughts. What an intelligent and peaceful man he was, to think that once people followed his ideas, dreams and principles. A lot agreed with his outlook but many did not. Being in the spotlight was a risk that he was willing to take, that many forgo because of fear or rejection. I wondered if a man like him would be good for us now, maybe we need someone optimistic enough to make us feel better in a time where everyone is struggling, or would people not even care for what he has to say? Most closed minded people shut their eyes and ears to the truth. Nothing is heard, nothing is seen. Nothing is changed. So many people are full of apathy and hatred and violence. And more people are being recognized or idolized for the wrong reasons. Even though I never knew John on a personal level and the only time I ever met him was in a dream world where he visited me, I felt I knew him well enough to write about the experiences. I looked up at the sun again remembering I still had that question sitting there, waiting for me to ask it. I hoped not to stir up any painful memories for him, but I had to know. I turn to John again after taking a deep breath.
“I have a question. I hope it’s not too hard for you to answer it.” I say.
“Ask and we shall see.”
“Are you angry at Mark David Chapman for what he did to you?” I asked him.
“I have no time to be angry. God has spoken to me and I must forgive, even the person that took my life. To make peace with others, we must make peace with ourselves. In heart I am still living.”
I wake up in my bed and I find the cat, paws beside my pillow, eyes half closed; I can see her eyelids moving slowly to look at me from where I am laying. I was listening to Beatle songs from my turntable. Before she can open her eyes, I turn out the light.
© Copyright 2016 Joanna Strafford. All rights reserved.
Book / Literary Fiction
Short Story / Literary Fiction
Short Story / Literary Fiction
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