Maybe I Should Stick to Prose: Six – A Jarred Childhood

6 Mar

A Jarred Childhood

We were surrounded. An army, enclosing, edging in with wasted fingers outstretched.

When went in, they did not seem so intimidating; watery specks, bits of festering fungi, floating in air. But as we edged around the circle, marvel quickly crumbled. A carnival of faces; eyes slit, legs crossed, delicate fingers caressed brittleness, fragile skulls flowered to expose festering brains within, just beneath the surface.

I stopped to watch a woman pass me, a broad smile smeared across her face. I thought this strange, figuring it out of place. But just as she, every woman I saw wandered by with the same twisted grin.

They were so excited to witness the miracle of birth, the growth of something so small into something more; something you could hold, love, watch play; something you could scold, watch scratch crayon across a wall, read to before bed; something you could comfort after a nightmare, nurse after catching a cold, let pout at the breakfast table; something you could watch slumber in your arms, bandage after a scrapped knee, pick up screaming off the floor; something you could watch grow up, see off to school, help dress for an interview; something you could give keys to, get flowers from, meet the lover of.  This was what they saw; they saw beauty.

I closed my eyes; I wanted to see this beauty more than anything. But when I opened them I only saw a grim certainty; webbed fingers, covering, scratching, a withered, wry face, frozen in time. An imagined childhood, wasted in a jar.

“Are you okay?” His hand swept across my back.

I hadn’t noticed that my mouth was open, eyes frozen and expressionless.

“What?”

“You just looked really strange. Is everything alright?”

My eyes wandered to the side, “Yeah. Fine.” I turned my back to him.

They were almost human, almost people. How do you draw the line; how do you define them as people? Would you describe them to be an It? Its? Perhaps “how” was the wrong question to ask. When do you define them as people? At fifty-seven days they have fingernails.

I wound my way through the crowded circus, faces, vacuous, to reach the end.

I stepped forward, anxiously, to meet the king of kings. The hairs on its head were poised, afloat. Its forehead crinkled, waiting, worried. But what could it have been worried about? For something that would never come? A light that would never be seen? The touch of a mother that would never be felt? I could almost see the air bubbles burst.

It took me a minute to realize that they were all dead.

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