Fiction from Kyle Hemmings
Believe or Fear Everything
After my breakdown that caused me to lose control of a bus (how it jackknifed and blocked an entire bridge at sunset), I was placed in Ward 6, where anyone could be anybody. There I met an old woman who called herself Greta Garbo. She lingered on my unintended smile. “When you give yourself a name,” she said, ” you inherit that person.” She often dressed like Alice in Wonderland and told me that the doctors had the audacity to look her straight in the face and say, “‘We just want you to feel safe and happy.’ I told them–like a barking fish you do.”
We shared cigarettes at break time in the courtyard. Her fingers, crooked and bony, shook. I asked her how long she had been here. She took a long drag, exhaled an abstract curvy form. “From the time, I discovered I had a fear of open spaces. We’re composed mostly of space and will return to it, did you know that? Death is not the end of life. It’s just a continuation of the space you were in or it is simply the origin of all spaces.”
“Spaces not species,” I said as if a joke to myself.
Her eyes drifted upwards. “To deal with this problem of inherent space, I tried to build the perfect soul mate. I took bone shavings, hair clippings, diary pages, the dried blood and semen, even the eyelashes of my dead lovers and attempted to make someone new and lasting and perfect. No holes at all.”
“Did you succeed?” I asked.
“No, he failed me like all the others. They all crumble, turn into multiple casualties of space…And you? Why are you here?”
“I accepted everything as it was given to me. But I couldn’t make out the overall shape, if there ever was one. Comets, cataclysms, flying rocks. Men falling into icy ponds, emerging as ducks. Girls with needy thumbs hooked me with a horizontal gaze. I remained a fragment.”
“Nothing worse than a bitch with a hidden stitch.” She winks at me. We’re led out of the courtyard.
That night I saw the old woman through closed eyes. She was sitting in the corner of the room, studying my bone structure, perhaps approximating the size of my anatomical cavities, as if she had X-ray eyes.
Kyle Hemmings lives and works in New Jersey. He has been published in Your Impossible Voice, Night Train, Toad, Matchbox and elsewhere. His latest chapbooks are Underground Chrysanthemums from Red Bird Press and Terminal from White Knuckle Press. He loves 50s Sci-Fi movies, manga comics, and pre-punk garage bands of the 60s. He blogs at http://upatberggasse19.blogspot.com/