Two Fictions from Zann Carter

What You Do With Death

Death

Original images via morgueFile

1

When death suddenly appears in your house, grabbing the comfortable chair, underfoot like a big, stupid dog, you endlessly describe it to friends:

Death is an exotic creature whose movements mesmerize, whose ragged mouth opens without provocation, whose name contains sounds humans cannot reproduce.

Death is the walnut table with family pictures, growing heavier, denser, collapsing. A black hole in the living room. Bizarre permutations of time. Undependable physics.

Death occupies your house like something you couldn’t pass up at a rummage sale, a free sample, a circular addressed to ‘resident,’ offering cheap garden hoses. A thing you have no use for, a thing you can’t part with because you might.

2

Your friends describe death:

A huge, dark stickiness, clinging to windows.

A shining silver ball whizzing past your ear.

Death rattles Momma’s china.

It builds a piano in your heart and plays only black keys.

It pulls books from the shelves and writes marginalia.

Death weeps in the corner, saying it’s life’s unwanted baby.

First, it wants a blanket, then grabs the whole bed.

Death absorbs a room’s light and sends it back, crackling along optic nerves.

If you touch it, death wiggles and squirms and slides away.
No, it nuzzles close, making sad harmonica sounds.

3

You long to move freely, go to the bathroom, do laundry or read books without death staring at you. You wish death would, at least, blink. You feed it pastries. You nudge it down the hall so you can open a door.You squeeze it under the sofa so you can vacuum.

When company comes, you hang death in the closet. It slips off its hanger and interrupts conversation, cranky, wanting attention. You apologize for death’s rudeness, hang it up again, secretly stroking it like a soft old cloak.

Mornings, everyone reports death traveled through the house all night, opening closet doors, reading diaries, slipping like silk into dreams.

4

You hang death on the front door. It knocks loudly all day. Neighbors complain. You stick death in a kitchen cupboard. It leaps out every time you get a glass. Stuffed into the junk drawer, death tangles extension cords, bits of twine and paper clips. Melts candle stubs. Coupons become too soggy to use.

You wrap death in blue tissue, pack it in an unlabeled box you put in the basement on the special occasion shelf by Christmas Ornaments, above Halloween Costumes and Easter Baskets. When you leave, death howls and moans in the dark, making everyone nervous and crazy.

5

Desperate, you take death to the attic. It spreads out, floating, rippling like a frisky parachute. Death loves it here, with baby clothes and velvet dust and moth wings. It glides like a smile through the rain and light that streams through holes in your roof.

All day while you wash dishes, or scrub the tub, you hear death bumping softly against rafters. At night, in your sleep, you feel death wandering out, singing through all the restless stars.

 

Two Hearts

Two Hearts

OPENING SCENE:
Music, something simple ONE guitar MAYBE a recorder
a bus terminal (perhaps)

HE is here —————->

<—————- SHE is there

exchanges are made:
1. a smile / raised eyebrows
2. names (possibilities: Giselle/Leon; Ogden/Babette, etc.)
3. telephone #’s

 

SCENE TWO
A stairwell
Shadows
Smells of incense, HER eerie perfume and popcorn (being cooked in Apt. 2C by a widow for her only son who has come to visit for the first time in months…only to borrow money (a gambling problem?) of course and she knows it and pretends she doesn’t)

HE (Ogden/Leon) and SHE (Giselle/Babette, etc.) KISS

 

SCENE THREE
Windows.
City visible out of one, the other is dark but for a sliver of moon.

………………………………………………………………………..(WHAT is
THEY gaze out of two windows, backs turned to EACH OTHER     going on
…………………………………………………………………………here???
……………………………………………………………………………..ennui??
…………………………………………………………………………fear?)

(rain, lightning in both windows, ROSE curtains ghosty billowing)

 

SCENE FOUR
Pouting with TULIPS
a GAME of rummy (some nights SHE wins, some nights HE wins. Random.)

Improvised conversation about extremely personal things.

 

SCENE FIVE
Dinner (anything may be served only BREAD is mandatory)
NO dancing

HE winks
SHE laughs (reverse on Mon, Wed. Fri)
THEY eat until all food is consumed.

CURTAIN

REPEAT FROM SCENE TWO UNTIL AUDIENCE OR ONE OF THE ACTORS PASSES AWAY.

Zann Carter is a poet, fiber artist and the head groundskeeper of th’ poetry asylum (a sort of moveable literary collective) in Terre Haute, IN. She co-hosts a monthly poetry reading now in its 8th year and occasionally presents workshops on healing through expressive arts and storytelling. Her poetry has been published most recently in SageWoman, Dirty Chai, The Healing Muse, Misfitmagazine and, forthcoming, Witches & Pagans. She has twice received the Grand Prize in the Max Ehrmann Poetry Competition. Her desperately-in-need-of-updating website and blog can be found at www.zanncarter.com.

1 Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s