Fiction from A.E. Weisgerber
Then he spiraled and lifted in the clouds
WHEN ISAAC PUNDFALD WAS ELEVEN, he had this dream. He stood near a snow-covered, frozen pond, then began plowing it with a scrap of plywood. When it was cleared, he waved himself over. He had on skates, but did not glide. The blades were shaped like contour intervals and Karp reductions. He stood on these cast-iron-ampersands, and pondered voids below calculations, a system below the ice.
He arrived two weeks early to his doctoral challenge. He’d never met his Cambridge adviser—only exchanged theories and proofs or passed along forms for course proposals, inoculations, and grants. Pundfald altered his waking and sleeping schedules so that, on arrival, he’d be razor-ready to defend his dissertation against them.
The pond became a spring of wine; he dammed off a little area and came back to it often, knelt on board scraps and drank his fill of sweet light. Once, he unbuttoned his shirt and removed his pants and there was no penis. He thought perhaps there was a gun in his hands, and he could not believe it, so he put on glasses and only then realized he held a black feather. He could think and transform it into a black marble—or a plaited lock of hair. He brought it to his lips and smelled Ivory soap. Sometimes, instead of a marble, it became a tree frog with big black eyes. The pouch, that sac under the frog’s neck, would bubble out, and that’s when he woke.
He anticipated the chair would zero in on closed loop equations, as Pundfald’s approach through Ergodics was terra nova, yet this fresh angle provided conditions that cracked Navier-Stokes, and guaranteed Pundfald and his handlers the next Fields Prize. His answers, concise and steady under turbulent interrogation, smoothed theories and locked calculations from any vector, forward or backward, through all eight dimensions.
In his dream, he would walk home from school and detour through the fields at the end point of the development. All the drainage swales pointed water to it. He recalled being late for exams because he was dousing for the paths of water below the surface. He was paralyzed.
One by one did Cambridge, Stanford, Yale push back from their desks. One by one they nodded their heads, and gripped his hand. He was going to be nominated for the Fields. He itched to return home to his own bed.
Sometimes he wore his best suit, the navy blue one, with a skinny paisley tie and a crisp white shirt, when he stood there. He held something in his hand, but refused to open his palm and lose it. Other times, he wore play-clothes. On these warm, redolent mornings where his clothes were always clean, his fingernails were smooth and shiny as sea pebbles. He stared at his palm, where a glossy little salamander fascinated him. His hand became a milkweed pod, and the chain of wishers danced away from his fingertips in a strong, steady reel of mathematics.
A.E. Weisgerber is a Best of the Net-, Best Small Fictions-, and Pushcart Prize-nominated author whose work will/does appear in places like SmokeLong Quarterly, Structo Magazine, The Collapsar, DIAGRAM, and Gravel. Recent non-fiction in The Alaska Star, Alternating Current, The Review Review, and Change Seven. She reads for Pithead Chapel, and is working on a novel about money, booze, and artists and an illustrated storybook called “Lives of the Saints.” Follow her on Twitter @aeweisgerber, or visit her website http://anneweisgerber.com.
[…] published at Atlas and Alice on 30 January 2017, with many thanks to Eds. Benjamin Woodard and Donald Quist for selecting it. ATLAS and ALICE […]