Serial Library passage Sept 6

7 Sep

“Ricky Jervais is a name,” said Femur. “Sure. Of course. I get that. I can see that. But that’s not how you spell it. It’s only a name. It isn’t spelled at all. Ricky Jervais is a pod of letters standing in front of a man, or a boy, or even a girl maybe.”

When I was first brought to this place, this terrible place of worship, the sea ran fast, the river crossed over, and death was a rumour I’d heard only once. Now everything was imminent and the breath of the world enveloped me in its hoary halitosis.

Sea is death. Death is river crossing over and losing itself, losing its character as river, entering the big black lack of light that is a giant body of water such as the sea.

A pod of love fell upon them that winter and, whumpf! Wham! Warm air hovering over them. Warm loving air that spread out around them like disease, like the lower part of the body wasted away, like the lower part of a nuclear holocaust, the part we never pay much attention to, the part of the nuclear cloud that spreads out around the base of the mushroom and crushes everything sideways, like cars and people and buildings and pets and potted plants and everything flying sideways like trying to escape from your own most recently exhaled breath. It can’t be done. You can’t do it.

“We made a kind of pact,” Septum explained. “The beach wept. We turned south.”

There was resilience in Femur’s voice, and acceptance, and solidarity, and silence.

“I don’t believe that love grows stronger with time,” said Femur. “I believe that love springs out at unexpected moments and when it is gone it leaves nothing behind.” The ice was thawing. “You would think,” said Septum, “that your life begins in the moment you are born. But you would be wrong.”

“It is your fallen face that shows most obviously who you are and what you are trying to be,” said Femur. Septum leaned on the table despondently. She slunk her head into her arms and cradled herself urgently till she felt warm and safe again. “It makes you vulnerable to theft, murder and all the bad things that happen at the bottom end of a movie,” said Femur, “or a book. It is the place where we run out of imagination, so that all we can do now is create another explosion of death among our characters. Our characters are our friends, our only friends, yet we kill them ceaselessly. How could anyone care any less? How could anyone show less care than we do now as we put our characters to death?”

The dinner was on the table, steam rising. It looked far too hot to eat. It was pasta. Steamy pasta. “It looks too hot to eat,” said Femur. “Just come to the table,” said Septum.

Septum stands at the big bay window behind Femur’s desk and looks out at the city, watching time scrabble across the sky like a crab walking crosswise toward an unknown destination. We hope for a friend. We hope. But what the crab has in its head will never be understood. What Septum is thinking is something only she can understand, and even she is having trouble.


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