‘Backward Planning’, John Young

(Prizewinner, Mirrormask/Flashes of Darkness Competition, 2005)

Artwork by Djibril

 [ Backwards: image (cc) 2005 Djibril ] Someone handed me a rope and stepladder and pointed at an oak tree.

But before that, someone handed me a match. I don’t remember who. I struck it on my tooth, spat out the residue, and dropped the flame in a stream of gasoline. Substances mingled and the fire darted toward my lawn. Neighbors had gathered to watch, but I was as lonely as winter.

Everything important was on the lawn: books, photographs, marriage certificates, divorce papers, pink slip to the car, degrees, title to my house. All gone. Just like that.

I was told I would feel liberated—that I would experience revelation once freed from the material world. But, I think they missed something. Me, my material.

Before that, someone handed me a brochure. A colorful thing, really. It spoke of friends, communities, people like me who had it with this life and were ready for something better, something real. It had directions. Call this number, or visit this web site. I did both. They were right back to me. I listened to a woman on the phone and her words sang; her silences inspired; her reassurance of discounted toll charges comforted me.

Then there were visits to the colony, and then the levitating, and then the moment was right.

Still, before that, things really fell apart. Cindy left me. But before that, Cathy left me when she learned about Cindy. Before that is fuzzy.

Kind of like the stuff growing on the side of this oak tree. Fuzzy, green and spongy.

Then there was a pat on the back, a kick of the stepladder, and then nothing after that.

© 2005 John Young

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