ne of them came
loose. It fell into the coffee cup I was about
to drink from. Everybody in the lunchroom saw. They were all watching,
staring at me.
I had to choose: either pretend not to have noticed and take a
sip and risk swallowing it, or put the cup down on the table and, implicitly
admitting that the most embarrassing thing in the world--the universe--had
occurred, let myself be engulfed by the dark, scornful laughter.
A third possibility was to create a diversion, so I could sneak
off for a quick refill. But I would need help for this, an accomplice,
someone trustworthy. . . Harold from Accounting? Fay from Personnel? Gina
in Marketing? I would also need a secret signal, perhaps a subtle glance at
the light switches, or a . . .
No, I thought. Forget it. There is no time to plan a
diversion. I have no accomplices. People have already started tittering. I
can feel their eyes bearing down on me, the derision and cruelty in them.
This is it.
I tightened my grip on the handle. My thumbnail went white. I
steadied my forearm, lifted it a little farther. The tittering dropped to a
hush. Don't tremble, I told myself as the cup touched my lips. Don't show
them your fear. Then I raised my elbow and torqued my wrist. The cup seemed
to tip up of its own accord, with no effort on my part. The silence of the
lunchroom was profound.
Looking down, I observed the shimmering black hole. It got
closer, and larger, until it filled my field of vision. I felt myself being
truncated, pulled inside. The lights seemed to all go out, as if a
collapsing star, winking out of existence . . .
orry," he said, standing out on the balcony.
"What?" she said from inside.
There'd been an argument, a big one.
"Hold on," he said, coming in.
She didn't want--among other things--to spend Thanksgiving with
"I said I'm . . . . "
He noticed something about the way she was dressed, about her
green slacks and tan sweater.
"You know, you blend in perfectly."
He refused--among other things--to get a cat.
"With the easy chair," he said. "The color of your clothes . . .
She glanced down at herself, at where she was sitting, and looked
up at him with a puzzled expression.
"You couldn't hear me because you were camouflaged."
She saw his mouth move, but there were still no words.
"What are you saying?"
He pulled her up, so she was standing. Then he walked back out
to the balcony and they started over.
ne phase, not necessarily the first, uses a stroking motion,
which travels along the sole of your foot and causes your big toe to rise.
Do not be concerned if there is a sluggish response, or by the removal of
whisper-thin slices of calf. Do not be concerned when the new springs are
Another phase, sometimes referred to as "Babinski in a Basket,"
radiates out from your instep before looping overhead. You will assume a
supine position at this point, with arms crossed and resting on your chest.
Then you will attempt to sit up. If no emission takes place, and if there
are no signs of a limp, you will get to increase your posture by half.
Though the final phase does not always occur at the end, you might
expect it to, and so, well--in any case, it lasts only a short while. And
since your gait now seems almost all better, one detects a note of
anticipation, a slight quaver of joy in your voice. You say, "Babinski, mon
amour," and this alters the degree of tenderness. Even the dizzy spells
pass. You can kick straight again. The whole team welcomes you back to the
Marc Kipniss holds a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from the
University of Washington. His stories and poems have appeared/will appear in
Black Warrior Review, Salt Hill, Bogg, Short Fuse, Etcetera, Nerve Cowboy,
Pangolin Papers, Parting Gifts, American Tanka, Happy, The Maverick Press,
Dirigible, Pudding Magazine, The Silver Web, and Neotrope. He has published
criticism in The Journal of the Kafka Society of America, Discourse,
Rethinking Marxism, and The Cincinnati Romance Review.
Back to the Top
Issue 3 |
copyright by author 2000 all rights reserved