Issue #69

Winter 2019

The Growing Compromise

by Ken Poyner

Like most, I thought the Spinners a fad. Something that had come out of nowhere, established itself like crabgrass or dandelion paupers in the shrubbery. Perhaps they were the victims of the ill-adopted custom of another country. Foppery.

We thought the adherents could not keep up the constant twirling, could not find ways to fit the necessaries of their lives into the spinning style. So many practical things could not be done while spinning. Balance just in spinning was trouble enough. How could they sew or harvest or sweep or climb ladders with a spin? Surely, they would soon start a list of exceptions, and it would grow until spinning itself was the exception vice the rule, and eventually common sense would lead them back to common sense.

We Straight-walkers were suspicious of their perversely sidling ways.

But then, there were small businesses that began to cater to them. Instruments with customized handles, differently angled faces, platforms vice steps, were created. Industry rushes in to meet the opportunities of even insanity. Spinners became a source of revenue for many. So many new accoutrements had to be created, a reasonable slice of market could be made out of servicing the silliness of Spinners. We laughed as we watched them learn new ways to open doors, engage crosswalk signals, accomplish a meal, collect groceries. When a new-fashioned tool could assist them, an entrepreneur would step in, find a solution, make a profit, make it easier to be a Spinner.

A level of acceptance, along economic opportunity, was afforded them. But they were still an expression of ill-fitting.

I laughed with all the others until I saw Mirabo spin by. We had had some exchanges when we were both Straight-walkers; but now, Mirabo as a Spinner had more presence twirling with her, an extra weight. Her face spinning past seemed to flash of new purpose; her lilt was more erect, more confident even in this bizarre practice. Physically, as with all the Spinners, she was thinner than common for our society, ceding calories to the spin, growing leaner and more longly muscular. But she had added somehow to her cadence, expanded her grasp of the metaphysical, seized a gravity she had not possessed before. When at first she spun by, I was amused – but then my eyes were inclined to follow her, to notice how elegant her spinning was, if you let go of its impracticality. She seemed to pull a bit of primordial, exciting space with her

Our first date was a negotiation of norms. The rhythm of her speech conformed to the twirling of her head: pauses held until she was speaking away from me, content saved for when her mouth was rotating pleasantly back towards me. All of that date was an exploration of how a Straight-walker might have a more than casual relationship with a Spinner. We could not be careful. We could not afford to think our focus forward: the smothering practicalities of even our tentative togetherness required us to see a relationship as being conquered or consolidated by the physics required to make the relationship hold competing and cooperating dimensions.

What we learned is that to be a couple, each must give up something. The Straight-walker must understand the centripetal force of the Spinner; the Spinner must understand the fixed gravity that lurks everywhere around and which is the sustenance of the Straight-walker. One is an imposition, one is a choice, though which is which changes.

As the relationship moved on, we learned that many of the most cherished intimacies can only be accomplished when couples spin together – which, paradoxically is one partner spinning, and the other stationary, affixed to the one spinning. Odd that the pinnacle of spinning could be a matter of being fixed, tethered to someone else who is spinning, spinning one’s self only at the impetus of the partner. But there is canon for it.

When we announced our marriage, both sets of parents were disapproving. Mixed marriages at the time were unheard of. Everyone wondered how any intimacy could be accomplished, not only Straight-walker to Spinner, but even Spinner to Spinner. The canon was in its infancy. The physics and biomechanics were our experiments. Our reports to the field were the map of future tolerances. It was difficult to speak of, but we spoke.

Our families were despairing of children. How could we produce? Greater than their horror at the likelihood of our barrenness was their horror of imagination at how we might produce, the Straight-walker and the Spinner. The mechanics of it was what befuddled and angered them.

But when Mirabo at last conceived, their consuming worry was: Straight-walker or Spinner? I tried to advise all sides that neither of us knew, that it was not within our power to decide. We would be as surprised as they, as much in the dark, as consumed with the mathematics of expectations as they.

As the time for Mirabo’s confinement approaches, we fill the room our Spinning mid-wife has suggested for the birth with pillows, foam, and volumes of the soft. Mirabo will spin at the center, creating her own gravity, arms out or in as the contractions demand. I will be kept in the room one over until the event has passed, pacing in my straight lines, subject to gravity but not creating it. Only when all is concluded will I be told: the new life looks but one way at a time and howls a consistent birth-moan -- or around and around and around goes the hybrid’s attention, the cries rising and falling and rising circularly in tonal frequency. I am sure I will love my child in lines or circles as best fits the geometry of needs.

Author Bio

Twentieth Anniversary Issue


Ken Poyner's collections of short fiction, Constant Animals and Avenging Cartography, and his latest collections of poetry, Victims of a Failed Civics and The Book of Robot, can be obtained from Barking Moose Press. He serves as bewildering eye-candy at his wife's power lifting affairs. His poetry lately has been sunning in Analog, Asimov's, Poet Lore; and his fiction has yowled in Spank the Carp and Red Truck; his story, "The Detached Regularity," appeared in Issue #42 of The Cafe Irreal; "Suspicion" in Issue #49; "The Taming of the Orikind" in Issue #57; "The Revenge of the House Hurlers" in Issue #63; and "Lover's Art" in Issue #67.