Issue #69

Winter 2019

Six Short Fictions

by Catherine Vidler

Just in case

Into the desert alone again and yet I had planted these things Just In Case. Who knew how they lived without water your eyes. Day In and Day Out and then after a while they would lose their fade. My things were in fact self-identical across all the seasons and extras besides, which made the unfading even stranger. Perhaps I should say, then, that they 'unfaded'. Today, however, when I entered the door, when I opened it up and swung inside, I couldn't believe it. Because there you were. Oh Surely, it could only be you. No one else knew about my desert except for a flower I'd grown up externally and, well, realistically, it just wasn't interested. I didn't begrudge it, though. Not on the whole. There's a fault in my petals and they're all flecked with it.

I come

In for a letter or in for a series. Counterpart like an English speech move. See here. Designated device or representation. Something graphic. Particular move on the letter 9th. I come on purpose.


I went to the glass-house many times. I went there so often I'm almost surprised I didn't encounter myself. During my visits I saw the same plants, same ponds, same panes. Yet each time it felt like a different experience, unexplained by changes, noticed or not, which may have occurred in the interim. I was unable to shed a sensation that the flowers were looking back at me, with mouths or eyes I could never be sure. To a lesser extent, the leaves. It made me acutely uncomfortable, yet my capacity to accept their knowingness was so well lubricated I barely felt it being exercised. The absence of catastrophe in the aftermath of these episodes was salient. It built on itself in such a way that I began to look forward to the next invigilation. I wondered, earlier today, whether another visit might have been useful to ready myself for this small experiment. But the glass-house is not preserved in me. When I leave, its textured totality empties, supplanted by a schematic field where remainders bloom like ink or gas. There was never going to be a 'fresh mind' to bring to the matter. The glass-house had two parts to it, the second more challenging than the first. An act of entry to either section a kind of agreement, unspeakably brief. I say the word 'visit' reluctantly. I'd like to locate a mutual version. Do you remember the day we went to the glass-house? I know it's so easy to forget but if you recall we talked at length about the opaqueness, somehow undetectable from the outside, its talent for creative reflection. But that was after we'd laughed out loud at the sight of ourselves in the nearest glass, and some time or other before our sounds closed, like petals over a darkening centre.


Cloud-edged glasshouse. Cloud.
Dahlia. False. Agapanthus (Elaine), dahlia-
edged. Glasshouse, broken-edged?
False. Agapanthus (Elaine), cloud. False
glasshouse, broken dahlia. Glasshouse,
Agapanthus (Elaine). Cloud-edged Agapanthus (Elaine),
broken. Dahlia. False. Broken
cloud. Edged-glasshouse. Cloud.


Who would have thought my disbelief could renew itself like a fast flower every time I decided to visit this place? The rest is procedural, I accept that now, though in the past I could have been found uniquely resisting each step I made towards your door. It's obviously very hot in here, humidity something to pass out for, but what of this counter-sensory darkness? There you are. You've never looked more confident, though I'm not sure you realise I'm seeing you. Did you think I wouldn't notice just because you've made your face the same colour as all your other elaborations? And why are you always so close to the exit? I know I'm full of tedious questions but then again you never speak. There isn't a television in sight yet it looks to me like you're watching something, your attitude of relaxed arousal warmed by a small and radiant heater. What's on tonight? You turn to me. The delay is intensely miniscule before you return to primary stimuli. I'd like to approach you. There's not much room. If I'm going to do it I'm travelling alone. For the moment though I'm unable to move so I linger on this trembling threshold.

The meeting

Desperation would come later, but I recall the trace of its opposing counter-part, relief, as if plucked from the future and re-planted there like a residue-in-reverse. Of course I can only tell the story from one side, my account perhaps resembling a visual clue whose mystery will always be looking the other way. Indeed my pleasure was deep with a nervous surface, a pool with nowhere to go but down. And already I want to talk about the aftermath of stars, those clumsy ruminations on alternative routes, but as you can see I've gone too far. I'm always in a rush to nowhere. Desire and acceptance, uneasy with each other's presence, even at that time, were nonetheless relatively evenly weighted and I'd like to imagine them as an ambivalence of experts ultimately cancelling each other out. Sunlight was declaratory but peripheral, like a minor side-show at an amusement park. Cloud would come later, in various forms, eventually consolidating itself into a connective thread between several subsequent episodes (the present included). How many times can I revisit this? It's one thing to find a needle in a haystack, quite another to discover its insatiable eye. There's freshness in the externality of mode, certainly, but this content feels like a genie's lamp rubbed free of all detail, whenever and however decorated or inscribed. And as for the genie itself (if explicit mention is even required), that particular absence is surely implied.

Author Bio

Twentieth Anniversary Issue

Catherine Vidler's recent publications include 78 composite lost sonnets (Hesterglock Prote(s)xt, 2018), Lost Sonnets (Timglaset, 2018), collected composite lost sonnets (SOd press, 2018), lost sonnets (Spacecraft Press, 2018), table sets (no press, 2017), lake labyl (Penteract Press, 2017), table set poems (Penteract Press, 2017), table set poems (Spacecraft Press, 2017), lake labyl (SOd press, 2017), chaingrass errata slips (SOd press, 2017), chaingrass night and unresolved chaingrass tiling (SOd press, 2017), chaingrass (SOd press, 2016) and chaingrass (zimZalla Object 039, 2016). An edition of Lost Sonnets is forthcoming with edition taberna kritika, to be published by hartmut abendschein in Fall 2019.