Nothing means flat kisses or abandoned shoe stores wrapping old memories around their legs like faded scarves. Nothing means the absence of words, an empty cola bottle, a lack of soul. A black hole is better than nothing. Emptiness is better than nothing.
The cold cola bottle clutched in my arms sweats fat droplets while the sidewalk paints my feet red. I contemplate the idea of flatness beneath the artificial blue sky. I heard the Earth was flat from the reedy boy in the desk in front of me. He argued with our physics teacher about trajectory and speed, screaming, “Yes but it’s Aristotle…” I wasn’t paying attention. I only noticed when his desk remained empty, when he became a stone fingernail in the yard.
Maybe the Earth is flat. The sky is flat, listless, to me. I wield my cola bottle and tear wisps from the sky, stuffing the blue cotton candy against my hot, dry gums. The sky tastes like water. The sky tastes like nothing. The sidewalk is so hot it fries my feet into bacon. I would say an egg, but that’s a cliché, and clichés are husks. I am more original than the reedy boy in the Flat Earth Society. He vomited words others had digested, and then excreted, for thousands of years. I guess it killed him. Aristotle would shake his head, because if you say something long enough then it dies. People start thinking you’re cracked as a metaphorical egg.
I am so cracked that my soul has evaporated through the breaks in my skin and formed a puddle of yolk on the sidewalk. That is why I feel useless. I am the abandoned shoe store distorted through my cola bottle, old memories threading my legs together until I cannot run. I take a swig of soda, feeling my yolk fry around my feet. I watch my name around the cola glass obscure the floating green buildings: MARK. So ordinary it is printed on a cola bottle. Maybe that is why I feel like I am splintered, because if you make something ordinary, it perishes. I am nice and ordinary.
I am a flat kiss, a missing shoe, a vacant hotel. My soul is a well-done omelet, no spices, my name so common it graces thousands of labels. A cracked-up loony, that’s what I am, the ones you find dropped like pennies on street corners. I’ll die alone in an alley; become a stone fingernail in a yard with trillions of hands. Maybe I’ll join the reedy boy in Flat Heaven. We’ll discuss Aristotle.
Do the laws of nature permit a yolk to be un-fried? The sidewalk is cold beneath my feet. The cola bottle, half empty, has stopped sweating in the sun. I take my last chug and look at the dusty buildings wavering through the green glass until they break into streaks of dirt. At least those Flat Earth guys have a purpose. I am drained like a bottle. I will flit around this dusty, abandoned town; grow old on cold cola and stray bits of cloud. It’s not terrible to have an absence of purpose. When you die, your shell floats away, turns into sand. Your soul becomes
Sylvia is a writer from Ohio. She is working on improving her writing and struggles with keeping her cat off the keyboard.
(The inspiration came from bicycling through the neighborhoods around my street. It’s not a great area, and all I could think about is that all these people grew up in my town, got funneled through school, and basically then returned back and died, unnoticed, and that this cycle was repeated hundreds, perhaps thousands, of times. It was a little chilling. Based on these reflections, I decided to write a protagonist, Mark, that becomes a little crazed by the monotony but, at the same time, notices how easily one is caught in a cycle of “ordinary-ness.”)