When Kenton walked in from the garage, arms full of groceries, Pix was intently studying the back of her hand.
Kenton was immediately on his guard. "What are you up to?" he said. "What have you done?"
"What do you mean?" said Pix, long forked tongue flicking(more) in and out as she spoke. "I'm just admiring the work of my esthetician."
"You only go to the salon when you're in a really good mood, and you're only ever in a really good mood when you've just done something insane to help you get over being in a really BAD mood."
Pix tossed her hand and shrugged. "You think you know me SO well. I had no special motivations. I just went. Can't you just be happy about how nice I look today?"
"Oh, yes, definitely." Kenton rolled his eyes at his wife and plunked the grocery bags down on the counter. "Your beautiful, reptilian scales are glowing with a healthy lime-green sheen. You look exquisite. It has something to do with the neighbours' dog, doesn't it?"
"Relax, K. I didn't do anything to that yapping rat. This was a completely spur-of-the-moment beautification, honestly."
"Your spontaneity is exactly what has me worried. You may be cold-blooded, but you're hot-headed. If that dog is hurt, so help me, I'll break your heat lamp."
"I didn't hurt it. I just... annoyed it a little."
Kenton sighed and popped his head out the front door and peered into the neighbours' yard. A pitiful-looking Yorkshire Terrier was quivering at the edge of the lawn, whining softly and pawing at its shock collar, staring at a chew toy that sat just out of reach beyond the line that marked the invisible fence.
The first time it happened, she was studying at the kitchen table; palmaris longus, flexor digitorum, the intrinsic and extrinsic muscles of the hand. The colored illustrations swam and seemed unreal, the table unfamiliar. Momentarily, she became a stranger inside herself, her finger on the(more) page like that of an actor in a movie. Then, suddenly, she was back.
It jarred her.
She recalled sitting in the bathtub as a child, staring at the square pattern on the linoleum while her perception suddenly changed. Through some trick of vision, some loosening of geometry, the squares jumped out in stark 3D, the floor turning into large fantastical cubes that would turn back into linoleum if she moved her eyes at all.
That was 36 years ago.
It began to happen more frequently, this reverse deja vu. Once she was driving on the highway and the world outside the windows became unfamiliar, the road something she had never seen. Another time she was feeding Leather, her African grey, bits of rice on her shoulder. The curtain of unreality descended in a flash, and just as suddenly lifted.
It was the moments behind the curtain that were the most terrifying.
She began to wonder if this was early dementia. She wondered if she was going crazy. She worried that the blotter of LSD she ate 20 years ago was seeping from her fat in tiny surges, something she read before in a popular magazine.
Existential questions nagged at her. Where does a sense of familiarity come from? Who is the I in my brain? How does my brain think about itself? Is reality a fiction propogated by a neurotransmitter? What is real? Aren't we all just combinations of electrons whirring around empty space?(less)
I'm studying myself.
Dig in and open my center page
I don't know the language
swirling in three-dimensional tornado faces.
(more) Sit, breathe in rose mind knowledge
Dig in and open my center page
the language of the universe
a river flowing through my chakras(less)
the library was quiet by evening. the majority of students commuted to the urban university from the suburbs and from across the city. by 5:00 they had fled to night shifts or families and left the campus all but deserted.
(more) on the fourth floor, flanked by a wall of windows, he watched the setting sun reflected in the downtown skyscrapers. the cloudless midwestern sky began to deepen to darker shades of blue. it was his favorite time of day, when he felt the full force of his talent.
blocks of text filled the laptop screen exposing a prose style more reminiscent of the 18th century than his own. original texts and exegetic journals created an intellectual fortress on the large oak table. throughout the afternoon ideas had swirled around his head like the last ounces of water draining from a tub. he couldn't see the lesson, the ultimate point. he knew it was within his grasp, but he was missing it, and his eyes had tired from scanning dense pages of text.
in the silence and solitude of sunset, he was struck by a defining moment of clarity, mystical in its sudden precision and force. the truths he had until this moment taken for granted rearranged themselves, as if a sovereign had unexpectedly entered the room and all present had to hastily assume the proper attitude of subordination.
this is why he studied, why he left a life of relative material comfort to pursue the unprofitable life of the mind. his brain had all but atrophied in the corporate sector, but in that defining moment he was transported into the unknown territory of his own being. he was at once traveler, magician, scientist, philosopher, and shaman. and he would never, ever be quite the same.(less)