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Posts Tagged ‘Superior Carnivale Forty’

|| March 25, 2011 || 5:07 am || Comments (6) ||

Adam P. Knave popped up in my e-mail chat window one morning and has been in my life ever since. He is as likely to tell me that I am wrong as he is to tell me that he adores me; I respect his integrity and his abilities. He is an amaaaazing writer, prolific and nimble-minded and genius in his approach. The internet at large vastly under-appreciates the wealth of good writing he lays out to be devoured for free on the daily; I think the internet is stupid for doing so. Also? Go buy one of his books so you can feed that fool’s cat and your imagination.

Some people are born to grace. Others are born to style. A very few are born to power. The rarest though are born to freedom.  Darlene was one of them. Her life started in the chill air at the base of the mountain and she grew there, tall as a wild flower and tough as a nail.

By the time she was sixteen she wanted to own the world. At the ripe old age of twenty-two she decided, instead, that she wanted to simply know the world, and that by her knowing come to hold it in her self and that would be the best kind of owning. The sort where neither party is lessened, but instead enhanced through their mutual knowing and love and internal ownership. Darlene partied as if she had no tomorrow and cared as if every day would be eternal. She saw no contradiction in her life and would have laughed at anyone who claimed to see one.

And then a thing happened. There’s the desire to label it: A funny thing, a strange thing, an unexplainable thing, a thing of consequence – but Darlene herself would shake her head and raise her eyebrows (She always thought she could raise just one at a time but was wrong. No one bothered to correct her.) and laugh at such a notion. A thing happened. The rest is in the details and the reality of a thing.

The details were this: A rabbit in the road. A small child running after it. A tiny, fuel-efficient car. Night.

The reality was this: The child had been carrying her pet rabbit back home and the rabbit squirmed, dropping free. Of course it ran away from the child, which meant into the road. And of course the child
followed it, blindly grasping with outstretched hands, cooling now out of contact with the fur of their favorite texture. Darlene was on the other side of the street, walking down the block to return a dish to a friend. The driver of the car, a tourist actually, saw the rabbit and started to swerve. He started to swerve right toward the child. However the driver saw the child before his hands moved to swerve and so he went the other way.

And swerved onto the street and into Darlene.

There was no “Darlene dramatically saved the child” or anything of the sort. Events happen. They unfold the way they do. And that’s about that.

Now, what happened to Darlene, you might wonder. You aren’t alone. Darlene herself wondered that when she woke up in a hospital. The doctors gathered around and looked worried. Darlene assured them, through still-slurring lips, that nothing they could tell her would phase her. After all, she pointed out, she was still alive. Anything after that would be simply details and reality, once more.

And so she heard the story of the accident again and at least heard what she after referred to as “The punch line:” Her left leg was gone from mid-thigh down. Those small cars are light, but still heavy enough.

Darlene heard the news, and nodded thoughtfully and chewed on it this way and that, actually working her jaw the way she did when she was chewing on a thought – she actually chewed – and then she looked at her doctor and said, quite simply:

“Well. All right then. Anything else?”

Of course they stood around and kept in ear shot and waited. They knew, by their reckoning, that a delayed reaction was still on its way. News of loss like that didn’t simply wash off someone. It hit and it hit hard. Except Darlene seemed to be a duck where trouble was concerned. And so they started physical therapy and her only questions were on the colors she could get an artificial leg in, and then how durable they were. Would she be able to climb a mountain, learn to kick box, dance ballet or swim – these were her concerns.

She didn’t let on that she had no desire to learn to kick box and always hated ballet as a child. They were, for her, fun questions. It made everyone squirm when they had to keep saying “Well you SHOULD be able to…” as if she would, this time, break down and get upset at the idea that she might not. They refused to catch on.

And so one day, when she was getting ready to leave (a temporary artificial leg in place, and her order for a bright purple, carbon fiber one already sized for and placed) she sat everyone who worked with her, whom she had come to care for, down and gave them each a small piece of quartz.

“Now, what you got to understand is this isn’t no healing crystal stuff. But look at that, in your hand, there. It’s impossible. It’s atom aligned and grouped in a specific way, every time, to create crystalline structures. Reliably. No matter what you do, those babies will go on and dance their dance and create their own thing and refuse you. Because it’s what they do.

“Now me, you all worry, I can see it. Don’t lie. But me, I’m like that crystal. And no, I don’t mean fragile and easily shattered. I mean I’ll form my own structures, no matter what you might think is going to happen. Because when I leave here I’ll be in the world and won’t ask for a lick more than I had before. Because, me, I had everything.

“I had myself a home to be in, and the world to be in and a good vehicle and the sun and the moon and the people. I had books to read and show me other people and places and times, and I had myself some television and movies to do the same. Distractions could distract but none more than the morning dew on a flower, reflecting the sunrise, while a cup of coffee steamed, making my cheek as wet as the petals I gazed at.

“And now, well I got the same things, don’t I just? I’m down a leg, it’s true, and I did like that leg, I admit. It was ticklish and the big toe had a tendency toward ingrown nails and overall it was a good leg, it did its job and was a comfort to me, to be sure. But I’ll never have to think about shaving it again, or if the joints will last until I’m old, or a hundred other tiny worries and bits of upkeep. I ain’t glad to be rid of the leg, but I can see both sides of the issue.

“Even that ain’t it though. I lost a leg. In exchange for a kid not losing her best friend in the world or worse – the other way around. Small price to pay, in this world, and one I pay gladly. So when you think of me, remember that bit of quartz I gave you. Nothing you do will force it to not try and be itself. Y’all should do the same. Like I do, and plan to keep doing.”

Darlene stood and left them there, in silence. Soon enough she was gone, off into her own life again. A life that she lived in order to know the world, that she might own it in her heart. A world where the world would grow to know her, and own her in its heart just the same. She still partied as if she had no tomorrow and cared as if every day would be eternal. She still saw no contradiction in her life and would have laughed at anyone who claimed to see one. And sometimes, just sometimes, she would kick them with a metal re-enforced artificial leg, right in the shin.

Because she could.