TWO STORIES by NATHAN DRAGON

 

Sunny

 

I made a list yesterday of things that I needed today, or rather, like a list of things that amounts to something a stranger will need over the course of a year, or however long the lease is, so that this particular stranger might live comfortably and use the provided amenities efficiently, particularly the new bathroom vanity. This list was made up of all relatively minor things that all fit into a 5 gallon bucket construction store bucket: Philips head, small can of white paint and putty (for touch ups), wood shims, contractors’ trash bags, 3 crowbars, 2 measuring tapes, flexible drainage pipe, Brillo pads—all indirectly related to that one bigger thing, that bathroom vanity, to hold it together in place.

I was in the passenger seat of a car on the way over there. The car was an old pick-up, not mine, and we drove straight towards the lake anticipating a left somewhere in the grid since we couldn’t turn right. I looked over my shoulder from the passenger seat and I saw the building I thought we were going to; it was made of light yellow and tan sun-bleached bricks. MMMh, the smell of bleach is pretty good, I thought and I wondered if it should’ve been added to the list, if we would need it for cleaning.

You never know.

I tried to picture a bottle of bleach with the other supplies in the 5 gallon bucket. It seemed like it would’ve belonged fine.

And when I got off work that day I looked at a sunny patch of the lake from the shade, at the crests of waves that peak at about a foot or two above the trough. There was a rare tint of blue there that I’ve only seen in one other place, that some people are skeptical of existing.

The lake was on my right side for awhile and it moved further away from me from where I stood on a balcony after replacing the bathroom vanity beneath a mirror where someone will look at themselves.

 

 

Ignominy and Other Definitions

 

There is still space in a corner.

It’s soft and unround. But it could be sharp and white. There is a red light on in the pantry if anyone wants it on and a picture of a woman torn from a magazine is taped to the wall in the living room. Across from that in the room there, there is trash hung on the wall, also with tape and there is a printed picture—a photograph—over everything of someone I’m not sure I know, but do recognize, drinking water on a nice-looking afternoon from a water bubbler somewhere high up and outside. Like a mountain. The picture should be titled “Sleeping.” I don’t know if it is called anything but there is a staircase just past it.

It can be climbed up to the two real bedrooms and the bathroom with a sink.

Upstairs is where the walls get thin and the ceiling is thin too.

Everybody needs water, someone in one of the bedrooms is saying: Everyone knows this but everyone doesn’t know everything. No one knows everything but no one might know something or a couple things. Maybe there is one person who knows everything there is to know because everything is finite, finished, but then they don’t know everything there is because the thing is they think there’s more to it so we all get pushed back down from Mt. Olympus by the mile, on the dot, because of that. And we’re kept down! I’m willing to bet something big that at least one person out there has it figured out but kept it or still keeps it to themselves because gods don’t act like gods, gods act like themselves and error was necessary and part of the condition—it’s how they’re seen—look at us, everything.

Back downstairs the lamp is still on in the corner opposite the door but no one else is there anymore. It is the only light in the living room and I see Penny from the magazine and all the tape. Anytime I turn that lamp on I can see my hands almost immediately, and any part of my body, really, so long as I can look at whichever part as soon as the light switch clicks. The light of the gods, the light of love from a time where it was frosty and golden, beautiful, in all of the houses that all Midwesterners have ever been in.

I can even see the nice day in the photograph.

The things that are sentimental create a sort of fear of the future but what’s left over to keep sacred, someone holds on to something that only means something to them so they can look at it later as many times as they want; it’s a funny thing how some experts don’t even know what “trepidatious” is.

Trepidatious: It begins to appear, slowly, in flickers, turning on like an old film projector. It warms up and hums, the frames flicker slowly. Gradually, the frames move more fluidly into each other reciprocating each blink blinked during the day.

 

A silhouette appears in the doorway, pauses then glides through the room. The figure walks to the window and watches a star die a few seconds ago in perfect time. There is nothing seen more clearly or too be seen as clearly. Nothing happens.

 

It is what happens. Waking up, lying down. No one to the left since. Get up, socks. Go upstairs. It is okay to lie down sometimes. Someone close will buy a telescope and look through it just to do something. It is it being easy to upset on clear nights.