Friday, March 14, 2008

Two cents

The Tight Fist of Awesome has spoken. This week's word is fever.


The doctor said the fever was one hundred and four, but it was just numbers to the boy, who was convinced his bed was a sea and the blankets waves upon that sea. And heads would float by on the quilted water, little tiny heads, his Mom’s head, and his sister’s too, the head of the President, Danny from the Partridge Family, his English teacher Miss Summers, Aquaman, Mickey Dolenz, Mr. Potato Head, Santa. A part of his mind insisted they were only delusions from the fever, but he didn’t much care. He had wonderful conversations with the tiny heads, spirited and witty, utterly forgotten the instant they ended.

That evening the sea drained away and the heads disappeared and he was all alone, shivering and scared and very, very cold. He realized in a moment of simple lucid clarity that he might die. The looks on his parents’ faces, the hushed tones of the doctor, they way his Grandma just kept crying. Something was wrong.

He didn’t want to die. He tried to tell them all but was trapped in his cocoon of sickness, too weak to speak, or even gesture. He focused on a chair across the room. He closed his eyes. He opened them and saw a girl sitting in the chair. Her skin was as pale as parchment, her hair like dried grass.

She had coins upon her eyes.

She smiled at the boy. Her hands moved to her face and she gently plucked the coins from her eyes and placed them on the bedtable. They were pennies. Unhidden, her eyes glowed, but softly, flickering like candle flames. She placed her hand on the boy’s hand. Her skin was cold. She smiled again, shook her head. No. She closed her eyes, and as the candle-flames disappeared so did she.

The fever broke the next morning. The boy spent the day in bed, resting, convinced the girl has saved him. He promised himself to keep the coins forever, move them from pocket to pocket with each change of jeans, never let them leave his possession. But life moves on, and they got mixed in with other coins in his pocket, with army men and string and small interesting rocks. Ultimately they were spent for candy, into the cash register and out again as change, entering the flow of the world of commerce, jingling happily in the pockets of the living.

7 comments:

Eric Shonkwiler said...

His lucky pennies became just coins. Which they were.

Nancy Dancehall said...

I LOVE this!

I had something like that once...

Maggie said...

Ooh this is cool. No it's coolio.

Did it really happen to you?

Irrelephant said...

Some part of me wants to get off into a long discussion of coins over eyes and visions brought on my overheated minds, but the rest of me just smiles and pats it's hand and has it go sit down and be quiet. Most of me, even some of the part sitting quietly really wants to believe that there's more to life and death and sickness, that perhaps there's a translucent-skinned little girl with pennies on her eyes to tell us that it's not quite time yet.

Victoria Gothic said...

Irony. What’s his name; we’ve been studying him in my English class. He was very young, late twenties when he died of tuberculosis. Stephen Crane! That’s it. A master of the ironic writing style, a real bed fellow to naturalism, just more- ironic. While naturalism may have sought to prove the lack of our control upon our own lives, the ironic writers sought to show how our every attempt at control only loosened our grip. Ironic, yes? When I read those last few lines, about how they were so important to him, and how he would never let them be out of reach; then, suddenly- he’s lost them, and they’re gone forever. My mind went running back to Crane. Its is because we spoke of him just yesterday in class, but still, that’s what it referenced to me.

I wanted to thank you for dropping by to see some of my work, and I left an explanation of α – M + φ there for you and for anyone else who happens to see the poem!

Clowncar said...

E, they were just coins, and the girl just a figment of the fever. Lucky coins, but just coins.

Thanks Nance. The ghosty girl part happened to you, or the tiny head bit? I'm betting on the ghosty girl....

Yeah, Mag, the tiny head part really happened (well, it didn't really happen, but I really hallucinated it). I made the ghosty girl up. And, tellingly, the tiny head part of the story works better than the ghosty part.

Irr, I can relate. I have to tell large parts of my waking conscious mind to sit down and be quiet, most of the time, while I pretend to be an adult. Sorry about missing your show yet again - relatives in town. Someday, I swear....

I love Crane. I reread Red Badge last year, and was shocked at how modern it seemed. Ever read The Monster? A really good short story of his. It begs to be adapted into a play. And I enjoyed your explanation of α – M + φ.

Mona Buonanotte said...

Whoa...the visuals in this are astounding!