North Avenue

It is always perfect, in my mind

I would bike everyday. Through the woods where teenagers smoked and dug ramps or laid boards across fallen trees, down the hill of concrete blocks to the path on the shore of the lake. I would bike myself to exhaustion and let the wind and spray and leaves restore me. I would emerge stronger than myself, myself to the power of three hundred sixty-five. Quietly would I reign.

No one ever drowned in sweat

It is easy to compel a body, but a mind will escape your traps. Myriad worlds were charted in those days, though at some point they all began to orbit the same star. Ping pong is a pretty easy game to understand, but I played like a klutz. The ball is right there, just, you know, hit it. I felt bad making her retrieve a wide shot so often, but I didn’t mind when I had to do so for her. Volition played elsewhere, at the expense of motor control.

Eye with two pupils

There was a machine in my arm, numbly splayed, all tangled silver and lights. I think it was rewriting my thoughts. Anything I touched with that hand felt like it was wrapping my whole body. But I couldn’t move my hand very far in the restraints. I wasn’t in pain or anything. My cellmate had it worse: the whole back of her head had been replaced. Sometimes, when I managed to sleep, her dreams seemed to invade mine. Lurid, grotesque shadows of people I didn’t know dominated them — when I awoke I hated her for a few minutes.

The anticipation was the worst. After dreamless sleeps I’d find myself different. Even if I couldn’t see their handiwork, I knew unseen surgeons had been at work on my body. To look for a pattern was dangerous, opening the mind to the cold fingers of its own speculations. Were they killing me, or transforming me, or was there no difference?

Published on Mar 26, 2014
Written by Cameron Higby-Naquin