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Gone Lawn 26
Autumn, 2017

New Works

Marie Baleo

Signed


1.

It all began with a plastic tarp. It has since gone on to its great rewards: no one remembers it but me. The sun shines there, you must know. You must have heard of it. It crushes our bird bones and lifts us into the above, then drops us on our knuckles and shins and elbows, and when we fall our minds make a cracking sound as they snap. Then it crashes into the sea like clockwork.

It will come back. As you must know, teenage boys sleep a lot and I was, in many ways, a teenage boy. The shutters couldn't save my dreams from the sun so I asked for a curtain.

What I got was a white sheet of plastic, monumental. I figured I could write on it. I wrote my name. I wrote other things; I don't remember them.

"What would you like me to do with it?", a voice asks on the other end of the line. Sensitive he is, this father of mine, like his child, who used to wail at night.

My parents called it the blues. "Sensible" was the word applied to my case, which in my language means not what it means in yours - it is a false friend.

"It broke my heart," he says, of the tarp. I picture him there, in the room. He stands before the tarp, reading the words I traced, thinking of his child. I give permission: "Throw it away".

We have always been mysteries to our parents, and they to us.

Sometimes I imagine the tarp lying in a heap of garbage waiting to be done away with. Then I remember it was thrown out a decade ago. Where is it now?

At the bottom of my sea, or pulverized, floating down my throat, into your lungs, dust.

It is not alone.

2.

Enter the TV and the phone. This was the mid-naughts, so brace yourself: cathode ray tube and landline. Now we're talking. I am watching CNN -it happens to the best of us. If I spoke Arabic I could watch the other channels. Sorry about the present tense, I still relapse and pretend this is my life sometimes. Anyway, that is when I first find out: on CNN. Then the phone rings, or maybe I call? I don't remember. The phone rings because my parents are not home. They are out to lunch or dinner. It is my father's birthday. He turns 40 today!

Happy birthday. CNN says it's a war, but from up here, everything looks fine.

3.

On the second night, I awake at five. The skies are black save for an area the size of a million dreams, miles away, where they are bright, whiter than the tarp. I have rolled up the shutters and watch like I once watched thunderstorms, counting the seconds between light and sound. I pull the tarp shut and go back to sleep.

4.

On the second day, I play with planes. They appear above the hills. I run barefoot on the white tiles, from one set of windows to the other, and arrive breathless just as they erupt from thin air.

It's a beautiful day, weather-wise.

5.

It is now the third day. The lights are out. You'll be out of here soon. I'm sorry. We have to go. Before you go, grab a pen and write.

6.

We walk down seven flights of stairs in the dark. We drive, we park, we exit, we board. Someone says it's alright and that we will soon return. But I know it's the end.

7.

On the tarp: "Goodbye Beirut! See you soon." I remember.



Marie Baleo is a French writer born in 1990. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Tahoma Literary Review, Litro Magazine, Jersey Devil Press, Cease, Cows, The Nottingham Review, Five 2 One Magazine, Hypertext Magazine, Five on the Fifth, Foliate Oak Literary Magazine, Spilled Milk and elsewhere. She is on the masthead of Panorama: The Journal of Intelligent Travel.