Tuesday, June 20, 2006

a biennial anniversary of a stillbirth

I stand in amazement - figuratively, since I am seated, but if I were... ah, there, I momentarily stood up so now my initial statement is quite appropriate. Amazed at what, you might ask - again, figuratively, since I have no readers, thus there is no "you" to address. Rummaging through the gmail graveyard of my self-sent emails, I found a cornucopia of files, tips, and hyperlinks that date back to the inception of my gmail account in 2003. In one of these time capsules, I found a story I began to write, a story I could not even recognize as my own!

The sense of suspense, the idea of even having suspense at all considering I read my own words, was exhilarating. Each new sentence drew me inside an exciting story world, so much so that had the story kept going, I would be dedicating an all-nighter just to reading it. Alas, it abruptly ended, mid-sentence no less! It was written during a time of transition, when I moved from California to Connecticut, and the date of my self-sent email, Friday, June 18th, 2004, was precisely the day I packed my computer for transport. Quite a shame, really. The story had such marvelous potential, and now it lies stillborn.

I feel a slight, incestual dirtiness loving a story I myself wrote, but considering I had absolutely no recollection nor reminding artifact of it for two entire years, I could not read it with the cruel criticism I otherwise would. Below is the full content of what was written:

“Ha ha,” Quincy ran in with that usual mischievous look to which Tom and Amanda could only greet with a gulp of trepidation. “You two absolutely have to come and see this!” he continued. “Well, put on your boots,” he chirped at the two, puzzled at their longer than usual stupor at being asked to go. The only thing more predictable than going on unknown expeditions with Quincy into the forest landscape surrounding their cottage was the certainty one would be beaten to a pulp refusing to go with him. He was the usual tall and husky kid, the type not to know his own strength when shoving his younger brother and sister into the dirt until they give in. It wasn’t as though Quincy was all bad – it’s just that Tom and Amanda have never seen him when he wasn’t. “Let’s get our boots Amanda,” Tom wearily slurred as he went to fetch them. “Hurry up!” echoed Quincy’s voice as the two emerged fully set for the outdoors.

* * *

“We’ve been out here for two hours; aren’t you going to tell us what we’re going to do this time?” Tom softly spoke in a resigning way. “Stop. We’re here!” Quincy’s voice bounced. “And,” Quincy turned to Tom with a sinister smile, “it’s not a question of what we are gonna’ do. It’s a question of what it will.” Tom could feel Amanda silently tightening her grip on his hands, to which he tries to reassuringly squeeze back. “Okay Quincy, let’s see it then.” Tom had a brave face on. “Oh, but first we have to have it see us,” Quincy added mysteriously, reaching into his jacket pocket to reveal a small hand mirror. After a bit of side-straggling, he positioned himself under strong rays of sunlight that managed to pierce through the treetops. He took the mirror and redirected focused light to what now appeared to look like a cave entrance, only it was so dark before no one saw the entrance apart from the adjacent rock. “Now we wait, it will come to us.” Almost as soon as he spoke, bats poured out of the cave like a flash flood, littering the entire sky with their dark fleshy wings and horrific shrieks. “Wait, just watch. Ah, yes, I can feel it rumbling in the air.” Oddly, Quincy didn’t seem interested in the bats; he had his eyes intent on a different place of the sky. “We’re not here to see those bats?” Tom questioned. “Shut up; of course we’re not here to see shitty bats. They’re food for it.” Amanda let out a muffled gasp, trying not to outright scream, her face now buried in Tom’s sweater with only one of her eyes peering out into the sky.

Everyone could now hear a rumbling in the air. At first it sounded like a dam breaking, but unlike a dam burst this rumbling was incessant. The bats shrieked louder and scrambled haphazardly in every which direction. No one was paying much attention to them, however. Quincy and Tom were gazing at the silhouette of a creature now growing larger as it came closer to the earth from the sky; Amanda peered occasionally at it while intermittently covering her eyes again with Tom’s sweater sleeve. It was majestic, yet ominous. Were it not for two faint shadows of wings to its side, it could easily be mistaken for a meteor. Then it dove faster, piercing the air and leaving a stream of what could only be plumes as it came into vision.

Its body was shaped like a griffin, and it would easily measure seventy feet in length. “A whale of the sky,” Quincy whispered in deference. The remnants of twenty or so bats could be seen held in the talons of this behemoth. It was close enough that all three, Quincy, Tom, and Amanda could feel the air and earth tremble under the thunderous flaps of its wings. It was otherworldly to see, as Quincy put it, a whale of the sky, dance as it did in the air, ensnaring some more of the now dispersed bats. “AEhh…” Amanda panted and Tom took notice of what she was panting at; some bat carcasses were dropped just yards from where they stood. The bodies were mutilated with nothing left for recognition. “This is dangerous and disgusting, Quincy; we …” Tom stopped; he couldn’t find Quincy nearby. “I want to go home.” Amanda was nearly crying. “Yes, I’m sure Quincy won’t mind if we do. He’ll find his own way back.” Tom led off, Amanda following him, still tightly clung to his sleeve.

* * *

The steamy broth being prepared at daybreak filled the cottage with a moist flavorful smell to which Tom instantly woke. Amanda’s bed was well made and Quincy’s was still horrendous looking with bits of grass strewn about it as usual. It was a Tuesday, the day when fresh produce is available in the nearby village, and in preparation Tom dressed in his finest. He slicked his hair back, wore his father’s brown leather boots, stuffed with leaves to fit, a cotton sweater without any large holes, and a trouser with no stains except at the knees. Yes, indeed, Tom was looking his best, and he grinned at the mirror. After finishing admiring

Quite a cliff-hanger. Oh well, one of these days I ought to finish it, assuming I can ever write that alluringly again.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Homeopathically Unwrinkling My Left Toenail, an Anatomical Treatise vol. 1

Despite utmost care for, and good governance of, one's own nails, a single careless action can and will render uniform keratin smoothness a dream, a desire, a mere memory of the perfection that was and the imperfection that is. Due to the irreproducibility of such tragic trysts with destiny, the cure to such life-altering ailment has remained elusive since time immemorial – that is, elusive until now.

Firstly, it is of paramount importance to distinguish wrinkled toenails, that is, those with fine chaffing along vertical lines, from toenails with deep horizontal grooved lines that Joseph HonorĂ© Simon Beau posthumously likes to call “Beau’s lines”. While both stem from damage to the nail fold, fine vertical lines affect luster while horizontal ridges are just plain despicable. This treatise is targeted solely towards homeopathically healing the fine vertical lines and the associated chaffing and not the hideous Beau’s lines. The recently wrinkle-afflicted should not worry if horizontal lines temporarily appear soon after injury. Cosmetic damage will eventually be grown out to clippable area; only damage to the nail fold will produce a constant stream of wrinkles which create vertical lines as the nail is grown.

Now, before delving into the cure, let us first harken back to the shrill cries of my badminton-playing self. I had kept my eye on a lobbed birdie, but in spite of its clear trajectory out of court, I had the urge to smash it powerfully with my racquet. That urge for display of power, that very urge to feel the harmonious 'twing' resonate and reverberate through my forearm was my ultimate downfall. As I ran beneath, squinting against the midday sun to see the faintish outline of an inbound shuttlecock, a sharp, excruciating sting permeated from my afferent nociceptors until the entire path of dendrites and axons from my left toe to the dorsal root ganglion affixing my consciousness transcended into a highway of pure pain. Regrettably, I wore open-toed sandals and stubbed my toe into the raised pavement area around a well. On the positive side, the various assortment of insects were presented a feast of blood-drenched sandy pavement. Reparations, perhaps, for my trespass into their court. By cracking my toenail, I became a silent member of the eschewed millions whose left toenails no longer had the sheen, the luster, the polish that makes us entirely whole. I was only twelve years of age, too young to be afflicted with a wrinkled toenail, a haunting reminder of the mistake once made; but the cruel fates confer no mercy for innocence and youth.

Two days ago, a miracle of circumstances occurred. Wearing improperly velcroed house slippers, I spirited up a staircase when three stairs shy of the top my slippers slipped and while I am uncertain of the exact sequence of events, I was left panting and knelt, with my knees on one of the topmost stairs and my two hands firmly prostrated on the ceramic tiles of the floor I wished to be on. More importantly, my left toe seared with blunt pain, the kind associated with blue bruises and an absence of external hemorrhaging. Resuming my bipedal locomotion, I channeled my dedication toward composure and continued on with my day unfazed. Later that night, shortly before heading to bed, I inspected my left toenail and to my astonishment, the blunt force seemed to have unwrinkled the nail plate, shaping it to the smoothness of the tender skin beneath. I now eagerly await as the entire nail replenishes at 0.1mm/day from the now corrected lunula. Preliminary findings support the case that in a couple months’ time the entire toenail will be correctly regrown, erasing all remnants of a wrinkled past.