Page 99 of The Principle of Ultimate Indivisibility
A Short Story Collection
by Brent Robison
Reprinted with Permission: © 2009 Brent Robison, All Rights Reserved.
Book Description: The Principle of Ultimate Indivisibility weaves together the disparate lives of ordinary people as they stumble through tiny everyday epiphanies on their way from confusion and loss toward redemption. With structures both traditional and experimental, these thirteen linked stories explore the bonds of family... the impacts of religion... our intertwined struggles with grief, love, and addiction... the intangible circuits of influence that link us to strangers... and the blind but determined striving for consciousness that is common to human experience.
Stories in the collection have been published in a variety of journals and have won a Short Fiction Award and an Honorable Mention from Chronogram Magazine, a Fiction Fellowship from the New Jersey Council on the Arts, and a Pushcart Prize nomination.
The time came. I locked my apartment door behind me. It was a Saturday night, just after dark, the early dark of oncoming winter. I walked the streets under the faces of old brownstones, moving fast against a cold wind. The few blocks to the mall seemed long. My neighborhood was empty, as if no one lived there. Dead leaves like hordes of little brown crabs scuttled crazily across the pavement. Gusts tore at the scarf around my throat. I strode past the trunks of old maples, past baroque iron stoop rails, under scissoring tangles of limbs, and through a pool of yellow light that leaked from the corner street lamp. I was full of exuberant energy, a man on his way to a woman!
Suddenly a shadow, a dark shape, leaped with a low quick whoosh across the sidewalk in front of me and up, straight up, as though from under the soles of my boots. It grew huge, wailing a minor-key vibrato as it flung its ragged black edges out and out like wings, until my own shadow was completely obliterated. I flinched and ducked, blurting some wordless cry. Giant bat, evil bird of prey, dark angel, blasting up from underground to hover over my head, and then, with talons open, to plunge? What was it? I looked back and up, behind me. There it hung, twenty feet above my head, flapping and fluttering madly—a ragged shred of dark plastic, a trash bag battered in the wind, tossed up like a leaf to tangle in the electric wires just under the street light.
It was only a trash bag.
Tell me, would you have been as blind as I was? Was a message there somewhere in the whip of the wind, in the soulless thrashing of that gigantic shadow? Should I have seen what was to come: the coy wink when she forgot my name, the bitten lip, the bedroom conversation like wandering lost in a dark wood, the sudden sweet tears, and later, the rage? Did I ignore a clear warning? How could I have known? How?
Feeling small, I squinted up at the thing. Just an old scrap of plastic, I said to myself. A piece of windblown refuse, nothing more.
I put on a sheepish smile and looked around, but the street was empty. I took a breath. With my heart still thudding in my chest, I turned and continued on my way, on my way to Moira. I leaned into the wicked gusts, walking quickly, hunched and shivering under the black November sky.
Brent Robison is a writer, photographer, and videomaker. Author of The Principle of Ultimate Indivisibility, he can be found online at: http://ultimate-indivisibility.com/ & http://blissplotpress.com/
The collection of linked stories, The Principle of Ultimate Indivisibility, can be found on Lulu and Smashwords.
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