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Taking It All In

by Craig M. Workman

You kick a filthy, frozen bundle of hundred-dollar bills ahead of you down the chalky remnants of a highway, looking up at the hole in the sky, and somehow you remember your mother let you watch the Adventure Channel. The skin on the back of your head and neck peels and rips toward the roar of the void in your immediate future.

Getting closer every day to that sucking, awful thing that looked like a cigarette burn on a blue sheet — was it two weeks ago? — on Television Tonight! but now looks like a great, big blue eye, that pupil-looking thing of space punched through cobalt blue, sucking up tree branches, napkins, shingles, high-rise apartment buildings, street signs, eyeglasses, false teeth, landmarks, lawn flamingos, Christmas lights, snow and ice and hope. Hope for those unadventurous types.

You have not seen another person in four days. You have not seen another person in nine days. You have not seen another person since you left your mother’s house the morning after the guys with the shotguns and the grocery lists. You remember her muttering something and then smiling and saying, Go.

However many days ago that was, you do recall — you think — laying a dishtowel over her face on the way out. In the past four? Nine? Forty-nine? days, these are the things you have wondered about as you walk and starve. How do you still have flesh on your bones? It’s been sloughing away with the rest of the world for n days now. How are you still breathing? Isn’t that the atmosphere leaking out, like the fluid in an eyeball Mr. Donnelly talked about in tenth grade?

You think you may have been a Boy Scout. You may or may not understand dead reckoning and estimating distance. You will be below the eye in seven days, if this is correct.

* * *

You are now at the eye. It is directly above you. You believe you were quite wrong. From here, you see that the hole in the sky does look a bit like an eye, but the pupil looks like a swirling garbage disposal, a gaping maw, a thoroughfare to something unknowable, and every bit of you and everything else earthly will be Other directly. You think about the Adventure Channel and feel that this is your first adventure.

And then you remember what you’d hoped to: your mother in the kitchen, cupboards bare, and she on the way to somewhere, bleeding out and smiling. Hopeless but smiling.

Go to the hole, she had said, to the eye, the hole, whatever they’re calling it these days. Why not? Go take it all in before we’re done. Let it see you seeing it. Go.

You look the eye squarely in the eye and take it all in. The adventure lifts and pulls you up and it all looks back at you, and you find you don’t need to walk anymore.

Copyright © 2014 by Craig M. Workman

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