from THE MIDDLE
Like any beginning, maybe there should be a man or boy or man-boy. Let this figure remain inconstant, a crux to argue about fiction, a place to set the scene. Imagine there are unnamable trees, a river too difficult to pronounce, mosquitoes of an alien class. Imagine everyone is extremely polite. To sense the opposite is to immediately feel betrayed. As the soft and blurry figure draws close, you realize it could hurt.
A boy approached covered in saws. He had arms like anyone else and I was not afraid to shake his hand. His saws were sharp but never meant for us. Everyone was kind in spite of the heat that pressed against our heads. The boy was a man really, but youthful. He smiled. He showed us his work.
His sculptures were long wooden echoes of himself. When asking what the figures meant, he spread apart his arms and strained to explain the Japanese schooling system, something about balance, a frozen figure locked on a long beam. I refrained from asking what two things he was balancing between or if it was a multitude of things that made his limbs grow, a dark forest garnering paranoia.
In a remote Philippine village, an elder keeps the key to the karaoke machine. The elders don’t mess around. If there’s one thing to keep safe and chaste, it’s the machine and collection of sing-a-long tapes. There is what is known as the “karaoke killings phenomenon.” Some lost lives singing “My Way” off key. Many were conceived or born while karaoke-ing.
On that night the bird and boy were practically brothers. They sat still in the same folded posture, darted their necks to pierce the dark. The bird was heavy like the seawall, the boy like the jetty. The boy was sadder, but the bird was more profound. I was like the shorter version of the bargeman who watched them from out past the waves. He was like his own father, but sweeter and a better singer. I sang equally well, as did the boy and the bird, though not that night. Then they were both more quiet than the sand.
Feliz Lucia Molina is the author of Undercastle forthcoming from Magic Helicopter Press in 2013. Other things include Hair Hearts Flip and Kim Jong-Il Looking At Things (Gauss PDF), and more things forthcoming in The Volta, So & So, Bomb, and elsewhere. This past summer she was in residence at Haisyakkei in Japan where she collaborated with Ben Segal on The Middle. She is a contributing editor at continent. and lives in Los Angeles.
Ben Segal is the author of 78 Stories (No Record Press) and co-editor of the anthology The Official Catalog of the Library of Potential Literature (Lit Pub Books). His chapbooks Science Fiction Pornography and Weather Days were published by Publishing Genius and Mud Luscious Press, respectively, and his short fiction has been published by or is forthcoming from Tin House, Tarpaulin Sky, Gigantic, and Puerto del Sol, among others.