In our girls’ school uniforms we watch “Un Chien Andalou” in the auditorium. I’d rather be in the bathroom, hanging out and smoking Balkan Sobranies with my friend Juliet. She favors the black ones with the gold filters. They taste of elsewhere. A hole opens in the man’s palm and ants crawl in and out. I’m unimpressed. We have plenty of ants, in every sandy crack in the sidewalk. My father is at war with all nature, setting mouse and ant traps all over the house. And yelling at us if we leave the sugar bowl uncovered. But he is losing the battle. An old mop abandoned on the back porch is colonized by yellow jackets who build a nest in its snaky Medusa head. My father’s three daughters swell from flat-chested childhood into the busty rebellion of womanhood. We roll up our uniform skirts and show our legs, a shadow between the thighs. We believe, for the first time, that we are real, and begin to act accordingly.
The inventor of swarm theory is found dehydrated, disoriented, and naked, wandering by the side of a rural highway in central New Mexico.
I read you this opening sentence of a story I have yet to write. I ask you–what should happen next?
You say: someone should come along in a truck, maybe your first husband with the baby in the car seat. She really was a pretty baby.
Naw, I say. I’m sick of my first–now long dead–husband. Maybe it should be an old beat up white guy in a truck. But one of those weird rancher types who is the caretaker of the Lightning Field or something, who knows all about land art and earthworks.
OK, you say.
You don’t really care, it isn’t your story, but you pay attention because you are a good friend.
We are in a laundromat in Maine. Actually we are at a conference at a camp that has its own washing machines, but you prefer town. Between us we don’t have enough for a white load, so we just mix it all together.
“Once,” you say, “the moon fell in love with woman. She turned herself into a lamp. He was so fat and round he could’t fit through the doorway of the yurt.”
“Good,” I say. “Tell me more.”
Alone in the cafe I catalog things blue. A boy in azure shorts runs out of the bathroom, whose stall dividers are a blue bordering purple. Above the fountain is a shelf laden with cobalt-blue glasses. A water-filled one on my table beckons. To its right my Carolina-blue bicycle helmet has three blue stripes right of center running front to back. Women comment they like it. They should — it is a woman’s model. But it fits properly, is visible, and the price was right, fifty percent off the manufacturer’s sky-high cost. I wear a red T-shirt. If I were to move towards you at lightspeed it would appear blue. A streetlight outside the second-floor window has a blue cap. For what purpose? Beyond, the sky is tinged brown by thick forest-fire smoke. The orange orb at sunrise and sunset is reminiscent of air-polluted Delhi’s midday one. I enjoy India, its predominance of yellows, saffrons, and reds, and wonder if behind the smoke choking this valley, the local mountains, and India, still exist. Dogen’s walking blue mountains remind us we abide in a re-creating flux we call the Universe. Suddenly, my catalog turns every shade of green.
– Michael G. Smith
More flash prose on this colored theme can be found at http://lostpaper.blogspot.com/