Trick of the Light — A Dream

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“Trick of the Light” — C.Birde, 3/17

 

“…the speed of light in a vacuum is a universal physical constant important in many areas of physics. Its exact value is 299,792,458 metres per second…”

Crackling and popping, the disembodied voice on the radio is disrupted. A column of light enters the house. Where the room had seconds earlier been dark, filled with humble night, it is now wide-awake, splashed with brilliance. About the size and shape of an average human, the light is roughly oblong, five and a half feet tall and two feet in diameter. It hovers at the room’s center – a rustic cabin of sorts – shedding itself over a multicolored braided rug in much the way a cat or dog would shed fur. Its presence has alerted the home’s single inhabitant, and, in awe, this young man stretches out his hand, eager to feel his skin bathed in warmth. Immediately, he is struck down…

…a sudden electrostatic discharge of immense intensity could prove fatal…”

Light laps over the young man’s prone form, floods the lifeless body from the soles of his shoes to his sagging head. Pulsing, perhaps more brightly, the column of light exits the house. It moves slowly and silently, away into the night.

“…extremely dangerous. Several have already fallen victim…”

Down quiet streets, past locked houses and shuttered windows, the light continues its grave passage. It turns off the sidewalk and floats along a brick path, glides up a quaint cottage’s three short steps and makes its way through a cluttered front porch.  Pausing just outside the home’s interior door, it waits, its very self illuminating a clutter of stacked crates and tarp-covered boxes.

“…it has been reported that with each contact and subsequent killing, the Light has stolen some defining detail from its target…”

The radio’s disembodied voice carries from within the cottage as the door opens. Dressed in a dark tuxedo, suede vest, and Stetson, Ronald Reagan stands on the threshold. He smiles at the light, greets it warmly, and remarks on the small specifics it has acquired – faint, gray-blue lines hint at a woman’s blurred facial features; a long, full-skirted gown; sneakers protrude from the dress’ hem. Reagan does not comment on what the light lacks, what it still needs – head, hair, neck. Hands.

“…repeat, stay away from the light, do not engage it, do not attempt to touch it…”

A benign smile on his face, Reagan understands intuitively what the light wants of him – his hands. Raising the index finger of his right hand, he calmly asks the light to wait while he finds it a pair of gloves. The light throbs and pulses as Reagan digs through the crates and boxes. His search uncovers not gloves, but a pair of oiled, dull black six shooters, which he slips into his tuxedo pockets. He straightens, tells the light he has found just the thing it needs and, beaming, pulls the guns from his pockets and takes aim…

…but the column of light has anticipated the deception. Instantly, it transforms. Where it had been a mass of loosely collected photos, it has become a very solid, medium-sized, black-and-brown-and-white long-haired dog. The once-light/now-dog wags its long tail and, tongue lolling, grins up at Reagan in a broad doggy smile. With a grimace, Reagan holds his fire…

Spring — A Poem

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“March Daffodil Swords” — C.Birde, 3/17

 

She stands in snow,

toes encouraging

new green

growth.

Dash or linger —

she is undecided,

and casts

a glance

over her shoulder.

The lion’s roar is

caught

in her hair.

In one hand she holds

a small suitcase;

in the other,

a bouquet of feral

blooms.

We hold our breath —

She bends to open,

at last, the case;

and releases

Vernal

light.

 

— C.Birde, 3/17

 

Throwing Mud — A Dream

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“Throwing Mud” — C.Birde, 3/17

Thick mud grabs at the tires, throws the car first left, then right. Curved, earthen walls hurl the engine’s roar echoing back at me. I tighten my grip on the steering wheel, wrestle to keep toward the center of the tunnel.

Wheels spew sheets of mud. The car is a vintage auto, sleek and low, with fat wheels and open cockpit. It resembles a torpedo in every way – shape, sound, speed. Headstrong, it fights me at each touch, each turn. It shrieks and shudders, but conveys me ever forward at breakneck speed.

Once, twice, the car strikes something along the earth – something smooth and hard and evenly spaced. Polished tracks sunken into the tunnel’s floor. After several attempts, I align tires to tracks. Now, the car and I now work as a unit. A smooth ride ensured, I stamp on the accelerator, hard. The car gathers speed and roars forward unimpeded. When we reach the tunnel’s end, we shoot out from its mouth, suspended, for a moment, within the clear, star-spangled sky. The surrounding landscape is lush and green with gently rolling hills. Light as a feather, the car meets the unpaved road, and we race away into the night.

Under Cover — A Dream

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“Under Cover” — C.Birde, 3/17

 

“Did you bring your outline?” she asks. She wears black leggings and tank top, and her long dark hair curls, loose and unrestrained, about her shoulders.

No, I think, I don’t have an outline. I didn’t use an outline. The story emerged organically, by surprise, and I translated it from thought and dream to the page as it arrived.

Silently, I shake my head.

“That’s too bad,” she said. She holds a long, metal ruler in one hand. It flashes, sharp-edged with light, as she crosses the room in easy strides. “It’s easier to give input and feedback based on your outline.”

I’m not sure I want input. Or feedback. Of any kind. Good, bad, or otherwise. Why am I even at this workshop? The hotel room feels increasingly constricted, although it is large and airy.

I watch uneasily as she approaches the unmade bed. White sheets and comforter knot and twist and fall to the floor, their folds and creases filled with blue shadow. All but the throw blanket tossed on top – a plush, pink sweep of soft color. Beneath those layers, those folds of white and pink and blue, is my manuscript – just shy of two-hundred pages, clamped tight by a black binder clip, contained in a battered manila folder.

Ruler held loosely in hand, she arrives at the bedside and pushes back the plush pink blanket, peels away white comforter and sheets. My nerves spark and dash. She opens the worn folder, flips past the first dozen pages to lay the ruler vertically along a random sheet.

“You have to watch your margins,” she says. With a blue pencil, she marks the right side of the page, then the left. “If your margins are off, even a little, your book can’t be bound or printed.” She adjusts the ruler to mark horizontal lines along the top and bottom margins. “These look good,” she says, looking up at me. Her dark, neat brows arch with surprised approval. Ruler flashing, she leaves the bed. Sheets and blankets fall back into place like a receding tide.

I smile. Relief floods and soothes. In a single inhalation, I fill my lungs – I didn’t realize I had held my breath. From the corner of my eye, I glance at my manuscript. Thumbed pages in a worn folder, tucked and enfolded in soft pink layers. Unbound. Unread. Safe.