Storyglossia Issue 14, June 2006.

A Burial

by Jai Clare


Marcy and Willis were a pair of pseudo-intellectuals from the sticks who both had pretensions to a life outside the norm they had been brought into, though neither of them subsequently had the courage of their desires.

Marcy tried hard to match up to her partner's intellectual capacities, pretending to read heavy tomes on radical feminism and fratricidal matriarchal tendencies while really wanting the glories of a good night out gambling with the girls. Or heaving up and down her ample bosom at a Billy Joel concert with her accountant boyfriend, Brian. Willis and Marcy had never married due to political reasoning, though both wore the emblems of conventionality on their increasingly stubby fingers. Willis stuffed the house with all manner of intellectual materialism, bringing home book after book, which he read speedily, moving on, while biting his heavy fingers, to the next tome. The house heaved under his heavy feet, her ample bosom and their ample possessions and ample pretensions. But pretensions were all they were. Willis read theory after theory of a life better than the one he had for he was never truly blinded to Marcy's genial emptiness that pleasantly masked a fear of existence. He just thought he ought to blind himself.

The house filled, both filled out and yet his mind grew restive, frantic even with dissatisfaction. They talked about moving to the country. She refused. They talked about other ways of life, which she agreed to, benefiting from strangers, including Brian, entering their existence. Willis enjoyed watching these men coming to his house, watching Marcy perform on them; but the events were always under her control and his acquiescence. He thought strangers and boyfriends were a way of keeping him sane; keeping her interesting for his fractious mind and the same time keeping her to him. He dreamt constantly of running away.

Pretensions came to nothing. Despite possibly suffering from a hereditary illness and thinking it would be like having a large cat to carry around, Marcy got pregnant. This appealed to the family side of Willis. He thought here at last a chance to make amends for his own frugal emotional upbringing. Here at last he could make a creature out of his own image and bring it up to his own dictates. They didn't test for the genetic mutation. They grew children like one would grow hair. Children emerged whiny and demanding. Marcy gave up all pretensions to another life, another existence and became Ma. At 30 they were replications of their own parents. Safe in coupledom and parenthood, jobs and a car but the belongings grew. There were never enough books to satisfy Willis's insatiable curiosity. He sat back in his recliner, feet stiffly up from the floor and read book after book, filling his mind thinking. Thinking.

But never moving from his seat. He never went anywhere or saw anything. Everything he knew about the world was from his books, his TV, his PC and phone-calls. He grew as wide as his armchair and as sagging, his face florid and cheeks puffy, his body atrophying, his mind, though filled with facts and ideas, morphed into frantic hatred while around him his books grew, his kids grew, Marcy grew, and the kids' things grew. Soon it was impossible to tell where the adults began and the kids ended. They ran around the house rarely feeling air on their faces or earth between their feet.

Sometimes for a treat they were taken to the park. Sometimes Ma would come and play with them when she wasn't out dallying at gambling with Brian or managing an ever-growing car dealership where her targets grew each month. Marcy was a great manager. She could manage everything but her intelligence. It was a life of growing. Things growing like mushrooms only Willis could feel himself decreasing. Decreasing like a balloon, as things pushed at him from all sides. All he could do was to retreat. He couldn't fight against the things pushing at him. Soon he and his recliner were inseparable.

Sometimes he tried to rebel, sometimes he answered back, sometimes he tried to force his will, demand what he wanted but he soon recognized his life was in that deep blue recliner sitting back against the dusty wall shouting to the kids to keep the noise down while he clicked the bones of his fingers, bit down on his nails and picked up yet another book, whose ideas and stimulation would lie relinquishing in some part of his mind that was still hesitantly alive, like Poe's Premature Burial.


Copyright©2006 Jai Clare