TIME has to let Marjorie go. They are very sorry, they tell her, but she’s trapped inside the minute—and possibly, very soon, she could fall prey to the second. She is infinite in the dogless dog park.
History repeats itself, Marjorie counters, but TIME, uncaring, has vanished already. Dogs expire all around her, in sister cities, slumped dead onto lawns, one of them smiling. Later, their humans mourn privately in bed, fantasizing about lost puppies or lovers. TIME, of one mind, lay waste indiscriminately.
Marjorie looks around at nothing, green rolling back, back, back into memory; she floats above the turbulent flow, watching dust storms level her hometown and flood surrounding counties.
TIME is bureaucratic, formless. Marjorie is human and different.
She stays looping nameless green until another interstellar body, the planet Simon, pulls her closer with a bigger gravity. He can’t talk, mute from TIME. Lightyears on lightyears and almost out of fuel, Marjorie and Simon see the universe scooped inside a black hole. This shrinking world happens one summer expedition.
Simon chews on the cross necklace and Marjorie watches, rapt. She loves him in bible school, memories idling nearby, Simon suckling on the dangled cross like a constellation.
Hurt inside and out, she is weaker now more than ever, ripe for capture. The mircoworld assails her, latches on to her yellow dress, the earth in her breath. Simon holds Marjorie, laughing while they tumble out of orbit, the red shift of summer burning dogbones to a crisp.
He shoves Marjorie, once, hard. Alone, Marjorie heats the infinite void with wilted hands, crouched over and blaming science. Without Simon there is no one—
The thing about TIME, it’s a very intimidating pace. This is why it should only be visited once.
Watching stars etch meaning into blackened dust, she slips further into forgetting—a blanket whiteness spreading over the park.
Simon Conjures the Dead
Baby. . . Marjorie hates me. Honey, sweetheart, my sugar . . . Retching starts. Darling. . . Other voices, mocking. I’m glad we ran into each other. Never met before. I was saying. Look into Madame’s psychic eyes. Marjorie, listen to me. Medium can’t breathe from the occupation. Meet my gaze. Dead calm. That time before. Real low, the medium cracking. I loved. Not the same you. It’s complicated. Marjorie’s almost out of reach. Marjorie is here with us. Don’t move. Stop, say it. Same time tomorrow. Clockwork, unwound. I have this belief. Don’t try that. The planchette moved. No one talks. Absence of heaven. I saw everything. I healed you. Possession, brief. There’s a lot of time until we can move. I froze. Marjorie is here with us. Madame this time. There’s a whole school of trouble, if you wait. I should go. The doors. Slammed. Locked. Doors bolted, Madame mounts the table. I will boil your face skin, peel it from your skull. Escalation, near death. The blood will spray from your earholes. Unrealistic. A fourth meal. Someone’s hungry for—broken plate zips into the floor. I don’t understand. Madame worms along the floor. A hundred fiery. She can’t finish. I’m leaving. The floor overrun by hell beetles. Goodbye love. I don’t love you. Love awake for centuries. Marjorie is here with us. Take my bicuspids, worn from chewing. I won’t. Take my tongue, sick of licking roomy bosoms. Madame has scissors, holds out her tongue, plump and red. Wrestled gone in the stores of mankind. She was only performing—a taunt. “Scissors.” She holds up scissors, cuts away.
Jason Teal is a teacher, writer, and editor now living in the Little Apple of Kansas. He earned his MFA in fiction from Northern Michigan University in 2017, and was coordinating host of the 2016-17 Bards & Brews Creative Reading Series at Ore Dock Brewing Company. He runs Heavy Feather Review, and his work appears in Knee-Jerk, Vestal Review, SmokeLong Quarterly, Matter Press, Hobart, and Quarterly West, among other publications. Twitter: @HeavyFeatherRev