Fiction: Selections from Eric Twa
I tug with my teeth, throw my head back and forth, and finally get the cloth bag off my head. I reel back as a pungent stench hits me, and I gag at the sour taste of stomach acid. Looking around, I find myself tied to a cold chair in front of a steel table smeared with dust and with another chair on the other side. I am in a cinderblock room with a concrete floor and fluorescent lights, one of which is smashed. There are glossy pictures on the left wall: torn centrefolds, bits of bodies. I wonder why some people are fond of such extremes: the domineeringly active, the tragically passive.
I return my gaze to the table. There is an inkblot coffee stain telling me about myself. It has a bug-like head with large protruding eyes, a bumpy and crooked body with two antennas at the top and bottom, spiral wings of a demon stretching out and around itself, and purple blood splattered up and to the left, causing the inkblot to oscillate. I check the table for other stains. I check the concrete floor and discover the source of the smell: a moldy drain.
He is singing softly as he enters, “Hey, sera sera—whatever will be, will be.” His round tinted glasses, purple suit, and slicked back hair reminds me of a monster in a reoccurring nightmare from my childhood. There is a permanent mark just below his left eye, mirroring me. He sits across from me and leans back, legs spread and smirking. My eyes drop, and my shackled hands tremble from adrenaline. He declares, “Give up. Give up. Give up.”
I exhale, knowing nothing. I look left and see pictures of a baby wrapped in a white blanket and a yellow cap, a boy giggling in a bathtub, a young teen in a green and black soccer uniform standing by a man with a cap saying: COACH. The man enquires, “Do you recognize these pictures?”
“No.” The left side of my jaw aches.
He leans in with a sardonic smile, “Do you not recognize yourself?”
I roll my head, “I guess not.”
He watches me think. He taps the table. The lights flicker. I perspire. The drain trickles. My back aches. The wall cracks. I beg, “Can you clean the table?”
Echoing laughter. Eyes rolling. Walls oscillating. Body shivering. Image’s changing. Being naked. I know I am guilty; I do not know of what.
It is the third hour, and I am dizzied by the towers of boarded windows and cement slabs. I fight with myself as I try to put myself against the South Wall. Two other versions of me are already there: feet and hands bound, blindfolded, trembling bottom lips. I do and do not recognize these past and future selves. Everything unfolds according to my stream, rockymemories, and the erosion of time. The air is crisp and I am petrified. I throw punches, receive a black eye, and get a split left brow in return. My body shakes. My vision is blurry. I continue beating myself down—a searing pain, a stabbing pain—as the theater of my mind unfolds. I moan while curling up inmy hospital gown. Its string tightens around my neck. Leaves stick to me from the morning dew. I wipe the dirt and tears from my face as I am absorbed by the melancholy sky. I bite my hand to offset the throbbing of my ribs, and I think, there must be something more than this. I’d free myself; I am my prisoner. I declare aloud, inside my mind, I will fight against the path of despair. But never can this happen … But never can this happen … But never can this happen. I glance at the North Star. It dwindles in the morning light. I see a face in a window. Hegazes out beneath two crooked boards. His green and grey eyeshave an inquisitive sincerity. He cocks his head, confused. This child. This boy. Me.
I tremble on my knees. Letting out a silent scream, I order myself against the wall. I stand alone and face a firing squad of nobody. I stare at an empty window—the walls are crumbling, the sky is splitting—and I declare, “…fire…”
Eric Twa is a gay Canadian writer with an MA in Philosophy. He has published in The Eunoia Review, decomp journal, and is forthcoming in Scarlet Leaf Review. He also has poetry in The Nashwaak Review.