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Fiction #407
(published November 6, 2008)
by John Woodington
To begin at the beginning is to assume that everything that has already happened is still yet to come. So is the problem with narrative. Proceeding events have already preceded. Calla is already dead, her body long planted in the earth, though she'll be alive for quite some time here, breathing and speaking as if she had never been killed in the war. Jeremy's lost his mind long ago, though he'll have it with him for the majority of the pages, mostly because Calla's still alive in those same pages. Someday, if he ever gets his mind back, maybe he'll be able to read this story and go back to the time when she was alive, so that he can inhale the scent of sanity that her presence brought him.

But inevitably he'll get to that point in the story when he'll have to relive what it was to lose her. He'll have to watch her run from their short home in the countryside, conceal herself inside the piano in St. Matthew's Church, hold her breath while the mice in the piano nibble her bare toes. And then he'll have to watch as the soldiers cut down the wooden doors and pull parishioners from their hiding places in the nave. He'll watch as they grab Calla up by her hair and shoot her, and then let her drop back into the piano again. And then he'll see what he looked like when he found her, and he'll see himself crumple to the altar steps where he'd married her the summer before, weighed down to the floor by his grief. He'll see Priest Angelo help him to his feet and walk him out and apologize for the failure of sanctuary. He'll see himself watching Calla lowered into the ground beneath a double headstone behind St. Matthew's Church. He'll see himself staring at his own name on the headstone, and he'll remember how he wished that the future was already in the past, how he wished that they would accidentally bury him alive so he could at least lie next to her.

He'll see himself fall from rationality. He'll watch as he howls around their quiet house like a dying animal, forgetting to change his clothes or wash his body, forgetting to answer the door when someone on the outside knocks. He'll see Dr. Ulrich gently lead him into the passenger car of the locomotive that will take him to the hospital that is built like a hotel. And then he'll see himself sitting in a bright room, alone, with the pages of a story in his hands, reading the same story that he is already reading, and at that point, when he reaches the end, he will either return to the first page and begin again, cycling deeper into the mania that's taken him, consuming him like cancer, or, he will throw the pages to the ground and be free of them.

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The Next Fiction piece (from Issue #408):

The One-Two
by Michael Pelc

The Last few Fiction pieces (from Issues #406 thru #402):

Vampire Bananas
by David R. Hughes

The Flounderer
by Timothy Gager

The Theatre of War
by Siamak Vossoughi

Night in a Tree
by Richard Lee

Last Round
by Mark Konkel

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