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What Did I Mention To Ya?

What Did I Mention To Ya?

What Did I Mention To Ya?

by Maxwell Suzuki

The doctor says it’s dementia; the nurse says you’ll be fine; and you—well you don’t know what to think. Ever since your son brought you here, things have been different. He was crying when he dropped you off. You still don’t know why. You are afraid if you ask the doctor or nurse, they’ll just shake their heads dismissively. You can see the scene play out in your head like it’s a pristine Super 8.

You see yourself beg their beautifully unblemished faces to repeat their diagnosis. You know it’s a doozy. They do too, because if it wasn’t such a bombshell, they would fire away as if they were spitting .556. People aren’t as trigger happy with their tongues as they used to be. Your son likes it that way—says people know a bit more nowadays.

The problem you seem to be facing at the moment is the mushy responses these people here give you. Just as mushy as the food you ate for breakfast this morning and the morning before. Their faces are mushy, the spaghetti is mushy, and you begin to wonder if anything is solid anymore.

Though, your son is not to blame, he didn’t build this place with its heavy doors and long hallways. He’s an architect—your son is—you know. Not many people can take that title. He created the award winning Beacon De Lumiere with its sixty stories and just as many whipping windows. He reassures you that it’s not his favorite work, but the Architects of America sure think it is.

It felt like just last winter you were teaching him the physics of building blocks. You made towers of wood together while the rest of the world froze to ash. You tried making them as oddly balanced as possible. You, with your steady hands and calm gaze, could make structures from spheres and triangles. And your son could only use cubes and cylinders.

But time seems to have changed your roles. Now he is balancing toroids upon thin cones. You are quick to correct him when he says he was an expert from his birth. But you taught him well. He got frustrated easily that winter. The blocks were your way of bringing semblance to the stormy disorder.

Chipped from use, the wood had seen just as many sweaty hands as any regularly used toy. Though if you recall correctly, they were a mixture of pastel blues and tangerine purples.

Your son had both grit upon his teeth and cherry red cheeks during construction. He was too young to understand gravity or balance or love or sorrow. You—well you were just old enough to know not to tell him some buildings were simply meant for collapse.

The thing with blocks that you both learned that winter was that the foundation need not be perfect nor the structure exact for a building to exist. He built one with a cube, a cylinder, a sideways rectangle, and an upside-down sphere. You—with your more rigid idea of a tower—built a uniform totem of cubes.

The two of you made a city of chaotic order. Little did he know that he would give up wood for rebar and cement in the next decade.

Even before Lumiere and Tout Acier you knew you had a Frank Lloyd on your hands. On that carpet of your tract home and the sleepy suburb you were watching the creation of something greater.

Thing is, you’re sure you watched him make De Guingois before any blueprint was drawn on your own dining table. The Architects of America should’ve seen him take to building.

This building—wherever your son brought you—isn’t of his design. You are certain it isn’t even his company that made it, but you can’t be sure. The walls are too tacky for your taste—they make the flood lights too gummy.

Oh, the lights, you might as well be inside the sun, and if not, then where?

Your son wheels you into a space damn near the size of a gymnasium, though you do not see athletes. You were never fond of gymnasiums, were you? They smell too much of stale air and shelled peanuts. You aren’t into sports that much, anyway. What’s the point of ten men sprinting in a designated space over a ball? If the smells turn you away from such an affair, well good luck enjoying the sport with your ears intact. There is too much squeaking and yelling and whistling.

Your son, bless his soul, knows not of your grievances with basketball. He is too much into the sport to know that you pretend to sleep when he puts it on the television.

If he, like you had grown up on a healthy diet of radio, then he would know it would not have been a good soundscape to broadcast.

After pushing you to the corner television, your son naively turns it to that which you dislike. You—oh stubborn you—will not let your son drag your interest into the thing, so without a second thought you close your eyes to pretend.

Usually, you would be angry with him, but you are more confused than anything else. Why on Earth are you in a wheelchair on the floor of a gymnasium with nothing better to do than to watch a box of color beg for your attention?

Why had the doctor not looked happy nor elated nor sad nor pensive nor concerned nor angry nor anything you recognize? He, like many people nowadays, are indecipherable.

Your son was always the joyous type, and now you do not even see that on his face.

It is easier to pretend to sleep than to pay attention to their faces and that box. But pretend can quickly become reality and so you find yourself drifting into a slumber as shoes squeak, and a zebra striped man squeals, and the faint hint of recycled air tenders your nose.

* * *

Just like every moment of your life, you know you’re in a dream. How else did you get to where you are if not for Mr. Sandman. If not him, then who? Why does it matter anyway, you’re at least in someplace you recognize. Though you can’t quite conjure the name.

You have been here many times in many different dreams all with the same warm vigor in your stomach. Time seems to forgotten your age. Your back is straight. Your fingers are pain free and your eyes are sharper than a mole’s.

You are more excited to walk on springy knees than to be docile. You are just able to remember the name of the place when She comes strutting by.

Oh, what a dame to behold! Lucky for you, She likes you as much as you like Her. You welcome Her as you both take heavy seats.

Why are you here anyway? There are lots of bodies around you, but now it only matters that She is here. You wrap your arm around Her like warm molasses on flapjacks and She smiles back with a touch of lemon zest. It lasts for what feels like a lifetime. All the while, a rumbling tumbles at the tips of your toes and fingers.

Now you remember where you are, it’s all so clear now. You think you’re in the gymnasium a drive away from your home. Though once you know where you are, you know what is to come.

You do not want that to happen. Like a thunderous crash, the dulled sounds and smells of the place slam back in high definition. You know it is coming.

She turns to you, zest still upon Her face and yet you know it is for a different reason. You try to stutter, to stop the moment from happening, but nothing shifts out of your mouth. The cheering crowd thickens their pitch and volume. The referee squeals louder than a live hog on a spit.

The buzzer sounds. It is coming. She casts Her eyes downward and tenderly holds your hands. The buzzer ends, the crowd has disappeared, and the players have vanished.

Her face is of rotten oranges now. She tells you something. But you do not want to accept it. You just want to watch the game and pretend.

She is sad and begs you to listen. You do. She says She doesn’t love you anymore. You begin to question if She ever did. The yelling and smells come back and shove you down on your seat.

It came. It was just as powerful and Her face just as rotten. Why did you ever come here? Why did you ever think that She was perfect? She isn’t. You do not know what your dream is telling you. But you don’t want to listen.

* * *

You let your eyes gradually open, but you are not where you were before, you are not where you were before, you are not where you were before. This place is new and scary. You notice the darkness first, though you wish you hadn’t. Darkness reminds you of Death and you are ready for no such thing. You have far too many block cities to build with your young boy to worry about something so permanent.

You want to build the whole of New York or Boston or Chicago or Philadelphia or Detroit or Memphis or Minneapolis or Austin before you can say you are ready. Your eyes—as strong as they are—take a lot more than a minute to adjust.

You can only think of what is beyond that dense fog. You do not want to know. It is not your time—and shouldn’t be for a long, long while. The room—for that is what you perceive this place to be—fades into your view of static.

You are in a hard bed, you know that much. Your face and chest and palms and forehead are damp and cold. You wish nothing more than to wield a lighter.

But no, you are not gifted one. You touch your face, at least you think it’s yours as it is too dark to notice otherwise.

You feel your skin has become catenary curves. You don’t know how that happened or when. You wish you hadn’t even touched your face. You decide it is best to leave this place—to escape darkness and Death and despair.

The thick cloth sheets are fastened too tightly to the bed which keep your strong limbs from disentangling.

Why isn’t She in bed? It was just yesterday that you two had your son. You must find Her and at the same time run as far away from this place.

Though the ringing in your ears helps no one. At first you thought it was a bee or a power generator, but you know it is not. No, it’s louder now, barely a foot away from you. You reach down in the darkness and scramble for the source.

You stomach sinks farther into the Mariana Trench. You know things are never good whenever something begins to tickle your ears. You want it to shut up—anything except the demented ring.

Your hand catches plastic and you instinctively place it to your ear.

The ringing has stopped. Now a heavy sizzle and pop is coming from the object. You strain to hear what is beyond. You know it is something so important, you just don’t know what.

Over the vinyl crackle, you hear a familiar voice, but it is too distorted. You try to call back, but a gargled mess of syllables tumble clumsily off your tongue. The voice doesn’t respond to you, but instead sounds excited—happy, even.

This puts you even more at unease—your stomach has almost reached the bottom of the trench.

You look back up from the sheets, but you find you are no longer trapped by the darkness and cloth. You are standing while listening to a corded phone. The base of it is attached to a wall with flowery wall paper and a bright beige tint.

You are pacing back and forth along your kitchen floor. You had sat by the phone waiting—just waiting. Waiting. Waiting. Waiting. Now you know that whatever your son will tell you will make your heart leap over the Empire State or fall into quicksand. You are not ready for either.

His voice cracks, not because of the phone, but because he is genuinely nervous. You calm him over the clunky plastic and corded microphone. Will his nervousness cause a black hole or a supernova? One will not know, until you, his brave father, broach the edge.

You ask him, ready for the impact, whatever his shivering voice will say. He says it’s good news—real good news. You want to congratulate him, hug him, to tell him God truly is on your side, but all you can do is cry.

They’re happy tears—ones meant for extraordinary occasions. Graduations. Births. Birthdays. Marriages. You aren’t quite sure which one, but that doesn’t matter, anyway. It only matters that it is good.

You smile and your bones shake out the released tension. He’s an amazing boy—your son is. You couldn’t ask for anyone more special.

And you—well God didn’t do all the work, you had at least a say in which block went where. He, well he found the right balance for everything.

He hears you cry—knows they’re happy tears and joins in.

Then the line goes dead—its silence crackling in your eardrums. You call to your son on the other side, but he doesn’t respond. You blink away your tears, but you are back in the pit of darkness, strapped down to the cloth cage.

No wallpaper or phone or kitchen. Just you, a bed, and your thoughts. Just you, a bed, and your thoughts. You know he is on the other side—he has just got to be holding his breath. Could it be one of his tricks?

This time you call his name with more force. Maybe he left the phone to tend something. He shouldn’t be gone for long. Then when he gets back you can continue crying with him.

Though, you are scared something more foul has happened. You try to subvert those thoughts that plague you. Certainly shouting his name will bring his voice back to your ear and banish the suffocating dark.

You do not know how long you’ve been saying his name. Your throat is dry and warped, though it couldn’t all be because of that.

In an instant, the darkness snaps away. You first notice the nurse comes in, her expression is blurry—muted even. Why is she here? This is your room—not some faux hospital.

The doctor is in quick tow. What a fiasco! You release the grip of the tissue box from your ear and you feel just as surprised as they are.

And where—where is your son? Is your son a doctor, now? He’s a smart boy, though you swear he wanted to be an architect. But a doctor, well it sure is an admirable position.

Your son: a doctor! Oh, there he is—your heart beat plateaus and then relaxes—trailing behind the nurse. He looks good in scrubs—though blue was his least favorite color. He said it reminded him too much of darkness—of the empty space between stars.

You grab your son’s arm, happy to be able to congratulate him in person. But he doesn’t seem as enthused as you are, anymore. His body is rigid like that of brick or gelatin.

You are about to tell him how happy you are for him—for the both of you, but it seems you have forgotten why. Why act happy when there is nothing to be happy about? You would just look insane to everyone else in the room—namely the nurse.

Oh, it hits you, you get it now. Who else would the nurse be but your wife! They like to play games on you—a family of tricksters—ravens. You haven’t seen Her in forever. Though She must’ve gotten a haircut and taken a liking to heels.

What of it, anyway? She’s here, your son’s here. It’s a family reunion. Well, except for your parents. Though they’re in wheelchairs and your house doesn’t have a lift. Surely they’re downstairs.

With all of these festivities, you are sure today must be important. Why else would your whole family be here? Maybe they’re bringing you breakfast in bed, for of course the most important day of the year: your birthday.

The hospital gowns must be nothing more than costumes. You know the smell of fried bacon, cold coffee, and cheesy eggs—oh your family surely does treat you well.

Though you swear your birthday was just last Wednesday. But when you’re a pilot, time surely does fly and fall.

You can tell it is morning now that the golden sun and reverent birds occupy the same space in the window.

You look back at your son and the doctor’s costume has all but vanished. He wears a wicked grin on his shoulders while carrying a tray of everything you smelled and more. Crisp buttered toast. Coffee from Ecuador with two parts whole milk and three parts cafe. Bright orange avocados. You know they are putting on a show for you and you are enjoying it.

No exerting, they tell you, you don’t even need to think. And so you don’t. You observe instead.

Your son has sharp blue eyes—bluer than lemons. That’s from his mother’s side. Just so, you notice the hazel specks that at first look like dirt—that’s your contribution. Nothing special, measly even, though existent.

You being to wonder which parts of him are from you and which parts are from Her. His nose, round and plump like an over-ripe raisin, must be from you. He tries to tell you that every bit of him is both you and Her. Though with a mind so clever, you know that’s all you.

They carry you down the stairs, laughing and just as clumsy as the Three Stooges. You are full by now, all that breakfast had been cho-cho trained into your mouth. They warn you that it is the beginning of your birthday saga. You want to know what they have in store. What might it be?

Your stomach can only take in so much before your station will start rejecting trains. As much as you tell them the celebration doesn’t have to be much more, you want it to be as extravagant as possible.

Bring in the jugglers, the clowns, the ventriloquists—you want it to be a ceremony with doves and fireworks and ticker tape and beaming smiles.

You are brought to the wooden table in your living room. Your parents, as old and creaky as they are, smile back at you. You are at the head of the table and before you stands a perfectly square sphere. None of its sides are out of line, not even the red bow that is tied so perfectly.

They encourage you to unwrap the thing. Surely, you wonder what it could be. Before you reveal the secret to yourself, you take one last glance at your family.

Their faces are lanterns of light among a forest of gray. You wish in this moment that they would stay lit forever. It is your birthday after all—you are young, and fit, and happy.

Finally, you open the sphere, pulling out the nicely tied bow to reveal the contents inside. Gasping, you look down. But you are unsure of what you are looking at. What is it? What could it be? You jog your mind, but its name eludes you.

Looking back at your family, their expressions haven’t changed—they are just as joyous. You ask them what the present is—at least you think you do. Though they don’t even acknowledge your question.

You are concerned now, their faces have stuck like plaster. Isn’t this what you wanted—to be here forever? It is your birthday wish after all. They are as alive as mannequins now—their faces just as glossy.

You drop your present and jump to your son, whose smile is spread like sticky peanut butter. You grab his shoulder and shake it. What is happening? You scream at him, hoping to bring life back into his plastic smile.

This is not what you wanted. Though you seem to be stuck, screaming.

* * *

Your body is strapped to a bed with leather shackles. You start to ask yourself where you are, but stop mid-thought. You will never know where you are, anymore. You will never know where you are, anymore. You will never know where you are, anymore. You will never know where you are, anymore. You will never know where you are, anymore. Surely, it’s some trick of the eye. Surely, Plato will extinguish the flame and release your restraints.

Regardless, you body feels slow, needing repairs, aging. How so? It was simply your birthday last night. How old are you, anyway? You can’t be older than fifty—that’s a dreaded age. You can’t be younger than twenty—you bones feel too brittle for that. Though it is impossible for you to know for sure.

And yet, you are here—existing. You are not sure if your star will burn out in a million short years or billions. You will never know because there isn’t a clock in this room. If there was, then you would go insane counting every little tick. You guess that you wouldn’t get past five million. Though, at least it would be something to do. Now, you can’t even do anything. There is only one place you can think of where you are.

Yes, even though you will never know for sure where you are, you attempt to find out nonetheless. You may be in a medieval dungeon—readying for torture. Maybe your executioner is behind you—just out of sight.

You begin to smell your own sour sweat—or maybe it’s the executioner’s. Death is in the room, once again, this time with an iron axe and a black hood. Maybe today you will get stretched by limbs. Tomorrow you will be lobotomized. The next, you will be skinned. Just for Death’s enjoyment, he will hold back his scythe until the last bits of your sanity have been bitten away by rats.

Only then will you beg for Death’s release into the welcoming ether. This is the moment before everything goes to shit. You know something bad will happen, but you don’t know what or when or who or how.

The Executioner comes into view with his devious tool. Though he has exchanged his black robe for a white one. You can vaguely see red splotches across the whole of his body.

But his face is simply a smudge—as if someone’s sweaty hand swiped across wet ink. You know now that you will be given the Blood Eagle. You can tell by the way the executioner moves with confidence. You can already feel your lungs collapse in on themselves, contract before they are forced to.

Has it already been five million ticks? You rapidly search your decaying mind for anything that will teleport you away.

Your son. Oh, how could your own offspring let you be brought to Death’s door? You had given him everything—and now he is not here. He has abandoned you—just like Her. He has abandoned you—just like Her. He has abandoned you—just like Her. You guess that it runs in the family. Everything you had set up, she took away.

Oh how you hate Her more than the Executioner—more than basketball—more than Death. You loved Her. You still do, why else would you be so passionately hateful?

She is like the tang of puckering lemonade. And yet, you continue to drink because you believe the aftertaste will be sweet.

You remember the first time you saw Her. Or do you? It all feels vaguely like a dream. You have replayed the memory so many times, the tape has begun to fail in some places. She’s sitting on a bench in the middle of a green park—you know that much. Is She holding a newspaper or a magazine or a pamphlet or a book?

From your vantage point you can tell She is concentrating. You wonder if you walk over there, then maybe you can figure out what She is thinking or reading. And then it strikes you that you only need to take five paces—six, possibly.

But She is there—waiting, an invitation to talk, to sit down even. So you do. You walk across the brick, smiling every pace.

Four paces away. She looks up from reading and focuses on the one person walking towards her—you.

Three paces. You smile and give a slight nod. You recognize Her now as your future wife—or past wife, God knows. She places the newspaper or magazine or whatever the fuck it was on the side of the bench. She matches your gaze.

Two paces. You extend your hand—ready to greet, to welcome you into Her life. Will She do the same for you?

One pace. She extends Hers. Time stops. Your hands are a hairline away—waiting to be painted by Michelangelo. You grab Her hand—happy to bring Her life into yours—or your life into Hers. Who knows, anyway?

Though Her hands are calloused, sweaty. It is nighttime now or daytime—with all the fireworks in the sky and exploding on the ground you don’t know for sure.

Your buddy, born and raised in the great state of Texas and son to oil barons tugs your hand down into his foxhole. Was it his hand you grabbed? Surely the oil blowout he’s having isn’t because of you.

Though you catch him saying how much of a dumb ass you are when a shearing whirl spirals out of the pitch black sky and pops into a million tiny shards of dirt and detritus.

At first you think it’s a celebration for meeting Her. She certainly is worth all the fireworks in the world.

Your buddy, god bless his soul, practically shoves you to the ground. You only want to admire the show, and yet your show is spoiled. His face is red hot, like that of fire pokers or icebergs. He pulls you in by your mud-soaked uniform and brands his anger onto you—tells you to act like a god damn soldier or you would both die.

You don’t want your last memory to be of your buddy having a tantrum of what you still assume to be in the park with Her.

Where is She, by the way? You scan the world around you—at least what isn’t blocked off by the knee-high wall of dirt. You notice there are stone spires half-eaten and walls of buildings completely sheared off.

In one of the homes with only three walls, a living room is open to the elements. It is heavily dusted with chalk and dirt and stone. You recognize the rug below everything—it’s Persian. A heavy wooden chair is in the far corner. A coffee table sits in the middle, broken in half by a chunk of debris.

You notice a lump on the rug. It’s small and crumpled uncomfortably—like a tossed doll or broken toy. Your eyes aren’t very good—they never were, but you swear you see a face on that lump.

You call to your sizzling buddy—tell him you have to see if that is someone. He tightens his grip on your collar in response and shoves the rifle you had by your side into your bloody hands. What does he know about fighting? All Texas got are slow cows and empty pastures.

Without so much as a second thought, you book it across the road that separates you from the lump. Bees buzz past your ears at lightning speed. You’re quick on your feet, though, knowing a sting from a bee means death.

The fireworks are unusually close to you and you begin to wonder why they had not planned for your safety.

You reach the blown-off wall and you know now that your suspicion was right. The lump has two awkwardly twisted arms and two tiny legs—or are there two twisted legs and two tiny arms?

Your buddy yells profanity you aren’t familiar with over the crackle of fireworks and buzzing bees. You want to know if this is Her. You push away the rubble that had held the person down. You look down and you see that it isn’t your wife, it never was.

The lump, you know now, is a child. Was a child. The kid was dead before you saw him. You can’t stop looking at how his own limbs knotted over themselves. He could’ve been playing with toys in this room—building wooden towers with his father.

You taste the smell of rotten flesh, of hungry maggots, of angry flies. You have to swat away a few. You want to squish those pesky bugs for taking away pieces of the boy’s body. His fingertips had already been nibbled off and you only see yellowed bone.

His knuckles are bent the wrong way. The blood has crisped a dark velvet across arms and down his dented forehead. The hole is crescent shaped—as if the force of the moon slammed against his brittle skull. You place your fingers into the pit—hoping it isn’t real. It is like rubber that has seen a crash. You don’t have to look inside to know his brain is scrambled.

There is a carpet of velvet around you. Maybe stray dogs will come by to feast after the maggots are full.

You swear you know the boy—swear that you’ve held him in your arms, fed him, created block cities together.

You always imagine dead people’s eyes to be closed. You want to think it’s a peaceful process. Though his eyelids had been ripped open as if he had seen the center of a black hole or the sharp edge of a scythe.

He must’ve thought the fireworks were pretty, must’ve dropped his wooden blocks to watch the dazzling spectacle.

A fly lands on his pupil, rubs its filthy arms and begins to feast. It doesn’t take long for the rest of the swarm to realize the eyes taste good. They chomp away at opal rings, making haste until only the sockets remain. Soon the flies will reach his brain.

Soon they will sense you are near Death, too. Your buddy, the Boiler-man, screams over the fireworks that you had better get your ass back in his foxhole or he would be the one to give you a skull full of lead.

You stare blankly back at him. Does he not notice the boy’s body? Today, your buddy has a short temper. Fed up, he scrambles out of the foxhole and into the open street.

The bees are extraordinarily angry today—someone must’ve found their home—kicked down their honeycomb.

You see his face with acute detail: the pits and caverns on his cheeks, the waterfalls of sweat, the pinched frown upon his partially shaven chin.

He gets about halfway before a bee stings your buddy straight in the temple. It has a quiet entrance—the way Olympic divers make little splashes. Upon its exit, you assume the bee had tumbled about in his brain before leaving a cone of blood and brain matter hissing through the air. The tumbling bee buzzes out of his head as if your buddy wasn’t there.

You wish you were colorblind. You wish you were colorblind. You wish you were colorblind. You have never seen so much sticky red in your life. Could anyone not have thrown up their breakfast, lunch, and dinner?

Oh, dear Death is not in the corner now. No, it isn’t hiding. He or she or whatever the fuck it is, is surrounding you.

You know where you are now. With the stench of Death you could only be in Italy or Germany or France on your fourth or fifth tour of the place.

You know She is waiting for you back in America. You can only talk to Her in a locket on your neck every night. When She doesn’t respond to your letters, you are sure Mr. Mailman is tucking the letter in her breast pocket.

You pull the locket out from under your your uniform—how earth red it has become.

The bullets are raining now, the Weatherman forgot this in his forecast. Or maybe you forgot what he said.

The two bodies are no more alive than you are brave. You are just a skinny boy fighting a war against Death itself. And the only reason you are alive is because of Her.

And now, She is gone.

* * *

They surround you, in their white gowns and their features feel uninviting and yet you think you know their intentions. Three of them are in front of you, you think. You haven’t counted things in a while—you haven’t needed to. Who counts things, nowadays? Where is your son? The nurse? The doctor? Where is She?

Computers, your grandson would say, they count sheep and money. Though, why these three things in front of you do nothing but exist is astonishing. They move and shift and waddle but you are afraid that if you call out to them, they will become angry—violent even. The best thing you can do is sit here and do nothing but think and pretend all is not how it currently is.

Your grandson, you ask? He’s doing well. The last time you saw that little fella was…well you don’t remember the last time you saw him. It can’t be anything more than a year. But then what does a year feel like? You don’t remember his face. In fact, you can’t even recall his name.

You aren’t even sure he is a boy. You swear you think you saw him wearing blue when your son brought him over to visit. Though it is just as likely that he wore pink.

They turn to you—at least you think it’s towards you and a gargled mass of rubbish careens out of their mouths. Are they angry, sad, happy? What type of aliens look so vaguely familiar that you are willing to cut off the tip of your tongue to be relieved of the feeling?

And yet they feel so foreign that you wish you had never laid eyes on such beings. They’re closer to you. The clack clack clack of their feet slapping the angry ground. If you could say, something you would.

Though it seems your mouth has gone numb. Did these aliens inject you with anesthesia? What then of it? What happens after these…beings have a go at you?

Will you become non-existant? Will your body and mind be zapped into mush and then devoured and digested and dedicated? What then? Where will you go? Will Death grab you by the collar? And what of it, if Death does?

You have escaped Death for this long. You have bent bullets, and seen Death’s hallow face under a dark hood. Who is to say you won’t escape Death this time? And if you do, wouldn’t that mean you are immortal?

You are anti-Death. You will exist forever. Death will be no more than a pesky fly on a wall. And you are the fly swatter. And if you were to die, then will it be over? C’est fini? Or will time reset? Will you live your life again, but under amnesia?

You will have the same conversations, same relationships, same heartbreaks, same thoughts, same feelings, same loss. You will be happy an infinite amount of times. You will have kissed Her an infinite amount of times. You realize she will leave you just as many times. You will be angry with Her until the universe ceases to exist. She will look at you with those sorry eyes for eternities. You will see bees shredding your buddy’s brain over and over and over and over and over and over again. You will touch that boy’s sunken forehead a thousand million billion times. You will feel terror in your marrow until the chattering has ground your teeth to the gums.

And you will experience this forever, confused, disoriented, mad, happy, sad, terrified. You realize now, as you have with everything, that this must be what Death feels like—that age has crept into your rotting brain.

You only want to build towers with your young boy again. And see the concentration warping his eyebrows—even if you can’t recognize his face anymore.

Maxwell Suzuki is a Japanese American writer who recently graduated from USC and lives in Los Angeles. Maxwell’s work has appeared in 805 Lit, The Racket Journal, and his personal website He is currently writing a novel on the generational disconnect of Japanese American immigrants and their children.

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