There is a room the walls of which are covered in peeling wallpaper and paint the color of September sky right on the cusp between summer and fall, just a few days before, or a few days after, the equinox. Nary-a-cloud-in-the-sky blue.
There is a potted plant and the bottom half of a giant clam’s jaw. It’s gasping, it’s screaming, sometimes it’s just yammering incessantly, but its voice has gone all withered with bronchitis and its tongue is dried out. It longs for even tiniest grain of salt the way the bones of a drunk crave wine, even poorly transfigured wine, wine-that’s-more-water-wine, wishful-thinking wine - but tongue-less, it is also limbless, and the salt remains unmoved on the surface of the desk.
And there are jars, compression jars, where memories pour out of the brains and bodies of their hosts through a vacuum and are sealed away tight. At first they are bloody and shaped like hearts – human hearts, that is, the meaty, muscled kind, not like cartoon hearts, all shiny and be-winged, beating, “heart-shaped,” out of the chests of besotted forest creatures. No, the compression jars are, at first, very gory places to be.
Among other things, they hold the image of how you knocked your brother accidentally from his bike, and he cut his neck on the fence, and your mother called you witch and he screamed bloody murder while perched on the toilet seat.
They contain the precise physical remembrance of the way the dog pressed her dry old nose against your forearm and sighed on the way to the vet.
They store the knowledge that your wife has been fucking the next door neighbor, and on top of that fuel to the fire, to make matters worse, she gets to keep the house, but doesn’t, and moves in with him instead, and you’re left with this house full of things too big, as yet, for your jar.
Some people place there, for example, the exact moment when they are told that a loved one has been diagnosed with cancer, and the way the words we did everything we could settle like gravel in your stomach, immediately and against your will, regardless of the prognosis.
They pulse there wetly and red, and are compressed, and are not turned into diamonds, hard and unforgiving, but instead into strange immobile butterflies, poison-colored but fragile, and branches, sharp and dark.