SmokeLong Quarterly

Share This f l Translate this page

This Is What I Know about Being Gigantic

Story by Justin Brouckaert (Read author interview) December 16, 2014

art by Joshua Hartley

When you’re gigantic, no one appreciates your dancing. They doubt your coordination. They’re all so worried about their tiny little skulls.

When you’re gigantic, you lose respect for the trees. There’s just no reason to be in awe of what’s smaller than you. Even the tiny people beneath you are only worth watching when they blend together in droves and sway blue and white like the rolling waves of the ocean, the way it looks when you wade in the middle of it up to your thighs, the cold prickle of coral breaking skin between your toes. Or when they flicker so green you want to lie down on your back and thrash in them like a puppy in a perfect field. They don’t like it when you do this. They tell you to stop in angry ways. They call you earthquake or meteor or God.

When you’re gigantic, it’s hard to make friends, even with the one tiny person who has settled on your ankle. Every day you grow, he learns a little more about his home. You learn a little less about his body. One day your tiny settler is discovered. Your ankle is annexed. First there are ten tiny people and then there are a hundred and they begin to climb. You feel your tiny settler protest, but he is outnumbered. You feel his tiny body sway. You imagine he looks up at you in apology, but you’ve grown too gigantic to discern such features. The tiny colonists multiply, give birth to whole families on your calf, dig deep in your thighs with their fingers and toes, climbing higher and higher until they threaten to topple you, to bring your gigantic body crashing down.

When you’re gigantic, the speed of your growth surprises you. Suddenly you can’t feel the sharp bodies digging into muscle, the pinpricks on your skin. You can’t see the tiny people pointing and it hurts your neck to try. The oceans become buckets for your feet. Your swinging arm strobes the sun. One day none of this is true and the next day it is.

When you’re gigantic, you have lots of time to think about how gigantic you are. You were once a tiny little person with a tiny little nose. Now you’re an eclipse, brief and forgotten. There was a rush that came with size, new size, an unmatched feeling of power and dominion, but that allure is fleeting. Instead, you think about how unrecognizable you’ve become, how indistinct and mountainous. How the tiny people must stare and stare but really see nothing.

When you’re gigantic, you never stop growing. You grow until everything you’ve ever known is a molecule and everything you’ve ever been is sky. You are bigger than sky. Your head pokes out the earth’s atmosphere and you gasp for air to fill your gigantic lungs. Your neck breaks through to the starry black, then your shoulders and arms. Comets and asteroids shoot at you like bullets, clipping your earlobes, your fingertips, making great craters in your gigantic nose. You are picked apart, made smaller this way, shot at again and again until, like everything gigantic, you eventually crash.

When you’re gigantic, it’s hard to keep things in perspective. You forget there’s no one to catch you, that the tiny lights witnessing your collapse are not fireflies but stars. The clouds, a cool breeze on your back. Even in the end, you are between one size and another.

When you’re gigantic, the crash happens slowly. Tiny people live and die. They look at you like you’re forever. When you do come down, you don’t come down easy. There is dust and fire and lost religion, everything broken and bloodied around you. When the detritus clears, when your gigantic body is grounded and burnt with stars, the tiny people come for you with their tiny fists in the air. They are organized and efficient. They have been waiting. It is best to close your eyes.

—Title inspired by the song of the same name by the band Minus the Bear.

About the Author

Justin Brouckaert’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Rumpus, Passages North and Hobart, among other publications. He is a James Dickey Fellow at the University of South Carolina, where he serves as fiction editor of Yemassee.

About the Artist

Joshua Hartley is a freelance graphic designer and illustrator from Pinconning, Michigan. He draws largely from his experiences with local music and the art associated with it.

This story appeared in Issue Forty-Six of SmokeLong Quarterly.
SmokeLong Quarterly Issue Forty-Six

Support SmokeLong Quarterly

Your donation helps writers and artists get paid for their work. If you’re enjoying what you read here, please consider donating to SmokeLong Quarterly today.

The Hybrid Flash: How to Dual-Wield Genre

Book Now!

The Hybrid Flash with Erin Vachon

In this webinar/workshop, you will harness the experimental power of hybrid flash. You will discover the intertwined history of hybrid and flash, and read published flash crossed with image, poetry, and creative nonfiction. You will learn the rules of each genre, so you know how to break them.