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Truth (ii)

Story by Ben Ehrenreich (Read author interview) December 15, 2007

Early one morning, Truth sat in the meager, slanted shade of a solitary lamppost rising from the center of a cement lot overgrown with creeping thistles, sunflowers and a shiny hedge of poison oak. Perched on a milk crate, barefoot and alone, Truth plucked burrs and shards of bottle glass from the bottoms of her feet and conversed aloud with herself.

“Look!” she said to the torn sole of her left foot. “There are so many trees! There are even mountains!”

“But the trees will lose their leaves,” she answered dryly, sliding a splinter of what was once a beer bottle from beneath a callus on her heel, “and one day they too will fall. And the mountains—even they will some day tumble.”

“Yes, but there are clouds! You can’t deny that there are clouds, abloom and ablossom and all afloss across the sky!”

“They block the sun. They will be rain.”

“Yes, rain!” Truth enthused, tugging a burr from between her toes. “Let them become rain!”

“Fine. Let them. There will be mud, and floods, children crushed and cattle floating belly up.”

“But the fields will brighten! The grain fattens with every drop. And the flowers—think of all the flowers!”

“Brightness fades. Flowers wilt and die. Grain rots or is consumed, transmuted into shit, which feeds the fields, and breeds more shit.”

“But look at that bird!” Truth pointed skyward at a hawk circling above.

Truth shrugged. “It seeks the mouse,” she said.

“The mouse, yes! Where is the mouse?”

“The hawk will crunch it down.”

“Not yet, it won’t. The mouse still scurries.”

“Scurries where? And to what end?”

“What does it matter?”

“My point precisely.”

Her feet repaired, Truth stood. She spat in her palms, dropped down and did a handstand. She walked on her palms across the broken pavement, her toes pointing to the clouds with every step, and to the stars above them. She flipped herself back on her feet and, without even a running start, cartwheeled the full length of the lot. Truth landed on her heels. Her form was perfect. She spun about and curtsied to the poison oak. She found her crate again. She sat. She crossed her legs and commenced pulling burrs and shards of bottle glass from the tears in the palms of her hands.

Truth’s eyes widened. “Look!” she said to her own bloodied flesh. “There are so many trees!”

About the Author

Ben Ehrenreich is the author of the novel The Suitors.

This story appeared in Issue Nineteen of SmokeLong Quarterly.
SmokeLong Quarterly Issue Nineteen

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