Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Book of the Dead, a scene

I am working on a new story, part of my book, Transmigrant Journals. This story, The Book of the Dead, Frayed Ends of a Broken Thread, is made up of a number of short, interwoven but non-linear scenes. Here is one:

Reading Akutagawa’s The Story of a Head that Fell Off. When I nod off, I dream I am Xiao-er. I am lying in mud by the edge of a gentle stream. Willow leaves tremble above my head. I dream I am dying, no, that I am dead and I have washed up on an unknown bank. Realizing this, I am struck by a bolt of panic, and I jolt awake.

Swallowed in grief, I look about me and see I have been lost in a reverie. This moment is too piercing. I am at graveside, and the casket has just been lowered. The shovel is lifted by person after person, each struggling to drive its blade into the wet clay and rock, to lift it, to shake its load into the grave, to drive its blade back into the clotted earth.

I pull the shovel out of the muck, then drive it back in with a violent shove. As I lift and throw, I see the casket is open. Horrified, I drop the shovel and it clatters into the open pit .

Swallowed in shock, I open my eyes. I am lying in mud by a gentle stream.

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