Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Tunnel

He began to inflate like a parade float. His feet disappeared. It became more difficult to scratch his own back. This left him in a particular quandary because in order for his itches to be scratched he now needed to be unclothed and with someone else, both things he wanted to avoid due to his burgeoning girth. The expansion also caused a kind of rebellion in his skin. It continually tried to reject the new expanse by jettisoning what it could like ballast on a sinking ship. So there were flakes to witness shamefaced on dark clothing. But light clothing accentuated rotundity.

Whole portions of his life evaporated. Things which had seemed essential fell by the wayside like so many long distance rabbits at mile five of the marathon. His esoteric existence shrank in direct proportion to this corporeal growth. He was a train backing into a tunnel open on only one end. The horseshoe of light lost its square bottom he was so far in. It was now a pinprick, a circle. He may have been expanding but he was certainly not round enough to get back out of the hole.

Or was he? He was forced to ignore the reality of his body. To take a baby step. One day he walked a mile at lunch. The next he did the same. The day after that he added a half mile after work. Soon he’d logged eight miles in a week, ten. At first this seemed inconsequential, merely a manner in which to pass the time. But after a month the tunnel didn’t seem so tight around him and the pinprick circle had gained some shape along its perforations.

Two months later he was jogging and the tunnel was a quickly fading memory.

Did he will this transformation? Or did the transformation return his will? Who needs the debate when you are eating an egg?

This story takes place two years after that dark time. He’d come so far out of his shell that he was starting to feel like a preacher. He had gathered new friends around him. They bent their schedules to his whim. They made sure he was all right. They checked in on him.

Every so often he would be granted a vivid picture of his life back in the tunnel, flaking his bloated skin into the dark, moving towards a day when there would no longer be tunnel, when there would only be constriction, no delineation between the inorganic and organic. These visions kept him walking, reminded him that it was only through action that he could avoid such a fate. He couldn’t avoid fate per se but it wouldn’t get him that way. That was for damn sure.

Some remnants from his former life were still present in external ways. People. These resisted the new vision he presented them, refused to move along with the new. He couldn’t bring himself to abandon them because he felt he understood, wanted them to shrink from their tunnels and join him out in the light. But as he moved further and further away from that reality there were people he had to let go of. This was painful. He told himself he left a door open for them to come back and surprise him by stepping through but mostly he knew they were gone for good. See, those tunnels work like tractor beams. It might not be yours but you can get trapped in one just the same.

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