Iowa Writes

STEVEN MOORE
Excerpt from We Sing the Days in Falsetto


She wakes up from a dream within a dream within the nightmare she calls her life. A man stands near her holding a magnifying glass and kneeling close to the snowy surface of her bedroom floor. He wears a suit and overcoat, along with a scarf. Pinned on his coat is a once-glimmering badge that is now scratched, worn, and faded. He points to the ground and asks her, "Is this yours?"

The bedroom has no walls, no ceiling, and no home to accompany it. It consists simply of furnishings arranged on top of an eternal expanse of icy tundra. No people, no roads, no cars, and no animals exist in this place, only this girl and her bedroom, and the detective rummaging through it.

Her eyes are still groggy and confused, but she manages to respond, saying, "No, officer. No, sir, I don't know what that is." He nods and kneels closer to the ice, closer to a frozen pool of scarlet on the ground. She can see her own breath in the air when she says, "Oh, you meant the blood? Yeah. Yeah, that's mine." And with that, she turns away from him, rolling onto her side, and back to sleep.

She wakes up from a dream within a dream within the nightmare she calls her life. A man stands near her holding a magnifying glass and kneeling close to the snowy surface of her bedroom floor. He wears a suit and overcoat, along with a scarf. Pinned on his coat is a once-glimmering badge that is now scratched, worn, and faded. He points to the ground and asks her, "Is this yours?"

The bedroom has no walls, no ceiling, and no home to accompany it. It consists simply of furnishings arranged on top of an eternal expanse of icy tundra. No people, no roads, no cars, and no animals exist in this place, only this girl and her bedroom, and the detective rummaging through it.

Her eyes are still groggy and confused, but she manages to respond, saying, "No, officer. No, sir, I don't know what that is." He nods and kneels closer to the ice, closer to a frozen pool of scarlet on the ground. She can see her own breath in the air when she says, "Oh, you meant the blood? Yeah. Yeah, that's mine." And with that, she turns away from him, rolling onto her side, and back to sleep.

When she awakens again, she finds the detective dead. His body temperature fell so sharply that his heart stopped beating. His body lies next to her bed. Crimson runs from his nose, iced over on top of the pool he had been examining, his blood frozen to her blood.

She rises from the bed and steps over him. He died trying to solve her secrets, and she decides this is only fitting, because she is tired of dying in attempts to figure them out for herself.

The girl walks to her desk, where maps and atlases are spread about. All of the edges are charred, and the highways appear to lead in circles, stretching on quickly into nowhere and ending up where they began and vice versa. The edges of these maps become a little more blackened every time she awakens. Another few centimeters burnt away every time the sun rises. Eventually they will incinerate completely. Not that it matters. They didn't lead anywhere. She should know. She drew them herself.

Sitting down on a simple wooden chair, she picks up a pen and stares out across the tundra, projecting her vision through time and space as if she could defy physics if she only had the will to. The unknown that lies beyond is unsettling. She never ventures past the boundaries of the furniture that make up the confines of her bedroom. All that can stop her from doing so is herself, but it's more than enough. She doesn't know what exists past the horizon, where the tundra plummets away from her reality.

The girl wonders if that is where the past rests, if all of the things that used to be still exist, but in a different place now, in a world just out of reach. She wonders if maybe she could have it all, could reacquire the life that slipped between her fingers. This sparks her curiosity, but does not propel her to discover anything. This interests her, but does not inspire her, which has become the central theme in her life.

She remembers the days before the fade, when people still drove the cars that still traveled the streets that still existed like they were supposed to. She remembers the hopeful, blonde-haired boys and the panoramas in their eyes. There were spectacular parties during the evening glow on the beach, parties that would stretch on as long as they had to. There were walks through the midnight-darkened city with friends, talking of dreams and turning streetlights into spotlights and highways into stages.

The girl remembers her life before the fade, when they called her Sweet-Eyes Cincinnati while she slowly became a California girl. While she slowly could have had any boy on the entire coast. She remembers this life, this place that now she can only see in her dreams and her nightmares, and she wonders to herself why it faded, why it disappeared, and she wonders, is it just over the horizon? Is the past still resting there, awaiting her? Are all of the people and cars stuck and frozen in place? Are they waiting just for her?

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About Iowa Writes

Since 2006, Iowa Writes has featured the work of Iowa-identified writers (whether they have Iowa roots or live here now) and work published by Iowa journals and publishers on The Daily Palette. Iowa Writes features poetry, fiction, or nonfiction twice a week on the Palette.

In November of 2008, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated Iowa City, Iowa, the world's third City of Literature, making the community part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.

Iowa City has joined Edinburgh, Scotland and Melbourne, Australia as UNESCO Cities of Literature.

Find out more about submitting by contacting iowa-writes@uiowa.edu


STEVEN MOORE

Steven Moore is a senior at Washington High School in Washington, Iowa, and will be attending the University of Iowa this fall to major in English while continuing to serve in the Iowa Army National Guard.

This page was first displayed
on August 29, 2006

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