Sam Mullany
Teeter-totter totter totter totter


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We were all there in the school gymnasium, watching a volleyball game. A simulation of death provides evidence of the body as weight. Little green blinking digits, a number that somehow corresponds to you. And that’s how everything returns your gaze. Household devices waking momentarily, eager to get back to the dream they share with everything in the world except for you. In the midwest they dream of cows floating past their window. The kitchen chairs in Poltergeist. I Spy picture book. Commonplace objects accidentally stripped of their commonplace associations. Repeatable outlines are small reminders of a world that extends in every direction. Material with implications outside itself. A clod of dirt passes through a blanket of mist. When you get to the summit you can shout out anything you want and the last word of your sentence will echo echo echo echo echo. The moment you see or hear something more than once it becomes more real and less real at the same time. How looking at anything at all was to see a pair of eyes looking back, sort of like the way Wile E. Coyote looks at you when he’s realized the ground has run out from beneath him.

The one thing that survived the mysterious shift was our quality of being there in the gymnasium, as if that aspect of the situation were an elemental force outside of time. There was a sensation of death sitting behind a curtain, appreciating the shoutout from grating stillness. The point was we knew, the point was a hovering energy, the point was crowded bleachers, eternal calm, quiet terror. A heightened sense of the room, something like what is felt by spies deep undercover. Spies have names for things, then names for names of things, and deeper names for those names. Economic issues bumped up to higher and higher levels of responsibility. The way one absorbs information into knowledge, a process rooted in the flesh. A natural course of things that transmutes something someone once said into an essence, into a general atmosphere. Wile E. Coyote vs. Gravity on Youtube. Sponsored ad for a Masterclass taught by an astronaut who describes the feeling of weightlessness. The self is only measurable against the weight of others. A push and pull we become more or less familiar with. He stopped describing the dream and his eyes glazed over like chickpeas sitting in a colander, or rather his glazed-over eyes were, in fact, chickpeas sitting in a colander. The farther you drive from the house of your childhood the more and more inward it recedes. Deep-green country. He was leaning out of the passenger window looking up, expecting to hear the frequency test, but the next thing he heard was the driver suddenly moaning in pain.

“Oof, I heard that..” The guy starts to pull over to the side of the road.
“Was it low pitched?”
“No it was like a color.”
“What do you mean, like maroon?”
He was hunched over, gripping his abdomen.
“No like worrying.”
Somehow everyone knew we would forever remain in the school gymnasium gymnasium gymnasium gymnasium gymnasium gymnasium.