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Quantum Suicide by Steve Finbow | Word Riot
Short Stories

July 15, 2015      

Quantum Suicide by Steve Finbow

It is very rude to take close-ups and, except
when enraged, we don’t:
lovers, approaching to kiss,
instinctively shut their eyes before their faces
can be reduced to
anatomical data.

    W.H. Auden: ‘I Am Not A Camera.’

They rested in the morning after the third time, his penis—23 years older than her vagina, mouth, and anus—remembering one of its primary functions, apparently forgotten on a number of occasions the night before.

These embraces, played out amidst peeling postcards, empty cigarette packets, and crushed beer cans, take on the condensed aspects of dreams, the destructive nature of obsession, the jealous excrescences.

They did not speak much but when they did he asked her to repeat herself and she did, but he still could not understand what she was saying and she became frustrated and pouted her full French lips.

These fictitious voices, excavations of memory and experience, prohibit a flow, an active route of escape, the material they process is mostly unconscious, radioactive, a silent and mutant force.

They lay in bed in the semi-dark, he drinking beer and watching a video of Mondo Cane, which had fuzzy and unreadable English subtitles; while she read Thérèse Raquin by Émile Zola and smoked a cigarette.

These gestures of intimacy, the animation of presence intensifying the imaginary coupling, create a vitality of signification, a concentration of signs, and the means to be—in absence—infinitely recombinable.

They shared the Herpes simplex virus— Herpes labialis to be precise—and he kissed her even though the sore was crusting and she warned him not to but he did it any way, tasting the antiviral cream.

These eroticisms of pain and pleasure, of the mouth and all its moistnesses, construct alternative genitalia in the minds of the participants—the underarm vagina, the digital penis, the asteriskoid aural anus.

They sat in pubs and he told her all the stories he had told all the other women he had known—and some that he had not told any woman—and she laughed and so did he, happy to have a new audience.

These equivalencies, these fluctuations of humour and boredom, become identical in the autonomous reaction of the face during sex, in the sound of the authentic and unsimulated orgasm, in the full immersion of bodies.

They rarely ate, preferring to drink warm cans of Stella Artois and sit on her two-seater sofa until they were ready to undress, his body slightly awkward with incarnadine skin, hers finely muscled, slim, and rhythmic.

These are the places where they began, at the bounds of civilization, going both backward and forward, where the brutal forces of nature sometimes suppress culture, a struggle against self-destruction.

They talked about books and he promised to buy her something in English, not too difficult to read but intelligent and funny, and he had thought about it and scoured the second-hand bookshops without success.

These exchanges of production, the primitive trade of association and service, displace language and emotion, payback for something that has been given, passing back and forth relations and representations.

They considered the impact their affair would have on others, others close to both of them and they then decided that this would be nothing but fun and exciting and it was for a while and a while more, it was.

These fantasies define the immanent nature of truth and love, the preoccupation with situations, the complex structure of relationships residing just beyond the horizon, the invisible, the perpetually inchoate.

They watched a pigeon peck at scattered fried rice and then gingerly prod a piece of pinkish meat clinging to a chicken bone, later they thought they saw a decapitated bird but they were wrong.

These checkpoints along the way, the moment of memory’s existence, act as marks of retelling that, when there is nothing else to say, nothing left to report, are entrances and exits between the past and the future.

They went first to The Boot and then to the Nicholas Nickleby aware of the Dickensian connections, that opening page of Great Expectations with its palimpsests and muddy transmissions, its bitter love.

These codes, extensions of the familiar to other bodies, other minds, anthropomorphosize the animal sexuality, counteract the phenomenon of our bodies, the coalitions, the fleshy triangulations.

They remembered past lovers and he told her of the times he had been happy and she told him of the times she had been sad and then they reversed the talk and he became melancholy while she smiled at something.

These wars produce demands on the surface and in the woof of the fabric, they chafe the newly reunified skins, undermining the forces that originally brought them together, a quick revolution.

They laughed when they read a review of their local pub that said there were ‘Blokes in their 40s with teenage girls, bright lights, loud music, like something out of East Germany in 1978.’

These bifurcations fold back on themselves and become easily reversed, the mirror ceases to exist altogether, the realms of exclusion become arenas of mutual existence, yet the war continues unabated.

They compared their toes and hers were long and slender but bruised in places and bloodied in others from performing en pointe, and his were stubby and mean, she said, like those of dwarves, or dwarves themselves.

These images of bodies, the orifices and the mounds, the elongations and the ingressions, the protuberances and the depressions, the convexities and the concavities, eradicate logic and expunge purpose.

They talked of the countryside and their mutual fear of cows, and she talked of mountains and beaches while he professed a love for the city and thought of Primrose Hill and the Thames at lowtide.

These metaphors of place, the differential relations between nature and humanity, create artificial resistances to the actual, similistic events creating terroristic bipolarism in the transmitter and the receiver.

They watched the stupid planes trail ropes of insubstantiality behind them and then grow smaller in the blue sky spotted with shower clouds that left shadows the shape of cauliflower heads on damp pavements.

These emanations—right now ghost crabs running quick and low under elephantine Turneresques—are theatrical representations of our libido caught, as it is, between elemental states of solid and liquid.

They walked to the station, took the train to King’s Cross and then to Liverpool Street where she was catching another train to Stansted Airport before flying to France to see her parents while he walked home alone.

These departures have different meanings: one is a return, a going back to soothe an external scar; the other is an internalization of a singular loss, to time and to space, and the despotic rule of longing.

They were in separate countries and he could not sleep because she was not there to fidget and bounce, and he thought of her looking at landscapes that were not London—the only place he had known her.

These enslavements to organs—the eyes, the skin, the brain, the genitals—continually interrupt our bodies in their identifiable functions: the eyes water, the skin prickles, the brain slows, the genitals atrophy.

They emailed and texted and he had to stop himself emailing and texting all the time because she wouldn’t answer when he wanted her to and then he would want to email and text her even more.

These new forms of communication—these extensions of the human body, these sensual and senseless prostheses—complicate rather than simplify language, infecting it with doubt, invading it with apprehension.

They sat in gardens in different countries, he writing a book about something they never discussed, she reading with a cat and a dog for company and they would text about guitars and drinking cold beer.

These articulations of things rather than thoughts, explain our own modes of production, our habits of consumption, and by abstracting them, turning them inward, they may become—just that. Just that.

They fell more in love the longer they were apart, but he worried she would leave him and she thought he might change his mind about her but they grew stronger through doubt and he believed her and she him.

These shared viruses—these common melanocytic nevi, mimetized in their mutual emotions and their ever becoming—map the new territory, the ultima thule and the lunar dark side of their obverse attractions.

mebraunerAbout the author:

Steve Finbow’s fiction includes Balzac of the Badlands (Future Fiction London, 2009), Tougher Than Anything in the Animal Kingdom (Grievous Jones Press, 2011), Nothing Matters (Snubnose Press, 2012). His biography of Allen Ginsberg in Reaktion’s Critical Lives series was published in 2011. His latest works are Grave Desire: A Cultural History of Necrophilia (Zero Books, 2014) and Down Among the Dead (Number Thirteen Press, 2014). He is writing a non-fiction analysis of physical illness and creativity and a novel—White Gardens—both to be published in 2016.

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