Monday, November 14, 2005

Life Inside A Ping Pong Ball

A lost gem - and, may I say, I'm kind of astonished that I wrote it.

Since the room was spherical, stark white and totally featureless, I had no landmark to say what was up or down. I had come to call the space immediately below my feet “the floor”, immediately above “the ceiling” and everything else “the wall” Its translucent shell bathed me in a diffuse twilight, with no definable shadows or highlights, much like I’d seen during a partial eclipse of the sun.

I was just sitting there minding my own business when the whole room suddenly and completely lost any regard it had with the laws of physics in general and gravity in particular. In the matter of a brief second, I was squashed to the floor, thrown to the ceiling, and spun around the walls with such abandon I could only imagine that it must have been what Dorothy felt while in the Twister, on her way to the fatal encounter with the Wicked Witch of the East, and subsequent adventures in OZ. Except there was no way for me to open the door and have my black and white world transformed to delicious Technicolor.

Nope, I was going to be here a while.

“Come on, doesn’t anyone want to play?” I heard a muffled voice ask. It had been a long time but I could still recognize a human sound when it presented itself. And this voice had the characteristics of a girl in her late teens, obviously drunk, definitely bored, and probably very attractive.

I had some physical evidence to support the first three assumptions.

Her voice had given up the helium filled timbre of childhood, shed the squeaky uncertainty of adolescence, and matured with the husky confidence to challenge the world, or at least her corner of it. It also was soaked in the summery vapor of once cold beer, now warm in a cooler of melted ice upstairs on a sun bleached deck, next to the cobwebbed gas grill, between two mildewed vinyl chaise lounges, purchased from Kmart in the beginning of the last decade. That voice held the breathy impatience of seeing too many sunsets across the same open expanse of Midwestern prairie, evening after evening, summer after summer, and knowing that the sun that was setting right now behind her house was at the same moment rising in front of an equally desolate house in Australia. But it was a rising sun, and rising suns bring warmth and hope. Setting suns only bring cold and darkness.

A young woman with that much inner awareness couldn’t be plain. Not in my world, bleak and monochromatic as it was.The room rushed over itself again, then leaped up and crashed down.

“You guys are all afraid of me, aren’t you?!!! Well, I can wait. You’ll get bored and want to play.”

Slushy voices called down the stairwell, and echoed off the bare ceramic tile. The music in the background gradually grew louder and more distinct as the speakers from upstairs were positioned strategically in the doorway to provide the most perfect balance of thundering bass and shrieking guitar.

“The music of pickup truck rebellion will never change,” I thought to myself. As long as there are girls, beer, and cars there will always be songs to sing. And as long as there are boys, beer, and guitars, there will always be someone to sing them.

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