Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Entry #69

Order and Chaos
by Rebecca Hendricks


I was there after the fire.

The stink of the room was intolerable. Damp, where before it had been dry, dusty. Meaty, like the sausage smell on your Yaya’s hands when she smacks you for lying. Sour, like the breath of the mistake you awaken next to, the day after payday. Rotten and spoiled. The walls were dark smears, and the wooden cases, cracked, the front facings peeling outward in curls. And inside, soot, and here and there the soiled line of a little pin. The specimens themselves were blown away into the wind and the water, along with the cards, and the books. They’d been dead for ages. Now they were gone.

And I felt… nothing. Nothing is what I felt.

I looked, I searched for meaning, but I couldn’t find the path to it. One hundred and thirty-seven years of collecting, cataloguing, comparing and annotating. Each miniscule item meticulously identified with kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, species, each of these a step from root to trunk to limb to branch to twig to leaf. There had to be a path. Each thing was unique and uniquely perfect, each defined by its place on the tree. There, life lived, humming with relationships and comparisons.

Here in the soot, there was chaos, and I couldn’t feel it. I just stood in the room and saw the world fragment and scatter and fall outward. Fingers without hands. Sheets unraveled. Strangers with no names and no past, no future.

Without root.

13 comments:

Aerin said...

"Sour like the breath of the mistake you awaken next to"

Love that quote! The whole piece put me very much in the mind of Barbara Kingsolver. Vivid, poignant imagery. A great subject. Solid writing. Very, very nice.

Mystico said...

the empty, spooky atmosphere really rattles my bones...
Which is why this story is a success!

paisley said...

you have some really excellent lines in here... very well done....

JaneyV said...

I agree heartily with Aerin.

"Each thing was unique and uniquely perfect, each defined by its place on the tree. There, life lived, humming with relationships and comparisons".

To the Narrator this was not so much a science project as a family and so all the more heartbreaking.

Absolute Vanilla (& Atyllah) said...

This is beautifully written. It is evocative, full of powerful imagery and atmosphere. A really strong piece of writing. Disturbing, but one of my favourites.

Beth said...

Yes, I agree, this really is beautifully written.

Precie said...

Striking. Masterfully written.

Sarah Hina said...

I love the disconnect here between observation and feeling. You really dug deep through the ash, and came up with a jewel of a story.

Stunning writing. Loved it!

SzélsőFa said...

What has meaning to one, can be totally unimportant to another. This is well conveyed here with some truly interesting descriptions. I felt like I was there with the remnants of those insect boxes. I have seen many of those, and this piece have recalled some of my memories.

bluesugarpoet said...

Fantastic description! Excellent characterization!

jason evans said...

Very creative and unique take. The tree as the tree of life. Branches to trunk to roots. Excellently conceived. High marks!

Aine said...

The destruction of 137 years of work-- so tragic. I like the speaker's observation of feeling "nothing".

The title really pulled it together for me. We impose order on natural chaos in our human need to find and make relationships. And when we destroy that order, chaos naturally returns.

Interesting piece!

bekbek said...

Thank you everyone for your great comments, especially (of course) Jason and Aine. For me, the best part was just being able to enter--these days, I am never sure if I'll be able to find the time, but I feel like I have really accomplished something when I am able to participate. The comments are icing on the cake. Thank you!