Daniel Miller – TROMPE-L’OEIL

This is not a series of scenes or even a single scene.  This does not take place in Stan’s Diner where Tenth Street intersects with Walnut.  This does not happen at Eleven Fifty-Five on the morning of Saturday, July Sixth.  There is not a wife walking slowly behind her husband and mother in law.  They are not dressed in mourner’s garments, black and heavy.  The sun is not aggressive.  It is not crippling or blazing or any other adjective that could possibly be used to describe that star’s intensity.  The three, who are zero, stand in line, that is not a line, and wait for a seat inside the air-conditioned restaurant that has no literal place on the spectrum of time, location and/or temperature.  The husband and mother in law do not tip toe around the ceremony.  The wife does not ignore that which the other two do not say.

This is a series of keystrokes on an Asus computer.  These strokes are being struck one by one at Four Twenty-Four on the afternoon of Monday, April Twenty-Ninth.  There is seated in front of the computer, striking, sometimes furiously, sometimes unhurriedly, at the keys, a writer and/or student.  He sits inside to escape the crippling and/or blazing and/or any other adjective that could possibly be used to describe the aforementioned star’s intensity.   This is a temporary document until he decides whether it is worth saving or not.  This is worth saving and/or continuing (for the time being.)  The file does transition into a more permanent state.

This is not a family sliding onto a vinyl booth.  This is not the stick of skin, layered in a film of sweat, against the material.  There is not a waitress at the not diner at the corner of not Tenth and not Walnut.  She does not set upon the table glasses of water, breakfast menus, or silverware tightly rolled in napkins.  There is not a wife and a husband and a mother in law who, days prior, lost a not-son and/or not grandson.  There is not a group of hung-over and loud students seated at the table to the left of the table the threesome is not seated at.  This is not a cup of spilled coffee.  It is not an uproar and/or combination of laughing and oh, shits, and screams as the non-group dodges the runoff of the adjective described not coffee.

This is a writer and/or student biting his thumb.  This is a hand driven to shake by anxiety.  This is the constant apprehension, the continuous hesitation that the semi-permanent file is not strong enough and/or is too much of a gimmick.  This is a mind simultaneously thinking in the present of the aforementioned file as well as the key strokes that have yet to come.  There is a limited amount of space and/or a certain constraint in which the file must fit.  This is the apprehension and/or hesitation that the writer and/or student will not manage to stay within the aforementioned constraint.  This is hope despite the aforementioned hesitations.

This is not a wife who has twice that day been to the edge of her own sanity.  This is not a woman who has not cried until her lacrimal glands have become dehydrated.   There is not a pounding ache dwelling behind her eyes and/or in the space between her ears.  This is not the trembling of a not-mother who doesn’t ask for some God damned peace.  There is not a waiter telling a joke to the students as he doesn’t clean up the spilled liquid and/or another explosion of laughter.  The not-ache does not extend from the not-no-longer-a-mother’s head to her dry not-lacrimal glands.  The not-husband attempts to console his not-wife.  The aforementioned consolation is not helpful.

This is a series of precisely aligned pixels on the screen of a computer and/or e-reader and/or smart phone.  This is the stroke of a key and/or pencil tip and/or pen tip (ballpoint/gel/fountain [nib].)  This is ink printed on the glossy pages of a magazine.  This is chalk scraped across sidewalks.  There is and/or isn’t somebody in another house and/or city and/or state to read these strokes of ink, chalk, pixels.  This is a deception (trompe) of the eye (l’oeil.)  This is only marks.  This is one of six-thousand nine-hundred languages spoken around the world.  This is letters made up by the aforementioned marks.  This is words made up by the aforementioned letters.  This is sentences and paragraphs.  This is language.

The not-wife does not have a lack of appetite.  There is not a sudden wave of nausea and/or revulsion.  The aforementioned waves do not spread throughout the abdomen of the not-wife despite the not-lack-of-appetite.  There is not bile and/or vomit now filling the mouth of the not-wife.  The not-wife does not make it to the not-diner’s not-bathroom but instead settles for a not-bush outside.  This is not the not-wife retching.  This is not the aforementioned not-wife thinking about her not-son and contemplating whether life is not worth living.  This is not an actualization and/or representation of loss.  This is not the hopeless feeling accompanied by the aforementioned loss.  There is not a diner with not-customers and/or not-noise.  There was no ceremony.  This is not a plot and/or narrative.  This is not a story.

This is a story.  There is a wife who does lack an appetite and who does find the feeling in her stomach revolting and/or horrible.  She has lost more than a mere thousand words and/or the ten minutes time it takes to read this story that is not a story that is a story.  This is the aforementioned writer and/or student in addition to the not-wife who is, in fact, a wife but still remains a not-mother.  This is everything the writer and/or student mentioned.  This is truth.  This is a lie.  This is a trick, a deception, a loss, a plate breaking, a bush, a wife retching, a keyboard, a plot, an essay, a poem, a story, a song, a son buried today or yesterday or the day before that.  This is everything.  This is nothing.

* * * * *


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