Preview of Unsaid Six: Of a Girl, a Boy, a Boy, and a River – by Jordaan Mason

A RIVER

A girl and a boy and a boy and a river. All speaking the same language, congruently, but forgetting how to return the favour. A girl standing in the river trying to swim it and tame it. A boy trying to tame a boy in the river trying to tame it. A boy following the river currents currently and incorrectly. And a river not speaking. If one person is quiet long enough, someone else around them might speak. If this is true, then there must always be a person in shock raving about last night’s dinner. Look at the facts: A girl made the dinner. A boy was in the stables when the dinner was being prepared. A boy was wondering what to eat for dinner. A river ate all of them. A river never stops raving.

A GIRL

 He would ask me about the horses. Who was winning, who was losing. He was keeping tabs of it in his head, maybe, for later gambling. I walked barefoot around the barns because I wanted straw scratches on me. He would have my feet against him and ask about the marks. I would say: Horses.

I would pull his feet against me and ask about the marks. He would say: North.

I removed my shirt in front of him and showed him my chest. I’m changing, I said. He looked at my chest and didn’t say anything. I grabbed him by the wrists, slowly, and pulled his arms up to me. I made him touch me where I was changing. His hands were sweating at first, but they seemed to dry out the longer he was in contact with me. I let go of his wrists but his hands stayed there, getting heavier, just where I had placed them. I reached down towards his pants and fumbled with the button and the zipper for a moment before pulling them open, and pulling him out. You’re getting bigger, too, I said. He got thicker in my hands. He leaned in and whispered to me: Blood. It’s all blood I’m filled with. I leaned closer to him also and replied: Water. We’re mostly water.

I had to hide the bloodstains on the bed from my mother and father. I did not want them to see what was coming out of me. I kept putting more and more pillows on my bed to cover it up. They were fresh and white. I could still smell it, though. What had come out of me and what had come out of him. It was stale on the sheets no matter how many times I washed them.

He would run off to the bathroom immediately after to remove the latex that we had between us. And every so often I could hear him throwing up, and I would ask him about it. He would say: I am sick and the doctors can’t seem to figure out why.

There were two boys strangling one another in my stomach. My mother was in the bathtub, watching all three of us. The most beautiful sound was this noise in me. Coming out of my head at night.

I tried to tell him about this. I said: Songs. He said: Energy. We said: Horses. We said: Sleep.

He was heaving, once, in the backyard, leaving all of my mother’s dinner in the flowerbed. Immediately after, he mentioned something about how he didn’t know how to get it out of me. And I asked him if the porkchops were that bad. He grimaced and turned away, throwing up again, contorted over the lilies.

A RIVER

The heirloom is inserted directly into the mouth during sleep: it is tradition. Through the cortex. Through the tying down of the hands and the feet. One family member must stand in a hallway in the crossfire of stereo sound, and the rest of the family is in separate rooms, gliding between the hallways, trying to court them to dance. The music that is played is sometimes referred to as transition music. A father can make an heirloom from any part of his body, it will carry on the disease involuntarily. Some family members like to take photographs of this occasion, while others prefer only to close their eyes at night and remember it how they’d like to remember it.

A BOY

He had a ring of milk around his mouth. The ladder leading to the attic looked longer than the length of me and shorter than the river. I stared at him from the bottom of it, looking up into the wooden room above me filled with heat and milk. I will turn the lights off, he offered, extending his hand to help me up. I told him to leave the lights on.

I ascended the ladder which was also ascending the breaking of my body somehow. When I reached the top, he handed me a glass of milk. Decisions were not made between us. We did not ever discuss what we were doing, or planned on doing. We drank the milk and glue and did not need to open our mouths again. Our top teeth grew into our bottom teeth and formed a mouth shield.

Sometimes we would argue, grunting, about which one of us had more hair on his body. The arguments about this grew less frequent over time as it became more obvious visually. As it became easier to smell the hair growing under the arms, thicker on the legs, briefly over and around the mouth.

The shield protected us from saying what we really wanted to. So we did this: exchanged the body instead of words. And then we would watch the window. From the attic we saw her helping her father re-paint the garage door on her house and eating popsicles in the yard.

Once she asked me if we could leave the lights on, but I unplugged the lamp from the wall entirely, taking her instead in the black, rubbing the shield of my mouth against her chest, and her the entire time shouting out the dictionary like she memorized it to fill in the silence.

A RIVER

Your parent cells are swimming the deepest ocean looking for the perfect house. A house underwater is difficult to maintain due to certain amounts of pressure on the walls and pillars holding the structure of the house in place. Depending on how far down your parents decide to live, also, electricity becomes more expensive, because at a certain depth there is no more natural light, which of course means running the lamps longer. You are too preoccupied to notice this because you have not been born yet, you have not been made a good daughter cell. Your parents have slept through binaries and have tried to furnish one hundred empty rooms for you, limp-wristed zygotes, screaming as you appear as if from nowhere in hospital beds, onto the floor. This multiple birth process is eventually confusing because your mother starts to forget which child you are and you are orphaned back into the ocean. There are only so many children she can take care of. Your fraternal brothers and sisters cannot follow you. A family cannot stay together in this situation. Fertilization has not yet been governed by the great sea. You are only one small part of this process, and you must fend yourself. Your brothers and sisters will certainly try to find you, to put your bodies back together again, but you cannot let them. Who are they anyway? Do you know? If you were to even want to call out their names, which in the water is difficult to do as the sound is denser, would you know what to call them?

A BOY

 I asked him if he had measured his length and he said: No. I asked him why not and he said: It’s just skin. I told him I had been measuring my own and that in the past year it had grown over an inch. He pointed at the river and said: It will never been as long as a river, the distance between one land mass and another. I thought aloud: Maybe a small brook or creek? He looked at me, clean, and told me that what was between his legs was just broken branches and sticks, kindling for campfires, it would never be the length of any body of water.

The thing is that he was not the kind of person to name birds or ask about what colour you thought the sky was. He scattered his diction in variation, he said: Let’s fuck each other back into solids, I want to be solid. He preferred what came easy, what he could control. He would readily admit things like, I’m scared shitless, but he would never fill in the blanks.

I was very direct looking at him and said (pulling his body): You are solid these are your bones, but he pulled away skeptically, disrupting the bedsheets.

He would ask me about the stomach ache and I would say: Yes there is this metal sitting inside of me I think my stomach is going blind. The bed would stay the way it was, pillowcases covered in crusts of us, leaks that were transitory, and he would say: I can cure it just fuck me back into solids we’ll do it to one another and there won’t be any pain anymore.

He drained all of the sweat from my skin, jutting between the grass and the thorns, waving his arms wildly. He left bruises on my back holding me inside him, like I would never return.

I asked him: How come we have everything? His hair was lengths cut into meat, arranged neatly around his face. He would tell me: I am proud of every mark I’ve made on you. Assuming they were all his. I was proud of them, too. The marks that I had given him in return, though I knew that most of his were collected from other men.

I asked him how can I pull things out of you and I don’t mean my cock. All I wanted was to draw out the noise from his head. To sonata him somehow. To make more out of his language, somehow. But he just said it again, I’m scared shitless, and he didn’t ask what I meant, pulling the matches from the cupboards, looking for glasses of water.

A RIVER

A challenge is presented: how did one body break into three, how did they come from so many different mothers everywhere in rooms undressed, how do you shove them all back into each other simultaneously without breaking the skin, is it important to leave the skin intact, are all objects made up of smaller objects and how do you know where they meet and fit together if they are always moving. A father stands between two electric wires and it changes the fluid that comes out of him later. It breaks apart into three.

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