The old perfumer looks around leisurely, then stands up and hobbles over to a locked closet in the back of the shop. The floorboards creak under his footsteps. He returns with a small black vial, corked and sealed with a wax replica of the rose on the front door, and looks Ricky up and down before handing it to him. Ricky exits the shop with the tall woman, smiling because things are as they should be, and nobody else in the world could possibly wear the scent tucked into his coat pocket. This is who he was.
My mother was in love with him. Sometimes I opened my underwear drawer and found polymer birds or donuts tucked in between my boxer shorts. The apartment was small, but since it was just Mom and I living there, there was plenty of space for her artwork. She worked behind the fish counter at ShopRite—right beside the lobster tank—so she smelled like salmon and mussels and shrimp and crab when she came home in the afternoons.
The way she said it, with her eyes wide and her voice moving in slow motion, reminded me of the way people point things out to babies in the physical world: this is a cup, this is milk, this is papa. I nodded because what she said was the truth, and I loved the smell of baking Sculpey in the oven. Lena spread her arms out to either side. And you live in it. She raised her eyebrows at me, which meant that she was also excited about this thing too.
Better than a fancy car. Lena grinned. The first one I remember was Terry.
The Poem That Won’t Leave You Alone, Volume 2
He owned a food truck called Porkie Pies and had a maze of tattoos up his arms. He smelled like cigarettes and grease and when he came over, he was still wearing his apron. We ate Porkie Pies leftovers for dinner that night: sloppy pork stir fry and an enormous rack of ribs drenched in sauce that tasted suspiciously like the ShopRite original barbecue sauce Mom kept in our fridge. He was a wiry older guy with tight skin on Whenever he came over, he asked me if I was happy to see him, to which I could only ever respond with a meek nod because what else could I say?
And, in truth, I liked his stories. I think my mom did, too. He had a scar on his bicep, right in the middle, that he got from a water snake in the Amazon River while on a mission to preserve black spider monkey habitats. Bernie sounded sad when he told us that story, like he had been friends with the fisher cat. One day Mom picked me up from school; she wanted to go down to the animal rescue office to see some cats and dogs that Bernie had saved. When we walked in, he was sitting behind the front desk, and there was a little bronze receptionist plaque that read Bernard in front of him.
He had never tranquilized a fisher cat, or busted dog fighting rings in the city, or been to the Amazon River. As it turned out, that scar on his bicep was actually from a childhood mishap with a pitchfork at a Fourth of July barbecue. Mom let me sit in the front seat on the way home and kept stroking my head. I knew he was garbage. After Bernie, there was Yannos.
He was a welder, or a scuba diver, or something that included both. He was Greek and very tall, with a bushy black mustache and dull blue eyes. Mom and I both understood that he risked his life every time he clocked in to work, even though he never said those words exactly. Yannos sounded like Frankenstein when he fucked my Mom. This always happened late at night, when they both thought I was asleep.
The walls in our apartment were so thin that I could hear his heavy breathing after the rocking stopped, and sometimes his murmurs, although I never made out individual words. He stayed for six months, long enough to keep his dive helmet in our living room and a bottle of Ouzo in our fridge I opened it once to smell it and got goosebumps on my neck.
It was night, and I was almost asleep. It was a sculpture of me that she had made for my seventh birthday. There was a line of them—one for each year of my life. She gave me a new one every time I had a birthday, and I liked to look at them lined up chronologically, like I was watching myself grow up through her eyes. He knew about it for months. I could tell she was getting excited because her eyes got really wide. Eventually, those quieted too.
I knew that my life was different, but it was my life. In my mind, it was clear: there would always be me and my mom and our apartment, and men would come and go like garbage trucks in the morning, careening noisily into our life and pausing for a Moment as they conducted their business, and then heading in the opposite direction, leaving behind a gust of rotten wind.
When he smiled or pronounced vowels, his cheeks pulled back tight so that there was just enough space for both rows of teeth to show. It was the kind of smile that someone like me would have to practice, but Ricky wore it like a hand-me-down sweater. He was short, with graceful bowed legs and arms that moved wildly whenever he spoke.
Even though his belly was round, the way he stood made it look smooth and wieldy. It was eight inches wide and was the only stationary feature. Everything else swung, bounced, and stretched. She was talking to Ricky. I looked up at Mom, who raised her eyes expectantly.
There were no shoes allowed, which made it feel sacred. On the walls there were pictures of him from young to old, all over the world. He fetched a bottle of beer for Mom and handed me a can of Coke, winking as he did. We slouched in the big stationary chairs and couches and he told us about some of the pictures, picking random ones from around the cab. In the middle was a woman holding a golden clown trophy. The Oscars of the circus world. He pointed to another one, a black-and-white one of a kid who looked about my age, standing with his hands on his hips in costume and smiling a big, gap-toothed smile.
Kids in school called me tonto, baboso. I asked my father if I could leave school and be in the show. He was pointing to one of him lying centerfold-style on the hood of a sky-blue convertible. His life belonged in a Hollywood script. I ran my fingers over the leather seat cushion and imagined driving around the continent with Ricky and Mom, setting up the trapeze rig wherever we touched down and then packing up and moving on to the next place, holding constant only the three of us, the Winnebago, and the rig.
After that, Ricky never charged us for another class.
The People Shelf held all of the folks she had made figures of: friends, family members, lovers, and some famous artists and musicians she liked. Mom showed me my grandparents from the People Shelf—they died before I was born and it felt good holding them in the palm of my hand like that.
Lena was up there, and I was too at various ages and tastes in clothing. Agent Bernie was somewhere in the crowd, with two little red dots on his bicep, as was Yannos, featuring full dive gear. Terry stood on one corner, done up in an apron. I sometimes wondered why she put them all above her bed like that, like she wanted every single one of them to watch her love life unfold, fold back up, then unfold again with each man she brought into her room.
Like she wanted them all to know and not have the choice of remaining unaware. She added Ricky to the People Shelf about a week after my first trapeze class. I was putting pajamas on, and she came bursting into my room, holding his figure in a paper napkin. I made Ricky! He was standing with his chest lifted and his hips thrust forward a bit, arms spread wide—no doubt in salute to a cheering crowd. The white clay she had used for his smiling teeth had warped a bit in the oven, but the figure still looked like Ricky.
I wondered for a Moment if she would let me put some of his cologne on his polymer semblance, just to make it that much more real. My hands became calloused from the gauze-wrapped trapeze bar, and soon Ricky was calling on me to help him out with the rig. Want to come to the store with me? I looked at Mom, who was smiling. I carried the six-pack and he carried a box of Coke, and as we were about to get in line at the checkout he started. I squinted at it to read the label: Right Guard deodorant.
He saw me staring at it and winked. I reached out and uncapped it, brought the cheap green gel to my nose, and inhaled reluctantly.
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The cobblestone streets and the old perfumer and the soft wooden door to his shop sprang to life as my nostrils recalled the smell, but when I lowered the stick they began to fade and I could not call them back. Instead, I found myself focusing only on the things around me: humming fluorescent I was good at watching the men who came home with her; I could see their eyebrows twitch upward as they took in the living room and saw all of her figures lining the walls.
When Ricky came over for the first time, he did pretty well. He walked into the living room like it was the most normal place in the world, and I guess for a guy who lives in a Winnebago, it may as well have been. He was standing by the windowsill with his hands on his hips, and there were dark stains under his arms; we had come from the rig. Mom nodded quickly, so that her bun bounced around behind her head. Mom took Ricky into the kitchen to start making dinner, playing Beatles music from her computer. She set water to boil for pasta and Ricky and I shucked corn over the garbage bin, humming to ourselves in the sticky summer air.
She picked his figure out of the first row and brought it down for him to see. His eyes were wide, and it took a Moment for his brow to shift from alarmed to excited. I had seen this quick save before, on guys who were either too nice or too scared to tell Mom she was weird. A few years ago, Mom came home one night a little later than usual. I could hear two sets of footsteps and some giggling as they entered the living room.
Mom said something and then I heard her coming my way, so I put my head down and closed my eyes. I could hear her breathing as she tiptoed into my room. She hovered over my bed for a Moment, running her hand gently through my hair, then walked out, pulling the door closed behind her. Goose bumps formed on my neck. I had laughed like that before in school, whenever somebody wore clothes that were distinctly strange. Ricky was telling Mom about Monte Carlo. The days got shorter. At the end of class, the sprinklers still came on in the field, but the sun hung lower and lower in the sky each time they started their cycle.
I began to see red and yellow leaves around, hidden between branches. The Staples on Park Drive had almost sold out on back-to-school sales. Mom still took me to trapeze, though, and Ricky still invited us into the Winnebago after class. The rig was gone, packed up on his trailers. I thought the field looked funny without it, but in a temporary way, like they were doing maintenance on it. I was lying right where the net used to be, with my arms and legs stretched out. Mom and Ricky were in the Winnebago, but after a few minutes, Ricky came outside and lay down beside me on the grass, lacing his fingers behind his head.
I knew he was coming back up as soon as he dropped the equipment off. Mom seemed convinced of it, too. He sighed. So cool. He had never said that word in front of me before. It had always been Florida, which was just a name, something that he could easily leave behind.
But home was something important. Something permanent. Fast in one direction, slow on the way back, making ticking sounds as they reset. Ricky sighed again and closed his eyes. I looked at him, wondering what thoughts were swirling beneath that brow. I imagined him thinking of home: some sprawling, one-story house with a pool in the back and a garage full of old circus equipment. There would have to be a trapeze nearby, maybe in a field down the street; he definitely lived in the suburbs where there was enough space for something like that.
I tried to picture the inside of his house, the golden clown trophy on a mantelpiece, colorful patterns on the walls, and an ancient dog ambling around. A girl my age eating lunch at the kitchen table while her mother talked on the phone in the next room. Was his daughter also in the circus?
What kind of woman does someone like Ricky marry? I wanted to ask him if he had a family. If he would leave them behind to be with us. If he ever actually did win that Corvette in the poker game, and if he had always worn Right Guard. I wanted to ask him if he thought my Mom was weird, and why he decided to spend time with us. I wanted to ask him if he knew why this kept happening to us. It was all The camp, the northeast, Mom and I. All worthashot to Ricky Delgado. I waited for a sprinkler to burst or for an asteroid to fall from the sky and land twenty feet in front of us.
I waited for a bunch of police cars to come screaming onto the field or for Mom to run out of the Winnebago in hysterics—what was wrong with her? I waited for anything besides the perfect summer night. I stood up and wriggled into my shoes. See you. When I did, he pulled me into his chest, and I could smell his Right Guard. He patted my shoulder blades. I almost expected him to leap to his feet and take a bow. The thing about it was that if he had done that just minutes before, I would have applauded. I just nodded and turned around, wondering if I should have expected more. I started walking across the field, and even though I was going home, it felt like I was leaving something behind.
I imagined Ricky and Mom inside the Winnebago, talking, or fucking, or something. She would put Ricky back on the People Shelf and it would happen again in a couple of months, with some other guy. Look Mom, I can do this by myself. But I stepped inside anyway, telling myself that at some point before I knew her, she had been different. Nothing about this is natural. There is nothing sharp left, no splintered wood to slice out of our heels, no molded residue left to scrape out of the socket. You are here, and then you are not.
This lingering need for something better, something warm and breathing, to scoop up, to sit down, to wrap my arms around and be held. And I am settled, but unsatisfied. A sidewalk-step between midnight and morning with bare feet. My parents sleep, and we are in hiding. Pressed into your parked car, two missed calls and a broken wrist.
Two chapped lips and a sleek coat of snow. We are yearning and hungry for ice. We catch the flakes with our teeth when it storms. You lick the residue from my cheeks and I snort the lines from your skin. I inhale, and we dance again. Tiptoe-twirling across my front lawn. We laugh and spin and dip and breathe and we never leave.
We never grow old here. Never want anything more, or less, than this bliss, this never-ending snow, this blinding white. There is grinning lots of grinning, and music a symphony in the confines of her head. She is overcome by the sensations, tingling sensations. She closes her eyes, tilts her chin up, lets her neck loosen lets it snap she laughs almost cries she is so so happy. Come on, we can put them in our laundry bag. I jumped up and opened it. The silence stole the air from the room as the RA tentatively roamed, occasionally glancing at the stern-looking supervisor. As he edged closer to the laundry bag, my heart sped up, and I had to keep myself from making panicked eye contact with Becca.
He looked confused, his hand inching to open it. Have a nice day. He almost had us! I feel like usually people get caught for things like alcohol or weed. But not us. I just want to take them home—and they smell and look good. We stared at our collection. The bullet sounds with punishing force.
Brief, in the air like a fugitive between bars clutched to windows like worried mothers looking for lost boys with lost words All but one finds him. The rest hear the morning silence between her howls, and hush their boys back to sleep. The hope is just a short truce from the present day, the next day and the lavender-stained window. Something like a king, gray and flush within the quiet storm of morning lavender, then gone. He walks out. His woman wakes. His child lives in yearning for weeks not so much day and night not so much a hard, acute sentiment like black, like man, a vandal at war with the city that keeps him, provides the rotten apple over a fleeting spoon and lets him bite.
It will not leap from the woods to sing to you. These stones are scattered through the oak trees like a page of sheet music. You will only hear the song if you take a step back. Take so many steps back that you look at the entire Earth and you can almost see the stars falling out from the center of it all. Now listen with everything you have. If you hear the hum, it will sound like the universe licked a finger and spun it around the edge of the circle so that it rang like a crystal glass.
Like some resonance of time, space, and stone. Some songs we are not equipped to hear. All her possessions uselessly small. Her glasses do almost nothing. Though sometimes, from her window she sees dancing women wearing floral headscarves out on the water. She can count their eyelashes, the petals on the fabric.
She sees their feet striking the jetties or their ankles rising from the sandbar, eyes like teacups tasting the lake. She wonders why these spirits would come to haunt her dead eyes. She tells no one. LEMKE We knew this because we had gnocchi and because we had vodka, and now it was a simple matter of procuring some cream and tomato sauce. Speaking is a loose term for constantly fighting but the newfound silence was the same. I was also living here because I missed Alex. The distance is lonely and exhausting, but the summer air made it feel far away.
But now, as we prepared to make our meal for the night, all that mattered was pasta and sauce and garlic bread. The gnocchi was thoughtless; we boiled water and salt on the stovetop and tossed into a package of store-bought potato pasta. The sauce required more work. Recipe for vodka sauce as told by Mario Batali via FoodNetwork. Alex and I are vegetarians and improvisers. This was quick; we burnt the garlic after throwing it on a too hot pan of too much oil. We started again. Better late than burnt. Reaching into the pantry, I grasped the glass bottle of vodka that had been purchased for a dinner party several weeks ago.
He returned with a fifth of Svedka, far more than we needed for a couple of light cocktails on the porch on a summer evening. Now the liquor dwindled, just a cup or two left of the warming, stinging liquid. I grasped the bottle by the neck, like a butcher grabbing a duck, and handed it to Alex. He measured out a quarter cup and added it to the bubbling sauce. It hit the pan with a sizzle and simmered down, infusing the sauce. Returning to the pantry, I looked for nutmeg as Alex tended to the sauce with a wooden spoon.
When I pinched the brown powder into bubbling pink sauce, the aroma of autumn spices burst forward. I remembered how my mother always made pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving even though I hated it. It smelled good, but I could never stand the watery squish of pumpkin and crust after a turkey dinner. Once, I made my own pie, a coconut cream with a graham cracker crust. But she caught me, the night before Thanksgiving, stirring my own pot of bubbling yellow. She let me know how much of her time I was wasting as I cluttered up the stove, and I let the pudding burn to spite her.
The next morning, a fresh pumpkin pie sat on the counter. Minutes passed and the sauce thickened. Alex stood guard, stirring the sauce and staring into its depths, as if it would turn the stove off itself and announce when it was ready. I moved on, slicing into fresh white bread, its crunchy crust bucking beneath my serrated knife, and decorating it with butter and garlic powder. I set the bread on a pan and inserted it into the oven, under the glowing broiler. I asked Alex if the sauce was done yet.
My stomach had been rumbling in annoyance. Alex dipped a clean spoon into the sauce and tasted it. His face scrunched inwards towards his nose. Too bitter. Minutes passed slowly. The garlic bread browned. I set out plates to fill the time. Alex tested the sauce again.
No wonder it tastes bad. Memories of rum-stained basements and gin-scented couches rushed forward. In this kitchen, that college world of plastic bottle liquor seemed so uncivilized. Now we were here, growing up, using vodka to cook rather than to drink. I wondered when I first learned what vodka was. At a restaurant? At home? After a final taste test, Alex declared the sauce finished. Following the technique he saw online, Alex added the sauce to the pasta in one large pot, and coated each gnocchi in its own liquid blanket. For extra flair, he sprinkled parmesan cheese into the pot and stirred it all together into one pink, soft, cheesy mass.
I scooped out oversized servings onto our white porcelain plates and Alex poured us each a glass of white wine. We took our meal out onto the back porch, and sat down at the outside table to eat. Forks poised, we dug in. The tomato hit like a hug from an old friend and cream coated the tomato like a kiss on the neck.
Vodka snapped lightly in the background. I drowned the garlic bread in pink sauce and bit into its crisp and buttery crevices. Butter makes anything delicious. For a while, Alex and I ate in silence. That was how we ate most nights, not because we were mad but because we were hungry. I leaned back and my chair creaked under my newfound weight.
I sighed. Alex followed me and leaned back in his chair, balancing himself on the back legs. Silhouettes of birds flew against the setting sun and mosquitos nipped at my ankles. Sitting in the midst of all this,. I realized, somewhere underneath my stomach, how much I wanted all of this to be mine.
It was also a New England colonial with a fragrant kitchen and a sprawling backyard. My family meals were punctuated with parental accusations of who cheated on whom and who was divorcing whom. Our pantry had whiskey and wine that was drunk for reasons more insidious than a dinner party on a summer afternoon. For a long time, eating a family meal was something I feared. But here, in this well-gardened yard on a brick porch at a glass table under an orange umbrella, Alex exhaled gently and leaned his head on my shoulder.
I asked him if he liked the meal, and he said it was one of the best he had eaten in a long time. Back in the kitchen, a chocolate cake I had made the day before was chilling. I asked Alex if he wanted coffee and dessert. He said yes, but in a minute. I agreed, it was best to wait for something so sweet. I leaned my head on top of his and looked out, at the yard and trees and birds and bugs, all looking for somewhere to go and something to eat.
The receptionist called her name and the butterflies took flight. The doctor told her to breathe deeply and clear her mind as she fluttered into unconsciousness. A small incision was made near her pulsing heart and there it was, adorned with a blue bow, a tiny box containing every one of her impractical emotions. She was given the tiny box as a souvenir, and she carefully unwrapped the delicate package to reveal a humble, pink, fleshy seed. She then placed her pink seed in the dirt and tucked it in. Should I let go? The birds have already plucked out my eyes and I have weeds growing in my lungs.
Let my heart stop beating? I have weeds growing in my lungs my skin is hanging loose. Let my heart stop beating. The paper bag on my head has finally caught fire, my skin is hanging loose. How do you stop the hurt of having to breathe? They have not hurt before, did not when we ate pink and cream circus cookies with sprinkles looking for fairies from the front porch. Her eyes hurt, she says, because cataracts have overtaken their insides. This, like rivers mid-fall, like stops or shallows, places where the water goes white and foamy, thickens, clouds the sight like soap.
Mama my eyes hurt, I say, sucking a thumb that is not mine. Mama, my eyes have your flows in them, are blinking so fast, the iris bleached with god-seed. The fairies had kings, as we have husbands; my pink, my sweet, given or taken, my sight sucked by a shampoo-colored sting. Carving her own path through the woods that have seen every bright bloom and every natural neon life has to offer; her soft, quiet petals are admired.
To the untrained eye, they may be glanced over, but what a mistake that is when gardeners from miles around trek years for the hope of a glimpse of such beauty, and many never even get the chance. If the Universe stitched breath into the world, gave it a heartbeat and a mind and bled into its core, this plant was no mistake— it was a gift. While she raises creatures and nature, too, Her only focus is wildfires she sparks.
All the fault on herself cannot be true When she speaks the song of a thousand larks. How can a snowflake compare to a flame, Or a rose petal to a drop of rain? There is no beauty in all things the same; You cannot compare each divergent brain. And so the sun, though she likes to forget, Will always be more than a rise and set. You can scrub and rinse and wash and repeat, but the cracks will do nothing but grow. The blood forever etched into your fingernails and the dirt ingrained in your palm lines, telling a future clouded by the past when you killed and then buried.
The only way to remove the cracks is to rip off the skin, but then you would see blue veins, cold blood lacking oxygen. The words you almost said are sewn into your knuckles, forever bruised from the punch they left on the receivers. Rub them, massage them— purple is your new color. These are your hands.
Guide Crack in the Cedar: Volume 2
These cracks are not a map. I watch, mesmerized at the sight of red, blue, yellow, and green dancing together in the air. My dad is a puppeteer of magic. I can admire the world from his shoulders. My dad is my hero. I am six, and my dad is gone. He talks to me and my mom on video calls in a beige t-shirt; he smiles while my mom cries.
On Christmas Day, all I really want to open is the computer screen to pull him out. Everything turns black. My life is falling apart. I am eight, and my mom tells my dad to go fly a kite; I ask if I can come too. I wish I could remember; I wish I could choose. All I know is that while my hero is here, my life is not, and next year my mother is leaving. My dad is the reason. I am thirteen and I wish. I wish. I am so jealous of the people around me I am green.
I wish to mirror the bodies of ad campaigns. I hate my fucking teeth. I wish for a Prince charming, to sweep me off my feet. So I build one in hate, and I try to escape. I wish my dad could communicate. I try to run away. I have an innate ability to disappreciate. I am dysfunctionally full of distaste for every flavor of who I am. Because his life has escaped him like a magic trick, my table cloth of a mother has been pulled out from under the dishes All I know is that he makes me clean my room and we argue.
Crack in the Cedar: Volume 2
My dad is a tyrant. I am sixteen, and I am torn. The guilt of escaping is suffocating and I am no longer filled with a buzz at the thought of leaving. And the idea of being an adult sends shivers up my spine, brings darts to my eyes, and staggers my breaths in my throat like a scratched CD. My dad holds my head to his shoulder, laughing at me. My dad is my home. It tore apart my brain, stole cells from their homes and dislocated all my bones; Restructured blood vessels and exposed my veins to the bright blue air. I have come to collect you and your organs, Gleaming and beautiful in the raw sunlight.
I ran from you in that past, And in these nights of August, You ran from me. Enlivened by gold, streaked with moonlight, And glazed with the scent of past memories. Rising eternally through the gruesome mire— I am made of stone. Retching and purple and fast, like rapid gunshots. I pick my skin apart, Each limb a grotesque doll part; disposable and fleshy. I start to spasm, my body shaking, crushed by the weight of my own being. It was sudden, and an air of shock, speckled with an almost stupid sense of astonishment, rippled through the students.
Some people sobbed, some people looked confused, some people asked in a whisper who he was. I sat there, trying hard to remember his face, all the while unable to stop a tear from slipping down my face. I wiped the wetness off of my face while the head of the grade announced the date of his funeral and went on to talk about friendship and living for him.
Her expression saddened considerably and her gaze turned sympathetic. Only seventeen, many of us were new to the concept of death. Were we supposed to cry? Be angry? Confusion hung in the air with the dusty cobwebs, and the teachers tried to swipe it away as they rushed back into their routine schedules. Taku was never one of them. If he were, the hesitation and confusion that permeated the air would not have been there. People would have remembered him in some form, whether it be seeing him swagger down the hallway or hearing some rumor about him walking home with a girl.
He was at that place where people knew him only if they had been in the same class as him, or, like me, in the same club. For some people, his existence was first recognized by the realization that he was not there anymore, that he would not be a part of the tangled mess that was high school, that some of the strings in this web now hung loose, tickling those that they did not cross with before. My school was in the shape of a hollow rectangle, surrounding a courtyard, and the walls facing the courtyard were adorned with windows.
I opened one of the windows the way I always did and leaned out while talking to my friend, who was peeking out of the window next to mine. We talked about nothing meaningful, and my attention drifted away as I looked at the classrooms on the other side. He walked out of his classroom to his locker. His hair was messy as always, one part sticking up, probably from sleeping in class.
He flashed a mischievous smile to one of his classmates—a guy on the baseball team with no outstanding talent besides his charismatic coolness—as he grasped his books, then headed back inside his classroom. His bad posture was apparent even from the opposite side of the building, and he slouched the way he had since the day I met him, the way he probably will for the rest of his life. I turned toward her and emitted a grunt of acknowledgement at whatever she had been saying. She looked back at me and raised her eyebrow slightly, one of her eyes on the door that he had gone into a few Moments ago.
She spotted the teacher for our next class walking down the hall, and we hurried into our classroom. My mother was washing the dishes and I was watching television, the daily ritual after dinner for as long as I could remember. I wondered if I should tell her about Taku. How would she react? Is there even a need to tell her? She seemed to sense my confusion and asked if there was a point in me going. I went back to watching the television, where a comedian was laughing exaggeratedly at something the host had said. I wore it more properly than usual—ribbon tight, shirt buttoned to the top, skirt long enough to brush my knees—and I put on my black cardigan instead of the gray one that I usually wore.
Everything else was the same as any other day: I ate a bowl of cereal, wore my faded brown loafers, and took the train that I always did. I got off at a stop that was farther down into the suburbs and stepped off at a small, rusty station. There was more greenery there than around our school, and many students in the same uniform crowded the platform. It was unusual to see so many students together without laughter and loud conversation. Clouds hung dangerously close to the ground as a trail of uniformed students lined up toward the small building.
A sign hung by the entrance, his name written in bold black ink. In the entrance of the small building was a framed photograph of Taku and some sheet music marked heavily with pencil. So this is what Taku looked like. He looked like the typical shy boy, his black hair lying untidily on his head, bangs hitting the frame of his rectangular glasses. He was in his uniform in the photo, the same one that we had on right now. So he had continued being in the wind ensemble, I thought as I looked at his careful notes.
Crescendo here, play with emotion, accent on this note. He played the euphonium. Subtle, but important to those who knew what it was. Its brass shell hides behind the flutes and clarinets, but its reassuring sound reaches the ears of those who knew. As we headed inside, I saw a few of my friends. With nods of acknowledgement instead of casual waves, we gathered together. One of them was a girl who was in the wind ensemble with Taku and me in middle school—French horn.
The other was a member of the dance team with no apparent connection to Taku. According to her, she had been in the same class as him once. While waiting in line for whatever happened inside, Dance Team pulled my sleeve and asked me in a hushed tone if I would be willing to switch cardigans with her. She was wearing a brown one without the blazer, and stood out from the navy and black crowd.
I nodded and we slipped out of line, asking French Horn to save our spots. We went to the bathroom with deep brown wooden doors reminiscent of a nice hotel and switched cardigans quickly. I buttoned down my blazer, straightening the collar in an attempt to hide the brown as much as possible, and we left the room to join French Horn. Name, date, relation to the deceased. Relation to the deceased? In that section were the options: immediate family, relative, friend, other. Was I his friend? Taku, whose face I finally remembered? Unsure of what to do, I circled friend. I looked to either side to see French Horn and Dance Team wearing a similar expression of confusion.
They both left that question blank, and we handed the slips in. Having only seen funerals in movies before, I had no idea of what I should expect. The scene was rather similar to the movies—the photo of him surrounded by white lilies, beautiful and sad—but they did not prepare me for the atmosphere within the room. The air was muddy, and it seemed to squelch as we pushed ourselves forward. A stream of sniffles and the occasional sob decorated the monotonous sutra that the priest muttered. Bow to the family, raise a pinch of black powder to your forehead three times, put it in the second bowl, hands together and bow to the photo, leave.
Since there were hundreds of students, we filed through the room and paid our last respects efficiently and without delay. Soon, we were out of the room. With nothing left to do, we stepped out of the building, taking one last look at the sheet music, which looked back, lonely without its owner. A slow drizzle of rain was falling. I pulled out an umbrella from my bag. Dance Team took out her umbrella too, hastily wiping the tears off of her face in the process. French Horn looked at me, eyes still red, and asked quietly if she could use my umbrella too.
We walked to the station in silence, where we bought some bread for lunch. After buying our food, we realized that we did not have that much of an appetite and headed home with the bag of bread in hand. At the station, Dance Team and French Horn went to one side, the one heading farther into the suburbs while I went to the other side, the one going back to the city.
One of the guys in my grade stood there, head drooping low. It was Baseball, the guy that was always with Nekoze at school. That day, however, his shirt was tucked in, his pants worn properly, and his face an expression of sadness so rarely seen that it looked awkward. It felt weird to see Baseball without Nekoze. They were always together at school. I wondered Momentarily if he would show up too, but swiped the thought away quickly.
Not in the mood to talk, I waited farther down the platform, setting my gaze on the damp train tracks. I slept through my alarm, flung on my uniform, and ran into the train just as the doors were closing. She was with French Horn, and they both waved at me cheerfully as they walked into their classrooms. Classes were boring, with occasional bursts of laughter when the teacher succeeded in cracking a joke.
Faceless, emotionless, but there. Just then, Baseball and Nekoze came down the stairs, laughing. Our eyes met. I smiled and waved. He waved back, face scrunching up in a smile. I rushed to class, suddenly aware of how clumsy my feet were. The fall colors seem too bold, the slight breeze too pleasant. It was a mistake. It was hot that day, sunshine mingling with humidity to make the air soup.
I was busy. Running around trying to get everything together for my presentation. I remember parking on the side of the road, stepping out, and locking the car, no hesitation. There was an unusually large number of people in the store, and I almost walked out, but I needed to impress this potential client. I went in and bought the wine, the stupid wine I thought was so important, and when I came out I saw a crowd circling my black Ford Escape. And it hit me, and I dropped the brown paper bag, and wine and glass sprayed up around me, and I ran to my car, shards crunching beneath my feet.
The two things most precious to me, forgotten. My baby boys, in the arms of strangers. The air, so, so hot. I remember her telling me to take them to preschool, and she would be home taking care of the third, who had a fever. She was nursing him back to health, while I had almost killed the two she trusted with me. The highway curves right, but I hold on and continue straight, over the banked turn past the fire station.
A glorified pole barn, painted red, attracting visitors for fish frys and election day. Driving out of town, I pass family members whose time ran out, and the road is scattered with potholes from the midwest winters. The road twists and turns, following the driest route chosen by the early settlers. Over the hill, down the curve, and past the auto body shop I smell the Earth, fresh, damp, black soil waiting to be planted. This night is unique, the conditions will never be the same again. I will never return to this road, on this night, to be greeted by the same storm and darkness, with these thoughts that will never be contemplated again.
My mother looks me dead in the eye. Different men in her bed every night, Leaving when she takes her showers, Because mother never sleeps. They love her in the night time, Her energy and sexiness. In the daytime, she speaks a mile a minute, Not leaving room to think or listen Or ask how bad she has been hurting you. It is all okay, Until the nausea catches up.
I have taken more lives than a death row inmate, Collected more bones than orthopedic cancer. I was a freshman, Thomas a senior, and this was the only year he and I could run together. With his training and my talent, I imagined we made a good team. I imagined a lot on runs with the varsity guys, and usually I stayed quiet while the seniors did the talking. It had taken my brother two years to make varsity, and though now he was the fastest on the team, he always hung back and chatted up the middle of the pack during practice.
But that autumn evening, as Thomas and I drifted together in a pack of our teammates, I said something out loud. He smirked, preparing to revise whatever I told the team—his team, really, as captain—and then I was past him, his body caught by one of the lamp poles anchored to the middle of the sidewalk, the poles we usually floated around without thinking.
His arms flew out and his head bounced off the cement. Thomas stumbled backward as his forehead spurted blood. Spurted—the purple spray stained the sidewalk for months.
His hands clutched at the sides of his neck like he was trying to unscrew his head. Someone with a phone dialed I stood behind the others and rubbed my own forehead to make sure everything was there. They charge thousands for an ambulance. We smelled up the waiting room while my mother checked on Thomas. To date, eight Thus the Giza Archives Project began by converting 21, volumes have appeared in print. Thus for any give tomb or temple, pyramid, or other monument , the appropriate archaeological In , Lehner moved his excavations to the zone south of materials were linked.
This zone represents the modern individuals connected to the site—tomb owners and largest exposed area of Old Kingdom settlement anywhere in others named in hieroglyphs on tomb walls, modern Egypt, and it has provided the greatest assemblage yet of excavators, photographers, etc. Searches could travel in any human and animal bones, seal impressions, ceramics, plant one of a number of directions.
For example, the search for a remains and other finds. Conversely, searching on a specific photograph links back to the records for the tomb s or The cursory survey of exploration of the Giza Necropolis object s illustrated in the picture. Artifactual data are, of above, which has omitted scores of additional projects, hints at course, likewise linked to findspots and tomb provenience. It ranging scholarly research. The ever-accumulating volume of is thus possible to search and locate all images of musicians, or data has become unwieldy, and no single scholar can command of seated females, or fishing scenes.
The system described above has proven to function  S. For comprehensive research, the data  A. Cairo: would appear skewed if all information were available for Government Press. This area was further explored in the s tomb G Meretites , a HU—MFA Expedition-excavated and early s by an expedition from Cairo University and Brown tomb, but no information were available for the tomb University, under the direction of T.
Handoussa and E. Nour, Z. Iskander, M. Osman, and A. For this Boats, Part I. Cairo: General Organization for Govt. Printing Offices, ; Z. Hawass, Ed. Vercelli: White Star, , pp. Egyptological Documents, Archives, Libraries vol. The partner fig. Needless to say, current, and even future, work at Giza is very much on our list for inclusion, as the Project strives to become the central repository for accessing all archaeological information about the site. Some archaeological projects post their historical archives online; others create computer models and reconstructions of their ancient monuments.
Our Project stands in the enviable position, thanks to decades of meticulous scholarship by American, German—Austrian, and Egyptian excavations, of basing 3D computer renderings on a rich archival body of data. Giza 3D model, with superimposed archaeological plans and In fact, our long-term goal is to blend the two: traditional topographical maps from various excavations and eras. To date, only a small portion of the thousands of burial structures at Giza have been built in painstaking archaeological In this new 3D undertaking we have been fortunate to work detail.
Collaborating between offices on three continents, might have appeared during the Old Kingdom. As we continue to blend the old and the Giza itself, we then create the 3D models of the individual new, that is, the traditional excavation data with this new 3D monuments and load them into our overall Giza Plateau model research and teaching interface, users will be able to click on fig.
To avoid distractions and inaccuracies, we have tomb or temple wall scenes or inscriptions, or on buried statues worked to understand the appearance of the Plateau as it may or other grave goods and instantly view in-situ discovery have appeared some 4, years ago. Moreover, dumps, and rerouting the Nile much closer to the site. Lutley and J. Above: excavation photo showing the state of the burial deposit settlement occupation, looking west; interactive 3D model in classroom of Queen Hetepheres G X , looking south.
We have found that this 3D immersive environment is at its In addition to providing a formidable teaching tool, the 3D most powerful in large-scale visualization centers, such as exist Giza Plateau model sets the stage for innovative research at Harvard University fig. Here the students don 3D questions, and provides viewpoints not normally attainable by glasses, and the sheer scale of the site of Giza becomes more humans. For example, users may descend almost one hundred comprehensible on the foot parabolic screen. While the royal furniture had facility, sized for groups and small class session instructional use.
We may yet be able to explain the Hetepheres mystery with this new approach. Fragments of a wooden coffin, and scattered human remains filled the chamber. Visualization of this deposit has helped us associate this unnamed burial with the adjacent tomb of a man named Merib G I , which is inscribed and even contains a wall representation of his mother.
The bones in our chamber most likely belong to this woman, named Sedit, who would thus be the eldest tomb-owner of a three-tomb family complex. This scholarly debates about the size of royal statuary that once otherwise insignificant feature ties in to the chronological adorned the temple courtyards, but which today survive only in development of this entire part of the cemetery, for adjacent fragments.
None of these issues is highlighted with such clarity tombs may or may not have blocked this light, indicating their as when they appear in the 3D model, surrounded by their pre- or post-dating of the tomb in question figs. Mainz: Philipp von Zabern, ; G. Reisner and W. Smith, A History of the Giza Necropolis.
Cambridge, Mass. Khafre Valley Temple photo, with 3D model reconstructions of royal  P. Manuelian, Mastabas of Nucleus Cemetery Part 1: Major statuary and animated human characters for scale placed in the floor sockets Mastabas G — Giza Mastabas Series volume 8. Boston: as an experiment to aid in hypothesizing their original sizes, looking west.
Museum of Fine Arts, , pp. Finally, we might note one other advantage provided by our 3D visualizations: the addition of animated characters. Animated ancient Egyptians and even selected animals may be added to the models to provide a sense of scale and purpose to the structures. Our experience shows that students routinely cite the animated humans as particularly useful for interpreting the functions of specific buildings. On the research level, these characters allow us to theorize and construct scenarios, such as the locations of specific funerary rituals, or the number and nature of the participants involved: priests, royal family members, mourners, etc.
The addition of actual avatars, representations of users in the virtual world, may eventually enhance the interactive experience further. Simplified rendering of the Menkaure Valley Temple, avoiding the challenges of realistic reconstruction based on fragmentary data.
Another challenge perhaps inherent to the nature of the material consists of determining exactly what type of structure from which era one is building. Should a particular mastaba reflect its condition in BC, upon the day of occupation by the tomb owner? Should it illustrate its condition upon discovery, millennia later, such as in of our era?
Or should it display its condition now, in the present day? All of these choices are valid, and all have something to teach us. We have experimented with each of these phases; we have restored painted wall decoration to its original lustre in the Fourth Dynasty fig. Hetepheres ; shown the condition upon discovery in fig. In many cases, the nature of the surviving data will make the choice for us. And the burial shaft of Sedit fig.
What shy away from realistic renderings, preferring wireframe or has become clear is that, no matter which time period one gray basic shape models in order not to mislead the user. In our case, the realistic nature of our is likely, and what is conjectural. Otherwise, one creates a models demands that researchers may eventually have the construct for representing ancient Egyptian culture that may ability to toggle on and off, or otherwise view marked or relate more to the prejudices of our own time than to the shaded elements that have been restored, so as to set them apart intentions of the original builders fig.
In addition, a best practices for visualization, and archaeological information source document should accompany all models, listing the management in general, remains a long-term goal of the Giza original sources used, especially in cases where multiple and Project at Harvard. Between Added Value and Deception.
Oxford: BAR, See also S. Cambridge: Polity Press, , pp. Daston and P. Galison, Objectivity. Molyneaux, The Cultural Life of Images. Visual Representation in London and New York: Routledge, Detail view of the 3D Giza Plateau model, looking southeast.