Their Days Are Numbered is a new year-long project authored by the collective Entropy community. It is a collaborative online novel written by the Entropy community on a weekly basis. A different author will write the next “chapter” each week, to be posted every Tuesday, following the previous post from the previous week, and following a very limited set of guidelines (that each author has one week to write the next piece after the previous week’s installment goes up, that installments should range between 150-1500 words, and that pieces should somehow incorporate a real-life occurrence, current event, news item, or other happening from that week).
Follow the entire “novel” here: Their Days Are Numbered.
The forty-third installment is presented this week by K. St John.
This should be the edge of a sea, river, lake. Water was indicated on the map, the color blue.
All the directional choices culled from the signs and symbols along the way were obviously now just wishful thinking. Thinking them the legend to a faded no-named map was a desperate, magical, maniacal means of envisioning and executing this journey.
There isn’t any water here.
The reassuring watery collage of smoothed pebbles, misplaced plastic, vaguely worrisome dead fish, and acutely alarming medical waste has vanished. The hearty stew that formerly snaked around ankles is missing.
Has it temporarily been misplaced?
If the eye closes and reopens will the mirage of blue manifest?
Assuming the arrival at the edge of a comforting undulating collection of lofty flotsam, to readily inspire our depleted reserves of reverie, and potentially spark our Holy Daydream’s desires, was foolish. There is no watery edge.
There is only sand and debris here.
There is a white bird atop a mound in the distance. The eye focuses. The bird is impossibly clean and long-necked, a heron. Dignified in the wisdom of an old order it is indifferent to the gaze. Is it a female? Is it a male? Will it comprehensively call in a language we can understand? Might it allay? Will it harm? Could it decode this desert shore?
The heron lights from mounded earth, diving down as if to pluck a fish from the water’s surface. Instead the heron snatches a hypodermic needle from the sand as if it is a warplane readying a bomb.
Walking up the incline of the mound it is conceivably the remains of a trash dump, possible mass grave, or a long forgotten earthwork. Might it be earth mounded and mined three thousand years ago? Pre-historic realities once bestowed symbolic lordship to herons, ravens, macaws.
Splintered planks of wood half-buried jut out of the top and along one side suggesting the disassembly of a boardwalk. Caught ribbons of tangled fading yellow caution-tape trail and whip.
Reconstructing past lives or finding our parallel ones through gazing into watery detritus provides an ever-changing palimpsest, a necessary text, material for our gnostic guide.
We have lost our map.
Upon edging over the curve of the mound, a small puddle appears. It is as reflective as quicksilver.
K. St. John is a writer, archivist, and artist presently residing near the southern terminus of the Palm to Pine Highway. Her current microhistory project explores Bob Borsodi and his coffeehouses. Random notes, writings, and photography can be found at Wandering Mort and K. St. John.