Not Yet Still Life

Posted by on December 14, 2016

Not Yet Still Life
By Yao Xiang Shakya

It began when the U.S. election polls suggested a visible drift upward towards selecting the most unlikely candidate for President; when the drift was confirmed in his conversations amongst his white male friends, John Robert Parker, a tall, dark, spindly man, decided it was time to move.

He had been watching the shifts for months seeing his bright hopes for change turn from small daubs of white into stronger, darkening colors of gray only to disappear into whiteout black. The shifts and drifts disheartened him and led to unprofitable outrage whenever he listened to the news.

It’s dismal. He thought, not recognizing his thoughts were subject to countless influences most of which were beyond his control. One thought, however, seemed to be outside the effect of these varying drifts leaving John Robert Parker with a more pleasing magnetism of great vigor.

‘I am moving.’

These three words seemed to make him stand up in an unfamiliar robust style. He seemed to be less swayed by the shifts and drifts and became more attuned and alert to the just noticeable differences between the washed out whites to dead stump black.

I am moving was a charm like no other. He’d often say it as a sworn statement. I am moving. It invigorated him. Right in the moment, in front of the array of the visible drifts, he’d at least think it, if not state it as a convincing truth of the future, ‘I am moving.’

The fact that he never began to pack or even look for a place to go didn’t seem to diminish the power of his assertion. It seemed the words in the face of the drifts touched some new unimaginable awareness within him. It was indescribable. ‘I am moving,’ was an affirmation that went beyond packing up and leaving town.

Anytime he heard an update on the polling numbers or hear friends count the days until their candidate won the election, John Robert affirmed ‘I am moving.’ Not once did these three words fail to lift his spirits even though he was out of work at the time. ‘I am moving’ saved him from the drifts as well as the doom of being unemployed and low on cash. In some absurd logic, the two exposures made perfect sense.

His friends, however, were eager to remind him he was known to be more of a short term worker and not one for the slogging routine required to secure a full time position. Whenever they pointed his history out to him, his belief in the power of saying ‘I am moving’ increased. Nothing seemed to overshadow the ability for it to save him from his previous dive into dismal despair. It became more and more meaningful to John Robert Parker to the point he thought he should share it with others. But before anyone got wind of his plans to preach the salvation value of ‘I am moving’ he heard on the news the following broadcast.

“Several super-sized jumbo jets suddenly lost altitude and are reported missing. There are reports the planes have crashed near the airport. We are waiting for confirmation.”

After hearing this news and during the time when everything went dark he forgot about his plans to save others. He looked out his window from his street level apartment for some sign. In the very near distance, along the horizon he saw what looked like soft shoots and funnels rising upward across the heavens.

In his calculation of time and space he estimated where the planes came down. I’m close…real close. The crash sites are close. Waiting in the dark seemed unacceptable. He set out on foot to locate the remains of the alleged fallen planes.

Without power the city was dark and silent except he heard the recurring sounds of sirens in the distance moving away from where he estimated the crash site was. With passing interest he wondered, Where are they going? But he dropped the thought of the others and turned in the direction of what he believed was the way to the shoots and funnels he saw from his apartment window.

After some time on foot he stopped and stood with his back to everyone and took a self portrait silhouette pose. He stood alone on a dirt mound facing the shimmering bright and darker shafts of light. Facing this display he lost all interest in the power of his three words, ‘I am moving.’

He leaned his spindly body weight to one side in a small effort to make some difference. It was all too much for him. It made him know he was unimportant. But what is? He screamed his new three words again and again.

But what is?

He felt lost, small…helpless by the enormity of it. He was brought up to see his shortness. He tried to encourage himself. He’d look and look again. Maybe he missed something? Maybe…just maybe there was more to it than the eye can see? He shifted his weight to the other leg. Again…no difference. He made an effort to stand erect and face what was there. His arms hung by his side. He sniffed the air into his tiny nostrils. He closed his eyes. He opened them. It was still there. He considered removing his clothes but shivered at the thought. He asked in his small silent voice, But what is?

It’s big, I tell you…real big, an unimaginable size. The blues, and grays, and blacks and whites, all of meteoric magnitude. And I tell you…I was just this far…this hairsbreadth distance from…I tell you I could touch it from where I stood. I was that close.

John Robert Parker raised his hand holding his thumb against the soft part of his index finger in a feeble attempt to show how close he was to seeing what it is.


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