One Eye Open

July 20, 2010
A year can be defined in many ways. Scientifically it’s about 365 days, 12 months, 48 weeks... you understand. But realistically and psychologically, the length can differ drastically. A year, in reality, is not a particular amount of years, days, and weeks. Science can tell you one thing that will logically, and in the grand scheme of things be correct. But how something feels and seems, which is much more real for you on a daily basis, is not something that can be dictated and written in textbooks to be distributed to the nation’s youth.

~ ~ ~

Let me try to explain. Let’s say your life is fast paced, rigourous, stressful and requires you to work your life away in an enclosed cube shaped room. You are, of course, a lawyer. Given your lifestyle, it’s fair to assume that a year will zip right by unnoticed until one day you take your nose out of your blackberry, look up and exclaim, “Wow, it’s January first, how time flies,” and then stick your nose back in. Yes, a year is like a Hummer on a freeway for you. (People who own Hummers have been proven, in their arrogance, to drive faster than their fellow drivers who are in modest, energy efficient vehicles.) Though you spend your life chained to a schedule, you’re busy and have hardly a moment to kill thinking about such.

~ ~ ~

Let’s move to the opposite end of the spectrum. Let’s say you’re a child in Junior High, your life packed away in a drab building with grown-ups whose sole purpose is to find all of that childhood wonder, creativity, and exhilaration and squueeeze it out of you. (Much like an orange in a juicer.) They might also aspire to teach you something of importance along the way. For you, you are being enclosed in a cube shaped mould, packed away onto a conveyer belt and, if all goes as planned, deposited into the delivery truck of “reality” looking the same as all your other unfortunate classmates. (It’s a gruelling process that involves many standardised tests and book reports.) A year in your life, is as long as Route 66. If they manage to break you early on, it can take as long as it would if you were fire-walking an obese horse around the equator.

~ ~ ~

This is not only a social commentary, it is also a way to give you a clearer picture of a year in certain people’s lives. Let us begin.

~ ~ ~

Walk into the parlour, or the living room as it’s also known nowadays, with me. The house is large and grand, and the living room is as big as a ballroom. Sit on the lime green sofa and rest your arms on the meticulously polished Rain-forest wooden, armrests, and observe our subject’s mother as she adjusts the hem of her black skirt and the collar of her pinstriped blouse. She’s pretty but dark circles line the bottom of her brown eyes and untimely streaks of grey are evident in her tawny hair. The doorbell chimes and she tucks her duster quickly under a chair and rushes to get it.

“Hello...” She says her voice rising up a bit at the end. Watch her face as it momentarily contorts in embarrassment. She coughs and levels it out. “Mr. Walsh. How are you.”

You can see the straight backed man look down his nose at her. Hear the stiff reply. “I’m fine Ms. Nite.” Ah... his smirk has not gone unseen by us or Ms. Nite.

Ms. Nite tucks a non-existent strand of hair behind her ear and offers him a chocolate beverage. He smiles with his mouth, but his eyes stay piercing as if carved in stone, as he turns down the offer.

“Let’s get down to businness. You know what I’m here for. I’ve already given you the money and now you must complete the transaction.”

“Yes... of course.” She skitters away into a room and comes back bearing two bundles. Both wrapped in faded fabric, one blue, one pink. Her eyes brim with tears and she robotic-ally hands them over.

“Thank you Ms. Nite” But his thanks is unnoticed because Ms. Nite has run to another room and slammed the door, fingering the money Mr. Walsh had given the day before, and wondering if loosing something you love is worth keeping everything you need.

Ms. Nite’s year, and many years to come, will be long with regret, and rocky with melancholy.

~ ~ ~

I’ll leave you here to watch this story play out, you know where to go. Press the green button to move to the next memory, flip the red lever back when you’re finished. I’ve also included a guide that will give you background information that will explain some of the sequences that play out.

~ ~ ~


Threnody walks towards the window, sits down, and hugs herself. Her wings brush against the concrete wall leaving a shimmery residue behind and she sits up straighter. She plays with her tawny hair as she dreams about breaking the bars that lock the window and flying away into the sunlight outside, that contrasts greatly with the sterilised white washed walls of her prison. She’s never been outside before, but she imagines the feeling to be freeing and refreshing. She’s seen the breeze pick up leaves and carry them up into the air, and she imagines it doing the same with her body. She flaps her wings, that look like blue and black butterfly wings, slowly, closes her eyes, and sees herself lifted up into the zephyr and blown away.

She looks like her mother, the resemblance is startling.


Rhett sits naked in a cold metal chair as doctors in lab coats, masks and gloves measure and weigh him. They use a tape measure to determine the span of his wings (Rhett’s wings are scarlet and black and they look nothing at all like his sister’s.) and then they shove him on a balance to determine his weight. When they are finished they put him in a sterilised white cell to dress then call him out again.

“Get Threnody. It’s her turn.” Rhett nods curtly and then leaves to find his twin sister. But he won’t hand her over to them like the hundreds of other times he has. He still blames himself for the wings. If he hadn’t had brought her to them that time, they wouldn’t have performed the experiment... and the physical freedom everyone deserves wouldn’t have been taken away from her. He feels rebellious today. It wouldn’t amount to much but a straight jacket and time in an isolation chamber, but he feels he must let them know his will has remained intact, unlike the rest of him.


Threnody’s crying again. It is their 11th birthday and it has gone unacknowledged like the rest of their birthdays. It shouldn’t have been a surprise, but the tears still flow. Rhett holds her and tells her to be quiet and quit crying, comforting her while reprimanding her. Threnody’s will has long abandoned her. But unlike Rhett, she still has her dreams to hide in when things get rough. Right now, she imagines that it isn’t Rhett who holds her, but her mother, the blurry image of a kind, loving woman stroking her hair back. She sits up and pushes her brother away. She runs through a hallway that looks like the hallway of a hospital. The whole building resembles a hospital, but it’s purpose is quite the opposite. She takes a sketch pad and a piece of charcoal, the only creative outlet the establishment has granted her, and runs back to where Rhett waits. She takes the charcoal in hand and draws with flourishing gestures.

“This is her, Rhett.” She holds up a drawing of her perceived mother.

“She looks just like you.” Rhett tells her. Little does either of them know, it was a dead on image of their mother.


Threnody stands on top of the Michael Everest Genetic Research Centre. The doctors are all on holiday and Rhett and Threnody have been left alone. She experimentally flexes her wings. She looks back at the place she grew up in and shakes her head. She’d come back for Rhett later, right now, this flight is all hers. Threnody takes a deep breath and leaps off the building, her butterfly-like wings flap the air.


Rhett runs through the building to get Threnody. She had told him earlier she’d gone to the roof, something that only could be done when most doctors were out. Only about 15 doctors remained at the Centre. Rhett hides behind a door as two walk by him.

“...they can’t fly with those flimsy wings.” One tells another.
“Then why’d they have them put on?”
“Both of them are test subjects, Harry, it was a test.”
“They’re quite beautiful wings, like butterfly’s... They were big enough... what went wrong?”
“Threnody and Rhett weigh too much, the wings can’t support them.”
“Ah, that’s a pity.”
“Well, there’s always next time. Rumour has it that Condor wings are being tested...?”

The doctors walk past but Rhett stays rooted to his spot.
“Damn.” He whispers. He runs up to the roof and looks over.


“Rhett... what happened to Threnody?”
“What do you think happened to Threnody?”

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sleeplessdreamer said...
Aug. 2, 2010 at 2:56 pm
I must say that your writing style is breathtaking in this piece. The narrator's voice is so present that it is nearly the strongest character. I loved the beginning more than I loved the end, and that could be because I didn't understand how the two fit together. The long dissertation on time and then an experiment gone bad... It just seemed out of place to me. I loved the story of the second half of this piece, but to be honest, this whole thing was a little scatterbrained. Hone in on one idea... (more »)
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