Black Night

In an old town, ten steps behind a familiar grass hill, sits a backlot filled with debris. There’s a full-sized stone statue of a boy, with a bird on his shoulder—both decapitated. The boy’s head is on the ground; the bird’s is nowhere to seen. Plastic space dividers, doomed to last much longer than their usefulness, lay strewn about, each piece having exhausted its original purpose. The trash is unwanted. Yet each fragment, in fact every thing you can see, is a character. You have to isolate each piece, and study it, to believe it. While the trash is going to a place where it will still be called trash, the characters will be moving on to the black night.

I’ve never asked how this was possible. I was told what is, and then I placed the idea in regard to the realm I can’t conceive.

Yesterday was a beautiful spring day. I came across the first indoor bug of the season, in my work-from-home office, and set him free outside. It was a great moment for that creature, and bittersweet for me. Why? Because I had no one to tell the poignant details of the bug’s cautious attitude regarding his release. For the moment to stick, I had to talk to, or write to, a reader, any reader, of AN INCONSEQUENTIAL BEING. And even though that story had about thirty people interested in it, those people were unknown to me.

I had him in a small cup and tried coaxing him onto the front yard’s wood railing. He walked to the edge of the smooth glass and tested the warm, sunny rail. I could see he hesitated and seemed doubtful, then he decided against freedom and circled back into the glass.

I angled the cup further downward and tapped. The persuasion helped him walk back to the lip, right up to the edge, and he used his feelers to check the wood again. For whatever reason, he didn’t want to proceed that way. While it was certain to me the route was his best shot at life and freedom, somehow, the glass felt safer. To him.

He ended up making his choice, and flew away. I will never forget his reluctance to take the safer steps put in front of him.

I needed to see that. Needed to learn the nature of his caution. To value his pause. I needed to see the care he took to the approach of a new surface. Thirty readers will have an idea why I make this statement.

Two months ago I set a brother of his free and he flew straight into a snow-covered bush, and oblivion. I’m sure he died within two seconds of freedom. I’d not given him a choice. He was going out the window, right then, like it or not.

Choices and chances, and heaves out the window, are placed before all of us.

I knew a forty-year old woman who was diagnosed with cancer and she was dead within ten months. Would you say she was gently prodded out of the glass?

After dark, when it’s time for bed, I rest in a range that’s within the plateau of the black night. I don’t ask any questions, any more. I don’t make requests and I do not pray. I get hundreds of answers and I stow them, and so very politely forget it all.

I thought she was shoved out the window. That was what neuroendocrine cancer did to her. I was resting in the black night and was told she was prompted from the glass cup. That startled me. My opinion rested on the analogy of death I’d witnessed via impact with extreme and all-encompassing cold–a forced demise of a creature in its prime. The black night presented me with another idea. My friend’s death was the warm day’s flight. A relief, and a transport, all her choice.

As I said, I’ve never asked how this was possible. I am told what is, and then I place the idea in regard to the realm I can’t conceive. And then so very politely, I forget it all. At least, most of it.

About Ara Hagopian's The LITERATE Show

For over thirty years, I have enjoyed drawing beautiful shapes and writing complementary stories. The imagery tends to focus on our place in the world—whomever or whatever we may be. I am influenced by Twentieth Century history—I read vintage magazines, books and letters. Inspiration comes from visualizing human achievement and personal interaction—derived from people, places and things which may be obscure, but never insignificant. My pen-and-ink THE MAGNIFICENT RECOVERY was selected by the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston for their 2008 summer art auction.
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