Quietus by Paul Negri

Fiction

From high on the rooftop, where the splintery wooden water tower stands on its iron scaffold and tips its conical hat to the sun straining to rise through the rain slicked snow, a leaping over the icy ledge and onto the frigid airway that can support nothing more than a dream, a rush, everything in momentary high relief, a falling in and through and past…

the old man cursing the cat for wetting the rug they just got cleaned again, his wife crying in her wet bed, doubting her eyes when it drops past, so many times she’s seen what wasn’t there and not seen what was…

the pigeon on the ledge, looking down and up and down, not surprised, the slowing, the air thickening, the bridge bright in the rising sun, aglow in the rain drenched snow, the tears taken by the wind, the falling, down past…

the boy waiting outside the bathroom door for his sister to finish what she takes so long to do and his wonder at it and the shame of urgency, his seeing it go by and he opens his mouth that makes no sound…

the rooftops of the dwarf buildings below, straining up from the asphalt streets, last chance to alight but out of reach and not wanted after all, the fall a quickening and slowing up and quickening once more past…

the mother wiping eggs from the toddler’s mouth, the gurgle and the spit, and her going to the sink to sponge the goo from her going-to-work blouse, and the shadow dropping down, she blinking, unimaginable…

the bay beneath the bridge and the swirling snow and the sun climbing with burning hands into the lowering sky and the river beyond so distant and flowing, unseen, but felt, and on flowing and plunging fast past…

the man with the cold, who sips tea and just called in sick and sits in his shorts and wishes he had somebody, coughs and watches the weather on TV, glances out the window but a sneeze slams shut his eyes just as it rushes by…

the bare tops of trees snow-limned and full of grace, the sparrows shivering on the telephone wires, the street upcoming and the sidewalk and the morning rush, and umbrella tops rising like many colored mushrooms, and the eyes widening and the brain reeling and the sudden dead calm in the white void and quiet…

the baby just slipping to sleep after the night of rocking in her mother’s arms and the long walks around the room and the not silent night silent at last, the eyelids fluttering as the light in the window comes and goes and comes again…

the thump, the splatter, the baby’s eyes popping open, the cold muffled moment, the scream.

Biography
Paul Negri has twice won the gold medal for fiction in the William Faulkner-William Wisdom Writing Competition. His stories have appeared in The Penn Review, Vestal Review, Into the Void, Reflex Fiction and many other publications. He lives in Clifton, New Jersey.

Image courtesy of the author.

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