It’s the 29th day, and we’re reading “Nobody, Somebody” by Vanessa Wiebler Paris.
[cryout-pullquote align=”left|center|right” textalign=”left|center|right” width=”33%”]The Ramey Ramble: “Become the water, Grasshopper.”[/cryout-pullquote]
“You’re nobody ’til somebody loves you,” I hum quietly as I pull open the refrigerator door.
The air inside the refrigerator buzzes, hmmmm-hmmmm-click-click on repeat . Its bright white sides are studded with drops of condensation, concave holes, perfect little mounds like candy buttons on paper tape. I trace them with the darts of my eyes, drawing zigzags and diamonds and finally a star.
I am so very impressed by this series, which started as seemingly light humor and has managed to totally suck us into a painfully human story as dark as any you’ll read. Fargo in flash? Well, maybe not that violent, but there is blood.
My leg is bleeding again. The bandage Rorschachs in slowly seeping shapes. I stare at a big blot of red: is it a head of lettuce? a lotus pod?
“I just need to know how deep it is,” Iris had said last night, razor blade in her fist. “Until I hit bone.”
This series is about the price we are willing to pay for recognition. What is your 15 minutes worth? Will you allow your significant other to KO you in an elevator? Will you stand by as he or she berates you in front of friends? Do you draw the line at rough sex, no sex, looking away from mounting evidence of infidelity? Is manipulation your currency? Slim Jim may be an outlier, but he’s not that far from us in wanting to do whatever he must to experience that feeling of being loved.
I finish my water, open another, and gulp. I’m feeling stronger now. Fuller. If I grow, though, Iris will leave me, and I’ll be alone again. I’ll be Slim Jim again, poor pitied Slim Jim, who has family and friends and co-workers who love him but nothing more.
The plot continues to develop inexorably; our tension continues to mount. Yet it’s the writing itself that draws my praise this month. This installment is a masterpiece of flash fiction, with image reinforcing theme, reinforcing character, and small movement bolstering the big. Every line seems necessary, every subtlety intentional. And all the while were hoping that Slim Jim will see the light (and not just the refrigerator light), that he will open that door in the end and let the fly survive. It’s an amazing piece of writing that also escalates the overall arc.
Last month, I wrote: “It seems hopeless, and yet the chapter leaves us hoping all the same.” It’s getting harder to hope as November draws to a close, yet this author still manages to plant a tiny seed for December. That Slim Jim is rebelling in even this small way sings significance, that he’s cognizant of the fly’s situation lets us dream. Even the condensation, which paints bars onto the refrigerator’s interior, offers a glimmer of hope. Movement offers at least the chance for escape, not the unrealistic tantrum of drowning in your drinking water, but true escape, the changing of what and where you were. Will realization dawn in time, or will Slim Jim be consumed? It could go either way, and either way will be quite powerful because we care so deeply for this character. Here’s hoping…