And finally the tragedy. The boy’s parents selected a wooden casket with fine grained eddies streaking its polished sides, ready to be lowered into a family plot when they found him. It wasn’t that the boy had been lost and then found dead—that would have been okay. The tragedy was that the boy was found, that he came to, hair matted and sweaty on his forehead. A team of hound dogs with wet salty noses trained on dirty dry field brush found the boy near twilight. The townsfolk were close behind, stabbing lit torches skyward.
The field was blue with moonlight, banded with a stand of trees and a dead creek bed cracked bank to bank. The sounding footfalls of fleeing boar drummed the hardpacked ground. Blackbirds spooked from treetops, feathers shined metallic in flight, and the only thing left in the field was the boy and the townsfolk and the sound of hound dogs panting for water and wind agitating petrified tree branches.
The boy lay in a slight depression of his own making, his chest rising and falling. He had tumbled from the stars, had been swinging satellite to satellite when he fell. We made a ring of silhouettes five or six bodies deep around the boy. When the boy’s eyes opened the women hummed hymns and the men nervously worked their calloused hands together. As Reverend, I bent down and looked into his face. His cheeks, where a spray of freckles had been, were now a swirl of galaxies, glowing faint with the matter of the universe. I felt a crush of bodies peering over my shoulders, an expectant congregation. Torches were duffed and the hound dogs bellied to the ground. It was up to me to make sense of the boy, but I found no purchase in what I saw before me. His eyes flickered bright as stars pinpricked in the firmament.
Then the boy opened his mouth, cavernous as a two-story movie theater. I feared he would swallow us whole. Inside his mouth was a projector spinning film. It cast bright yellow light onto the night sky and made a translucent screen of moving images. We pushed our chins upward, as if one body. The reel shone with galaxies blooming like colorful flowers before us. Night became day and day became night and on and on it went. Men grew beards white as chalk that swept the ground and women spun their hair into buns that rose like hives. We lost track of time and the screen slowly dimmed and finally the film stopped spinning. Twilight again. The boy closed his mouth and stood. He started walking through the field toward town, the white church steeple rising over an umbrella of trees. We silently followed in a procession. One by one our bodies turned to dust, salting the wind, and our souls burned in the boy’s imagination, forever alight.
Blake Kimzey‘s work can also be found in FiveChapters, Short Fiction, Puerto del Sol, The Los Angeles Review, Mid-American Review, and Surreal South ’13, among others. His collection of short tales, Families Among Us, won the spring 2013 Black River Chapbook Competition and will be published by Black Lawrence Press in fall 2014. He is currently a student in the MFA program at UC-Irvine, where he is writing his first novel.