Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Thoughts Out Her Head by Andy Biscontini

On a Sunday evening in early May, Jeanine Wiecznewski accidentally knocked all of the thoughts out of her head.

She’d just picked up a half-cooked sliver of onion from the worn parquet floor, stood up, and banged her head into the corner of an open cabinet door in the kitchenette of her $2,975.48/month East Village studio apartment that afforded neither the proper entertaining of guests nor the preparation of any but the most rudimentary of meals for herself, a scant privilege not exercised for several weeks.

Things had been busy. Work had taken from ten or eleven a.m. to six or seven p.m. officially five days a week but really more like six, and she’d been allowing her suitors to court her liberally with dinners, drinks, and foreign movies –- the Koreans! Holy shit, who knew? -- about which she conferred with her friends over dinners and drinks or her lover over sex for the remainder of her evenings, and was determined to at least whip together a simple goddamn omelet for Chrissakes on a Sunday springtime freakin’ evening.

The apex of the front edge of the laminated high-density fiberboard custom-ordered Ikea door punctured her skin just in front of the scalp; the combined upward movement of her body and outward swing of the cabinet door wedged a trough through to her skull, which cracked like a red-dyed Easter egg tapped hard with a spoon on impact.

The pain cut a screaming knife through the evening.

Her knees flexed and her calves absorbed the shock of the recoil. She grabbed the countertop to stop herself from tipping backwards.
She swore once through blue sparks and stood up slowly.

Adrenaline pumped her heart hard.

Her respiration shimmered like dim film grain on a twilight screen.

Her neighbors’ music, televisions and arguments bounced gently off of the stone houses across the street, through the leaves of a lonely old and generous Sycamore, through the mesh window screen, and trembled against her eardrums.

Myriad radio frequencies intersected each of her chakras and created a buzz in her neck that became a hissing flare which rose straight through her mind, resonating high D minor in her jawbone and becoming a burning white diamond behind her eyes that bled through and widened the fractures in the bone.

Blood pooled in the scooped flesh above her forehead and spilled out in a single long globule that burst into a corona on the grease-specked porcelain stovetop.

Her first thought tumbled out into it, next to the sizzling pan.

It staggered to its feet and wiped the blood off of itself and calmly took its bearings.

Her second, third and fourth thoughts followed in quick succession, landing in a tangle of confusion. The fifth leapt gracefully down, landing on its feet, and along with the first organized the others into a team.

She stared in dazed and helpless bafflement as her thoughts continued to pour onto the stovetop.

The sixth through twelfth thoughts rained out in a heap, with the thirteenth landing comfortably on top of them, and were promptly placed under the supervision of thoughts two through five by thought one, whose authority to do so was quietly questioned by thought five, who preferred not to quibble when there was work to be done. Together they stirred the onions, then red pepper and broccoli until they were finished then slid them into a bowl with the spatula.

It was agreed that the fifth thought would hold authority over the subsequent dozen thoughts and be responsible for the return of the vegetables to the pan once thought one had succeeded in supervising the first dozen thoughts in breaking and cooking the eggs and melting the grated parmesan, and that everybody would work together to get the flip just right.

After it had all gone well, the first thought was amused to overhear the thirteenth thought taking undue credit for the curve of the egg in conversation with the twenty-eighth.

She was proud of her thoughts for working so well together, as more and more continued to leave her head and join the effort. Within moments there were enough to take a plate from the cupboard, a knife and fork from the drawer, and lay out a simple place setting on the gently uneven tiles of the counter while another group cleaned up the splash of blood with Fantastick and a paper towel, and a third group sat her on a stool in front of it, next to the window, by which time they had organized themselves into a functioning cooperative democratic system allowing her to thoroughly enjoy her meal.

Yet still her thoughts left her head. They were more independent now, climbing out of their own volition, shimmying through the cracks and reaching back to hoist others through.

By the time she finished her omelet, so many had evacuated that she began to feel dizzy, and deep factions were starting to develop among them which were rapidly becoming more and more difficult to reconcile.

The school under the aegis of her first thought posited that she should be put in bed to sleep.

The fifth thought and the smaller but active organization around it believed that the thoughts should keep her busy washing the dishes and making phone calls, perhaps inquiring of a friend as to the potential seriousness of her injury, the latter motive being carefully kept out of public discourse for fear of causing undue panic. Word of the concern circulated in official circles, however, and was soon seized upon by the thirteenth thought and used as a rallying cry for what proved to be a large and urgent contingency of alarmist thoughts in favor of calling an ambulance.

She sat quietly staring out the window while her thoughts held a general election, in which the first thought was narrowly carried into power. It was widely speculated that the fifth thought could have won if not for the abstention of the thirteenth thought’s contingency and the loose anarchistic collectives that gravitated around her most independent thoughts.
A half-dozen motorcycle enthusiasts on a tour passed along the street with a roar through the subsequent legislative battles. Light car traffic cruised by. Deliverymen on bicycles rolled past with twinkling spokes.

By the time action could be implemented by her thoughts, the sky had gone dark, the streetlights had come on, and the maple leaves rustled in yellow sodium-vapor light.

She would be taken to bed and put to sleep, but as a concession to the fifth thought (whose social engagement remained invaluable), she would do the dishes and tidy up the apartment beforehand, and as a concession to the loudmouths around the thirteenth thought, she would examine the wound in the bathroom mirror.

In the harsh overhead fluorescent bathroom light her body became a dumb vehicle for her thoughts.

Her inner self, so quiet beneath the interlocking matrices of petty thought and gossipy identity for so long, suddenly radiated in sovereign glory.

Her thoughts removed her clothing and put them in the laundry. The vibrations of the breeze through the open window skipped across the surface of her skin. She was lay on clean blue sheets, naked beneath a white comforter.

The last of her thoughts rose from her skull as she slept. Together with the others it flourished and grew through the night.

The apartment was soon insufficient to contain them, and by daybreak they were leaving in droves.

The regretful ones, bold in their desire for a second chance, led the exodus followed closely by the independent thoughts, anxious for the opportunity to pursue their own agendas unfettered by the others.

The remaining thoughts logged onto the Internet and opened a wireless telephone account through which they could remain in close contact with each other via unlimited in-network minutes and, pledging to never grow apart, spread out into the world.

When she awoke, sunlight seeped through the window into an otherwise empty apartment. There was warmth behind the cool morning breeze that carried the faint scent of diesel belched from a semi truck rumbling down nearby Second Avenue in low gear.

The wound on her head had healed.

Her sinuses filled with breath that suddenly seemed to have more room to circulate. The sunlight traveled along her optic nerve and into her brain, direct and clean.

She felt whole and fully herself, relaxed and aware, without a thought in her head, and burned brightly the rest of her days.

copyright, © 2008 Andy Biscontini