The Body is nothing but elastic eyes: eyelids venting light, saturating muscle with a weightless white. These are the final throng, the last shivers of the Body’s tantrum; moments that last, perhaps, for a second or so, maybe less. Enough to heat neurons, for hearing to fire. For ears to tune and words to prickle.
‘Mr Restin?’ Someone shouts, an echo of sound slapping wet clay. A voice falling on dead muscle, muscle memory: a life written in flesh.
‘You’ve had an accident, a terrible accident,’ the Someone says.
A car crash, the Body remembers: the shell of a beetle pinned earthwards, and now nothing was left but the taste of a plastic tube: the taste of man made, of a terrible day.
The Body orientates, finds a toehold in the dark – understands that there is only touch in this place. Just the pull of the moon extending its light, en dedans: the cottoning of skin, a sylvan tickle – aberrations that make for a hospital blanket and still air – a triptych of pressure, vibration and heat.
‘Can you remember?’ the Someone says, and the moon retracts, clawing light, the elastic eye dead, and the Body replies with strange sensations – those muscle memories. Eels pulled from the river, all sweat and blood.
‘Can you hear?’ the Someone says, but the Body is coddled in inky black, is felled by strange sleeps in which the wet fur of moonlight marks the day’s end. Where nothing but full throated dreamsong soaks up the hours.
‘It’s me,’ Someone Else says, ’just me.’
And the Body is a dancer, is rudely awoken. Skin on skin, a hand slipping inside another, like a mother taking a child, like a father leading, like a lover.
‘I know you hear me,’ says the Someone Else, and the Body extends: a bird of prey wrestling in the wind, soft feathers on skin, a dead mouse in the hand, but the Body is caught in sweat soaked sheets: slices of blotting paper with an inky flower swollen in its folds.
Someone Else: just summer heat and a sunburn flushing red, and the spastic eye wants to twitch, to rescind the heat, and feel weightless again.
An itch that won’t be bled.
‘Can you remember?’ Someone Else says.
Skin inside skin.
Cheek against pelt.
There is only touch in the blackness: the single finger of cold moonlight. One last string catching hold of the Body and tying it to the Earth.
Enough for hearing to light. One final fuse.
And for the Body to name all with sight.
Some days, when Mark Dixon’s small but highly destructive children are safely tucked up in bed, he can summon up enough energy to put his imagination to work. He steals ideas without compunction – mostly from demode French philosophers of the 1980’s – folding their cues into whatever ridiculous weirdness he can hoover up from all his years of living. He cites influences that include Richard Brautigan, Victor Pelevin and Mark Danielewski. Mark Dixon has been published by Sein Und Werden magazine, longlisted for the annual Storgy short story competition and highly commended for his short ‘Orange’ in the 2016 Ink Tears Flash Fiction contest. Twitter: @markdixonwriter