Pamela Erens – Gaarg. Gaarrgh. Gak

Gaarg. Gaarrgh. Gak.
After a car accident, 27-year-old Daniel Aker is left speechless and immobile, “a tomb.” His doctor and family want him to recover. He has other ideas.

Originally published in The Literary Review, Volume 44, number 4.

He had just gotten off of the expressway at Riverhead and was on the connector heading south when he noticed another car, a slate-blue compact with a rounded snout, disappearing and reappearing around the curves as it made its way toward him. Only when it was about to pass did it float slowly toward the median. Daniel wrenched the steering wheel to get out of the way, cursing; unbelievably, the other car followed, drifting calmly again into his path, then pushing its nose straight into the space between the two front seats.

Daniel was thrown through the shattered windshield twelve feet into the air and landed on the macadam next to his stalled, quivering car. In a moment, there were lights pulsing against his closed eyes, pinkish and white and yellow, and a grinding noise that built to an unbearable intensity and then faded to a prickly ongoing static. For a few moments he could not see or think. Then his vision cleared; in his mind’s eye Daniel saw shoes. Pair after pair of brown, laced shoes: some pairs pointing east, others propped toe-up against a bare wall, others splayed; shoes in a pile, shoes filling his entire field of vision. Now he felt he was striding somewhere, the air pulsing against his ears and lifting the moist locks at his neck. Then he was being covered with many blankets, too many blankets�it was very hot�so that he tried to throw them off, but angry, persistent hands kept forcing them back into place. The heat against his chest became so great that it was as if he were being held too close to a flame, and he beat his hands in the air and tried to call for help, wondering why anyone would be so pointlessly cruel as to keep him smothered like this. Then he understood: He had been left alone in a field; there were in fact no hands or blankets; the sensation of the blankets was simply the startling pressure of grief on his heart. Every creature in the world had withdrawn and left him lying here among the cool grasses, passed over by the wind. He saw the blood seeping out of him�a circumstance that did not surprise him�flowing between his legs as in a great miscarriage. His groin and intestines cramped several times so strongly that his vision faded to a dirty brown. He was being emptied of something. Although he could not see his own chest he knew that it had split and was evacuating blood and that nobody was near to press the pieces shut again.

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