from Woman in Ill-Fitting Wig
[click here for more info on the book]
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We went to a cabin in the woods. We went for a week. We had looked forward to this because it was time away from work and time alone with no one else around. But also we had not looked forward to it because after the week in the cabin in the woods I would have to leave and go back to where I had come from which might as well have been Mars.

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     It felt like Mars when I got home. It felt unnatural to be in such a different place from the cabin in the woods to this place where I lived with all that I lived with that I didn't want to even more after the cabin.

     However the place where we had gone in the woods was not a place where one could stay. It would have turned into a pumpkin at midnight, a frog in the light of the day, the old witch's house with the big fat boiling oven she threw the children into. She would have thrown us into it then eaten us or part of us and spit out the other parts and the dogs around her house, the curs and the mutts and the mangy things that snarled around outside at her feet the bitches she kicked at and poked with the fire irons would have snapped at whatever remained of us, the gristle and fat and bone, and crunched us in their teeth and sucked the marrow. They would have fought over us and tugged the bits of us between them in their slobbery spitty yellow stinking teeth. Or she would have only partly boiled or broiled or grilled us alive then thrown out the bits of us to them while we were still alive but with blackened stinking parts that the birds swooped down and picked from our eyeballs, meat and skin. Carrion, crows, black winged things with black as if scorched tongues.

* * *

     There is all that comes ever after it.

     There is carnage pillage sloshing sounds. Shoes bloody squishing from walking in it, brown red cakes beneath your fingernails from digging around in it. Black and red and dirt and blood around the mouth. Hair like thorns. Grit in the eyes. Smoke dust dirt allover the skin. Filth. Only the mouth, because it can close and can shut it out sometimes, is not all completely stuffed and covered in it. (Some of it also got swallowed. It tastes like metal).

     There's something that draws it to it.

* * *

     Either that or we would have turned into her, that old witch in the woods, if we had stayed at that cabin which once we thought was so dear and kind and full of love, once, scrabbling and scratching at one another with our claws and teeth, trying to cram and push each other into then pull ourselves in along behind into the red-hot sizzling fireplace the boiling cauldron bones sticking up like gear shifts like knobs and or hissing like cats snarling like curs and spitting and clawing and tearing each other like like— like— like the bitter old broken hags we had turned into.







It's never light. You're always in the dark, half dark. You can't quite see but can't quite look away. Something's holding your head where it is. You cannot move and something is on your eyelids and you cannot close your eyes. They're dry. They sting.  You need to  close  them. But there's some way they calibrate because just when you think you're about to go blind and then will know that you aren't seeing, only imagining


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or remembering, there's some kind of moisture, a liquidy thing on your eyeballs so you can see again. It's calibrated. They have a very smart system. It's smarter than you. They know your body very well.

     They know your limits more than you.

     You can hear the sounds of weeping, shuffling, something blunt. Of something being thrown and something falling. Shuffling. You don't know what. You don't know who. Don't ask.

     If they ask, Yes, it could have been your imagination.

     If they ask, Yes, it could have been that you had been asleep too long in the dark too long or not asleep for days, hallucinating in some strange starving fearing seeing state.

     No, no, you did not see anything. No, you did not hear anything. No, you know nothing, nothing at all.

     You have no idea how long it's been. Or if you are remembering or dreaming. What did you tell them you wish that you don't remember?

     You try and you try hard to not.







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The Future

In the future all of us will know the same.

In the future all of us will have the same.

     There will not be disadvantaged ones. There will be none inferior or different.   No one will be regarded as

suspicious. We will not look at someone else and think Poor Thing, There But For the Grace of We. There will not be any envy in the future. There will no more be cruelty, neither small nor large, neither everyday nor monumental, nor in any way otherwise. There will be no more monuments. We all will treat we all alike. We will not need. There will be plenty of what is needed in the future. There will neither be too much nor not enough. There will be neither shortages nor unfair distribution practices nor skimming off the top. Things will not go to waste and we will not have to feel bad about that. We will not feel bad.

     Neither will we get confused nor have to choose nor have to make hard choices. There will be nothing to decide.

     We will not have to watch our backs, exercise extra caution, be vigilant, worry or be on any color slash level of alert. We will know all the things that need to be known. We will not know or have to know other things. There will not be unpleasant things.

     Then we will all leave easily. We will be known from long before and will accept and be made ready.

     We will be beautiful.

Rebecca Brown is the author of ten books of prose published both in the US and abroad including The End of Youth and Excerpts From A Family Medical Dictionary. She has also recently written the libretto for a dance opera, The Onion Twins, in collaboration with BetterBiscuitDanceCompany and a play, The Toaster. She teaches at Goddard College and elsewhere.

Nancy Kiefer is a painter whose work has been exhibited at the University of Puget Sound's Kittredge Gallery, the Tacoma Art Museum, The Children's Museum, Pratt Fine Arts, Security Pacific Gallery, and the Museum of Fine Art at Washington State University. She shows her work at Gallery 110 in Seattle. She currently teaches at University Child Development School.