When the Longest Route is the Fastest

Perched silent and spellbound on the sofa by the window, I watch you deconstruct your idea of the bird, characteristic by characteristic. Once separated, you place these details around the studio. Brilliant blue in one corner of the room and mild yellow in another; chirpy songs up by the ceiling; wings and their flapping on opposite sides of the door; beady eyes on the windowsill; yellow beak on the bookcase’s third shelf; nimble flitting on the top shelf; swift swipes of iridescent tail flicking on the floor beside the radiator.

A curious blend of spontaneous and methodical, you perform the disassembly fluidly, with the occasional pause to muse upon a curiosity. I savor the rarity and ordinariness of this activity, aware that even in the rigorous milieux of academia and technical industries, decomposition is a scarcely practiced art form. Your work with the idea of the bird here is the leisurely use of skills that keeps you proficient.

“OK, all done for now,” you say after surveying the dispersed characteristics. “Let’s go have lunch.”

Closing the studio door behind us, we leave, and beneath the overcast skies, we take our customary route down little roads, the almost-warm air stirred up occasionally by the sea breeze.

At the diner, the hostess seats us in a window-side booth. You order the shrimp cacciatore, and I get the oyster stew. We don’t talk. You seem lost in thought, and I watch the people walking by outside.

In the middle of our meal, a small boy ambles over to our table and asks what you’re eating. I’m about to answer for you, knowing how trivial you find smalltalk, but your better self springs into action. In an instant, she’s sitting beside you, leaning toward the kid, telling him in a cheery voice, “Shrimp in tomato sauce. It’s delicious.” Then she asks if he likes tomatoes.

We continue eating while they talk, me eavesdropping, you deep in the realm of your mind.

When we get back to the studio, hanging in midair before us is a new idea of the bird, giant, gorgeous and luminous, sleek in vivid plumage. I marvel at it until I hear chipper words ringing out from behind me.

“I can teach you how to do this.”

I turn around, expecting to see her, but there is only you, beaming.

-Soramimi Hanarejima

Soramimi Hanarejima is a writer of innovative fiction and the author of Visits to the Confabulatorium, a fanciful story collection that Jack Cheng said, “captures moonlight in Ziploc bags.” Soramimi’s recent work can be found in [PANK], The Esthetic Apostle, Firewords and Tahoma Literary Review.