Here’s a story about what comes after. There are four characters, who I’ll call by the names of body parts. Hand doesn’t know how to cut off her fingernails. There was a time when Foot stepped on ink. Knee was born with wrinkles. And Ear only speaks echoes.
When I say what comes after, I don’t mean an end to a beginning. What I’m saying is the continuity of a beginning, an interlude of beginnings with no ends, and a wishful ending in the continuity. That being said, perhaps these body parts don’t belong in the same timeline.
Nobody asks Foot whether he tried washing out the ink after. He’s the outdoorsy type, constantly moving, his body has laid down on sponges, limestone and dead leaves. He loves stargazing. As his back lays flat on cement, limbs scratching themselves and the sky is as black as it is white, he almost admits what is not easy and what isn’t over.
Have I told you about the time Knee hoped Ear would lean towards the sound of her bones cracking? It’s long, long ago though, like a once-upon-a-time thing, but still now whenever it rains she brings herself upward until she reaches his lobes. Ear never has any piercings. His father did, though, maybe that’s why he doesn’t. Hates the idea of anyone – silver or iron - digging inside his flesh, like he needs that to feel beautiful. I forgot to tell you about Knee’s bones. She draws on her skin from time to time, so people mistake the fractures for tattoos. Today, it seems like Ear doesn’t hear her again. They have been listening to the rain together for a while now.
I’m not sure what to tell you about Hand. How does one acknowledge or dismiss an ache before it’s coming? She doesn’t shred herself with her nails, but occasionally bites them. She can’t tell if they’re parts of her.
What comes after four missing body parts of different bodies?
I see them tracing their skin in and out now, looking for freckles.
Lý Sơn, 7/17