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Corridors. All mystery lies in corridors. Constructed buildings, the channels between rooms, where secrets rise high and vaporous and secret. Conception is corridors, desperate racing sperm traveling to the vault. In your walk down the hall or up the hall is determination; in the hallways, in the corridors, you formulate your resolve.
The spy hones his intent as he approaches the place. The king sees the corridor as the reprieve before and after appearance. Duty. Streets are corridors to the town square or the museum; in the house, the hallways and walkways around the house are corridors, leading to the outdoor courtyard. If your clothes, Grayson has noticed, look fine in the corridors they will shine in their relative repose in the room or the courtyard.
Well, thinks Grayson, at the end of trips: I knew by the time I reached the end of the corridor what I was going to say. Knew what I would say at the art museum, in my head, to the paintings.
Grayson was lonely. But he was wearying of art museums. They are a garden full of seed packets, he thought.
Grayson is a code name for the famous son of a famous author, who became what he most hated, which someone he knew said he was doomed to do. What or who do we hate most? We will become it. But then Grayson’s father died and he did not hate, so much, that his father had been famous, as he had been an author. Grayson began to understand it had been his father’s way of fending of fears of death. Or war. Or living. All of it, maybe.
Grayson would order food in the corridor-shape of a narrow London restaurant. The Corridor would be a fine name for the restaurant, he thinks.
It was curious to him that she would want him. It was troubling; who would want him? He was too many puzzles fully formed. Or half-formed. Or quarter-formed. Grayson was not a gray son; he was an always new son, he was an always old son. Poor son. Rich son. So forth. It all made a dull song with a fading ending.
Increasingly, since his father’s death, Grayson preferred standing on bridges. Instead of the mystery of corridors.
Time to move on to bridges.
Struts, the angular struts, the suspending lines were the excitement and the power of math and geometries. We can hide our souls in those sharp, responsible triangles. If you have any thoughts, he thought, you know them most sharply on the bridge. There you know what has been a spoilage of time. You choose to move on to things, or you choose to abandon things, as you stand on a bridge, though you do not consciously pick or choose among your ideas. All your ideas are buried somewhere in your head; but it is as if the processes of making dependable bridge-making metals happen in your head. As the metal suffered the heat and the melting and the mixing with other metals—in Thor-smith’s furnace—your head casts out what would interfere with the making of strong metals. Impurities of whimsies, dangerously undercutting impurities, which would spoil the metal broth.
A bridge says choose only what is strong and well-wearing and pure. Cast aside the distracting frail ideas. Keep what will keep you and others safe.
You feel the strength of your arms and hands as you leave the bridge. Your legs, though, still belong to corridors. On the bridge there are thoughts that are somehow the strength of your arms and your hands and your heart. They bring you to B, and then C, and then A after A after A. Abracadabras.
Colors are purities. Yet, to find the strength of colors within muddled colors is a sign of strength also? Grayson is/was a painter at times. There is medicine in colors? Even the colors of the interior of your house can armor you? Detecting weakness in colors is an armor? Perhaps. But too much bold color a weakness also?
Once someone named Grayson had a great deal of money stored away, and before it was gone, and he was gone, he, Grayson, sent it to her. He was glad to get rid of it. His father’s money. She was not surprised. She did not even say thank you. It was investing in a garden, she said, and a writer. She bought the farm and she bought many gray-speckled white horses, had them trained and then, one by one, once as a duo, gave them away. The farm was a splendor with or without horses. The memory of the horses was greater than the actual horses. From the memory of the horses came tremendous novels, he eventually learned. Each of the horses gained a true name in the novel which they had never had as actual horses. (As actual horses, they were called the name on their sales records, from purchase. That was their fate, she said, and she could not interfere,)
This had felt like fun gamble. Ireland. He had decided to do it after too much travel in the United States.
New York, he decided, is a state which contains a great deal of anguish. It is not good, he decided, to stay too long in New York. One must frequently part with it, and then return.
California will form the most strength in you via the sun, he decided.
Florida, he decided, was a very long fortune cookie message, too generously giving you the drift of the high palms’ leaves ruffling very high in the sky. Avoid Florida in its summer! Be there only in the spring, and in the winter if you have a place on the water. Do not trust the water or the sunset! It contains a liquid gold which, at night, might subtly affect the dark deep spots of your heart. That sunset will try to get you to give up on determined endeavors. You will try to live on crumb-cake and laughter, and your life will end, possibly, in some defeat. There are turtles in Florida who hide from the sun, who go deep into the water to hide from the sun, and they are the strongest creatures, in Florida. The rest are sun-sick.
There is serenity in Canada, fortune cookies-for-traveling-Brits could say. Trees grow and grow and grow. There are long drives. There is an appreciation of cars and distance. Travel far, far north and you will grateful for all you have. North-dwellers and a large number of forest dwellers are the most keenly grateful of people.
Grayson had traveled in that newest continent. Now, he is home again.
What does Grayson need? Grayson could not tell you, except that he finds the finest refuge not in a book or computer page, which are rectangles. Always, for him, it is the square. Thus, he chooses the square. Some of the best courtyards at the end of outdoor corridors (walkways) are merely square. The most beautiful woman’s earring, he has decided, is the Picasso cube, or square; a woman wearing square earrings is an achieving sight; even a very old woman can be a great beauty if adorned with earrings which are squares.
Give her a ring to promise her to you, he thought once on a bridge, a ring which contains squares. He had already given several women over decades rings with rounded stones. How natural. Those relationships had rolled away like river rocks.
The next, he decided, would receive a square stone, and even more of what was left of his father’s over-large estate. Square it away, he was thinking, on the bridge. Square it off. Square dance?
He thought of her departed horses, how they flowed in strides and shapes mostly circles, ultimately, by turns. How novels, including her novels, made you sit in place but which were all about charging, or fading, through time and space and ideas. Then horses went toward a barn with its angles, but not as sturdy as rooms of a castle’s squared tower, twelve by twelves, very sturdy.
Who is Grayson? He is the long tangled rows of bicycles in Cambridge, the original Cambridge in England the hungry new Cambridge in America. He is the dusky dawn and the dull afternoon. He is the horses who have disappeared but are in the mind always kept. He is the indifferent son and he is the conception of ideas as they form in childhood. He is the farmer who succeeds with his crops and he is the father of a daughter with palsy who must depend on servants. He is the belief he may not outdo his father but he may stand on an equal step perhaps someday or have the illusion he does.
He is the black of dark and he is the white of light only rarely. He is between, he is dappled horses with dark hooves: he is Grayson. Murky, still unrevealed awkwardnesses, which he smoothes continually with the the graying mixture of their combinations. He is the gray stone which shines dully and reluctantly in the light and the dark. He is no grace at all and all graces. He is Batman’s helper Dick Grayson. He helps the rich man and he helps the hero. He knows the root of evil is jealousy. And so: his heart contains it, will never be rid of it.
But the corridor is not jealous of the room; the street is not jealous of the square; the middle walkway of the stable is not jealous of the stall or the tack room. Each is pleased to be the thoughtful flux, the passageway.
Grayson himself is jealous of those who achieve more. But on any bridge he almost forgets that his father manufactured fame.
He will give her the square stone. There is, as he imagines this, strange crashing repetitive music, proving something, rehearsing something. Arguing something?
She is never waiting, so he will surprise her (or not.) Her laughter is neither too dark nor too light. She is far beyond the precipices of beginnings. But his memories of her will be like horses disappearing, he thinks, if he does nothing. If he does nothing, he is her white horses, trudging through mists, their sad white coats speckled with gray and fog and the feeling of boats departing. She is an apprehensive judge: she only possibly might tell him whether he has stood on bridges enough. Will only possibly finally really tell him what in life he was wise to change his mind about, what or who was good to give up. What he didn’t sacrifice enough for? What he sacrificed for, too late?
Perhaps a given gray square stone will meet the same fate, and laughter. But he will try.
For once, he decides, it is good to be alone, and it is not bad to be old: age and aloneness urge him on, through their corridors, to a last, castle place, with its four sides of outlook far above Chinese fortune cookies, and bridges, and property: sees out to sullen sea.
Rebecca Pyle, a Pushcart Prize-nominated writer whose work also appears in Wisconsin Review, Litro UK, National Poetry Review, Chattahoochee Review, Honest Ulsterman, Guesthouse, Map Literary, and elsewhere, has work forthcoming in Posit, Gargoyle magazine, Terrain. org, and Common Ground Review. She's a visual artist, also; images of her oil paintings are in many art/lit journals, or, sometimes, on their covers. (See rebeccapyleartist.com.)