Fiction | ‘A Quiet Town’ by Lawdenmarc Decamora | Issue 36 (Nov, 2020)

GRASSES hissed seriously as Fanny twitched her neck and craned it up to tell me: “Sorry feller, have to leave tomorrow morn.” I brooded over this lump of a thought and listened to her mouth some explanations. We were lying wide awake in the blistering November sun across the hillocks in the brush, and the bite of the wind set us all up for a fine picnic. There were lemonades and scampis and sandwiches swishing in front of us, luring us to wolf them up just because we both prepared the grindages ourselves, and for the benefit of her blandishment I levied the heftier acknowledgement for her cooks. So the funny feeling we stashed in our tummy. “You gifted lummox, let’s eat!” she trilled. 

Just that easy the world spun between us like a wrecking ball. Cool coolabahs and calm canaries milled round as if eavesdropping the lines from our lips in utter awareness, consciously interested just how I felt when my heart dropped in a soup of sadness hearing those words from her: sorry and leaving. All afternoon I bleakly couldn’t say good arvo to the trees, the river; her lips jerked irritably and couldn’t believe what she has just said to me. Staring into each other’s eyes, silence was a framed 1999 in our quiet minds.  

Fanny clutched a smile to jazz up the glooms. I flopped down an Indian seat, never raved about anything, about the apparent leaving tomorrow. Not that I did want to rummage through her decision nor any other reconnaissance to impose on her, but just some tea and curiosity I sifted through, flung my eyes at her, and jacketed my patience to keep to myself that such things, albeit beyond my ken, do happen for a reason. 

“Watch, a fleecy cloud is scudding like white elephants!” enthralling herself as we lay on our backs in a pool of dandelion amazement. “In your dreams,” I ribbed on purpose, “don’t you know that those are white sails reefing, wait, why’d you say white elephants? Read Hemingway?” She brushed aside the questions, words lisped round like lizards in her hiding voice, no thanks, and many a smile has tunneled her from entertaining my… my… eagle-spread doubt about the departure. 

Up the hedges came towering the shadows of the earth, the grasses wavered to shimmy with the wind and only her shoulders squirmed smoothly with which the spindly branches of the trees sweetened the taste of this sadness I was ditching. The sound, though not a crash test major flop, the conversation licked us closer over a minute when our feet felt the flesh of our souls.

“The trains, they’re like the clouds, they come and go, but myself,” blinking her eyes as daylight receded from the alabaster skytube, “I mean the leaving, I don’t want to talk about it Jake and that’s final.” We spurned cold the issue under the brimming sunset. When the sun immured its light bright bridges ballooned nether the foothill and listlessly we packed up and descended. Down the town we passed by was now empty, voices faded in the sleeves of the ribbiting frogs, red eyes shone in the ebony webs of the rookery, and the footfalls of the townies were buried to the deaf ears of the waters. Fanny sauntered forward, bewildered, and remembered the berry patches as I remembered her climb up a tree wearing a smile.

As we stumbled into the unpeopled plaza where the fountain now kept flowing spears of mudjuice, Fanny lolled by and after her I surveyed the area which sprouted unfamiliarity than the one we crossed early morn. She held her head high and pinned her attention to the quiet houses callipered by peculiarity, and oh the moonlight not that breezy in here. So we decided to tread farther until Fanny cut across empty barber shops past the church toward a vacant lot laden with a lungful of floodlights foaming the site. “Look Jake, all the people are here!”

Should this be a gathering? Maybe a helluva mass outdoor. A parade? We’ve known this town for yonks but never in a hairline did we see people collect like this. There were myriads of dins blanketing our tympana but they were the sweeter ones, colorful vestiges of zzzounds. Yeah Fanny’s right when all the townies were shrilling for familiar fun only children like us knew: the Giorgio de Chirico of our surreal fantasia. I knew we’re already twenty-six. That’s right, and with this our curious feet carried us to the carnival. 

All the people, as expected, were relishing in the broad moonbeams shooting through their circus smiles, a bucketful of families competed in different games and embarked on the all-time favourite rides. Fanny and I paid the whack-a-mole game in which she pounded my inept hand with a rubber mallet on purpose which was sweet, in return—to her surprise—I kissed her neck.

“Don’t have to do that, kittiwake Jake!” She fled to the skeeball to join the children to enter their world one more time to see the world a-spinnin’ for the last time, in my eyes. “Over here, just won a stuffie.” I said great, a magnetic grin flickered between us.

As we walked past entertainment booths Fanny noticed a charming whelp with bunny ears, scuttling its way to the right kennel of a master. It’s dressed to the nines and must belong to someone I ought to conclude. She grabbed the whelp like a baby. I watched her croon as if lulling it to sleep until it slipped out of her arms and scurried away. My hand touched hers, “It’s all right. Things are meant to come back.” Then all of a sudden the floodlights blinked ceaselessly—fast-forward!—clowns, jugglers, jesters clouded my sight as they billowed all around me in a daze—shoo shoo I jabbered then juggled to her place but she was nowhere to be found—asked the lion tamers, carnies, trampolinists, and even the freaks if they have seen Fanny. It is in the prima facie mega-tive evidence I sure hell netted. 

“Here Jake, come” that voice I heard and the mazy looking-path just so I saw escorting me to somewhere a place. 

I went after her rant rattling ‘here, here’ and shouldered my way through the crowds and their shrewd dragon-like chuckles of this spectacular starry show called life. And my search was a galaxy for my Eta Carina to pulsate deep in my chest. “Fanny, where art thou? Ain’t say ciao now.”

Alas I stumbled into a majestic river out of the knifing guffaws from the park. Fanny’s voice dwindled. I flushed my qualms with wonder, as in magic and atom bomb came crashing through the beauty of the river as it was with her. I ushered to the riverside, mumbled for hungry words to shuffle the fogs out of the horizon, and drank its water. Thank God I didn’t get smashed nor suffered from amnesia, for it’s just pure myth I imagined this would be Lethe. But no wonder such a ravishing prima donna loomed up so brusquely I couldn’t move a bone. Okay, that was her, blooming as ever. Finally found Fanny, lucky me.            

The moon was low tonight while the breeze intoxicated itself with some medication of the warmth we shared. We slept sheepishly, the arid fireweeds disposed of their narcoleptic romance in order to catch us fall in love again. But for the last time.   

So we lay on our backs. Grasses hissed seriously as Fanny twitched her neck and craned it up to tell me: “Goodnight kittiwake Jake!” I smiled and gladly greeted her to sleep. 

Morning’s up and I felt fine as usual. When I woke up the sunlight waltzed effulgently to the fore. But it took me unawares to realize that Fanny was not beside me. In spite of her leaving today there’s something strange nestled by my side that morn… the charming whelp with bunny ears. 

I looked up pensively at the sky and an airship darted across. “I knew. I knew,” and else ‘twas something strange the whelp twined my attention to the honeysuckle.  

“I thought…”

“Just when I thought too” she spieled.

We shrugged off smiling until the end of the century.  

Lawdenmarc Decamora is a Best of the Net and Pushcart Prize-nominated Filipino writer with work published in 21 countries around the world. Earning an honorable mention on the 2018 special Love issue of Columbia Journal, Lawdenmarc holds an MFA in Creative Writing and is now an MA Literary and Cultural Studies candidate at the Ateneo de Manila University. He is the new Assistant Editor of UNITAS Journal – one of the oldest multidisciplinary journals in Asia (since 1922). His work has appeared or is forthcoming in North Dakota Quarterly, The Seattle Review, The Common, Kyoto Review of Southeast Asia, Cordite Poetry Review, Ilanot Review, SAND Journal, Drunken Boat, AAWW’s The Margins, Cha, QLRS, Papercuts (DWL), Mithila Review, Kitaab, among other numerous places.

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