The History of an Odradek

           after Kafka

There I am standing at the bustop unsure of my footing in this world, in this town, in this life, with not a single thing to say for myself even in the most casual direction, and there is this girl with fine-meshed lace and tendrils on the bench nearby (her hair is in tendrils that dance on her shoulder there); and there I am listening to the trees, not looking at the girl at all, just thinking about the trees, about their private lives and losses, thinking about their nightly whispering and their ancient tremors, all the things that trees might do and complain about, the vandalism and the accidental tattoos that lovers carve into their loving bark, those kinds of things that cover up the greatest of man and man’s ambitions, and so I am standing there, a man apart, a young old man listening stupidly to the trees in their dull dreams, imagining their fear of breaking the silence, a silence of whispers, or of words, a silence that even the trees fail to admit, and so I am standing there picturing all this when the girl sitting on the bench nearby, a girl no older than sixteen years old, she lurches over her side of the bench she’s been sitting on and she rolls onto the concrete there, she rolls and rolls until she vomits all over one side of the bus booth and there I am hearing myself laughing as she vomits right on my shoe there and I just laugh and laugh like a man who doesn’t have any lungs, and so the girl looks at me, the girl sitting there on the asphalt ground, she just looks at me like an abused puppy, and all the while I’m laughing, laughing terribly, laughing like a man without any lungs, right on the spot where the girl has just vomited a moment ago; and so the girl rolls back, she rolls slowly, like her vomit has now been rolling far down into the gutter there, as if her lungs were falling out along with it, collecting a thick mud as robust as tendrils, settling over the bench and covering up the curb and the bus is about to arrive now, and there she is practically rolling down into to the street until the bus is there, and until the girl and me and the trees and everything else comes to a stop.

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One thought on “The History of an Odradek

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