Inside the Metallic House
by Carole Mertz
Forbidding, they said, but to him it was home. A creaky grain elevator carried him to the top floor. Each afternoon at four, the dancers appeared. He’d wait for them, impassive. In this angular structure, glass and steel encased his soulless self. Gone all desire. Disappointment had heaped on disappointment, until, numbed, his soul had departed.
The thirty dancers enacted their purpose. Naked and hermaphroditic, their skin reflected a gray body-sheen. Though moving near, they neither touched him, nor each other. They invoked endlessly from storehouses of the past, but could call forth only the transparency of the setting—glass to gaze outward, yet nothing visible within. Glass. And steel. Hot when fired, the metal was cold and expressionless now, like our man’s emptied self.
He’d spent centuries inside this metallic house. The dark corridors of pain and spent passions petrified into a sexless void.
The dancers came to recreate something lost. (Had he spun these poseurs?) Using all manner of barefoot steps, their distorted bodies swirled and swooped, heads turned now backward, now downward, first languid, then agitated. With extended hands they scooped air from the floor, grasping a void. In severe and angular contortion, they hurled themselves forward without heartbeat.
What was needed was heat. Days later the heat arrived, hovering above the house. It shattered the glass, leaving the empty souls fallen, lying on the hot steel slabs in odd positions, none contiguous to the other. Creatures of the next millennium might come and see and wonder.
The forbidding structure seemed to me to embody the state of soullessness, the way recent weapons of war and the technologies we create seem to diminish communication. As we use the internet increasingly, are we actually losing touch with each other? Are we losing the warmth of physical touching and genuine caring for each other? Only love can produce new creation. But in my story, love and feeling have vanished.
I’ve worked for five years on essays and short stories and am midway through my first novel about a war hero wavering within his PTSD* and striving to create a new home for himself. My former profession as a musician serves me well. I continue to work alone, as I did when practicing piano in the past, interpreting now a new muse rather than the old keyboard classics. This muse has peopled my world with many new friends, both imagined and real. A story I wrote in 2012 is published in aWhortleberry Press“Horror” anthology, and a poem will appear in the forthcoming Poetry Institute of Canada 2013 Anthology.
*Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
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