• Vol. 01
  • Chapter 01
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Natural History

Not to see the Tyrannosaurus, no matter how intact, but only to stand in a room in the back corner of the museum, where the children weren’t, in the unique blue-black or velvet deep museum darkness, in front of lighted cases, and wish one thing – that Martha was here also. She was one for bones, for cases of toe-bones, prehistoric, indistinguishable, all in a row; for dusty Mediterranean grassy rises cut by cart ruts your car could no longer help but trample over, insensitive to matters of history. Getting lost on the way there – for the getting lost, and the argument that followed, and how the thing at the end dwindled in importance compared to the greater matter of power – who was withholding, and who wielding.

To stand in front of the golden diorama and long to be inside; hold the spear or free the prisoner, features fixed into an expression of dignity, bravery or other emotions befitting those whom history remembers. A wilful forgetting of the next thing; the models melted down ready for the next instalment.

Peter stirred, aware that he had been staring at the same object for some time – staring through it and into the past – his past with Martha, who was dead and would be forgotten. A fragment of something extinct, glowing gently in lunar cream, a cratered thing itself providing shelter within its elegant curve – some vital piece of equipment lovingly carved over time to its best form. Its best not good enough. That generous curve, where a smaller creature might dart across the plush ground to shelter there. A cave, a borrowed carapace.


Natural History

Looking like an ancient piece of wood, brittle, chippable, to be set upon with a hammer; its importance exploded by violence – one arm, tensed from walking the streets, the city out there as angry and important as anything could be, and as new – every day making of itself a different city to the one she had loved.

She protested too much – the jaunts into the country were a front. An attempt at the kind of life her mother would have wanted for her. A swing-seat on the porch, and a bicycle wheel squeaking off round the corner under dappled, dancing sunshine. No, she was made for Chicago, and Chicago was made for her. She had found her best purpose, with him, and it hadn’t been good enough.

His fist was clenched in his pocket, and when he lifted it out and opened it the fingers were bleached like bone over time, so pale as to look unreal, an underwater thing come to rest on the seabed in that submarine glow. The hand was shaking, and he pressed it against the glass, which itself was not a set thing but, like all of us, sinking over time.