In Between by Stephen Hastings-King

Behind me are two doors. Each opens onto a room which is more event than space. Entering puts a sequence into motion that is every time the same.

In the first snow falls through the ceiling and weighs down with moisture the flock of paper birds pasted to strings so they hang in the air. One by one they drop away. Each leaves paper carnage behind. As the birds fall the room expands: mountain reliefs, islands and lakes; the holes in Appenzeller and Emmentaler cheeses; the craters of the moon and distributions of stars.

The second room is a diagrammed hierarchy of names that includes the word “room.” The visibility of the diagram varies with observer investment; if you think only about the word room and not about any particular room you may be able to see the branches that in the distance form fractal trees that include actual trees and cauliflower, floodplains and cardiovascular systems.

In between I listen against a door and never hear a sound.

I spend a lot of time in between looking through a window. Once I ventured outside to explore the white plane that extends in the same way indefinitely everywhere and found that nothing except position differentiates one place from another there and that the light moves very slowly right to left so everything seems to run backward. I was lost for I do not know how long. I have not gone out there since.

Someday I will leave this place.

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10 Comments

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10 responses to “In Between by Stephen Hastings-King

  1. Lots more meaning in the details, the setting, the plans.

  2. I love this.

    (I was expecting to see “Elsewhere” which I saw earlier today on Fictionaut, and instead: a whole other wonderful piece. You’ve offered a twofer with borders this week.)

    It’s beautiful, every line. I’d just have to copy and paste the whole story to point out…

  3. Kelly

    with so much room for the expansion of meaning and scenery, a hard place to leave, I imagine, but so quiet and solitary.

  4. I agree with Catherine, I was surprised to see you did more than once take on the border town theme. Not that you are capable, just that more often than not, what you read at FN is what pops up here, or vice versa.
    This is lush and lovely. Unusual, and haunting. The last line is evocative, makes us wonder what the future of this person will hold. Speaks volumes more than what the words say.

  5. stephen

    thanks for the reads and comments. i’m pleased that the piece works for you. sometimes with a bit of distance i can see how something i read in passing turns up in a piece—in this case, something about fractal organization and morphology—-i think it was tripped by something from doreen massey, an article i was reading about time-space. i’m not entirely sure how that got transposed into this space of rooms that proliferate in some kind of compound lodged in a space of seemingly endless non-differentiation. but there we are.

  6. nice treatment of space and angles, partitions and captivity, separation and reclusiveness.

  7. guy

    What sticks out in my mind is the narrator in between all. It reminds me of some of your other narrators who listen through registers, watch things unfold, try to make sense of shifting geometries and constellations. I feel a kind of pathos in the neutrality of tone & observation.

  8. Seems very experimental and philosophical to me…

  9. Pingback: Week #37 – Border town | 52|250 A Year of Flash

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