California School of the Arts

Short story: Toxic Wiring

I sit alone. Somewhat studious, my work sitting barely touched around my feet while I wait with a solid unearthly hunger. Bored and mentally deflated, I sit in my living room atop a cushioned lounging chair, my legs hanging recklessly from the arm, and I wait in the aroma of my own voice, the sound of my own succinct huffs. The swooping of my head plays a blend of humming in my ears, and my thoughts are thrown in all directions swishing this way and that way as they bang against my skull. I feel each useless thought manipulate and twist itself into a fresh one. I watch the contents of my thoughts drift through the air like a mess of entangled strings. Swatting at them, the colors dissipate and die out.

The lights in the ceiling have been newly replaced with ones that emit a yellowed auburn rather than an orthodox white. I stare straight into them. The softness of the tone barely discomforts my eyes at first, as instead of a brightened light they diffuse abstract discolorations and shadows on the sage walls. I focus deep into the sockets far past the surface of the egg glass shell, but hard into the wiring and their connections. I stare so violently they blacken to off.  

The first light bulb exhausts, and, I’m not only unnerved, but the severity of my panic tries to grasp onto something familiar and safe. I try to understand and explain the incomprehensible as the second extinguishes.

I continue to sit in the “comfort” of my house, sitting in the familiarity of that turquoise canvas chair, and wait in denial as every light turns from orange to black respectively, and then I watch as they repeat themselves as if seething at my vulnerability.

My mind is neither rocking nor still, but rather propelling into a state of fixation for the flickering lights. An acute swish of an artistic brush along the ceiling that extinguishes each light as it hits the twiggy bristle and it sweeps above my head.

They ignite. A syntax production of putrid, tangible orange. This time though the color becomes creamy and rich. I feel the light between my fingers, a hardened chalk that scrapes off after intentional scratches of my fingernails. Down my legs and around my feet I claw off the orange residue. Underneath my fingernails it hangs out, brimming at the edge until I irritate my legs some more so I can attempt to see my natural skin underneath. The abrasions shine through the cream. The paste crawls up through my fingers and into my hands. I see the orange tracing through each vein. Like a string of pumpkin entrails; splattered. I feel the grappling bridges of the roots grow up into my arms. They clasp my forearms like human hands and they caress my neck. They ripple with a vile hiss. They multiply until each part of my body is encapsulated by their confinement.

I sit and stare at the lights in the ceiling. They’ve extinguished themselves. This time unwilling to even flicker. Unable to utilize any part of my body, I silently gawk as the orange remnants continue to absorb into my intoxicated bloodstream. The lights turn deader. I dwell. I then close my eyes, too.