prompt: farewell, title: sensory deprivation in "the next big thing" flash fiction

  • Jan. 5, 2022, 9:44 p.m.
  • |
  • Public

One of the other upsides of Los Angeles, for all the bad things you can say about it, is the utter timelessness of living there. You can’t account for seasons in the way you can in other parts of the country, other parts of the world. Where I grew up, where I live again, there are four seasons, even if the spring and autumn are bitterly short. I’m from a part of the American Northeast with about the most beautiful spring and autumn in the entire world, the only problem is that you only get six weeks of that spring and six weeks of that autumn. The rest of your year is six months of brutal Lake Effect winter and three months of gross humidified summer swelters, but you do get those slivers of glory and, anyway, four actual seasons.

In Los Angeles, however, you get two seasons at best. Two months of fifty-two-degree rain, just before Christmas to just after Valentine’s, and then ten months of sky-blue skies and clay-caking heat, relentless sun, hot beating sun, endless sun. You know what the month on your calendar is, sure, intellectually, but you don’t know what time of year it is supposed to be in your nerves, in your very bones, the way it does at the edge of the Adirondack Mountains. Your brain knows the day but your body has no way it could ever remember. Farewell to any sensory memory attached to the passage of time. It cannot exist.

Which, I guess now that I’m putting it all into words, probably sounds like a bad thing, like a downside instead of an upside, but that’s not how it was for me. When I was a boy, in middle school, there was a horrible death in my family at the very end of the school year, in late June and every year I’ve lived in upstate New York, when the sticky haze of the summer began to roll in, my body would feel it and remember that death. When I was on the cusp of middle-age and my father died of a heart attack at the end of a January, the bleak bottomless crippling cold of the winter’s peak deadness, every time I feel the depth of that chill, my body recalls the loss as well.

But when there are no seasons for your bones to sync up to, the sky cannot remind your body what happened to you on the calendar, what you lost when. Just that sweeping chunk of searing bone-bleaching sunshine punctuated by a brief hiccup of rain. When my younger brother had his first seizure in Los Angeles, there was no particular different weather to later remind me of the brief period of time I thought he was about to die. Late June never felt like June and I imagine that now late January wouldn’t feel like January either.

Your mind remembers, of course, but your sun-drowned California body just forgets everything. Tragically, mercifully forgets everything.

Last updated January 06, 2022

No comments.

You must be logged in to comment. Please sign in or join Prosebox to leave a comment.