The way the sky was now, a 2013 fiction chapbook by Ryder Collins

Balaclava babies

And so it came to be. & so it came to be that Big Mama squatted and borned us. & we came out squalling and waving sticks. We came out balaclavaed like our daddy.

Our daddy was the son of a preacherman.

Our daddy was Jack Sprat.

Our daddy was a lamb inside a turkey inside a lion, a lamkeyon, and he had big teeth, useless wings, and soft soft skin.

Big Mama said our daddy is a chimera in the sky. We don’t know what that means, but we do know the sky. We wave our sticks; we keep our heads up to him and smash glass. The glass smashing is the sound of him laughing up there. He laughs and laughs and laughs.

Our daddy died for us, Big Mama said.

Big Mama ate him up and made him into gloves. Big Mama’s hands were always always cold. It was either him or baby skin. But we squalled and bounced and hit Big Mama with our sticks.

Big Mama’d said, You sinners.

Big Mama’d said, My anarchists.

Big Mama told us this story and then hugged us up to her and our daddy came back from the sky so we could be a family. We ate dinner like a family and then we slept in the rushes. There were sounds like winds and sounds like wolves and sounds like heheehhhhheeeee and sounds like umph and sounds like slapping and sounds like sighing and sounds like laughing.

We have always loved the laughing.

We smash glass so we laugh, so our daddy laughs.

So we laughed in our sleep with the laughers in the rushes and then we rolled onto each other and crushed the runt, poor fucker.

Our daddy went back to the sky world cos he was dead and the earth irritated his soul. The grains of dirt got under his soul fingers and sprouted trees. He was forever cutting pines and oaks and baobabs from his hands so he could eat, so he could bounce us on his knees.

After he left, Big Mama raised her patchwork skirt and out plopped more of us. They waved their sticks at us and we had to wallop them. It was fun. We write that day down in the sky. Daddy remembered it in his beard cloud. Daddy made the moon go round and round for emphasis and we got dizzy laughing with him. The new bairns cried and floated away on their tears cos they were wee and twee and it was either that or be made into legwarmers for Big Mama.9

Big Mama’s cankles were always always cold.

We were always lighting fires around her roly-poly heels; she was always not stepping on us.

We were growing growing and we kept building those fires bigger like us.

Big Mama said, Hey.

Big Mama said, It’s time I cut you loose.

We didn’t know what she was talking about cos there’d never been an umbilical cord between her and us. We’d flicked nutrients from her womb walls with our fetus tongues. Into each other’s mouths cos that’s how we rolled from day one, most of the time at least.

Big Mama said, Where’s your daddy?

Big Mama said, Go forth and make him laugh. Make him happy so he comes back again. Tell him I’m sorry; tell him the chilblains the chilblains.

We didn’t know what the hell she was talking about about chilblains but we did know we liked to smash and laugh.

So we left Big Mama and we smashed.

So we left Big Mama and we ran into our sibs and smashed open some of their heads. We wanted to see what we looked like inside. The rest cried and ran and then our daddy was mad and suddenly we were in a land without glass and there was no laughter and there was no Big Mama and there was no family and all we had were our sticks and each other.

One of us started humping an evergreen cos there was nothing to smash and it was funny cos he had his arms and legs entwined in the pokey branches and couldn’t get loose, but still we couldn’t laugh.

Then one of us started hitting the ground with his stick and he made a hole and put his dick in it and his dick got stuck and it was funny, but still we couldn’t laugh.

Then one of us made a fire and catapulted it at another’s head and burned his balaclava off and there was nothing there underneath and that wasn’t funny and we didn’t laugh.

& then we all raised our sticks at each other and started waving them and then we beat the shit out of each other cos we were scared and there was a rumble and there was lightning and then our daddy came back.

& he said, My sinners.

& then he said something about something but we didn’t quite catch it cos we were bleeding and bruising and some of us were still trying to secretly whack each other behind our daddy’s back cos some of us were still mad about the runt and some of us’d wanted to join the others who’d floated away on their tears and all of us were sad we weren’t with Big Mama and most of all, all of us missed the glass to smash that made us and daddy laugh.

& he said, You poor little bastards.

& he said, You poor balaclavaed fuckers.

& he gave us aphid shit to eat and sky piss to drink and suddenly we were in a land where there was glass all around, whole things made of glass, glass striving for the sky, glass getting lost in the clouds, shiny shiny ass glass, and there was rejoicing and wielding of sticks and we would smash and laugh our way up to our daddy someday we knew; we would smash a tower of glass and ride a tsunami of laughs, even if it killed us. Especially if it killed us.

Originally published in Abjective


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