Gone Lawn
a journal of literature
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Gone Lawn 1
Autumn, 2010

Featured Excerpt

New Works

Matthew Revert

Stuck in the Splits

October 12th 1993 will forever be burnt upon my mind in the most acute detail. That was the day I saw my beloved Molly Sturgeon do the splits. I was in grade four at the time. During a lunch period the playground had filled with the frenzied monotony of identically dressed children, all going about the serious task of playing, gossiping and eating. Like most lunch periods, I was hanging from the monkey bars, secured intricately by my hair. This precarious position was made possible thanks to efforts of some schoolyard chums, who dedicated a good portion of their break to making it happen. This was often followed by a brief pelting of delectably inedible fruit, picked from various trees populating the schoolyard. The exertion of energy would typically tire my poor friends rather quickly and it wasn't long before I was left alone, hanging by my hair, covered in smears of fruit.
It was from this position that I first spotted Molly Sturgeon, and I mean really spotted her. She was a student in my class, notable for her pale, freckle-covered skin and unusually red hair, which had the quality of neon light. She and a group of friends had occupied a healthy patch of grass, not too far away from the monkey bars and I. Molly's friends formed a loose circle around her and began to clap arrhythmically, as if to spur her on. After a few moments of this clapping, Molly did something that irreversibly changed the trajectory of my life. She slowly began to spread her legs, farther and farther, exciting both her friends and I more and more. Molly's legs struck me as elastic in the way they stretched, seemingly separate from her torso, which was descending ever lower. I bit my bottom lip and held my breath as Molly's crotch gracefully kissed the grass below before bouncing back up moments later. Her friends erupted into applause and attempted awkward celebratory cartwheels that resulted in more than one bruised forehead. Molly was by no means finished though. She bobbed back into the splits five more times, holding the position longer with each repetition. When finished, she faced her friends and gave them a humble curtsey. I was now oblivious to everything except Molly. I knew instantly that I was in love and that I needed Molly to love me back. What's more, I knew how to ensure this happened.
I was left hanging on the monkey bars for the remainder of lunch. The playground had emptied minus a few stragglers. Eventually a kind teacher thought to let me down. For the rest of the day I was eager to go home and begin enacting my plan.


I have never been a flexible person. My bones have a tendency to crack at the slightest limb extension. I'm more at home lying down or in a seated position where I believe my talents are better utilised. Learning to do the splits was never going to be easy, but I just knew that if I could manage this feat and display my newfound abilities in front of Molly, she would fall hopelessly in love with me. Molly's precious face stayed in my mind and acted as all the inspiration I needed.
My first attempt was dismal. I was in the backyard wearing loose shorts and a headband. I inhaled impossibly deep breaths while visualising my goal. With my feet an equal distance apart I slowly began to spread. Mere centimetres later, the bones in my legs and lower back began to creak and crack. I felt like a cog in an old machine, turned on for the first time in years. A snapping rope sensation coiled around my inner thighs. Rivulets of blood emerged from the legs of my shorts. I let out a gasp and fell back rigidly, hitting my head on something much harder than soft. After an hour or so if immobility, my body finally regained the necessary strength to army crawl inside the house where I rested before my next attempt.
Recovery from my first attempt took just under a month and I was unable to attend school during this time. My inner thighs sported ungainly tears but I was determined to continue until I could successfully do the splits with ease. I had drawn up an incremental stretching routine that was designed to minimise further tearing. This was combined with a new diet, invented by me alone, without the expertise or knowledge to gauge its effectiveness. Each week I increased the stretch of my legs by barely perceptible amounts. Each week I felt myself getting lower, closer to my goal.
I had made a decision to avoid Molly at all costs. The next time I saw her I wanted to be a master and able to dip into a quick split at the slightest inkling. However, this decision to avoid Molly was doomed to failure. We were in the same class and there were only so many sick days I could take before my parents started to literally drag me to school. I would sit in class, covered in dust and gravel rash, doing my best not to look in the direction of Molly's desk. Unsurprisingly, I found myself magnetically drawn toward it, virtually unable to avert my gaze. I could sense her, radiating an innocent beauty, mere metres away, enveloping me in her presence. Inevitably, I stole a quick glance, which turned into a prolonged stare, which instantly intensified every emotion I was feeling. This proved to be my undoing.


I went home that night with unwavering conviction. I was going to successfully perform the splits and my uncooperative body wasn't going to stop me. I didn't care what it took -- I'd force my legs apart if that's what was needed. I would perform the splits, I'd show Molly and then we'd form a bond so complete that it would withstand anything. We'd both enter into the splits in perfect unison and embrace warmly, remaining that way for a strange eternity.
I marched straight into the backyard without any thought of food, bathroom or getting changed. I stood in the centre of the lawn and cast my vision skyward. I cried out Molly's name at the top of my voice, frightening several birds. With my fists clenched tight I began to spread my legs -- wider and wider. I heard a crack from somewhere within me, which I ignored. A trouser button snapped off and flew through the air, shattering a window several houses away. I pushed myself further. The logical part of my brain kept imploring me to stop, that I wasn't ready, but I ignored it. The passionate part of my brain was in complete control, telling me to ignore the pain, to focus only on my goal. The muscles in my legs pulsated violently as I forced myself further down. Grisly fault lines yawned in my legs as my muscles and skin began to tear. I held back the pain, wouldn't allow myself to even register it. The ground was looming ever closer. I sensed that I was nearly there. With Molly in my mind I forced myself down with more vigour than I thought I possessed. Something inside me popped and my left kneecap caved in. A puff of bone dust plumed from a gaping tear, eventually settling around me. Fighting the urge to pass out, I slapped myself in the face and slowly began to comprehend what I had achieved. My right leg, awkward and spent, was jutting out perfectly in front. My left leg was in a similar position behind me. My crotch was pressed firmly into the ground. I was in the splits.
The grandeur of my accomplishment overrode the pain that wanted so desperately to be felt within me. Instead I beamed with joy, a grin so intense that it tickled my ears. I remained like this for some time, oblivious to everything not pertaining directly to my splits. It was some hours later that I eventually decided to exit my position and return inside. My stomach was groaning and I had several wounds that needed immediate attention. I attempted to move, barely lifting my crotch a centimetre from the grass before plonking back down. I tried again with similar results. I bit upon my bottom lip nervously as the reality of the situation dawned. I was stuck in the splits.


The days immediately following were a daze of pain and incomprehension. I was eventually discovered by my exasperated mother, who enlisted the aid of my father to help rationalise the situation. The best he could offer was a few meagre words of condolence and furtive glances skyward. Grey clouds were accumulating and the wind had a bracing quality that was hard to appreciate. My father spent more minutes than I could count erecting a frame over which he stretched some tarpaulin in order to protect me in some basic way against the elements. My mother was bringing out food at regular intervals and clearing away the dishes afterward. Tubing was installed to aid with my toiletries and I grew used to this quite easily. It was better than soiling myself.
Nights were the most difficult. The cold air swirled around me, easily bypassing the tarpaulin and licking at my face with frosty tongues. My legs had gone completely numb and my various wounds were hissing and moaning. Sleep nipped at me but never took satisfactory chunks.
I tried a few times to get up - all unsuccessful. The intervals between these attempts started to grow longer and, after the first week, I had given up all together. I remained in the splits -- not exactly happy, but resigned. The more time that passed, the less my family seemed to care. The visits were becoming rare beyond the mandatory feeding and wound tending. By the end of the first month, I was beginning to wonder why no one had bothered trying to help me get up.


It was six months into my experience when the visitors began to drop by. At first it was friends of the family. They'd come out and just sit next to me, making small talk and gossiping about things I had no knowledge of. I had nothing much to say back. I just stared vacantly, nodded occasionally and pretended to listen. I was rather more concerned about my own predicament than the vacuous ramblings of others.

Then the strangers began to visit.

People I'd never met began coming to see me on an exhaustingly constant basis. These people seemed intent on confessing their secrets to me for reasons I couldn't discern. A policeman admitted planting evidence to imprison the man screwing his wife. A catholic priest confided that he had recently turned to atheism, yet couldn't bring himself to give up the "rush of the pulpit". A shy woman admitted to inducing a miscarriage because she didn't find the father very attractive. These people, from every walk of life, kept pouring into the backyard; seemingly on appointment; no two overlapping. I remained dismally trapped in the splits, forced to absorb their tawdry confessions. My parents would occasionally usher somebody away only for someone else to replace them seconds later.
With the arrival of each new guest, I hoped to see Molly, but she never came. Instead I endured one boring encounter after the other. I imagined Molly sneaking into the backyard at night when all the strangers had left. She would approach me joyously and embrace me warmly. She would acknowledge the overwhelming totality of my splits and give herself to me in admiration. Her tongue would run along my wounds, healing them instantly.
These flights of fancy continued for months and each time they weren't realised, I'd die a little inside, as would my feelings toward Molly.


Years passed slowly and uncomfortably. My immobility had caused tremendous weight gain. I didn't speak anymore. My ears had crusted over in wax, presumably as self-preservation so I wouldn't have to bare further confessions. These people might as well have been talking to a statue. Each Christmas my mother would drape me in festive decorations and children from the neighbourhood would gather around and celebrate. I would watch their legs, their freedom of movement and feel a deep envy. I kept wondering why no one had thought to help me, how they could let me rot like this in such impossibly prolonged awkwardness. As much as I would have liked to think otherwise, there was no indication that I had a future beyond the splits.
Molly Sturgeon continued to enter my thoughts on occasion but rather than the love I once felt, there was now only resentment. Illogically I blamed her for my situation. I deconstructed her appearance in my head until she was a grotesque abomination, stripping her beauty (or what I remembered of it) and replacing it with vulgarity. How could innocent puppy love turn into this? How could nobody reach out a helping hand? I was a child when this began and I was approaching adulthood with none of the experience to back it up. Yes, October 12th 1993 was burnt upon my brain alright, but only for the chaos it wrought.

A day did finally arrive when I found the strength to ask my mother why no one had ever thought to help me get up. I likened the situation to abuse and relayed to her the pessimism and despair that now occupied most of my thoughts. She looked deeply saddened by it all, almost disappointed. She went into the house, eventually re-emerging with my father in tow, both of them sporting hangdog expressions that, for whatever reason, made me feel intense guilt. My father asked me if I needed any help getting up to which I responded with a feeble nod. He sighed deeply and approached me slowly, eventually cupping his hands under each of my armpits. My mother moved in closer and manned my stagnant, dead legs. My father sighed deeply once more and my mother made a comment about how disappointing this all was. She began to admit that their hope had been that I would remove myself from this situation. My father nodded in solemn agreement as she continued. I was told that they were trying to instil independence in me, that by extricating myself from the splits, my character would grow. Leaving me to deal with the situation alone, although one of the hardest things they had ever done, was something they believed in totally. They just wanted me to learn how to look after myself. With these words now spoken, my father slowly began to lift me.
Roots that had bonded themselves to my legs snapped free. Insects that had made me their home began to scurry. The more I was lifted the more I thought about my parents intentions. I started to feel as if I were cheating myself, copping out. I wanted to be a son my parents could be proud of. If I allowed them to help me up they would forever look upon me with disrespect. I couldn't allow that to happen. I asked my father to put me back down. He tentatively stopped and asked me several times if I was completely sure. I nodded confidently and reasserted my desire to be put back down. I saw a smile bloom on my fathers face as he gently lowered me. The insects scurried back to their home and my mother embraced my father with such pride. She moved toward me and gave me a kiss before wrapping her arms tightly around me. She told me that I was doing the right thing. My father nodded vigorously, giving me a double thumbs-up as he did. I managed a meagre smile and watched as my parents went back into the house. For the immediate future, I would remain in the splits.

Matthew Revert is the washed up flotsam of the Absurdist writing world. Acknowledged by few and enjoyed by less, his fiction has been described as "definitely written to some extent". His first book, A Million Versions of Right, was released in July 2009 by LegumeMan Books. The overwhelming majority of people who have read this book have admitted to doing so. His second book, The Tumours Made Me Interesting is scheduled for release by LegumeMan Books in late 2010.