Gone Lawn
a journal of literature
About This
How to Submit

Gone Lawn 20
Winter, 2016

Featured painting, Queen of Vision by Dean Reynolds.

New Works

Rebecca Hoffman

Something Somewhere Someday

It was an act of defiance, an act that no one had ever seen before. Jannine standing on a diving board overlooking a sixty-two story drop to the street, to black molten asphalt. She bobs at the edge admiring the rooftops below and the people walking around in the sea of cement and concrete below that. No one ever sees the top of things. No one ever sees how plain things look from above: just empty squares and rectangles of generic color. A muted definition of perfection. And beneath the perfect squares and scurrying between them are the people. People that move like ants in neon and pastel shirts and jeans. Waves of them. Waves upon waves of them. And here, above them, is Jannine in her red one-piece bathing suit and brown hair pulled back into a sleek bun. She is above them and only she sees how blue the sky really is.

The building is shimmering in the sun, but it shines brighter in the dark. It's patriotism erected. Capitalism fucking the sky. A free bald eagle trapped in the lights of the window that project it eternally onto the side of the building. Stores stand behind it. They scream into the day. They scream into the night. Buy me. Buy me. Buy me because you're free. Buy me. Buy me. Buy me because you're free. And the neon glow of stores shout open and they shout brands. They shout and they shout and the projection of freedom stands on the side of the building like a sham.

Jannine bends her knees and lets the board bounce beneath her. Buoyancy defined: the bounce between gravity, earth, and sky. She bends her knees and lets herself bob up and down in the blue quiet nowhere. She's above sound. She's above mediocrity and as a result she sees. She sees her skin and bones and lack of matter and knows what those below her don't: purpose, even if hers is only an act at least the act is truly hers. She's so high up above them she might be above the atmosphere. Air's thinner up there, thoughts clearer, illusions less spectacular. Jannine is beyond the shouting lights of freedom. She's caged in nothing. She's bouncing and preparing. She's planning to jump back down because the silence of clarity is a burden too heavy for just one artist to bear. So she'll fall, she'll jump, back down to earth. To freedom. To the shouts that pool below her. To the shouts that beacon her. To the eyes and cameras that eat her. Everyone is a Cyclops behind a solitary camera lens on their phone.

The fat citizens, the normal citizens, the little ones too. They pool behind their phones and behind their media. The streets are now full of water. The neon shirts and denim morph into bathing suits on overly pale skin. And the streets become water parks and the sidewalk full of concessions. And the wave pool is what used to be a parking lot and courtyard below a sixty-two story tall building. It's full of obese people in vomit green, artificial goldfish orange, lemon yellow, and Pepto Bismol pink inflatable tubes. It's vacation. It's a spectacle. It's a photographic moment. The kids try to hang onto the floats, but the obese adults take up the space. All the space. So the kids must learn to swim. They must or they must drown. A wave comes, but nowhere is there blue. A rise of white foam pushing through sweaty flesh and inflated plastic, but no blue. There is just flesh and urine and a slight rise and decent of skin and plastic. The kids are suffocating; trying to emerge from plastic, but there is no place for them to rise. There is no room. Their bubbles embarrass the obese adults who worry the other obese adults will think that the bubbles belong to their farts, which many of the bubbles do. Nowhere is there blue. Nowhere is there room. Not even for air. Not even for despair. And all the while they watch. They fart and they watch the red spot in the blue sky. The clear blue sky. So clear, so blue, so pure and full of air that they can only look at it through a lens.

Jannine bounces and she bounces. And her feet leave the board. She's flying. She's higher than all of them. All of them look. All of them see. It's an illusion of glass. They see a red spot in the mist of all the blue. They snap. They snap. They snap and click and shutter flutters count the seconds as they go by.

The butts, they are marching down the street now. They're wearing black heels and green and yellow bikinis. Their legs are long and tan. Their hips are squishy, but smaller than they ought to be. Not quite obese, but not quite skinny. An in between called normal, but normal doesn't exist in this world or plane. The stuff of dreams: normalcy: lacking in the extremes. The butts are all marching in the puddled streets and the children can't see their faces, but they're running after them: the butts. They are trying to see. But the children cannot see above the women's butts. The golden tan butts that peek out and hang out and fall out and are just inappropriately out of those green and yellow bikini bottoms. They're beautiful butts, but they're misleading. They're walking away, but walking together, leaving like the end of a parade, walking away, and turning their backs. The children will never see their faces or the parts on the butt's fronts. Instead the boys will want to touch them and the girls will want to own them and so the inflatable tubes continue lazily down the cement river watching the butts leave. It's the new spectacle. It's the newest demonstration. Lenses turn and ambition fades.

Somewhere else, sometime else: moose. Moose and a stream of water in green plains. Big giant brown beasts with horns. Gentle, calm, serene. Thick, smooth fur and velvet noses that expel white bursts of breath in the cold morning air. Graceful, beautiful, majestic. Kings before kings and a symbol before symbols were manipulative devices. The things of cartoons, but real. The air here is crisper than a potato chip. The sky is bluer. The grass is greener. Sometime else, somewhere else. Dreams of children.

Above them: the buildings, the obese, the butts, the children, Jannine is bending in the air. She's curved in the sky and she's looking down at the tubes floating in the streets and she's looking at the women walking around in string green and yellow bikinis. She's looking for the children, but the children can't be seen. She's looking for redemption, but redemption is a dream. She's diving down, but she's floating up. She's diving down, but she's floating up. She's never done a trick like this before. She's never thought that something that went up wouldn't come down, but she is. She's floating up. She's facing down, she's trying to dive back into the shouting below, into the cement, but she's floating. She's floating up. She's alone. She's a red speck in all the blue. In the unimaginable blue. She's an illusion trapped in someone's glass lens. She's performed the greatest trick the world has ever seen, but the world hasn't seen it.

Rebecca Hoffman is a Creative Writing MFA candidate at New Mexico State University. She is originally from Culver City, CA. If she had it her way she'd spend her life as a bookish beach bum pondering the existence of the horizon. Her fiction tends to be interested in the hyper real and exploring philosophical notions about existence and connection. She has had fiction featured in Ubiquitious and ACME, and has published articles with The New York Press, Our Town Downtown, Culver City News, Tolucan Times, and several other online blogs.