Gone Lawn
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Gone Lawn 35
Winter Solstice, 2019

New Works

Pat Foran

At the Super Elastic Bubble Plastic Commercial Shoot

We saw it at dusk on the first day of shooting for the Super Elastic Bubble Plastic commercial. Most of us saw it through a lens that was longer than lies to keep things close, to keep them true, the director told us.

We saw a hangman's noose, hovering in and out of the frame, above the head of the long-haired boy as he blew plastic bubbles from a tube.

Is a noose supposed to be in this scene? the prop stylist asked.

I'm supposed to shoot what's true, the director said.

Through the lens, we watched the long-haired boy read his lines. To make your bubble, gently blow through the straw's open end, he said. Blow too hard and the bubble will burst.

We saw the noose flit and float, then graze the boy's head, losing, it seemed, a bit of whatever sustained it. Stubbornly, the noose hung on, flirting with the boy's neck.

A balloon with a will to weather things, the gaffer said.

A wound that won't heal, like the moon, a stand-in said.

After leaving the set — Same time tomorrow, the director said — we saw the noose wherever we went, wherever we looked.

We saw it in our selfies, how it hovered like a halo.

We saw it at the movies, how it flickered when the projectionist switched reels.

We saw it when we closed our eyes, how it snuggled within the light show behind our lids.

We saw the noose again, through the lens, the next day, a lasso, looping above the long-haired boy's head.

This is about product placement, the hair stylist said.

It's what happens when light turns to dark or when dark turns to light, the director said.

Maybe it's what happens when you think you're getting closer to things and you see what's true and you fear it won't stay, or maybe that it will ... so you think about things that hang and hurt and bubble and burst, the boy said.

Through the lens, we thought we saw the noose wince, heard it harumph, felt it tighten.

Pat Foran is a writer in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. His work has appeared in Okay Donkey, Milk Candy Review, Little Fiction, Bad Pony and elsewhere. Tweets at @pdforan