I Fart Words
For the last year, my farts have been speaking to me, and as you might expect, they are a bit crude. At first, it was snide comments, like, “You shouldn’t have drunk that latte, you lactose intolerant bastard.” But then, they started giving me more advice about how to live: “You need a job that pays enough to save for retirement,” or, “Do you really need to buy those pants? You already have a pair of grey slacks.” of course, I try my best to hold my farts in, especially in public. I’m sure people notice the low growly voice coming from my posterior. But then my farts yell at me, angry at my attempts to silence them. I used to try not to listen; who wants advice from their farts? But I have to admit, that they are generally right about everything. Recently, I’ve been eating more gas-producing foods so I can consult with my farts about a variety of topics. It seems my farts always have an opinion, and I value their insight.
We have a lot of family stories about me. The top five are: The time when I was two years old and I locked myself in the car, released the emergency break and rolled down the hill toward a cliff, only to be stopped by a fire hydrant; the time when I was 19 and I wondered in to the wrong house by mistake, since they all looked the same in my neighborhood, and I made coffee before I realized I was in a stranger’s home; the time when I was 22 that I hitchhiked around Europe and was drugged and had my passport stolen; the time when I was 30 and parked at work, walked home and when I didn’t see the car in the driveway reported it to the police as stolen; and the time when I was 41 and I accidentally crossed a police line at a right wing protest and even though I was there protesting against the right wingers, I was swept up with them and spent the day in jail among them.
These stories get repeated at every family gathering, without exception. Last week, on my way back home for a family reunion, I was in an airport with some time to kill. I walked in to a bookstore and picked up a book for the flight. When we reached 10,000 feet, I flipped through the pages. There was the story of the toddler driving the car. That’s funny, I thought; I wonder how many people have done that. I kept reading. All of my stories were incorporated into the novel: walking into the wrong house, being arrested by accident with protesters… every story that defines who I am in my family. All I could hear was my heart pounding. My hands were wet with sweat. The book even included minor stories from my life that we had stopped talking about in my family. I looked at the original publishing date – it was 1939. I left it on the seat of the plane. But now I know I don’t exist, and that’s a hard feeling to shake.
Whenever I see people, I see how they are going to die. I see them getting hit by cars, or dying slowly in a hospital… I see how old they look, how much pain they are in, whether or not they are alone. Growing up, this vision of mine made it difficult to make connections to people. And I would often tear up, especially when people seemed happy and full of life, because I could see their demise. As I grew older, I began to see the death of the entire planet, swallowed up by the raging heat of an expanding sun. Everything seemed pointless, both the small and the large; it was all scheduled to end.
Whenever I see someone’s death, I also see myself watching them die – I’m in literally every death scene, and I always look exactly the same. The only death I can’t see is my own, because I am death.
Aster, a science fiction story idea: