At first the darkness stuck to the corners, sometimes creeping along the wall, and I made an effort to keep my eyes fixed ahead. But then it was everywhere in the light, forcing me to my knees, and I embraced it, not knowing what else to do, and allowed it to lick my neck. What happened next was this: seeking companionship, I stayed put at my desk for several months. Most of this time was spent compiling a list of ingredients that I would need, as I had decided it was time to bake cookies. The rest was spent mailing letters to request specific items and waiting for my raw materials to arrive. Throughout the preparatory process and after, I proceeded with the utmost caution, never wavering, always being deliberate and precise. I filled up pages with detailed schematics and only paused when I needed to blink. Beneath my desk was a bucket of cornmeal and a scooper that I used for feeding. Everything was according to plan and nothing was left to chance.
One day a team of wagons arrived and paused at the edge of my lawn. I watched from the window with my face pressed up against the glass. They dropped off my supplies as instructed, then retreated in an orderly line, rolling across the bristleberry on giant churning wheels that wobbled from side to side, steam puffing up from their smokestacks. When the last wagon turned, raising a wooden wheel, then disappeared into the forest, I allowed myself to go to the bathroom. I evacuated my bowels and quietly slept for ten minutes. Then I got to work.
After I mixed the batter with my cookie paddle, I laid it on a slab and spanked it. Then I cooked them. Each cookie was the size of a frisbee, so it needed to be baked alone. As they cooled on the driveway, glowing in the dimming light, their consistency becoming like wood, I polished them with an oily rag, then stacked them on a dolly. I assigned them each a name. When they were at last ready, I rolled them into the living room and locked the door. I used a small hand drill to bore a perfect little hole through each one. This was according to plan and was proper. To make sure I consulted my diagrams. Several days passed during which I was confused, but at last I was ready. Carefully, gently, and with utter determination, I hung each cookie from the ceiling. The living room is the room that I live in, and these cookies were there to keep me company. I had made them for this purpose: to hang from strings and become my friends.
For the sake of communication, each cookie was installed with microchips, state of the art from California. I knew this because I had ordered them, and upon their arrival, spanked them with a paddle, lodging them into the batter. I had planned this. Once the cookies were hanging from their strings, we began to commune together. We shared our private philosophies, exchanging sentiments, and life was pretty sweet for a while. Communicating using the unbridled horsepower of microchips, we bravely made plans for the future. We accepted one another's counsel, never looking back, and expressed golden thoughts that were private and could not be questioned, always unique thoughts that were also original. These sparkling gems of notions soared above the ocean like honey buzzards, dripping with sweet nectar. They pointed toward a future filled with glowing friendship, and we shared them. But then something strange happened. The cookies began to lose their strength. Their very fiber began to degrade. I noticed it one morning when I sat up to open my eyes. For several months I had gotten into the habit of opening my eyes each morning, excited for an update, but on this particular morning, the eyes conveyed something negative. Blinking in the light of the morning sun, they sent back a negative report that made my head shake. It was my cookies. Their sad faces had begun to crumble.
When I first stood on a chair to hang my cookies, a broad smile painted widely on my face, some of them slipped from their strings. This had caused me to blush and my knees to go weak, throwing me from my chair. My face had glowed as red as my cookies. My plan had been exact, no room for error, and now I would have to rewrite it. I would have to leave room for shame. It was unfortunate, but these particular cookies were not sufficiently fortified and had fallen from their strings onto the floor. It was a source of consternation. I had not considered that the floor might serve as a second abode for my cookies, yet some of them would live there now. It was an oversight, I saw that, and I would have to rewrite my plans, never blinking, always being definite and precise. I did this, and I sat upright, my feet planted firmly on the floor, never going to the bathroom. Everything was at stake and I would have to be unyielding. Another oversight could not be permitted.
Once I had prepared my friends, I had originally planned to keep them in jars. This might sound surprising, but I had done research and discovered that jars are made from glass. I would therefore have the privilege of seeing each of my friends in glass cookie homes. At night, loading my mouth with cornmeal, I could keep my flashlight turned on and watch them. I would not feel very far away. I had planned to stack the jars around the room, but when I thought about my cookies all alone, each trapped inside his home like a science experiment, a rash broke out around my mouth. Feeling sick to the bone, I collapsed into a heap on the floor.
When my eyes opened, I watched the ceiling for several days. This was a moment of confusion during which I heard the rushing highway or river that flowed beneath my house, and at night I heard crickets. I imagined them in tiny cars or chirping along in canoes, happily waving paddles. One morning something leapt from the dark like a bloodhound, biting me on the nose. Apparently it was a solution of some kind. Panting as I rose to my feet, I decided that it would be much more joyous to keep my cookies right out in the open. There was the risk of impurities to think about, I knew this, exposure to infection and disease, but when I thought of my cookies happily swaying in unison on strings, I knew that it was worth it. I would simply have to be more determined, more meticulous than ever and vigilant, ever vigilant, and I would need to keep the room always safe: a safe haven free from bacteria where my cookies could swing in peace. I was wildly off schedule, so I turned on my flashlight and got right to work. I would need to rewrite my plans. Using the last remaining piece of graphite retrieved from the nub of my pencil, I did this, filling in the margins of my pages, which was necessary. Soon things were starting to go well for my cookies and me. We were making great strides toward the promise of a golden future. But then disaster reared its barking head. My cookies began to pull long faces and to listlessly hang from their strings. In the early morning light, they began to crumble.
Unable to sit through this ordeal, I decided to stand up and leave. With my head inside my own head, eyes pinched shut, I performed a silent drill in preparation. It involved sitting and standing and sometimes lying down, and during the standing portion, I stood by the door and waited, hoping to move beyond it. If I could just escape the living room, I was sure I could surpass this decay. I could build a bonfire that would rise to the heavens, and on top of it bake more cookies: big sturdy ones. Sparks might fall from the sky, putting each other out as they fell, and the cookies might turn bright red, spinning in place like flying saucers, but nobody would be to blame for this. They would think of them as shooting stars. Countries might drift into a landlock and push up doughy mountains, an impasse that would keep them at war, but the blame would fall squarely on the earth.
Beneath the cookie crust of the earth, the faults are already there. They are made by the pulsing core that beats at the molten center. Bodies are sucked together against their will, while others must remain apart. I figured that they could drift again. They could separate and find fresh air. I figured that I could build a bridge from my living room that would connect me to the world outside. Using simple tools from the garage, this bridge might span an ocean. I could walk across it. I could commune with other continents. I thought this.
Now rain has begun to fall because the center of the earth is cooling. Someone has another plan. The giant cookie is finally cooling so that God can hang our planet from the stars. So far I have made it to the garage, no further. I have brought back certain tools and arranged them. Soon I will dig in the carpet, hoping to find precious sludge, the final remains of my cookies. I plan to sort out the mystery of the carpet. The problem is that rainwater pours from the ceiling. I am up to my knees in it.
Cookies: by definition, deep red maroon friends who are always there by your side; delicate crust companions whose sole purpose is to hang from strings. Their tiny corpses now float like islands. I can nudge them along with my flashlight and hurry them through the dark, and out of sight they will collide and sink. They have crumbled. It was their nature. I have spent too much time on all this.
I thought that I could walk out the door, elbows
tucked in, my head tucked into my own head. I thought that I could leave
this place. I have allowed the room to fill with water and there is nothing
left to do but write on its surface with a stick. I have to rewrite my
plans. Water closes in for the kill, drowning any hope of memory. All my
cookies have sunk to the bottom. They have turned from bright red to dark
blue and can no longer be called my friends. Maybe when the earth finally
freezes over, my words will freeze in place in the ice. Why not call it
a plan. I might finally say goodbye to my living room.
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