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Matthew Burnside

¤ CLOCKWORK MELANCHOLIES ¤

One day The Boy awoke to find a colony of sadness living inside him, but he had no idea how to get it out of him. He thought he might sing it out first, so he went into the sewers where no one could judge his absence of melody and sang into the stagnant water. To his dismay, he watched in the reflection as his clockwork melancholies multiplied, rushing to the back of his throat like a stream of ghosts with every trill of breath. Jangly little creatures forged of junk, spindly wires, broken circuit boards and scrap metal. Corrugated rot of dreams. Next, he thought he might coax them out with a scream. So he found a windmill in the middle of nothing and nowhere, scaled it, and howled until his lungs were bruised but a breeze flung them back, and the nano creatures went surging even deeper into the broken spaces within, making the glitch even stronger. Finally, he gave up, bidding welcome to the eternal tenants in his bloodstream. One day, while kissing a lovely host with a colony of sadness inside him too, the two colonies fused together somehow. They canceled each other out perfectly, like two moons absorbing the force of each other’s midnight, and lived happily ever after.

*In another version, The Boy manages to cut them out with a scalpel. They stay out, but

only because everything else stays out too. Eventually The Boy feels nothing, numb as the silence stitched into a bell missing its ringer.

**In yet another version, he is able to laugh them out momentarily. But they always find their way back to him at night.

***In the last revision, The Boy cannot bear to abandon his precious colony. So he has the colony taxidermied. Brushes its scruff, placing pretty bows along it clots and tufts,

worshipping the disentangability of its knots for the rest of his days.

 

Matthew Burnside is the author of Postludes (KERNPUNKT), Rules to Win the Game (Spuyten Duyvil), & the serial hypernovel Dear Wolfmother (Heavy Feather Review).

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