Man! challenge in a can Man!





Sum Of Parts

He is Ben. He is Ben. He is Ben.
He is Ben. He is Ben. He is
Ben. He is. He is. Ben. He is Ben.
He is.

If he says the words long enough they become true. Incantations of immortality, pieces of freedom in a world that has never looked at him in anything but bewilderment. He is Ben.

They named him Ben.

He thinks that counts for something. He thinks: if he was alive enough to be born, if he was here enough to be put into one of those blue bassinets behind the Plexiglas, if he was true enough to hold and nurse and have a name, name to seal and bind it, then it has to count. The name makes it real.

(Ben was a real boy, once, who dreamed he was a butterfly, a great golden flier with wings like hawk's eyes and razors. Then the butterfly woke up--)

A dream is a wish your heart...

Ben. He is
Ben. He
He is Ben.

Lost time. Blackouts. It starts small. Skipped school, ran away, bad lazy unreliable. Where were you? We worried!

He read "Sybil" and wondered if he had a twin sister.
Mom said no.
But he wondered.

Who's the split? Who's the intruder? Who's the captive inside the jailer? Whose DNA writhes into foreign configurations of gender and inflection, which one the foreign state of mind?

He is Ben.

Ben thought he was bad. Ben thought he was sick. But the doctors never remembered poking inside his mind, their glazed-over eyes betraying more than boredom when he spoke of the stinging creature inside him. Ben thought he was very bad, to be able to do this without knowing how.

(She never disavowed him of that notion.)

If there were a pill, he'd take it. If there were a spell, he'd break it. If there were a cross heavy enough, he'd hold it up; he'd sear his own flesh first in a sea of holy water--

Bite our tongue, she whispers. All the holy is in me.

Bought a computer. The money was on the dresser. It had blood in it. He is Ben.

He types faster and faster, clickety-clack belying his seriousness as every word is weighed, every memory counted and filed away in a machine's body no more solid than his own. He doesn't remember how he first recognized her coming and can't recall the way he feels when he's gone. (merrily. merrily.)

He is Ben. He is. Is. To be. This is his stream to cross, and her life is but a dream.

This is the way we row our boat, she tells him. Yours. Mine. Hirs. We're different but it's really not my problem you're not separate.

He is Ben. He is Ben. He is Ben. He is Ben. He is Ben. He is
Ben. He is. He is. Ben. He is Ben.
He is

She doesn't

He is, is

He is swallowed.

She is hungry.

Ben. Serious. Computer.

Man! challenge in a can Man!