Fiction Fix 12

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Fiction Fix

The Wheel in the Sky by Jon Pearson

It was Sunday when Harold came running down the path, a coolish Sunday with birds. Desire filled his legs like seed corn crawling with ants. “Tombo! Tombo!” he yelled, and it was like lassoing something from out of the sky. His head was full of boy, full of scream. He felt headless, and headless, he could see for miles. It was Sunday, and the angels that he imagined smelling like bath soap were in the trees. “Tombo!”…Oh well. He stopped yelling. And stood there. His mouth felt like the inside of a pumpkin. The dirt in front of him looked lazy. He remembered once seeing a potato bug in the dirt. He had jumped into the air then and run into the house for his mother, but his mother was not there and he threw himself face down on the sofa to get the potato bug out of his head but couldn’t. The ugly thing was right there in his head, kicking its legs. And it broke the day in half like a plate. There was the day before the potato bug and the day after it, which was a whole different day. Anyway, that was a while ago, and it was enough now to just stand there in the sun. He suddenly wondered what people who were forty years old did. He imagined them lifting boxes and stacking them. Everyone at forty got a job stacking boxes was his thought, which made him not want to get past ten years old, ever. Somewhere on earth, people must eat potato bugs. He learned that from his mother. Or he thought of it, thinking of his mother. She would say, “A potato bug has its place in the world.” She never actually said that, but she would say that, if she were still alive. She would say something like that, and then Harold would secretly see a pygmy in a jungle putting a potato bug in his mouth. He was always doing that—his mother would say one thing and he would secretly see something else. It wasn’t like he had a “mind of his own”—more like he had minds and heads that weren’t even his. His mother told him it was a gift and she would rub his head, and her big, warm hand (when he closed his eyes) made his mother feel like a hat. His mother would probably say that thing about the potato bugs in an apron at the stove with her arms folded and a pancake flipper in her hand and looking right at him. It wasn’t that she had eyes in the back of her head. It wasn’t that when she left a room she would still fill it. It wasn’t like remembering her painting all those red apples on his toy box. It was like, with-