m a t t    r i t t e n h o u s e

The World That You Find Yourself A Part Of


Youíre there ironing a shirt for your boyfriend. Heís got a job interview the next day and this is one of the small ways that you can show your love for him, so youíre there ironing his shirt but you donít even really know if he wants the thing ironed youíre thinking: Should I be doing this? Will he even notice that I did this? And then the lights dim as if someone has walked in front of them. Youíre at the end of a hallway, the room youíre in, and the lights dim and then they dim more and down the hallway thereís a whale, mouth open tilting and pulling into its stomach everything in its way. The air hasnít turned to water and your lungs are not being poured into by the weight of its miles above you, but there is suddenly a whale crashing its way around.

The door frames are blown out by its bulk suddenly between them and itís trying to move its body in the same manner that it would in the ocean, with the water around it holding it up in a way that up here in your house the air doesnít hold anything up.

Thereís a bookcase with pictures of you and your boyfriend on it-at your birthday, driving go karts- there are the books in the bookcase, thereís the backpack you just bought to hold your books because youíre going to go to college to become a nurse finally, these things, are crushed and strewn about in pieces.

Itís struggling in its new solid confines, the world suddenly unknowable and strange.

Guessing by the wide look in its giant-in-your-home eyes it's just as surprised as you to find itself here. Your things are draped about its fins: clothes and sticks of broken furniture, the sheets of the bed. Things are caught in and trail from its flexible whale teeth. It cracks its body in instant panicked movements that push through the walls.

Thereís more crashing and shaking below you and when the whale at the end of the hallway stops struggling to take its hollow giant breaths downstairs you can hear the windows struck and the cabinets with dishes falling from the struggles of another. As if these two whales were just moments ago swimming together in their careless ĎI know youíre right there and will be for some time because there is so much ocean around us and unless we really try weíre not going to lose each otherí way, and the next thing that happens is that all of that water is replaced by all of these solid walls and bright lights and another creature so much smaller than them.

Thereís a whale trying to swim down the hallway at you, there ironing. Your boyfriend who you know you love but know doesnít love you isnít there to tell you whether or not itís actually a whale thatís scraping against the walls, its tail wedged in strange angles, or something else entirely.

Youíre in the situation and thereís nothing you can do, really. You canít airlift them out and you canít make your place an ocean. Eventually they wonít drown in an opposite way to the way that you would drown, but their organs will crush and their blood will pool. Theyíll stop panicking in the way that animals do when their energy gives out, just a big movement now and again, but slowing until you can feel all of that terror move to inside of them somewhere, compressed and then gone when they give up, sure that as much as theyíd like to be in the water moving with grace, calling out in their haunting way to friends and lovers, they are not, and their ability to imagine the geometry that would move them into the world that they desire is too limited to effect their position in your house, with you there ironing at the end of the hallway hearing the joists crack and the floor crush.



MATT RITTENHOUSE lives in Manchester, NH, for the time being, with one to two dogs depending on the week. He has had some fiction published elsewhere in elimae, Quick Fiction and Madswirl but is nil on the book front.

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