Yesterday morning nothing went right. Even the freebie trainrides for “Spare the Air Days” here in California worked to my disadvantage. Still, onward and upward, right? This wouldn’t be the first time that el mundo malo was fucking with the god of biscuits, and by now I can recognize when I’m in it, and what to do about it: nothing. Don’t force it, don’t tempt it. Don’t attempt to beat it into submission or to run away from it. Live it, focus, be wary and don’t forget to breathe as you trudge up the acclivitous path back into el mundo bueno. It’s simple, but not easy.
I barely missed the Baby Bullet train and so I hopped on the next one. That next one was a local train only so far down the peninsula, so I had to stop at Redwood City and wait for the next train. This is where the world started to seriously go pear-shaped.
I had tunnel vision—something I’d never had before, yet I knew what it was when it hit. Then the sunlight shot daggers through my eyeballs and into my head, like one of those Popeil’s In-the-Egg Scramblers. (Can I similize or what?) (Oh, and I can also fabricate words as I go—English isn’t perfect and I’m merely adding to its perfection).
The left side of my head hurt in particular, behind the left eyeball and towards my left ear. I couldn’t escape from any of it. Is this how a vampire feels? Oh, probably.
I pulled my cap down over my face and got almost instant relief when there was far less light. I got into work a bit later than usual, and left early because even with the monitors turned down to their lowest light level and with my office light off, the blinds mostly drawn and my door closed entirely, there was still too much light. Unbelievable. And I thought the rib pain was inescapable.
Anyway, I was standing there waiting for the next train in Redwood City. I walked up to the tracks and looked North for a train that was already five minutes late. No train, but there was that stab of forlornness, of longing I suppose, of fear and distance, the vacuum of suddenly too much scope.
This is not something germane to el mundo malo. From when I was a young child and the old railroad tracks—which by then were nothing more than a flat, partially cleared path through woodlands—would impart the same sense of too much distance. Follow the empty rails to the vanishing point. The Vanishing Point. That’s a term used in perspectives studies in drawing: the point at the horizon at which everything vanishes. It’s a disturbing term, and that same disturbance hit me when I looked up towards the City and found nothing but empty tracks.
Maybe it was something that I could have dismissed more easily had 90% of my world not been occupied with a giant “Ow!” Perhaps it could have been forgotten had I not seen an article in the Register UK about Harriet, the Tortoise, long believed to have been invited to join Charles Darwin’s voyage some 176 years ago.
Imagine a being that age. Imagine what has transpired in the world since.
The article gave me the same pangs of tide and time that the empty rails did—an accelerated and assisted path directly to a distant, vanishing point that I wasn’t ready for.
Now, after spending all of yesterday evening in the dark and falling asleep very early and then awaking in fits and starts all night long until 7:30 this morning, the headache is gone for the most part. My photophobia has faded down to “Bright light!” and a bit of wincing. Sounds are no longer painful and the spiky pain on the left side of my head is disappeared.
But Harriet, the Tortoise is dead and the train rails are not empty so long as I am in this traincar. And still, hints of dread rise up in me when I consider the distances.
el mundo bueno
el mundo malo
god of biscuits
harriet the tortoise