He’d Point to Andromeda

by | December 2020 B (Day 1)

I could only see him while recording videos. I’d sit across from an empty chair and then I’d hit the record button and suddenly he was there, through the screen. We’d skip the small talk and get right into the important matter of calculating how long it would take to drive around the circumference of the earth, assuming no stops and a steady speed of 60 miles per hour. He’d pull out a 4-color ballpoint pen out of his shirt pocket and diagram a few things on a napkin and soon we’d be driving down some highway in South America in a convertible with the red ink paint job. It’d be night and there’d be a sickle moon and lots of stars. We’d locate the big dipper and then the small one. He’d pull out a binder and flip to a map of the constellations. He’d point to Andromeda. I’d inevitably bring up blackholes and what actually would happen to your body if you fell into one. Wondering about stuff. The trip around the world would pass this, small truths would reveal themselves to our inquiries like infrared light through a camera lens.

9 Comments

  1. Bud Smith

    this is amazing: “We’d skip the small talk and get right into the important matter of calculating how long it would take to drive around the circumference of the earth, assuming no stops and a steady speed of 60 miles per hour.”

    • Bud Smith

      so is this line: “It’d be night and there’d be a sickle moon and lots of stars.”

      • Bud Smith

        I like this piece a lot, only being able to see an imaginary friend or a muse, while making art, or at the very least documenting reality through some kind of recording device. That is a very powerful statement about how we are never really present unless we are creating because through our creation we are forced to examine what it means to be breathing and walking and living and through our creation or reinvention we might see ourselves in a new bold and empowered light, as someone who would venture out and do something ridiculous like drive around the circumference of the earth. Marvelous. I don’t have many suggestions for this other than what happens when the person has to shut off the camera, who are they and what do they feel in the lacking and the sorrow of having to be become a consumer or a worker who cannot be a dreamer. That might be an interesting juxtaposition. We want to drive the circumference of the earth with our muse but instead we have to go work at Taco Bell with the people who drain our souls. Eek.

  2. Jack O'Connell

    I liked how it begins through a video, a screen, a camera lens. And that contrasted with being together in a convertible. I might make that place even more specific than “South America” and keep going further into the difference between being with someone through screens vs. being next to them in a place or moving with them in a car. This is definitely a story about “space”

  3. Benjamin Niespodziany

    “It’d be night and there’d be a sickle moon and lots of stars.” This is great. I love being thrown from ghost/mystery screen figure to convertible in South America staring at stars. I’d like to see a bit more of that first session, how he looked through the screen, maybe what he was wearing. Is it an imaginary friend? Is it a friend who has passed? Love the flip to nighttime stargazing in a convertible. That’s the (South) American dream right there.

  4. Saxon Baird

    Dreammmmmyyyyy….so relatable, Ben. Especially after the last year, when, at times, just walking down the street and doing something banal like going to the store for groceries is difficult and slightly risky. And who doesn’t love staring at stars and the moon. And here’s the cool thing: The whole Earth sees the same moon phase on the same day, the only difference is its orientation depending if you are in the north or Southern Hemisphere. The point is, I always see the moon and the sky as something that connects great distances. I can text “full moon” to my mom across the country and all she needs to do is look up and she sees it and we’re both staring at the same thing. Or I dated someone long distance once, across continents, and we would often comment on the moon as a way to bridge that distance.

    My only actionable comment is maybe a smoothing out of the beginning. I just caught myself re-reading the first sentence or two a few times trying to understand it…a recording of a recording? Maybe others didn’t have this issue but it tripped me up and I thought that an easier entry would get us, like a car hitting an empty highway maybe?, into the good stuff quicker.

  5. Silas Reeves

    Really dig this! The narrator’s other person fascinates me, are they a ghost, a memory, a being from somewhere/sometime else? Lots of potential for the relationship between them and the narrator. And it’s not necessary to enjoy this story, the journey from the beginning passages to the latter sections feels dreamlike and has a nice sense of action, the contrast of the narrator and the other person is interesting too, how the narrator wonders in logical and also surreal terms and then their counterpart goes right into solving the puzzle and then both are exploring together. Powerful.

  6. Anna V

    Very immersive. I got lost in this immediately, and almost forgot that it was all happening in the context of recording a video. I’d love to know more about their relationship or what the narrator would like of their relationship.

    I think it would also be fun to dive further into this bit: “I’d inevitably bring up blackholes and what actually would happen to your body if you fell into one.” Like…what do they think would happen? Maybe they disagree on the finer details of getting sucked into an event horizon.

  7. Bill Merklee

    This is beautiful. I’m intrigued by the 4-color pen and where the other three colors will take the narrator. It feels like they’re trying to overcome distance, pointing to Andromeda and speculating about black holes. There’s a longing in the narrator that might be illustrated earlier in the piece, to know what he was seeking when he stumbled upon this connection.

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