DM Kerr 72

D M Kerr

What is your other name?

Each time the gray-haired man at the podium speaks, his words flash electric through the room. When he laughs, wires bristle; our souls quiver. I no longer want to know the words. I want to know the wires.

They lie strung between linen-clothed tables, the wires, below the ballroom carpet. They curl like vines around the clear goblets of wine. They come from us as well as him, I see. We laugh and smile and clink our silverware against the china of our plates; we flash electricity in every direction.

You have not seen, I say to the woman beside me, but by that I mean: You see but you won’t admit.

There’s a woman over there wearing a blue dress, she says; by that she means: I have not lowered my eyes to you.

There must be a wire between us, the woman and me, beneath the floor between our chairs. I cannot find it.

So I say, I, also, have seen the woman wearing a blue dress, even though I am telling her I have not.

The gray-haired man speaks a single word, dark and dangerous. With a chime much louder than a bell of wine, it vibrates through every one of his wires. People bump each other in their haste to deny.

What is your other name? I ask the woman beside me. I have asked her several times already; each time she has told me differently. Not one of them connects to any wire.

She tells me her other name. I smile, and place it on the table, between the bells of wine, among the others. She smiles. Her smile means less than mine. The name wilts and crumples on the white linen.

Sad, I say, to no one at the table, to know how much power travels through these lines to feed vacant smiles. So much more beneath than is above.

You want to know the wires, says the woman on the other side, but you won’t dance.

Then she asks my other name.

D M Kerr is the writing name of a Canadian writer currently living and working in Singapore, where he teaches game design and programming. His work has recently been published recently in PorridgeIdeate Review and Synaeresis. He has other names.