Week 16 of Syntax Sundays: David Eatock

This chilling piece by the Continuist’s own David Eatock captures a sense of fear and perspective with its intertwining stories and the peculiar, dystopian reactions of its characters. The prose is simple with a child-like frivolity and the enjambment is fragmentary, amplifying the contents’ horror and satire. The use of sensual language mingled with grotesque and dark imagery, as well as the contrast of settings gives his work a unique and powerful tension.


Chelsea took me to the other side of
town after school on Thursday and she
told me I would be excited to see this
that I would tell my kids about it, that
I wouldn’t ever forget it

chunky black tar was dripping from our telephone
wires, Chelsea told me, and she smiled and
laughed and said it felt good all over
her skin

Chelsea told me to watch her
take a shower under the goop
from our weeping wires and after that
she looked like a smiling, molten

the next day at school was Friday
and a student brought Mr. Stephenson a shiny red apple
he smiled and told us it reminded him of
something from his past

so he told our class the story of his
grandmother’s orchard in Sweden
where he had spent his summers as a young boy
tending to plants with his cousin Lydia
a kind girl and a good worker
who had become so deeply inflicted with loneliness
that on each and every night she would retreat into the woods
and bang her hands against tree trunks
until her palms turned purple, until blood crept out from beneath
her fingernails and she collapsed

Lydia would fall asleep in the forest and dream of vines
coiling around her and caressing her, they whispered in her ears
that they would be her friends, that the withered boughs of
trees would find solace in her body
and then the vines would compress around her ribs while the boughs would
slither through her ears and into her head like the
slimy fingers of a corpse
at daybreak the whole family would go out to find Lydia
and when they did she would greet them with a wave
she would tell them all that she was A-okay
that she must have wandered off in her sleep
that she had no idea how she had gotten there
and then she would return to working on the plants

        The End!

we loved his story so very much
we skipped through the aisles of desks with glee
but Chelsea came to class and we all turned to stone
she was covered in tar and laughing like a banshee

she sat down with a smile
before vomiting on her desk
which made Mr. Stephenson giggle and we all threw
paper balls and garbage at her so she ran from
the classroom, but before leaving she told me
she wasn’t black enough

I found her on the other side of town beneath
the wires holding her baby sister close
and they were all black from the tar
with their open mouths full of gunk
and Chelsea took off all of her clothes
saying she hoped the tar would seep into her skin
and never leave her

Chelsea is like the boogeyman now
and we all think that is funny


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