He lay in bed quietly, not daring to move, holding his arms and legs and breathing as still as they could be held, waiting, not sure for what. The room had darkened, but was not too dark for him to see the outlines of the furniture, the central light fixture, the door slightly ajar, the slippers on the floor next to his desk. He could hear the slow ticking of the windup clock on his dresser but could no longer see the hands that marked the hour and minute. His heart beat along with the seconds, and the emptiness between beats stretched longer and longer even though he knew time could not be stretched.

Without realizing that he was drifting into sleep, the boy felt his body move, swinging back and forth on an axis through his navel. The movement dizzied him, but he enjoyed the speed, a whipping sensation as if he sat at the rear of a roaring roller coaster. He willed himself to spin entirely around, faster with each revolution. He was conscious that he still lay in his bed, but the part of his brain pursuing the thrill of movement cared not. Then, inevitably, his body slowed and he grew sad, sorry to be brought back to stillness. He opened his eyes to find the room pitch black, but could still hear the seconds.


Bruce Berger

Bruce J. Berger is an MFA candidate at American University in Washington, DC. His work appears in Wilderness House Literary Review, Prole, Jersey Devil Press Anthology, Black Magnolias, and a variety of other literary journals.


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