Q: What should I do if no one asks me to Prom?
by Sam Leuenberger
A: I can tell you one thing. You shouldn’t mope around your mom’s duplex during Grand March and take pics of everything that’s precious and ephemeral, like the sunset or a chipmunk or a busted camp chair or galoshes filled with swamp water. The pics will last longer than the emptiness you feel inside of yourself thinking of all your peers, at Prom, having fun and getting laid. If it rains, and it will, because it does, it always does, lock the bathroom door and take pics of yourself modeling the black dress you wore to your cousin’s wedding last summer. It doesn’t fit anymore because you’re fat, but if you suck in your gut maybe nobody’ll really notice. Fill the bathtub. Light some candles. Picture all the boys in your Chem class who are on the track team, or in the band, that you’d like to murder and go down on. In that order. If such a thing were even possible. Splash in flickering darkness. Then rinse all the short brown hairs off your dad’s single blade razor. Yellow Bic. Stretch out your arms. Let your thoughts be untied. Little red ribbons, running down your wrists. Someone Instagram this shit. But first. Have you noticed. If you take a picture of ugliness, pain, suffering, or failure, nothing changes. Nothing is completed. Nothing resolved. Nothing erased. The picture, if it’s good, might make you feel, for a moment, as though all ugliness, pain, suffering, or failure is justified. Because one of the things that art does (even pseudo art)—or at least one of the things that art pretends to be able to do (even pseudo art)—is reify ugliness, pain, suffering, and failure; though, we know, in and of themselves, these things are without purpose, meaning, or value and benefit, in their ultimacy, not at all from reification. What art does, what art can do (even pseudo art), is suggest the perception of purpose, meaning, or value where purpose, meaning, and value do not exist. That is what we mean by reification. It is a comfort we are accustomed to in this age of information & entertainment to confuse a model for reality. To voyage for ages on the sea of a map. America, how many times must I tell you. It doesn’t matter that cameras did not exist during Bible times. Because even if a photograph or photographs existed of the risen Christ, all the Doubting Thomases of the world (you know who you are) would say the image is a hoax. Doctored. Photoshopped. I, for one, happen to know that such a photograph does exist. Only it is not quite a photograph, but an image captured by an early photographic process employing a cod-liver-sensitized silvered plate and sea salt vapor. The image was discovered in the breast pocket of a Qahtani street merchant who was trampled by horses, in the city of Shibam (Manhattan of the Desert) (City of Mud), while attempting to retrieve an ancient counterfeit gold coin that the merchant had nearly pawned to the wife of a Presbyterian minister from Rocky Grove, Pennsylvania, when, fatefully, the worthless coin slipped out of the merchant’s grasp and he stumbled out into the heavily trafficked street without looking and, fuck, lowered his head into the horses’ path.
About the Author:
Sam Leuenberger's fiction and poetry have appeared in The Collagist, Timber, The Gravity of the Thing, Fourth & Sycamore, Every Pigeon! and Glint. His story “Puzzle” was nominated for the Best of the Net 2017.
About Weekly Flash Prose and Prose Poetry:
CutBank Online features one work of flash prose or prose poetry every Monday. Submissions are free and open year-round. Send us your best work of 750 words or less at https://cutbank.submittable.com/submit.