Gone Lawn
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Gone Lawn 48
spring equinox, 2023

Featured artwork, Elephant 1, by Neila Mezynski

New Works

Shome Dasgupta

Peanut Butter

It's not so much the sound of the skin tearing or the blood leaking, which, to be honest, reminds me of the time my faucet needed to be tightened, or the developing arthritis in my wrist in freezing air—I don't mind that much at all—it's in fact an unexpected pleasure flanking the main task.
This is all so pitiful and pathetic, I know.
You know, my friends always tell me that I'm so rational and methodical, and that seldom am I controlled by emotions—what is your passion, they'd ask me, and I can never really gather the courage to tell them, truly, what I love most—that which controls my life more than any other logical way of thinking that I display as a cover.
I think what bothers me the most is the shrieking—I believe it's futile and ruins the experience. It all seems trivial—the begging, the pleading and crying. I wonder what would make one think that I would actually stop. It has happened before, it's happening now, and I'm sure it'll happen again—maybe in regards to my precious smoked salmon and cheese sandwich, with a touch of horseradish.
Penguins. That's the answer I tell my friends—and it's true, I do love penguins, and that's the reason why I'm here, now. For six months—so much research has been gathered, and I'm so proud of my colleagues, and even myself. We head back home in two days which is perfect because it gives me just enough time to wrap up and pack. I'll make sure to bring more peanut butter next time. Those lovely birds—they are a wonder, so intricate and complex. They're nothing like my friends or anyone else I know. I feel like there's a special connection between us—penguins and me. We understand one another. We respect one another. Oh yes, the cold air is refreshing, like pristine water splashed against the face.
It's so pretty—to see blood on ice. The contrast, in itself, is striking, beautiful, and it makes me think of eating candy as a child at home with my parents—I find such delight in both. To see the red travel against the pure white, it's like watching a painting being created, from the stroke of a brush upon canvas. At times, it looks like red lightning against a shining world. Once, I remember thinking how it reminded me of the way raspberry syrup falls upon a scoop of vanilla ice cream in a waffle cone. Bit by bit, the world becomes clearer—it makes more sense, and this is when I feel my sanity at its best.
I look forward to going back home, though, to catch up with my friends and to see what they've been up to—who know, maybe if they ask me again, I'll be more upfront with my thoughts, and I'll go beyond my passion of penguins, to let them a bit more about myself, and how I love to see the way the skin splits open upon the gentle touch of an iced blade and how blood drifts like clouds on snow and ice—I would like to tell them one day, that more than anything else, I am most passionate about revenge. I wonder how they would respond. Would they understand? Would they shun me? No matter, I'm accustomed to being ignored. It's only penguins who truly care for me. Love me. Accept me.
Oh. He's still alive, isn't he—the shouting and screaming, please stop, Ben. It's quite unbecoming, to be honest. Have some dignity, good friend—no one wants to see you like this. I regard you as such a calm, respectable colleague—we went through so much together, and I do feel a bit sad about all of this. You are so tenacious, though—I appreciate that, and I love the way the cuts look on your skin, a tiger indeed. I thought you'd be done by now, especially with the amount of blood trickling out from all over your body. Hold steady, good sir—you're making this a bit more difficult than it actually should be.
"What's that, Ben?"
It feels nice to have a conversation with my longtime friend—considering the situation, it's quite cordial. It is a bit hard to understand him, though, but I find that seeing his breath in puffs of condensation is quite beautiful. Poetic. The harmony of stabbing a colleague and friend in frozen air, with penguins afar, there is nothing that can surpass that feeling—that feeling of belonging. It's so romantic.
"Yes, yes—I will certainly send Darla and the kids your love. They'll be sad, and they'll miss you—they're such kind and loving people. I'll drop by from time to time, too. Maybe we'll get some pizza and catch up and express our fond memories of you."
It's a pretty day, indeed—I wish he'd stop shouting, though. Only I and perhaps a few birds can hear. Such a soothing sound, in contrast; however, thud upon thud against the flesh—a lovely surface the back serves for such an endeavor. I didn't know he was so muscular, though. To feel the tendons through the blade, the tugging, the push and pull—it's all so pleasurable.
"I'll be wrapping it up, soon, Ben—just hold on. Can you see the blood against the ice?"
I guess I never really thought about it before, but snow makes for a great cloth to wipe the red off from a blade. Friction is key. Just a few more stabs, Ben, and you'll be okay—the neck and chest should do it though it's a bit tough turning you over. Let's see—there we go. Oh so lovely to see your face, and I don't think I've ever seen you without your glasses. Here. Much better.
Oh Ben—it's quite simple.
"You ate my last peanut butter sandwich, sweet friend."
Take care.

Shome Dasgupta is the author of ten books, including The Seagull And The Urn (HarperCollins India), I am here and you are gone (Winner Of The 2010 OW Press Contest), Anklet and Other Stories (Golden Antelope Press), Spectacles (Word West Press) and a poetry collection, Iron Oxide (Assure Press). Forthcoming novels include Cirrus Stratus (Spuyten Duyvil), Tentacles Numbing (Thirty West Publishing House), and The Muu-Antiques (Malarkey Books). His fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction have appeared in McSweeney's Internet Tendency, Hobart, New Orleans Review, X-R-A-Y, New Delta Review, Arkansas Review, American Book Review, Magma Poetry and elsewhere. He is the series editor of the Wigleaf Top 50. He lives in Lafayette, LA and can be found at www.shomedome.com and @laughingyeti.