The Leap

The Leap

A Story by Delmar Cooper
"

Short fiction akin to magical realism

"

                The Leap

 

 

More than all other senses the sense of smell is the master of memory.   Wax crayons are the first day of school, fried plantains are my mother.  But, sea smells, salt, a whiff of rotting fish, sun drawn sweat, these scents are the magicians that conjure back my father.

 

            I have such a sense of smell, such memories, because of my father.  “Why would anyone smoke?” he asked as he filled his lungs with sea air. I remember thinking I could see beneath his skin; actually watch as air invigorated his blood.

 

            Alone now, I stretch and take one more deep breath.

 

“Smoking?” My mother paused before answering, and as if reminded, lit a Marlboro from a carton one of her “visitors” brought all the way from Miami Beach.  “It keeps my weight down,” she exhaled.

She wasn’t fat, voluptuous maybe, but not fat, so I supposed it could be true.  That word, “voluptuous”, I learned later.  Then, to me at least, she was comfortable.  At that age I simply knew things, like knowing people and potatoes were solid all the way through. 

 My father never smoked, and no one was as thin as my father, thin with a beaky nose, bald headed, but otherwise covered with downy hair. More than anything else, my father resembled a newly hatched gull.

 

Now I run on the part of the beach where water washes sand into a satisfying hardness. Flecks of spray attend my feet, like wings on the heels of a god.  I pick up the pace.

 

“You have seen your father?  If you do tell him to give me some money.” 

“Too late”, I told her.  He was flying to Rio de Janeiro for carnival.

“Money for carnival, but no money for me,” she looked me over as if taking inventory of my bones, or calculating a ransom.   “Some man, your father.”

 

Some man, my father.  I run toward a distant speck, the long wooden pier jutting out to sea, towering over the water.

 

“No smoking,” he said, “no rich foods.  Eat little and run. Run every day.  Run at water’s edge, air is sweet and thick there.  Run across the wave tops if you can manage it.”  I no longer separate my father’s words from my own thoughts.

 

I see the pier clearly now, no fishermen.  The hotel men, the visitors, sleep late and put lines into the water only when the good fish are sleeping on the cool bottom.  Lazy sharks wait under the pier to suck the squid off a hook the way the hotel vacuum cleaners suck lint off the carpets. My mother worked in the hotel until the manager asked her to leave.

Boys in white jackets fetch drinks with little paper umbrellas from the cabana, drinks and cigars for the hotel men and fresh squid for the sharks, but the awnings are down and cover the cabana windows because no visitors pretend to fish today.

 

 It bothered me then that my father did not kill the visitors, those fat men who came down, smoking fat cigars, from the hotels to visit my voluptuous mother. Father, pure Del Norte, pure white snow, made me marvel that North Americans lived such cold bloodless lives.  I would have killed these men.  I relished the thought of killing them, but children can only dream of great accomplishments.

 

  Truly fat now, my mother no longer gets Marlboros and Kools by the carton from Miami. I like her better fat.  I forgive my father all his uncommitted sins.  I even forgive him for leaving me and flying away to carnival.

 

“Before you were conceived,” he said, “you were a spirit in the air, a notion in God’s head. One day you flew from me, and drifted like a milkweed seed into the sea that was your mother.  The sea is beautiful and the sea is barbarous, she will float you across or pull you under. You must get up, make yourself light, you must run fast and cast yourself again into the air. I will teach you all this before I go.”

 

 Running fast now, very fast, very light, perhaps not even leaving footprints.  I do not look back to see " never look back.

 

 “Do you have faith?” he asked as we ran together.

  All my breath was going into my legs, but I managed to gasp, “In the Virgin.”

“No, no,” he said.  “You must not put faith into something, and certainly not virginity.  Become faith itself.”

Every day I became lighter and faster, but I didn’t notice any improvement in my faith.

“Don’t worry,” he said. “It will come at once, like a thunderclap. Listen for the thunder.”

 

Off the hard beach now, up the dry sand of the dune, the soft sand does not slow me down, if anything, I go even faster. I can see the nail heads in the pier ramp now.

 

My father said, “Become the air itself as you run.  One moment of faith will send you flying into the very air, into yourself.”

 

I cannot feel the ramp, perhaps it is because the hot sand has burned bare soles into numbness, or maybe it is because I am finally running so fast that my feet don’t touch the boards.

 

“Remember what I’ve taught you.”  I could only nod as I tried to keep pace with him. 

“Run fast, run light, run close to the water, never look back, and never look down.”

Father stormed the ramp, and just where he had instructed, I stopped and waited until he disappeared at the end.  I looked up at the sky, but I knew he was flying close to the water where the air is sweet and thick. It is a long way to Rio de Janeiro - a long way to carnival.

 

Close, almost to the end of the pier now...  I do not know if this is the day I will hear the thunder, but when I hear it I will not look back, and I will not look down.

 

 

 

 

 


© 2014 Delmar Cooper



Author's Note

Delmar Cooper
I would like to get some feedback on this

My Review

Would you like to review this Story?
Login | Register




Featured Review

I found this story so exquisitely crafted that I couldn't dream of "reviewing" it. I could never do anything this good. I was incredulous, when reading it over and over, how very MUCH it said in so very few words. I read everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, and well-written things are a joy to me. This is so well-written I can't leave it alone, there's so much to see: the squalid setting for him versus the fine hotels for the fat gringos; this boy's utter lack of guidance and his crying need for it; his father's words of “wisdom” to justify his own lack of responsibility; his father denigrating the boy's meager faith (which his mother the w***e must surely upset) and trying to replace it with his own egotism; the boy's Hispanic machismo and longing for that very sort of justice for his mother; his wonder at his father for not carrying this justice out himself; his futile hope and anticipation for his father's arid “legacy” to come to him; his values actually becoming a duplicate of his father's (I no longer separate my father’s words from my own thoughts); his father's love for his own unattractive body and his mother's negligence of her own beauty and health; huge value observations smuggled in without judgment. I'm just getting started here.

It took me nearly a week to come up with any words that might describe this story and its power. I had been thinking of a friend who received a very high-quality diamond for her engagement ring. She aimed a laser into it and the entire room sparkled with thousands of bright tiny refractions: its light expanded exponentially. And that made me think of nuclear power, how it starts with just a small contained explosion, like your story.

Here's my “review”: nuclear Hemingway.

If you already had a Nobel prize this story would be taught in colleges as a good example of your sly, incisive style. It is a “true” piece of fiction, Hemingway's “true.” I can see this generating a whole lot of jealousy.

Posted 2 Months Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Delmar Cooper

2 Months Ago

I have always been baffled by poetry, not that I don't appreciate or understand the art, but that I.. read more



Reviews

I found this story so exquisitely crafted that I couldn't dream of "reviewing" it. I could never do anything this good. I was incredulous, when reading it over and over, how very MUCH it said in so very few words. I read everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, and well-written things are a joy to me. This is so well-written I can't leave it alone, there's so much to see: the squalid setting for him versus the fine hotels for the fat gringos; this boy's utter lack of guidance and his crying need for it; his father's words of “wisdom” to justify his own lack of responsibility; his father denigrating the boy's meager faith (which his mother the w***e must surely upset) and trying to replace it with his own egotism; the boy's Hispanic machismo and longing for that very sort of justice for his mother; his wonder at his father for not carrying this justice out himself; his futile hope and anticipation for his father's arid “legacy” to come to him; his values actually becoming a duplicate of his father's (I no longer separate my father’s words from my own thoughts); his father's love for his own unattractive body and his mother's negligence of her own beauty and health; huge value observations smuggled in without judgment. I'm just getting started here.

It took me nearly a week to come up with any words that might describe this story and its power. I had been thinking of a friend who received a very high-quality diamond for her engagement ring. She aimed a laser into it and the entire room sparkled with thousands of bright tiny refractions: its light expanded exponentially. And that made me think of nuclear power, how it starts with just a small contained explosion, like your story.

Here's my “review”: nuclear Hemingway.

If you already had a Nobel prize this story would be taught in colleges as a good example of your sly, incisive style. It is a “true” piece of fiction, Hemingway's “true.” I can see this generating a whole lot of jealousy.

Posted 2 Months Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Delmar Cooper

2 Months Ago

I have always been baffled by poetry, not that I don't appreciate or understand the art, but that I.. read more

“Before you were conceived,” he said, “you were a spirit in the air, a notion in God’s head. One day you flew from me, and drifted like a milkweed seed into the sea that was your mother. The sea is beautiful and the sea is barbarous, she will float you across or pull you under. You must get up, make yourself light, you must run fast and cast yourself again into the air. I will teach you all this before I go.”

This is beautiful. I really enjoyed reading your words and some sort of nostalgia came out of them and escorted me as I did, like a nice walk on a pier with a smell of salt in the air.
Thank you for that.

Posted 9 Months Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Delmar Cooper

9 Months Ago

Thanks for your comment. That paragraph came on the umpty-umpth rewrite and it still isn't exactly r.. read more
Loved it. Amazing. Great. Thoroughly captivating. =] no suggestions for improvement. perfect.

Posted 9 Months Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Has this been published in print? It should be. No, I'm not flattering you, Delmar. This was masterfully written. The metaphors, the imagery; I grew up in the by the beach so it really struck home for me. The family dynamic here (if I got it right) was... tragically moving. I am half American and even as a kid, I felt like "North Americans lived such cold bloodless lives. "
I'm not a critic or expert but if I read this in The New Yorker or The Atlantic, I would know it belonged there.

Posted 2 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Delmar Cooper

2 Years Ago

Thanks for the praise, my hat no longer fits. This one has had the most adverse criticism of anyth.. read more
I've sat with morning's first cup o'joe, reading this dreamlike story while shaking off the cobwebs and last vestiges of my own dreams. Like ham and eggs, they were happy partners. Being someone with a very keen sense of smell, your words about their relations with memories ring very true. The setting you chose is not only rife with distinctive smells, but of sights and sounds, too. I tried to imagine where it might be--Cuba? Puerto Rico? Florida? I guess it doesn't matter, for it was perfect for the story. I like this a lot, Delmar.

Posted 2 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Delmar Cooper

2 Years Ago

Thanks for reading and your review, much appreciated.
This was a very lovely read. It's light, playful writing contrasted with the darker themes underneath; and all with a poetic touch of imagery.

Posted 2 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Delmar Cooper

2 Years Ago

sorry to be so long in thanking you for reading mea culpa
Delmar,to me this piece is enigmatic in a very positive way. I love its pace and its poetic images. There is an underlying sadness and tension, which is not entirely resolved (which is a good thing). I also love the point of view and starting from memory is triggered by smells. Soooo true. Black pepper is my grandmother. Cigarette smoke is both of my parents. In the story, though, you abandon olfactory images after the first half and move to tactile images. I think there are opportunities to carry more of the olfactory along the story line, such as when he says, "I knew he was flying close to the water where the air is sweet and thick." Since the beginning of the story makes such a point of the olfactory being the gateway to memory, it might be more powerful to sustain it a little longer in a subtle way. The one line that I found a little jarring was the editorializing in, " made me marvel that North Americans lived such cold bloodless lives." I think you could simply delete that and at least for me, it would be implied and more powerful. I hope you don't mind my sharing these opinions -- they're only that and given by someone who admires your talents -- no, I should say envies it! As always, I love your work.

Posted 2 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

This felt like a short film.
A totally captivating and Inspirational piece.

Posted 2 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Delmar Cooper

2 Years Ago

Thank you so much. I don't know about inspiration, but I hope the captivity was pleasant.
Matching Socks

2 Years Ago

Captivity is always pleasant if the company is good.
a mesmerizing piece, Delmar. I'm no critic so I don't know anything about "trapped in limbo" but I certainly enjoyed the read tremendously. I particularly like the way the story's interspersed with the bits in italics. that's something I'll need to try.

Posted 2 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Delmar Cooper

2 Years Ago

Thanks Woody I intended the italics to represent memory.
Woody

2 Years Ago

I got that Delmar. it's a technique I've never tried.
Very, very interesting storyline. Well done.

Posted 4 Years Ago


Delmar Cooper

4 Years Ago

Thanks good luck with your project.

First Page first
Previous Page prev
1
Request Read Request
Add to Library My Library
Subscribe Subscribe


Stats

960 Views
13 Reviews
Rating
Added on February 23, 2014
Last Updated on March 7, 2014

Author

Delmar Cooper
Delmar Cooper

Trussville, AL



About
I write- a little. I don't write to reinvent the wheel, or discover fire. I just drag along from sentence to sentence hoping for a spark. more..

Writing

Related Writing

People who liked this story also liked..