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Transalphabetical

by Carissa Halston



H
er descent into otherness was slow, any quicker and she might have resisted what started as a mood swing, then lingered as self-doubt, crouching in the corner of herself, a squatter in a mirror that had until then shown a contented woman, vaguely successful, if not fulfilled to fizziness. Her skills were general and generally generic, serving her in the least masterful manner. Considering them over time, she secretly yearned for antithesis.

The open fridge door spotlit this duality, highlighted her bare feet and unshaven legs and weren't they symbols of definitive unhappiness? "I'm not unhappy. I'm just busy," rang the consistent excuse noiselessly through her teeth and, unaware, she lifted the milk carton to her lips to feel it drink her. At once, she vomited, parts of her emptying into the milk, and the carton and fridge door were closed.
At once, she vomited, parts of her emptying into the milk, and the carton and fridge door were closed.


She touched her wrist to check for beating--still there, tick-tocking her metronomed life. "I need more sleep," she thought, but decided against warm milk. "I'll just read," she said, distractedly helping herself to a book of self-help and the pages flipped through her, looking for a table of contents or a worthwhile place to start. Her childhood was too obvious, too usual, with not nearly enough hardship. College was better, but drunk due to blurring. "I always do that," she thought. "Mix up one word for the other. Maybe I'm dyslexic." She'd been printed without an index, but dyslexia wouldn't have been there, all her shortcomings omitted, all the shameful facts left out, like the time she kissed her cousin, then pushed him down the stairs. But these were chapters missing. Other passages alluded to them, making known that something happened at some point with someone-- The exact description, however, had been torn away.

All of a sudden, she was shut and in a bag and blinded blue, until her former book slid her across a counter. "Abridged," it said. "Or maybe a printing error. I can't tell. Do you have a different edition? Maybe a different font?" The clerk said he would check and shelved her without even cracking her spine. She knew the smell of the space, recognized her own smell: the library, where books went to meet each other. She slid her eyes right, then left, to take in her neighbors' names. Trebuchet, Palatino, Bodoni, Courier. Her new status as one of the collected heightened her awareness--the fonts were the authors, the protagonists were the titles, and all were each other. She knew that the story on her pages was like all the others, but told in her idiom, with her specific dialect. Also, she knew that her story was hers but not her, because these fonts were fueling fiction or, if nothing else, revisionist history. They trafficked in letters, in alphabets' reinvention, with each interpretation as correct as the last. The stories were happy just being retold, but fonts weren't like shirts or neckties where the words could slip in and out of them. They were more like choices, lifestyles, defining moments and features in the age and youth and lives of each sentence because they wouldn't have, couldn't have been written the same way by a different typeface.


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About Carissa Halston


Carissa Halston was born in 1981 on a Sunday afternoon off the Island of La Grande Jatte. Harsh lighting and a childhood bout with croup left her legally blind, but suddenly able to fully understand Finnish large print audio books, leading to the publication of her first novel, "A Girl Named Charlie Lester." Carissa's influences include 1940s radio dramas and Raymond Carver's obituary. She has work forthcoming in Wigleaf and apt.

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