Paper On A Wire
When I was in my early twenties, just before I began my own foray into university life, a friend of mine asked if I would be her model for an art project that would be displayed on campus. She promised me beer and that the modelling didn't require nudity, so I said that I would do it. I went to her house, thinking that non-naked modelling probably meant that I would sit on a chair or recline on a sofa, but I was mistaken. She lead me into the back yard, told me to lie down on the lawn, and threw a camping blanket over me.
"What's happening?" I asked.
"Just relax," she said.
I felt something else being laid over the blanket that covered me.
"Just don't move too much. It's chicken wire," she said.
I lied as still as I could in her back yard, the heat baking me through layers of clothing, camping blanket, and chicken wire. She pressed the wire around my body and occasionally stuck a straw under the blanket so that I could sip pop from a can. My skin swelled in the heat, and I could feel the elastic in my shorts and brassiere cut into my sides. I inhaled measure breaths in time with the beating heart in my cheeks.
Weeks later, I began my own university classes. Campus was an unfamiliar maze of hallways and shops and streams of students, and I carried a backpack full of textbooks from building to building, my schedule a tattered list of missed appointments. While pretending to attend classes one afternoon, I hurried down a set of steps and rolled over on my left ankle. I had to throw myself against a large rock at the bottom of the stairs. I was so tired.
Ten feet away, there was the form of a person hanging on wires against a stone wall. The chicken wire that stuck out on all sides made me catch my breath. That was me hanging there. That was my shape twisting lazy in a subtle wind. I couldn't breathe.
Students rushed from one side of me to the other, the hubbub at once frenetic and still as stone. I could hear none of it. There I was, suspended against a rock wall, paper plastered over wire. One of me lit handrolled cigarettes from a perch on a stone, the other shed bits of her paper in a wind.