Peter Tieryas Liu likes to wander the world with his wife searching for things no one else has. His musings can
be found in places like the Adirondack Review, anderbo.com, Gargoyle, and ZYZZYVA.
For three minutes, the whole world is green, a throbbing pulse of underwater grass. Then my depth perception dissolves into a flat canvas and my co-workers look like 2D animation drawn by minimum wage artists in Korea. I can smell scientific theories the way I smell my memories; relativity is sugar mixed with a dissolving chocolate soufflé, while all the lovers I’ve disappointed remind me of overcooked salmon simmering in burnt coffee and impossible expectations. I experience four cyclical deaths every day; lavatory, office politics, televised Internet, and dreamless sleep. I can’t even drive myself and it’s my wife who has to explain that cars aren’t computerized seeds of death holding together the infrastructure of a faulty CPU. Partitions are real, social divides are inseparable, no one in the world sees what I do. And what do I see? The doctors told me the brain imaging revealed a colony of tapeworms in my brain. Seventy of them, a whole family, sucking and draining the folds of tissues that weave the tapestry of my CPU. They must have been starving before they used some unknown enzyme to break through my blood-brain barrier. I’ve been advised to have them killed, drugs to decimate them. But I feel guilty. They have a right to live, even if it’s at my expense. My wife insists parasites don’t have souls. But I have to believe they do because if they didn’t, what would it mean for me? I suck bliss and inject sorrow into the earthy hues of my deaf wife who insists she loves me with her lips. They’re dry with strips of flesh peeling off and she licks them intermittently. I can sometimes hear the worms describe her as a cosmic irregularity that disappears with the swells of gravity. They want to eat my cochlea to re-establish balance. Since their arrival, I’ve experienced emotions as sound; depression is cathartically cacophonous, love is ominously quiescent. Regret drums lightly until the ululations become incessantly frustrating and drown everything else out. I sometimes see old friends who tell me about their unlived lives and we play chess with our unfulfilled ambitions until my wife asks who I’m talking to. Everyone, I tell her, as though air molecules had ears. I wish I could converse with electrons so they’d act as translators to the tapeworms. I’d experience their fear at the impending apocalypse, Armageddon being my eventual death, a neurological explosion that translates to darkness and inactivity. There’s no way to save them. They have no future hope. Yet they cling. So I cling. And the universe is a flat and green frying pan where I cook the omelet of my life at an old café that serves brunch sunny side up.