the writing disorder
the writing disorder logo


sayuri yamada

New Fiction


by Sayuri Yamada

      The forest had trees: oak, ash, hawthorn, and beech. In autumn oaks produced acorns, which squirrels loved eating from their tiny front paws, turning them round and round, busy chewing them in their tiny mouths. Mice devoured them. Deer consumed them, which were one fourth of their autumn diet. Jays, pigeons, ducks, and woodpeckers fed on them. Ash trees had opposite branching, they liked symmetry. White hawthorn flowers gave bees nectar in late spring. Thrushes and waxwings ate their red fruit and dispersed the seeds in their droppings.
       Mar the puppeteer was ready to work. It was a crisp morning with a high blue sky.
       Early geese came flying in a V formation, honking noisily. Two crows flew much lower from the opposite direction. Barn owls were nowhere to be seen; they must be sleeping after the night feeding.
       At the edge of the forest, a figure pushing a wheelchair appeared. It was Ben with his father, Frank, in the wheelchair. Ben’s brown corduroy trousers flapped around his long skinny legs. Frank was well-wrapped up with a red-and-green blanket over his lap and a thick woollen cardigan with a brass zipper on the front. His face was ashen grey, a little downcast.
       Before they reached the clearing, Mar the puppeteer waved his hand. The first human today.
       Two men popped into the clearing from nowhere. The moment before, there was nothing but the air. The next moment, the two men were there as if they had been there all the time, their feet in mid-shin tan boots firmly on the grassy ground. Both had blue overalls with thin belts in the same material around their waists. Two flat pockets on their chests. One of them had blond hair, the other dark-brown. They were about the same height, the same physique. They might be brothers.
       They started dancing. They moved their arms and legs slowly as if the air was heavy. The blond man lifted his right arm high in the air. The dark-brown guy put his left leg on the grassy ground. The blond one looked up at the sky. The dark-brown one walked around the other. Although their movements were never the same, it seemed they were dancing in harmony. It might make you either sleepy or concentrate on it if you watched it for some time as their dance is so mesmerising.
       Ben and Frank came to the clearing with the two dancers. Ben stopped the wheelchair and whispered something to his father, who nodded. He brought a white bib from a bag dangling from one of the wheelchair handles and put it around Frank’s neck. His head was still slightly downcast.
       A pigeon on an oak branch cooed. Another pigeon cooed back from a beech bough.
       Ben then produced a light-blue Tupperware box from the bag and started feeding his father bit by bit from a spoon.
       The dancers kept dancing, without paying any attention to the father and the son. There wasn’t any music Ben and Frank could hear. It must be in the dancers’ heads, since their dance coordinated well all the time.
       A car horn tooted in the distance. Somebody laughed like crazy.
       The clear air around the clearing had muffled the sounds from the town.
       Frank munched the baked beans slowly and steadily in his mouth. And then reddish juice from the beans dribbled down his chin. Ben swiftly wiped it off with the bib around his neck. He then gave a small piece of steamed broccoli to his father’s mouth after making sure Frank had swallowed all the beans.
       They watched the dance for a while. The father smiled when the blond man jumped and landed on his left leg softly as if he had no weight, as if there was not much gravity. The son clapped his hands gently.
       The jumping man bowed to them slightly with his right hand on his chest and then resumed his dance.
       Frank looked up Ben and said something. He replied, smiling. He then got out sandwiches wrapped in cling film, peeled it off, and started eating it while skilfully feeding his father.
       A tall clock tower in the town centre chimed. The sound echoed to an oak tree to a hawthorn to an ash tree. It was twelve o’clock. A flock of pigeons flew across the tower as if they were going to have lunch.
       When the father sipped a little orange juice from a plastic cup through a red-and-white straw, he started hiccupping, jumping slightly from the wheelchair seat each time. His son tapped his back gently a few times. But Frank couldn’t stop. Ben stroked his back and then packed everything into the bag. Then he said something, bending close to his father’s ear. His father nodded, still hiccupping and jumping. Ben made the chair do a U-turn and left the clearing, waving at the dancing men.
       Prickly holly leaves were quivering in a soft breeze near where they had been.
       Nobody was around any more.
       Mar the puppeteer waved his right hand at the height of his nipples from the right to left for one metre in one and half seconds.
       The two dancers disappeared.
       A bunch of grey pigeons flew away from the ash tree with their wings bashing the air. Among them, there was a bright-yellow canary, which must have escaped from somebody’s cage. The bird-cloud of grey and yellow disappeared towards the town centre.
       No trace of the dancers’ existence was left on the ground. No fallen grass where they had been dancing. It was as if the clearing hadn’t had anybody there for some time. A brown female blackbird hopped on the grass where the dancers’ footsteps should have been and pecked the grass for a while, searching for some food. Finding nothing, she flew away to the east.
       Mar’s first job was done without a hitch. He was usually good, almost always.
       Birds and other animals could witness the dancers’ appearance and disappearance. But that wasn’t Mar’s job. He specialised in humans. When people were at the clearing, the two men danced there. Once they had left, the dancers disappeared into thin air.
       Something red came to the edge of the forest. They came nearer and nearer at a steady speed. They were two girls jogging in red t-shirts and red shorts. Their bare legs had red knees to match their clothes. Judy and Paula, good friends, classmates, able runners.
       Before they were close enough to see the clearing, the two dancers emerged as Mar waved his right hand, precisely at his nipple height from the right to left for a metre for a second and a half. A squirrel on a branch just above them almost fell to the ground and then jumped to the next tree and another tree and vanished among the bunched of other trees.
       The two men were the same, in blue overalls with thin belts around their middles, and with tan boots. One was blond and the other was dark-brown. Their white skins were inside their clothes. Their colourful inner organs were inside their skins. Organs would be inside the bones, not the other way around. Everything was perfect, as usual.
       Then an old man, Frank, no relation to the father in the wheelchair, came along on a squeaky bicycle. He stood behind the two girls, watching the dancers and occasionally looking at the girl’s legs. Frank’s best friend had introduced his niece to him the day before. She was tall and pretty, unlike his friend, who was short and fat. Frank wondered what those girls would look like if or when they turned around.
       Judy and Paula clapped their hands and whistled.
       Frank winced a little at their piercing whistles. Girls shouldn’t whistle at boys, he thought. He still wanted to see their faces, to see if they were as pretty as his friend’s niece.
       The dancers smiled at the girls’ whistles. The girls whistled again and started imitating their dance. Frank stepped back a little to give them space to dance. When they faced sideways, he saw their faces and was disappointed. One had big nose. The other’s eyes were too close together. He then concentrated on the two dancing men.
       Although their dance was not fast, it was hard to copy somehow. The girls gave up following the men. With their arms dangling by their thighs, they watched the dance for a little while and then jogged back to the town centre, after almost bumping into Frank. He watched the dance for a second or two then started pushing the squeaky bike back to the town.
       Nobody was around any more.
       Mar waved his right hand as usual.
       No more dancers.
       No trace left.
       No more people came to the clearing. It was a quiet day.
       Mar the puppeteer stifled a yawn with his left hand. He was still alert, but somehow knew the day’s job was done.
       A car in the distance backfired, which sounded like a gun shot. A rabbit in the clearing jumped and bolted into a bush nearby.
       On a murky morning about a week later, Mar was there, at the clearing. He wasn’t as alert as usual. He was drunk, still drunk from glass after glass of mead the night before. He had managed to peel himself from his old bed this morning and come to the clearing. He was a conscientious worker. It was his working day. As long as he was able, he always went to work.
       The sky was low, like his head between his shoulders. A dead ash tree at the end of the clearing had creepers on the trunk as if they were futile attempt at consolation.
       Geraldine, an old woman with five grandchildren, was taking a walk in the forest. She had baked banana bread, which was cooling on a rack in her kitchen now. Two of her grandchildren were coming to her place this afternoon. They loved her banana bread. Because she always added a teaspoon of lemon juice when mixing the ingredients, her bread had a whiff of lemon. There were still a couple of hours until they would come. The bread would be ready soon, the house had been cleaned from top to bottom, orange juice and coke were chilling in the fridge. Now she was taking it easy before all their laughing and screaming would start.
       Mar the puppeteer noticed her approaching the clearing. It was just a second or two before she would be able to see it, empty. He hastily waved his right hand. The height was right, by his nipples. The length was also right, one metre. The time was correct, too, one and half seconds. However, in the middle, his hand dropped five millimetres then it went back to the proper course and at the very end it rose three millimetres. The line was almost as straight as it should be, except at those two points. It seemed Mar hadn’t noticed, because of some bright dots circling in his head.
       The two dancers materialised and started their slow dance. They were the same dancers as yesterday, the day before, a week ago, a month ago. It was just the arrangement of their body parts that was a little altered because of the tiny dent and slight bump in his hand waving line. The dance was the same: dreamy and harmonious. Their body size was the same. The arrangement was mainly the same; the head on the top, then the neck, then shoulders, on the bottom were feet. Nothing wrong about it. It was just their skins weren’t covering their muscles. Instead they were inside their bodies. Their handsome faces had no skins on. Their red muscles moved here and there as they danced. Their sets of snow-white teeth opened and closed to inhale and exhale to give their lungs oxygen. Their pupils, blue for the blond man and hazel for the dark-brown one, surrounded by big white eyeballs, moved from right to left, up to down, to let their bodies balance. Apart from their skins, the dancers were perfect.
       Geraldine walked to the clearing, wondering how much her grandchildren had grown since she last saw them, savouring the memory of their delightful yell when they first had a bite of her banana bread with whiff of lemon. She noticed two people were moving slowly, maybe dancing. Their movements were graceful. She walked closer. They must have been outside for a long time, because their faces were red like tomatoes. She thought she wouldn’t mind learning their dance. It could be good to move her aching hamstrings, since it was slow. She gestured to them that she wanted to join them.
       Wanting to have a better look, she put her glasses on.
       Two dancers without facial skins came to her dancing, smiling with their white teeth and blue and hazel pupils on red muscles.
       Geraldine screamed.
       Blackbirds on hawthorn tree flew away. Pigeons on the grass took off. Mice in a bush scurried away. An approaching rabbit went back where it had come from.
       She kept screaming with her both hands tightly on her chest, grimacing with pain. After stepping backwards a little, she fell down. Her legs battered the ground, digging the soil. Her wide open eyes facing the sky looked at nothing. Her mouth opened and closed as if she were a fish on a shore. Then her whole body vibrated quickly and became still. He open eyes became glassy. Her open mouth had stopped trying to breath.
       Mar the puppeteer had heard her screaming and saw her falling down on the ground with his blurry eyes. His drunken brain didn’t know what to do. It had never happened before.
       But now Geraldine was lying still on the grassy ground. Her green dress was a slightly different colour from the grass. But Mar couldn’t tell the difference. To him, she had melted into the grass, disappeared. So, he waved his hand. This time he did everything correctly.
       The dancers had gone. No trace of them in the clearing. There was only an old woman in a green dress flat on the green grass, unmoving.
       Mar the puppeteer would be fine and do a good job as usual next day.

Sayuri Yamada was born in Japan and currently lives in England. She finished studying Creative and Critical Writing in a postgraduate course with three distinctions at the University of Winchester in September 2011. Her stories have been published in seventeen magazines both in the UK and the U.S. One of them, "Killing Me Softly," was published at Gray Sparrow, which won an award for the Best New Literary Journal of the Year from the Council of Editors of Learned Journal. Another, "A Fat Mermaid," was published at First Edition, sold at W.H. Smith.

COMMENT        HOME       BLOG


New Fiction

David Atkinson

John Bach

Bobby Fischer

Jacqueline Friedland

Leonard Kress

Erin Lebacqz

John Richmond

David Starnes

Emily Topper

Sayuri Yamada


By accessing this site, you accept these Terms and Conditions.
Copyright © 2010-2014 ™ — All rights reserved