Women Scream 'Ahh!', Strong Men Faint 'Ohh!'


by Cripsin Best

WWe wanted to be giants. Migrating birds would shelter and rest in our ears. Standing, our shadows would stretch into and over distant towns, the clouds around our heads casting birthmarks on the earth.

Tonight we had dice. Three dice. We found them in a plastic tub. The tub was full of jacks and rubber balls. The tub was in the attic with the board games, a hundred old computer discs and a busted rocking-horse we used to love.

We could taste the dust up our noses. We looked at the dice. Our eyes got big. We shared a high-five and stared and tried on different smiles.

Last night, I couldn't sleep. I held my breath until my ears popped. I closed my eyes, clenched my jaw and tensed my stomach. I made two fists. After that, I relaxed my whole body and didn't think of anything. I didn't listen to the cats in the back garden, or the foxes that screech like cars cornering. I didn't taste toothpaste or swallow my own saliva or itch. I didn't pick my nose and wipe it on the wall. I didn't do any of these things. I talked to God. God spoke. I listened. God said: three sixes.

We wanted buses to be roller skates. The sea level would rise and fall with our bodies' functions. We'd wake up, stretch and scratch our heads with what to do that day. Our dandruff would fall like meteors. We wanted to pluck and uproot trees, to peer through windows, to smile and show our massive teeth (Coke bottles, pineapples and whole hams wedged in the gaps) to the screaming people inside. At first, only at first, we would be misunderstood.

In bed last night, God started speaking. I played it cool. God promised me that if we could roll three sixes at the same time we'd become as huge as hurricanes. Or houses. At first it was houses, then He said the town hall clock tower, and lastly it was hurricanes. I hoped it was definitely hurricanes.

We wanted to stand by the sea and clap, once. The sound would push the sea back from the shore, the water folding itself away from us in a wave. Then it would stop. Then it would crash back toward us again. We would do that for hours.

All this morning we looked for dice. As soon as we found them we started practicing, just with one to begin with. When we got good enough, we started using two. Straight away we rolled two sixes and felt our hearts get big inside our ribs. Our stomachs swelled. Our eyes bulged. We choked a bit. We were scared and decided we should use one die again and then we felt better.

We wanted to pose thumbs-up with our arm around the shoulder of a skyscraper. Like old friends.

We took deep breaths and concentrated on our technique. We took mental notes. We were never hopeless. When we finally stopped, our legs were fizzing and dead and the sky on the horizon was the pink of faded orange socks.

We wanted to pick up waiting planes from the airport tarmac. We would glide them like paper darts to their destinations. We wanted to stand up to our waists in the middle of the deepest ocean. No-one knows what would be swimming around our feet. No-one.

I fingered the dice in my pocket. We were nervous. I coughed. I drank some old water that tasted like mayonnaise. I spat it out, onto the floor, and we cleaned it up quickly with too many paper towels. We had been so careful all day. We walked on tiptoes so as not to step on any insects. We didn't break any spider's webs. We'd finished all of our muesli, flossed, put the empty milk bottle in the recycling. We didn't want God to change his mind.

We wanted people to want to conquer us, to climb from the ground onto the crowns of our heads, to take pictures, to brag about it to their friends. We would be an achievement.

In the bathroom, in front of the mirror, we tried out our new giants' walks. With each step we rocked from side to side with our necks and bodies as straight as possible. We were heavily influenced by Frankenstein's monster. We turned our heads calmly, our faces slack and wise. We stretched our arms out as far as we could to each side. In our deepest, most slowed-down voices we said: One. Mile. We laughed until we got the hiccups. Then we did it again, stretching ourselves like a shrunken jumper, like two people were pulling our arms in different directions, fighting for us. With our new voices we said: Two. Miles. We laughed again. We still had the hiccups from the first time. This went on for some time.

We wanted so badly to be giants. We wanted to be bigger. That was much better than wanting everyone else to shrink. We wanted to reach up to touch satellites and snigger at the sound of a million people hitting the sides of their television sets.

At last, we went into the living room. We weren't sure how quickly we were likely to grow. We pushed the furniture back against the walls, even the settee, which left indentations and tall clumps of fluff where it had sat. We hoped that our clothes would grow too; we worried what to do if they didn't, but we trusted God. We had to. We sat cross-legged with the three dice on the carpet in front of us and closed our eyes. Some people think birdsong is the voice of God, but we know better. We closed our eyes and we didn't feel the carpet scratching our bare ankles.

We opened our eyes. I picked up the dice and rattled them gently in my hands. We looked at the things around us, at our hands. We looked at the ceiling, at the swaying lampshade. We held our breath and bit our lips. Our eyes got big again. We nodded once and let them go (clacking) in front of us. The dropped dice rolled and stopped. We had got a two, a five and a three. We sat there for a while.

Then, we rolled again, and then again. First, we rolled them five times, then ten, then twenty. We used our left hands and our right. We threw them near to us and far (once even against the wall), high in the air or we simply let them spill out of hands. In total, we rolled the dice twenty-nine times.

The nearest we got was two sixes and a one.

And so, outside, we lined up empty juice-boxes that we'd inflated through their straws. We stood, breathing through our noses. We looked at each other and licked our lips and then we jumped and screamed and landed. We crushed one. It popped like a far-off gunshot. Then again, the next one burst like a firework. We howled. Our heads waved in the air, back and forth, our open mouths gulping air. We were uncontrollable. We shook like old refrigerators. We stood next to a juice-box and gibbered with our arms folded across our chest. We stomped a foot and the box cracked like an engine backfiring. And more and more. There were so many juice-boxes. We spat. We wept. We strummed our lips like a baby. Then there was one juice-box left. We leapt and landed on it with both feet and it made a clap, so loud, like two huge hands.


BIO: Crispin Best has had his work published at Eyeshot, Thieves Jargon and Monkeybicycle amongst others. He is currently putting together a collection of stories dedicated to every year since 1400. His website is: http://wewillallgosimultaneous.blogspot.com.