Exercise Oct 11 2011
I know you won’t feel sorry for me. Stara Zagora is the most fabled city of the twenty-three real worldlines, and has sparkling echoes in nearly every of the one hundred and forty-four thousand shadow worlds. Perched on a marble hill overlooking a crystalline blue bay, the weather is near perfect year round. Even the rains, which come as three-hour bursts once a fortnight regular as clockwork, are as near to perfection in their refreshing nature. Because the city is famed for its artwork and its dazzling cuisine, the bulk of the admittedly steep taxes fund salons and galleries and movable food carts where you can watch a chef with a gold hat work miracles with eggs, truffles, anchovies, and an oiled pan. Chief among the edible delights of the city are its uncountable varieties of beer, as every corner, by decree, has its own brewery. The beers are probably not truly uncountable, the way the real numbers between zero and one are, but every mathematician who had attempted to count the beers never succeeded, because (a) they passed out, drunk, and (b) by the time they had gotten half way up the marble mount one or two or ten of the breweries at the base had closed and been reinstated with new owners and a new beer recipe. Beer is so plentiful that we flush our toilets with pilsner, brush our teeth with ale, wash our cars with stout.
And here is the irony, friend. I am part jellyfish, and as you may know, alcohol simply dissolves jellyfish. I am not sure how it happened. Geneticists tell me it ought to be impossible, a billion-to-one chance. My mother isn’t sure either, as she had been celebrating her graduation from the Ecole de Marmalade, and afterwards had gone down to the bay for a swim to wash away the beer-induced fuzziness. She must have met my father there, he taken by her beauty, and she thinks it must have been magical, making love beneath a full moon. But afterwards, and this is the only part she fully remembers, she tried to give him a kiss, and with a puff of her alcohol-infused breath he shivered and broke apart on the waves, leaving only a shimmering rainbow-colored slick in the moonlight.
Most people only dream of visiting Stara Zagora, and read cheap antinovels about the city. Some save for a decade to spend a crammed week here. But for me it is agony. Merchants laugh at me when I beg to buy a bottle of water. I huddle in my cramped, smelly rooms on holy days, when priests march up and down the slick steep marble streets flicking holy beer and blessed vodka on all passersby; and fully a third of all days are religious festivals, as Stara Zagora is a very devout city.
I cannot leave the city; my attempts to apply for a passport have been rebuffed, since as my father’s name and indeed species is unknown, my birth certificate is the shortest form possible.
My only hobby is reading graphic novels, of a time and place, while absurd and contradictory, sounds like heaven to me: set in a mythic land known as Usa, under a regime called Prohibition.