browser icon
You are using an insecure version of your web browser. Please update your browser!
Using an outdated browser makes your computer unsafe. For a safer, faster, more enjoyable user experience, please update your browser today or try a newer browser.

Mrs. Antioch’s Shadow

Posted by on August 12, 2010

Mrs. Antioch had never read Jung or any of his disciples, and remained quite innocent of any knowledge of the Shadow. Surely even if she had encountered the idea she would have rejected it as too disturbing for her orderly world. It would have offended her sense of how things ought to be.

Robert Bly wrote about the Shadow as a long bag we drag behind us, into which we stuff all those thoughts that do not bear looking at in the light. He did not discuss the maximum capacity of this bag.

Mrs. Antioch arrived punctually at her allergist’s office despite knowing that she would be seen well past the appointed time. It was with a smug sense of her superiority that she often commented on the shameful lack of respect for other people’s time exhibited by even professionals who certainly ought to know better. No consideration for the complexities and conflicts of scheduling medical appointments, or the reliance of such schedules on the vagaries of every patient who came before her, ever entered Mrs. Antioch’s mind.

When she left, duly injected with minute quantities of everything to which she was currently allergic, the office schedule had fallen even farther behind, the office manager had lost several important documents, all the children in the waiting room were crying, and the allergist had a migraine. Mrs. Antioch had not said or done anything out of the ordinary. The parents all assumed that the children were crying for fear of needles, and certainly would not have believed that some outlandish cause such as a sudden sense of groundlessness, as if the very foundations of the world were inexplicably mising, were at fault.

If light bulbs can be conceived of as “dark suckers” then surely it is possible for some monopole of tidiness and certainty to suck order out of its surroundings, leaving only the background noise of entropy, the natural state of the universe.

Mrs. Antioch hailed a cab. Her trip home was uneventful. Each of the three cabs that had passed her by was subject to one of the displaced unevents. At one intersection smoke poured from beneath a hood; at another water jetted high from a cracked hydrant; at a third there could be heard a thump and a crack before a splatter of blood decorated a “Yield” sign.

Mrs. Antioch stopped in the lobby of her apartment building and checked her mail. The box spat forth its accustomed load of hills, periodicals, and advertisements. In the surrounding mailboxes, important documents lost themselves — whether in thought or in space remains unclear — and magazines turned against their natures. Guns & Ammo became Good Housekeeping, Oprah’s O became Maxim, and Buddhadharma turned into Soldier of Fortune with the most disturbing of the classified ads circled emphatically in red marker.

She proceeded to the elevator, which she shared with two other tenants. The ride was long and silent. The nice lady from the ninth floor departed there and walked calmly to her apartment, where she did something horrible to her child with a knitting needle that left no marks yet ensured a lifetime of expensive psychiatry. The gentleman from the fourteenth floor got off and leaned heavily against the wall halfway down the hall, overcome by the idea that his eyelashes had become little teeth and his lids were eating his eyes.

Mrs. Antioch got off on the seventeenth floor, which smelt faintly of air freshener, and proceeded to her unit. The tiny brass vulva of the lock accepted the tiny brass phallus of the key and she entered a darkness that sounded like stopped clocks. She turned on the light and walked past the sleeping shape of the cat, a fur sack full of fungus and slowly pulsing grubs. Her husband came out of the bedroom to greet her, brushing her cheek with dry lips. After a perfunctory embrace she set him aside and entered the bathroom. Outside the door, Mrs. Antioch’s shadow engulfed and regurgitated her husband again and again, remaking him out of different stuff each time: lint, unwound watches, the fear of growing old.

[From The 3 A.M. Epiphany by Brian Kiteley. Exercise #34: “”Chaos Follows”. Weird Pudding exercise meeting, August 2010.]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *