Yesterday, Grandma fell. I heard a loud pop when she hit the gravel, might have been her hip. I saw her matted gray hair get swallowed up by dusty sneakers, bare feet and work boots. Nobody stopped to help. Nobody could. They just high kneed over her. I wanted to feel sorry, say some kind of prayer, but all I could think of was the music and going forward. Always forward.
Now there’s just Dad and me.
They’re fused right into the pipe organ. There’s no distinction between instrument and being. They’re all black, just like the pipes, and their long fingers are welded to the keys. They have no mouth or eyes or a nose. Below them, sometimes so close I can touch, are countless gears that are forever turning and grinding. A thick brown fluid flows from the sky above into the pipes. I see it running through their skin too. The fluid dribbles out between the gears into our open mouths. It’s sticky and doesn’t taste like anything. It’s our food.
During the day, the pipes play fast and hard. Sun up till sun down, we march. At night they play a soft lullaby that forces us into a dreamless sleep. In the early morning the music is soft enough where you can think to yourself. Just for a moment.
A giant mouth has opened up on the horizon. We’re marching straight into it. I think it’s big enough to swallow us all. Once inside, when I look up, I know it’ll be full of machines turning and grinding away.
Dad’s getting better at resisting. He can get out of step now when the organists look the other way. He plugs his ears and briefly, Dad bobs up when we bob down. Then the music takes over and he snaps back in synch.
Soon, he’ll make a break for it. I just know it. There are so many of us, millions. The organists won’t see him. I can’t go with. Can’t resist. All I can do is stare at the neck of the person in front, put one foot in front of the other and breathe in the music. Always the music.