The 2021 Detroit Metro Times Fiction Issue

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Page 19 of 20

The First Message

By Tunde Olaniran

Let me step outside.

I can feel something, but it's hard to figure out what it is. I just knew I suddenly felt too big for my couch, and for my home. I needed more space around me. I walk down my driveway and into the middle of my street.

Let me raise both of my hands and spread my fingers really far apart.

Between them I see my battered street, the houses, some trees and grass and the sky. A few yards ahead of me, my road spills out onto a busier street. In my field of vision, a dark red SUV zips between my pinkie and ring finger.

Let me concentrate.

My hands glow with a bright, pale violet energy, and the air smells like burning latex.

My hands slice through the space in front of me, slashing a ragged tear across my street, the trees, the grass, the old green Ford truck parked in front of a neighbor's shotgun-style house. Inside the new opening, it's just endless black. Is it glistening or moving? Is the black empty space or is it brimming to the surface of the fissure?

Let me reach inside. Into that tear in space.

The guy across the street that comes to cut his grandma's lawn steps out onto her front porch. He's kind of watching, but I think he mainly just wanted to smoke.

OK, let me reach inside.

Oh wait ... the black IS brimming to the surface. It gushes out and down my arm, splattering onto the pavement. I'm probably not as scared as I should be (I lived through 2020), but I am wondering what might happen next.

Let me focus.

Do I feel anything? Yes, wait, yes. Inside of the liquid, my hand keeps sliding across something that feels smooth and firm. I dig my thumb into it and feel tendons flex. It's someone's arm! I slide my hand down to a wrist, then I can feel their fingers tentatively grasp mine. I look above the tear into my sky and it's full of dark clouds. What does the sky know that I don't?

Let me pull.

Bracing myself, I pull the arm further out from the churning opening in space. The shoulder comes next, and then the face. The face. I'm looking at myself. I stare into my eyes with bewilderment. The face is thinner, with a freshly healed scar that travels from my forehead and down into my left eyebrow. I watch myself slowly observe the street, with a growing recognition, then convulse, cough up black liquid, and stare back at me, opening my mouth to speak.

Let me listen!

Tunde Olaniran is a singer-songwriter, performance artist, and writer based in Flint, Michigan.

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