Exit, Pursued by a Bear
Always the bear. It’s all anyone cares about. No care for the horrible deed I was made to carry out, the fate it has led me to. No one says Poor Antigonus. Yes, I abandoned the child. But I named it, her. Perdita. I left her with coins, riches. I trusted fate to care for her. And what does fate do? Makes her name, Perdita, the terse punctuation to end my life. A life not worthy enough of on-stage death. I clear the comforting frame of the curtains and disappear. And who remembers? No one. They all remember the bear. The bear who never crosses those floorboards. Whose direction hangs, like some invisible hand, over the scene. I’m made to live it, through different bodies, over and over again. But the terror is always the same. Condemned by the action I was given, by king and in words, I leave the stage and disappear, to be mauled – you hope, I know you hope – by that invisible carnivore. But am I meat? And will the bear ever truly appear? Can it, please? I am cleaved by anticipation, by unknowing, unbeing. Better, perhaps, to be rent by claws, to bleed and to pay before death. That is to live. To be alive. So the words I speak, those beautiful contortions, tell me. But no, we will not concern ourselves with what happens to me. I will be forgotten. The chase will end. I will be gone forever. Until the next time. The end of the scene, of material me, of the command, of the sentence – and yet, the start of your fascination and curiosity, twin engines roaring under your blameless life – is the bear.
Matthew Fiander’s work has appeared in the Massachusetts Review, South Dakota Review, Yalobusha Review, SmokeLong Quarterly, Exposition Review, Fiction Southeast, and elsewhere. He currently teaches English at High Point University in High Point, North Carolina.
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