My Christmas short short as a sort of Seasonal Card from the Gestalt Real-Time Reviews.
(Thanks to Rhys Hughes’ skeleton conceit for inspiring the first sentence.)
Nick could not run away in fright from his own skull. As long as the skull was still embedded behind the skin of his face and upholding, from below or behind, the sprouting hairs … and still lodged upon the sinewy neck. But any skulls belonging to other people, he somehow knew, lurked beneath the veneer of living features and he was scared at the mere thought of such skulls and thus avoided people as much as possible, because when he faced a person talking to him, Nick imagined the skullbones crossing and twining with each manoeuvre of the conversational interaction between the faces thus talking.
In the recent tumultuous politics, I have learnt that there is a new ploy at play called ‘constructive ambiguity.’ It is just another version of being afraid of one’s skull — as some people are scared of their own shadow — thus trying to avoid owning it, even trying to separate oneself from it by unpeeling the skin. Or peeling it, flaying or flensing the cheek flaps, jowls and frowning brows alike, leaving the raw skull standing clean and stern.EB8EDDFF-E28C-4FAF-BF53-249357A62F7A
It is strange that ‘peel’ and ‘unpeel’ mean the same thing, the easing of the surface from the inner rind, to reveal the kernel. I remembered this when I last had a conversation with Nick. I watched him watching me talk, as he peered with trepidation at each movement of my facial muscles. Inching away from me, himself. And indeed it was catching. I found myself imagining his skull speaking from within any facial impressions, speaking secret thoughts with political opinions that I knew he did not truly hold. I even imagined the skull wishing me good wishes for Christmas, when at heart I knew Nick was an even bigger Scrooge than I was. What a fraud, I thought. But was that my skull thinking such things or was it me?
Skulls should meet together, I reckon, on second thoughts, then take off all their frills of double-speak, gather themselves together into a bony carapace of interconnected bells, forgetting the prejudices of their own infiltration by human fallibility, and give it to us straight. This is what life is all about. Only skulls know the truth about life and what follows it. The joyful peal of resonant skulls banging their heads together. Happy Christmas.

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