Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Oak Tree

The hum of bees fills the otherwise quiet cool air. They buzz softly around the trunk of an old oak tree where their hive is nestled in a crack that was made in a long forgotten lightning storm. Roots, long and gray, reach out through the carpet of prickly golden oak leaves creating small to mid sized nooks, spaces between the roots where the leaves are thicker.
The canopy of the tree spreads wide like an umbrella and drips to nearly touch the ground so that just a thin band of horizon is viewable between the dark green leaves that hang with resolve on the living branches and the yellow and brown leaves decomposing between the rising roots. Horizon is divided between strips of pale violet sky and the shimmering rolls of grassy hillside, glossy blond after a long dry summer.
A coyote moves smoothly over the hills, ears raised high, picking its way delicately through the rippling grasses with the grace of a ballet dancer. The sweet raspy cry of a hawk pierces the muted hum of the bees and soft rustle of grass, only now and then revealing its presence above the canopy with these cries.
Lying on the bed of leaves a man and woman clutch each other, their cheeks touching. The woman rests on top of the man and he rubs her back and thighs through her jeans and yellow T-shirt, kneading the flesh underneath like dough, his broad hands and strong pale fingers moving slowly and deliberately, almost tremblingly, as if the strength being exerted is only a fraction of what is available and great restraint is required to prevent his fingers from pressing through the flesh to grip her bones.
Her face is hidden against his cheek and neck and under hair the color of old straw that spills out over the ground beside them. She is very still and both bodies rise and fall gently with their synchronized breath.
His clear blue eyes look up from under bushy black brows, gazing at the canopy stretched over them like a ceiling of shivering leaves. Small brittle leaves from the ground cling to the sleeves of his blue and white flannel. His face is smooth and pale, his lips full and bright. His head, covered in a fine layer of dark stubble, rests on a pillow of rolled jackets.
The smell of oak and earth envelopes the place like a perfume and is stirred to freshness by the cooling breeze. Warmth from the heat of the day still lingers in the ground and in the bodies of the man and woman, and on their nearby backpacks, but the breeze carries the coolness of the violet sky and the promise of dusk.
The tiny bodies of the bees can be seen now and then looping their way towards the heart of the tree or venturing away beyond its shelter.
The woman sighs so quietly that it is barely perceptible, except to the man into whose ear her warm breath is expelled at his fingers' urgent request.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Convention Hall

The large convention hall is shaped like a rectangle, though there are many banisters and stairs to divide it into multiple chambers, giving the impression of many rooms and divided spaces. The only windows and natural light come from the four sets of glass doors on the south side of the building which are spread every one hundred feet. Besides the exit doors which provide only minimal light through the tempered glass, there are the front glass double-doors and its overhead windows on the western face of the building.

Interior light mostly comes from the intensely bright white spotlights that dangle from the wooden ceiling. The light is directed downwards by large metal lampshades with a diameter of two feet.

The space has a cozy modern feel with angled beams of thick wood that jut out from the ceiling at 35 degree angles and end at the floor of thin gray carpet or ¾ of the way up the vertical beams which are spaced evenly along the sides of the hall, standing every twenty feet and providing structural support for the roof and foundation.

Twenty steps from the front glass doors is a 15-step staircase covered in blue carpet. It leads to a small annex above the main space of the convention hall. The annex has an a-frame shaped rooftop and opposite the front staircase is a maroon railing with a view of the convention hall and another set of stairs that lead directly down to the main lower floor.

The heart of the convention hall is sunk a bit deeper into the earth than the two long sections on either side of it which are elevated by four feet. The three distinct spaces are separated by metal banisters. The outer raised sections are accessible by several equally spaced 5-step staircases that lead to the middle section. There are three staircases on each side of the interior space.

Throughout the three sections are eight-foot wooden tables. Each table is uniquely decorated and covered with varying styles of table clothes. Some are black, others white, some in colorful fabric or cluttered with felt letters or plastic-wrapped artwork. There are hundreds of tables lined up one next to the other. Along the exterior the tables are set up a few feet from the wooden walls. In the center of all three chambers, the tables are aligned to create a large island or donut in the center of the space.

On every table there is some form of artwork. There are books and thin glossy comics. There are dolls, key chains, buttons and shirts available for purchase. There are hundreds of handcrafted goods, all sewn, pasted, drawn, or painted. There are small paper zines and stuffed animals made out of plaid fabric, buttons and stickers and knitted mittens and artwork in mats and wrapped in protective plastic.

Behind every table there is at least one person, though several have two or three. Some people behind the booths smile brightly and try and make eye contact with the people milling about the space. Others stare into books of their own, trying to appear disinterested and distracted. Several are in conversation with their table-mates and others engage actively with the people in front of their table, encouraging them to leaf through books or try on jewelry.

An intense hum of conversation and activity fills the space. It is like the low drone of an airplane, its decibel only detectable once it’s gone.