Space and Time
Lucy Corin

He went to an exhibit of photographs of people standing goofily with iconic art. They had their arms around it, sat in its lap. They used their fingers for mustaches, exploiting perspective. They got bawdy. The people interacted with the art in the photos within a range that included mean-spirited, mindlessly reverent, and just trying to make it stop bugging them. It's not like he felt that looking at art was grim, although sometimes he felt good and grim looking at art. It's not like he felt looking at art was one thing. But in his thoughts he was participating in a millennial chain of erasure, looking and being cancelling each other out. In the final room was a hologram of a statue surrounded by holograms of people pointing at the art, surrounded by people hopping around like monkeys, surrounded by people pointing at the people who were acting like monkeys. All the figures were strobing from 3-D color representations to black and white 2-D representations. There was some kind of algorithm about which figures were represented in which way through a sequence. You could walk in among the holograms, probably, but he didn't get that far, because that's when his wife called him from the Everglades, where she was hunting anacondas that had washed from homes in the hurricane and taken over. She'd read all about it on the internet and flown down to help like Sean Penn. "An anaconda has exploded from swallowing an alligator its same size," she whispered. "I am looking at this spectacle as we speak. I am up to my knees."  She was British and that still made her sound authoritative on nature. "It's so Jurassic, so diasporic. When an anaconda begins to miscalculate in this manner…" she said, her voice quavering within the uneven reception. "I find it deeply troubling."

The museum was filling with rowdy viewers challenging the taped lines, and his anxiety rose in concert with their increasing numbers. "I love you," he whispered into the phone, right as someone jostled him and his glasses went askew. For a moment, the Braque in the next gallery cohered. By the time he'd righted them and slipped into a quiet corner, he'd lost the connection with his wife. He texted her furtively. "I love you."  He spelled the whole thing out, for emphasis. But someone jostled him again and this time his glasses fell off and his phone slid away from him, like a comet, into the depths of the exhibit.

Lucy Corin is the author of the short story collection The Entire Predicament (Tin House Books) and the novel Everyday Psychokillers: A History for Girls (FC2). Her stories have appeared in American Short Fiction, Conjunctions, Ploughshares and others. "On Their Minds," "Superpowers," and "Space and Time" are part of a work in progress, A Hundred Apocalypses.

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