Ettore Majorana: Two Stories
Lena Bertone


He wrote the idea on a piece of paper and then ripped the paper into strips and burned the strips; then he changed his mind and wrote it again, afraid of forgetting, but forgot as he was writing what he was writing, the details of the idea dropping off like from a cliff; forgot the words he meant to write before he finished them, the letters half finished on the white page and the ink hesitant and light, waiting for his memory to return; he summoned the image of the burned strips and unburned them, unripped them, closed his eyes and tried to see what he'd written and known before the knowledge had leaked out from his brain, his pen, his moment; it was something about a potion; a thing made of two things mixed together; something and something, nameless things mixed together, or if not nameless, then tiny, unseeable things; something and something, mixed by someone, like a potion, or a study, or experiment, or a pan of eggs, or all of those at the same time in a dream mixed together, and the something and something, mixed together, making something new, as mixed somethings do, made a new something in a bowl or a beaker or a spoon (the somethings themselves were so small), and the new thing that the somethings became (this part was the part that made writing it down important, he thought, though also, probably useless) was a thing that was different from the things it had been made from: two things bonded and rethought, remade, recreated and now heavier; heavier, because of this bond; he carried the heavier bowl, spoon, something in the palms of his hands, and felt it transform from two somethings to a new thing, heavier. He tried writing it down; he had before; he kept the burned paper and the idea in his mind as carefully as he could; but his hands every moment felt heavier.


He felt like a figure of speech. Specifically, a cliché: the broken man, heart dashed on the black rocks coughed up in porous bubbles by the sea. He was the coughed up husk of a delicate sea creature; a mere shrimp skin screened through whale teeth and disposed of like forgettable floating garbage. That was all he was: flesh the shape of half a heart ripped from its soft shell by the teeth of a human monster, all humans being monsters by virtue of their large size and bad behavior in relation to animals less fortunate than them. There was no fortune for Ettore, no future, no horizon, no rainbow, no promise of another world, and words, when he thought of them, only exacerbated his grief for himself.

Lena Bertone lives in central New York. Her debut novel, LA REVENGISTA, is forthcoming from Aqueous Books.

Read more of her work in the archive.

Detail of photo on main page courtesy of iko.

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