Evelyn Hampton


Jim is no longer a character in a story I have written—I have liberated him from obscurity and now he is transitioning to a new form in the manner of larvae, adolescents, and souls.

I’m finding I’d rather be surrounded by the possibility of Jim than concocting the reality of him. Now I look at a cloud and wonder how he is doing, where he might be. When I come out of the theater after seeing a movie, blinking and not yet acclimated to my life, I wonder whether I might catch sight of him half-formed, a Jim still partly a fiction, like a ghost with real hands leaning against a building, smoking.

I also have this sense of Jim when I wake during the night to go to the bathroom. I think that he is there, or part of him is in the kitchen, sitting in a chair; not on it, but inside of it, inhabiting its upright shape with shifty, transitional qualities. Jim, in this condition, is like a language that is dying.

It is possible for one who is transitioning to a new form to become old before the transition has finished; to die, even, in the midst of becoming something different. Then it is like acid rain—Jim oozes out of the air above a corporate office park and falls onto the chassis of the world. Or Jim, the protoplasm that’s left of him, migrates toward a different transitioning object and lodges within its folds, complicating its density with soul.

Recently my father had a cyst above his eyebrow lanced. Within was a tuft of hair, two tiny fingernails. A twin. A Jim.

But I think I like Jim how he is now, a possibility. I can listen to the wind and wonder which of its decrements are him becoming less and less himself. When a cough comes out of a room where nobody is, I can think of Jim instead of my own death. In this way Jim has begun to function like beauty—possessed of changeable so intangible qualities, visible while shifting his even more desirable qualities out of reach, reminding me that desire can never achieve final satiety, is always only partial, half-achieved; the other part, like Jim, transitioning beyond reach, assuming that’s what he’s doing, that he hasn’t simply gone to sleep, or, I have mentioned the possibility, died. “Beauty dies my death for me and makes me see it”—Jim said that before I allowed him the freedom to become, if he transitions that way, a green ray.

I read about the green ray yesterday. When the sun sets in perfect atmospheric conditions, with no land mass for many hundreds of miles and no moisture or atmospheric pressure, you have a good chance of seeing a spot of green the color of a Mr. Yuck sticker where the sun has just set. It’s brief, lasts maybe a second. Then it becomes someone else.

Evelyn Hampton is the author of We Were Eternal and Gigantic (Magic Helicopter Press) and Lost Body Projected (Mud Luscious Press). Her work has appeared in many places and is forthcoming in New York Tyrant. Visit her at lispservice.com.

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