Phasors on Stun (Or “The Wand is a Gun”)

Phasors on Stun

Vanda listens to a song that thumps inside her chest.  She turns the radio off by hitting it with a fly swatter.  At the top of the stairs, she turns backwards, slides her feet over the edge, and begins to slide.  The carpet slows her speed; the floor at the bottom crumples her toes.

“Vanda has fantasy,” she says to herself, as she passes the fridge and it’s “Seize the Incissor” sticker.  It is an effort to haul herself up on the couch, but she manages because she is BIG, and BIG people can do anything.  Vanda watches the window until a red car pulls into the driveway.  Her mother is carrying grocery bags, plastic ones.

“What happened to the music?” asks her mother.  “I’m pretty sure I left it on.  Must be something wrong with the radio.”  But Vanda doesn’t answer that, because Vanda has fantasy, and through dinner she thinks about it.  The truth to Vanda is that nothing measures up to the song she heard yesterday as her mother was showering, the one that kept saying “then I dig a tunnel from my window to yours”.  She looks out the back window, over the fence, to the house behind them, and imagines the tunnel she must dig between the two.

Vanda plans her theft during the bedtime story, as witches fly into stars and pirates nick grandmothers, and rabbitty hares show the length of their love to each other.  She imagines that the night will not see her sleep, that she will lie there when the story ends, and that she will go on.  Vanda starts to fade, but the words are with her: “then I dig a tunnel from my window to yours”, and she comes awake as the door closes and the light goes away.  But Vanda goes on.

The theft is ten o’clock, then ten thirty, and after that eleven fifteen – that’s when the climbing shapes on the wall of her mother’s bedroom stop moving.  Vanda has fantasy.  In it, she glides through space as a BIG person, and there is no bedtime or sleep-time or any TIME at all.  But in that place, even as she is surrounded by dragons and french fries, Vanda goes on.  Vanda knows, because she has seen it, that to fly she first has to dig her tunnel – at the end of it are wings that she will attach to her purple pyjamas.

The wand is in a kitchen drawer.  In Vanda’s fantasy, magic is built into objects that normal people are scared of, but it is the magic objects in the world that allow BIG people to fly and to make MUSIC and to GO ON.  Vanda moves a stool.  Vanda climbs up.  Vanda opens the drawer and pulls out a magic wand with its shiny ends.  It is a heavy wand, but magic is always heavy.

Vanda goes to the back door.  This is the part that is a trick for her, and she needs the magic to make it work.  The stool helps; the end of the wand flips the switch that unlocks the door.  Vanda pushes and then she pulls when she is tired of that, she does it all again, until there is enough of a space for Vanda to slip out.

The night is clear.  The grass is long.  And Vanda is going on.  She sits on the edge of the porch and studies the wand and its heavy magic.  Vanda is BIG as she is GOING ON, but what she must do, what she has wanted since she heard that song, is to dig a tunnel from one window to another.

Vanda points the wand at the ground.  Nothing happens.

Vanda squeezes the end of the wand.  Still nothing.  She shakes it and twirls it in circles, but that doesn’t move the grass or open the earth.  In Vanda’s fantasy, it is so easy to practice the magic that BIG people keep for THEMSELVES.  But BIG people keep their secrets, and the magic is tucked inside.

The wind has an idea for Vanda – it tells her to sing.  “Then I dig a tunnel from my window to yours,” she whispers, but it is not loud enough for the magic.  She raises the wand and does it better: “then I dig a tunnel from my window to yours!”  She hears something this time, like a switch that opens up magic and brings it to Vanda upon the long grass and under the stars.

“Then I dig a tunnel from my window to yours,” she says.

“Then I dig a tunnel from my window to yours,” she says.

“Then I dig a tunnel from my window to yours,” she says.

In Vanda’s fantasy, gnomes are watching her and cats nuzzle her feet.  And when the tunnel begins to open in the earth, she is so happy that she has learned the magic of BIG people that she hugs her arms about herself and cradles the wand against her chest, where such sweet music had thumped inside her the other day.  The magic when it is alive is much louder than she would have believed, and much brighter, and it is not what she expected or wanted to find in her fantasy.  It is not fantasy at all, and that night, upon the grass and under the stars, there is no one there to see the flash of magic or to say if Vanda flies.

28 thoughts on “Phasors on Stun (Or “The Wand is a Gun”)

  1. I’ve been Vanda-lized. Not a freakin’ clue!! But that’s what I love about you NB…I just go with the flow and land where ever you stop. Cruel, but effective.

  2. My first thought was that Vanda was swallowed up by a fault that decided to become active right then. But I don’t know for sure, of course. Another decent story, Lewin. You depict Vanda, and her little girl flights of fancy, convincingly. I derived a modicum of enjoyment from it. You know, in a non-committal, indifferent sort of way.

    • Yah – you know, I’m pretty sure that someone at the NSA is spying on our conversations. I think we should up the weird ante if at all possible – I leave it to you to toss out the first salvo.

        • Let’s do it. They’re already watching us. I suggest we make the following proposal: that the US should consolidate with the Canada and become our newest (and biggest) province. You guys are pretty much canucks anyway. And they better take us seriously, or we will send our furry fiery friends down to gnaw all your trees. That sounds a little gross, and possibly a bit suggestive, but there you have it. It’s been said now, and is a matter of record, and I hope some NSA type is at least getting a chuckle out of this. Hey hoser – get a life!

  3. the whole time I’m thinking she’s gonna trip and fall on that magic wand and stab herself….it was such a lovely story until my brain tried to figure out what she was using for a wand… than as usual, the cliffhanger! I wish I lived close enough to you so that every once in a while I could smack you!! hahaha

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