entr’acte, exeunt, intracting

I am beginning to cocoon myself. Alone beneath the open sky I pull and pluck at disparate strings, thin to the point of nonexistence, barely matter, from the air, twining them between my fingers into thread. Unlike spider’s silk, my threads are coarse, peppered in color, irregularly shaped. The patterns of my weaving are rough to the eye and jagged to the touch. There is no elegance to my construction. It is miraculous, but that is all.

I begin with my torso, twining the threads about me upward and downward in turn, thickening the center of what will become my cocoon. I am protecting my most vital points; tight, but not uncomfortable, my chest and stomach press firm against the weaving when I breathe. I am beginning to imagine how the next few years will be.

I twine new threads down my left leg, straining against the bulk of what I’ve already created. Over hours I cover the limb, beginning with the fat part of my thigh. It feels less imperfect, more secure, inside the casing I’m creating. I resist the urge to tighten it; there must be room for bloodflow. I hope that time will make me smaller.

I wrap my second leg in thread and marvel at the reality of my creation. It is beginning to be difficult to imagine an alternate, prior existence. I am encased, I am myself. I must internalize the new reality, a mental readjustment proving easier, more automatic, than one might initially expect.

I begin my arms with apprehension; the more that I continue, the more difficult the work becomes to undo. There is a point that I will lose my ability to escape what I’m creating. This I consider, as I twine the tendrils down my forearm, asphalt gray and hardening.

In order to ensure that my cocoon will be impermeable, I now begin to wrap my head. I will finish the construction blind. It is the only way to ensure that my head will be protected; to secure the webs around my nostrils, ears, the fine contours of my face, I will need dexterity. It is difficult to decide what last to cover—my nose, my eyes. I seal my mouth without concern. There is nothing left for me to say.

Now I have become as like a being otherworldly, my shape wide and irregular, save for the flesh of my hands and feet, protruding from my stiffening sleeves as I commence the final step. This is the point of no return. I lay myself upon the ground and begin to bind my legs together, lashing them into a rigid plank, inarticulate. I wrap my feet to one another til they form a rounded tip. I wiggle my toes, and tighten.

The work grows harder as my body fatigues, but soon, it will all be over. I lash my left arm to my chest, and bind my fingers flat against my body. I place my right hand on my heart, using what little space remains between my other arm and chest to squeeze in my uncovered digits, these last five fingers of bare skin. The web will seal my hand, in time, inside the space beneath my other arm. The key to making it secure at all is to stay as still as I can be. The inexactness of the seal creates the weakest point of my cocoon, but is not so due to oversight. I stretch my fingers, and try to feel my heartbeat as it slows. In years’ time, I will need the space around my fingers slack, when I use my unbound hand, finally, to break free.

Photo credit: Zdzisław Beksiński