“Just As You Like It,” by Jean McGarry

God created everything in a rage. He had never wanted more than what he had: airy space and his own kind of play. He’d come from an old family and was the only boy. Everything there was was his, and he spent his days, before the world was there to bug him, changing into different shapes. He made the mistake, a first, of doubling himself, and the extra thing was set aside, but he forgot it, and a certain—call it plasma, with a strip of his code—turned the corner, remembering the pain of shaping and reshaping, and being spat out like vomit. This “extra” was something to be dealt with, but later. Before this unspecified time elapsed, though, the extra had devised for itself existence, or being. There was, as yet, no place for it to be, and the extra suffered the whirling and battering winds caused by the fast-shaping first party: shape upon shape upon shape. The extra had no eyes, and only a bit of brain, but it persisted and even evolved, so hard did it work on itself. By the time God noticed it again, it was forty years old and ugly as sin, which is where God got the idea of something that was filth and not him. Still, the lonely life he was leading had its limits, which he was forever exceeding, and he let this thing be. It was more trial than experiment, as God had not yet discovered his own will. Will, of course, requires another, so once another was there, will was next.

Will begot rage when the other proved different, if not resistant, so God let himself go, and blew the extra to oblivion, not yet filled in, so the extra just kept going in one direction.

This trial, more accident than experiment, set God to scouring out the contents of his now-agitated mind. Instead of becoming a new shape every new second, he put the shapes in his mind and turned them there, folded them, and shined them. This was a game that calmed him, after the last sport was spoiled.

The universe was an extrusion of this mental play, although the place and machinery for mental life were not quite there, until will sponsored a certain organization of the shapes. One thought—not the foam and foolery of old time—came into being when he’d gotten the shapes in order, separating them by class, size, color, and a new word. A word could be created out of nothing and applied to each shape; meaning, in a few seconds, could be assigned, using a non-numerical system whose members pulled apart like poppet beads, and could be pushed together again in a different order. So far, this was the best game of all. Some of the words were nutty, and could not be pronounced, but God did not speak, and had no tongue, so his non-numerical system was freedom, something he prized more than any other toy…

Read more in Little Star Weekly #12

Jean McGarry is the author of eight books of fiction, most recently Ocean State. Her 2006 novel, A Bad and Stupid Girl, received the University of Michigan Fiction Prize. Her stories have appeared in Little Star #2 and Little Star #3. She is co-director of the Johns Hopkins Writing Programs.

Jean McGarry will appear BookHampton is East Hampton for a Little Star reading and conversation with Eliot Weinberger, Cynthia Zarin, Carol Muske-Dukes, and editor Ann Kjellberg for a reading and conversation on July 25, 2013, at 8:00 P. M.

Please tell us you’re coming or leave a comment here!


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