About the Author
What We Choose to

Missing Man
Swan's Way, 1998
The Elephant Gang
Honeymooners Marathon

World Voices Home

The Literary Explorer
Writers on the Job
Books Forgotten
Thomas E. Kennedy
Walter Cummins
Web Del Sol


For you, my long-awaited one, I observe the opening scene: A wide screen of solid black dissolves into infinite white. An opaque universe without boundaries, landmarks, features of any kind. A blank slate with no surface, nothing on which to carve the story that waits to be written. But the story will come. You know this, and it is all you know. In the invisible depths of your own inner space, you have no choice but to believe that out of nothing, something will emerge.
        Your mind's eye is blank. You see nothing, for there has never been anything to see. Your only memories are of sounds, though your ears have yet to discern a single clear note ringing through the great open stillness that enfolds you. You recall instead the feel of sounds: the murmuring caress of soft undulations, the sharp sting of staccato sounds, and, always, the slow shudder of heavy waves tumbling over you like surf, though you have never felt surf. And the taste of sounds, their salty ebb and flow as they wash through you. You do not hear these sounds. You drink them, draw each rippling note into your small, perfectly formed mouth, down your throat into your stomach, and let its fulsome substance nourish you. You breathe sounds, fill your lungs with their astonishing din, their labyrinthic structures, their invisible, incomprehensible forms.
        And now, breaking through the unending white I picture for you, a sound you don't remember: a soft, melancholy tone. Then another, and another. You cannot know these sounds emanate from the plucked strings of an instrument called a harp. Nor can you recognize the even lonelier strains of the violin that follow. Nevertheless, you drink and breathe their slow, sad music until out of the unending white something finally does appear: two faint dots, whiter than the whiteness they penetrate. You might recognize their twin radiance, but you have never seen light. For you, I observe the twin dots grow and brighten in the brilliant gloom, until more shapes appear: a black bird, fluttering above a crystallizing roadway. The bright dots expand like swelling stars until the shimmering corona of an approaching automobile materializes around them. A drum beat rises to a full-orchestra crescendo as the automobile, towing a second vehicle, plows directly toward us both through powder white, and the name of the white world before us is revealed:

F   A   R   G   O

        As the letters on the wide screen fade away, I think of your name: Rachael. Of the Book of Genesis. Rachael Lehualani, “blossom of the heavens.” You float beside me in your own dark universe, the universe of your mother's womb. I turn to my left to observe her belly swelling to its fullest capacity beneath the gray bubble of the maternity dress whose true color cannot be discerned in the shadows of the old Varsity Theater in Manhattan, Kansas.
        “Are you all right?” I whisper as the opening credits fade in and out of the white.
        “I'm fine,” your mother-to-be says. In the dim light reflecting off the screen, she looks exhausted, as if the effort of watching the white world materialize before us takes all her available energy. Like me, she's forty-six. “Do you know what this is about?” she asks.