Tag Archives: Jennifer Savran Kelly

“Questionnaire for the Gravitron Operator Before I Ride” – Fiction by Jennifer Savran Kelly

Gravitron at Night – photo by Minshullj at English Wikipedia [GFDL or CC BY 3.0 ], via Wikimedia Commons
Should you desire an early taste of our dazzling & discombobulating Fall 2018 issue before it flies on September 22, here’s Jennifer Savran Kelly‘s curious & captivating flash fiction “Questionnaire for the Gravitron Operator Before I Ride.”

Print copies of our Fall issue are available on Amazon, while digital (PDF) copies are available for $3US via PayPal— and remember, for the month of September, we’ll be donating 50% of all our sales to RAICES to help provide legal assistance for underserved immigrant families.

{ X }

  1. WHY DID YOU CHOOSE THIS JOB? Do you live nearby? If not, where do you come from? Is it better or worse than here?
  2. How many times a day do you ride? How many a week? How many minutes of your life do you spend inside a dark merry-go-round that reaches twenty-four revolutions per minute in less than twenty seconds? How can you stand it over and over and over again?
  3. What is it like to be in the center? Is gravity affected the same way? Do you spin? Or are you still as the passengers (may I call them passengers?) whirl around you at warp speed? Maybe you don’t pay attention. I see you keep your head down as you exit to welcome new passengers.
  4. Why do you keep your head down?
  5. Is the ride safe?
  6. What’s so safe about giving up control? To you?
  7. What makes you qualified to operate the ride? You take our tickets like you’re afraid of taking but know you have to, opening your fingers, too long for your hands, outstretched, waiting for our tiny permission slips to fall into them. Do your fingers always tremble?
  8. What kind of person are you? When you hold a pen, do you hold it like you’re about to cross out whatever you’ve just written? Or do you plow ahead, the pressure of your hand smudging the words?
  9. What do you think of the riders? Do you love us or mock us?
  10. What about our faces, our fear and delirium splayed wide as speed plasters us to the wall? Does it frighten you how much you enjoy it—seeing us stuck? Out of control?
  11. Is that it? Do you like to be in control?
  12. Have you ever noticed you can be in control, have control, or take control?
  13. From whom do you take it?
  14. I’m over forty-eight inches tall, but how does that prepare me for more gravity? I was under forty-eight inches when I had the health teacher who thought it was fun to play Jeopardy-style games. What is dental floss? What is tobacco? What is stress?
  15. Did you know her—Mrs. Layton, who taught about the different types of child abuse?
  16. Did you know that was something you could get quizzed on in school?
  17. Do you know what it’s like to be sitting in a classroom, surrounded by friends, when you learn the real word for that disturbing attention you get from your step-dad—the one who tells you he’s giving you a “health lesson?”
  18. What is irony?
  19. Do you know what it’s like to have your brother try to save you, to rescue you from under that weight, only to be taken away for his service? What it’s like to be left alone with the ones you need saving from? To feel that fragile?
  20. What is an egg?
  21. Is that why everyone loves the Gravitron—the Devil’s Hole? They think gravity will return them to their bodies?
  22. Does it?
  23. In physics, a rigid body is a solid body in which deformation is zero or so small it can be neglected.
  24. What is psychotic? Does it run in the family? Did you ever stop to think it was you that was spinning out of control, dreaming about setting someone on fire just to watch what it would do to the flesh, how long it would take to burn?
  25. Right after he did it, my brother, he came home, and I never would have known anything happened. Not one trace of fear or regret visible on his face, not one sense that anything was different. It was how normal everything seemed that was chilling.
  26. Normal force must be zero.
  27. Is there an equation to help me make sense of this? What is the gravimagnetic moment (GM)? What coefficient at the GM equals unity?
  28. What is dizzy?
  29. Why can’t we ride for more than eighty seconds?
  30. What is one moment in a life?
  31. Is that how long it took?
  32. To watch the fire burn? To consume him?
  33. Do you think my brother knew he would survive?
  34. And pardon me, but I have to ask,
  35. Is it possible he thought, even once, about what that would mean
  36. For me?

{ X }

JENNIFER SAVRAN KELLY  lives in Ithaca, New York, where she writes, binds books, and works as a production editor at Cornell University Press. She has written for film and print, and her fiction has appeared in Green Mountains Review, Iron Horse Literary Review, Souvenir LitGrist: A Journal of the Literary Arts (Online Companion), and elsewhere. She was honored to receive a 2018 grant from the Barbara Deming Memorial Foundation for her novel-in-progress ENDPAPERS.

Advertisements