Sleepingfish infinite
Process News 1


Thirii Myo

And the
Kyaw Myint


WE FOLLOW THE RAILROAD THROUGH the shrubbery. Every once in a while, there is a fallen tree, or a spiky plant growing thick and low, and we have to go around. I keep my eye on the tracks. I don’t want to get lost.

Soon, the trees begin to thin, and a chain link fence crops up beside us. Some parts of it are clawed through. By wolves, I think, or teenage girls meeting their lovers.

On the other side of the fence is a kind of gorge, and growing out of its throat are apartment buildings. The ground there is brown with leaves. Satellite dishes grow like liverworts over the roofs and balconies.

SOME GUY IN A BEANIE IS SMOKING IN the parking lot. He’s only in a t-shirt so the beanie’s for show. The lot is empty. I walk up to him.

I’m robbing you, I say.

Okay, he says.

He reaches for the pockets of his jeans and hands me a wallet, a lighter, and a stick of gum. The wallet is swollen shut like a black eye. I open it with some difficulty. The guy smokes his cigarette.

Look, I say, do you mind?

Sorry, he says, and moves away.

I find nothing in the wallet. No business cards from soothsayers. No foreign currency. No glamour shots of dead girlfriends.

I keep the stick of gum and return the rest.

THE CHAIN LINK FENCE COLLAPSES somewhere in the bramble and the trees thicken again. We do not see any buildings after the apartments in the gorge. The railroad runs straight.

You say you’ve been sleeping in squat houses at the city’s edge. The railroad is no place to sleep.

Ghost trains, I say. They’ll run you over.

Yes, you say.

There is a chill in the woods. I remember I have a beanie in my jacket and I pull it on to warm my ears.

THE GARDEN ART JUNKYARD LIES adjacent to the parking lot. When he finishes his cigarette, the guy asks if I want to sneak in.

Sure, I say.

We hop the fence and I find a spot on a porpoise and the guy sits down on a bench beside a little girl. The bench is bronze and the little girl, too. I imagine someone pouring molten lead on her. I imagine her dying in a volcanic eruption.

I like your pink hair, the guy says to me.

Thanks, I say.

THE WOODS ARE QUIET IN THE daytime. Your footfalls and my breathing are the loudest sounds.

The sound of my feet fits inside the sound of your footsteps and the sound of your breathing fits inside the sound of my breath, so we walk as one body following the railroad, aligning then separating from ourself.

The light in the woods is hollow. Our child is dead. Our womb is hollow. Because we are together, our child is dead again.

THE GUY IS ONE OF THOSE SQUATTER kids. He's got a sister and two parents in the city. They live in some mid-sized apartment and eat dinner together.

The guy tries to tell me why he ran away. We wander through the junkyard and back out to the parking lot. I am half-listening. The asphalt is broken up. There are no cars. We walk through some narrow streets and the guy points out a boxcar he used to share with a girlfriend.

Is she dead? I ask.

No, the guy says. He gives me a look.

WE STOP AT THE MOUTH OF A tunnel. The tunnel is walled up with bricks. Graffiti sprawls over it and neon ink seeps into the roots of nearby trees.

There is a shopping cart stuck in a tree. We throw a rock at it and hit a wheel. It spins. We stand there in the clearing before the tunnel and listen to that loose wheel squeak squeak squeak.

I say the railroad must lead out of the city.

You ask, On what train?


No, I say. I live alone.

How did you get here, then? he says.

I walked, I say.

It’s getting late, he says.

Yeah, I say.

We walk on through the dead streets. The glass of the streetlamps is broken, and I can see the alien bulbs inside. They give off a naked, orange light.

There is a bus stop on the next street, the guy says. The buses run till midnight.

THE TUNNEL BORES THROUGH SOLID rock, A rock face rising steeply. It is too smooth for us to climb.

You say the trains in the city were disassembled. The squatters tore them apart. They sleep in boxcars to keep out the wolves.

We must find a place to sleep before night. This is the farthest I have come from the city. I don’t know what lies on the other side of the tunnel.

WE SIT AT THE BACK OF THE BUS AND the guy tells me an okay story about his childhood. It is something about an accident, his kid sister, maybe his fault.

It wasn’t you fault, I say to the guy.

Yeah, he says, you’re right.

It’s my turn now, so I tell him about you and the railroad.

WHEN THE WHEEL OF THE SHOPPING cart falls silent, a child is born from the mouth of the tunnel. A few bricks fall out and the child crawls through.

You pick the little thing up by the legs.

The child is ours, you say.

How about the railroad? I say. The tracks pass under the brick wall. The child might have come from the other side of the rock.

EMPTY BOTTLES LINE THE TABLE WHEN we get back to my place. The bottom of a cake is stuck to the pan.

The guy doesn’t take off his shoes. He sits down on the couch. I sit down on the armchair under the window. I think I will fall asleep.

I close my eyes and picture my body getting up, walking to my room, opening the door, taking off my jacket, my tights, my dress, my underwear, my earrings. I open my eyes.

The guy is still there on the couch.

I SAY I WANT TO FIND A PATH around the rock face. I want to cross the city limits.

Hold on, you say.

You want to admire the graffiti. You say our child is to be thrown away.

We bundle the child in the beanie I am wearing and you climb the tree. My ears feel cold. Our child must be warm. You drop her body gently into the shopping cart, and the tree wiggles its kaleidoscope leaves.

I LET THE GUY TAKE OFF MY CLOTHES because I’m too tired to do it myself.

Down the hall, I say.

He pulls away.

What? he says.

The bed, I say.

I want to lie down. I want the guy to brush my teeth for me.

Come on, he says, lifting my body out of the armchair.

THE SHOPPING CART WILTS WITH THE weight of our child. You climb back down the tree.

You say that even from the highest branch, you could not see a way around the tunnel. The rock face rises too steeply and too high. The trees grow thickly around it.

We must find another way out of the city.

I say I want to rest awhile. I want to make another child. A more perfect one.

INSIDE MY BEDROOM IT IS VERY DARK. the guy is quiet. The beanie is gone at least and I am touching his hair. It is so soft.

The guy is waiting for me to tell him he can stay. He wants to talk about his adolescence. His first sexual feelings. The one time he stood up to his dad. Something like that.

I touch the guy’s hair in the dark, and I am thinking of trees. They look so puny when their leaves fall out.

WE LIE DOWN IN THE LEAVES AND LET the neon ink seep into our skin. The tips of my hair turn pink.

When our child is born, you take her little fluorescent body and feed it to the tunnel. We secure the loose brick with chewing gum. We wall her up in there, to keep her safe.

The graffiti spells our child’s name, and I am pleased.

IT IS STILL DARK IN MY BEDROOM when I wake up from the cold.

I get out of bed and put on a clean pair of underwear, comb my hair. The guy looks stupid asleep. Most people do.

I get down on my hands and knees and feel for his jeans on the floor. I find them. The swollen wallet, I take the cash. I take his beanie, too. I decide I will leave this city. I will find you and we will leave together.

WITH OUR FIRST CHILD IN THE shopping cart, and our second in the tunnel, we feel at ease. We decide to stay longer in the clearing. The wolves only come out at dusk, and we can find a place to sleep before then.

In the morning, we will find another way to leave. It cannot be that the whole city is walled by solid rock.

The rock face casts a shadow over the clearing and you are crouched in the dark, fastening bolts and aligning the railroad tracks.

I DON’T BOTHER TO TAKE THE KEYS with me when I leave my place. I don’t want to come back.

I slide the guy’s money into the pocket of my jeans, and stuff his beanie into my jacket.

I take the elevator down, even though I live on the second floor. I try to remember the story the guy told me. It was supposed to be sad. Then the elevator dings and the story is gone. I get in, and press for the first floor.

WE LEAVE THE TUNNEL WHEN THE sun moves behind the rock face. The shopping cart squeaks goodbye. The railroad leads us back the way we came.

Light comes scarce through the trees and the tracks are half-buried in the undergrowth. I listen closely for howls.

The woods are loud in the dark. The air is full of sounds both sharp and gaping. I cannot hear myself breathe.

THE STREETS ARE WET FROM THE sprinklers that come on in the city before dawn. Windows are drawn shut and garages locked. Lovers grope one another in parked cars, moaning mildly.

I am wearing soft shoes. I am thinking of no one.

I walk in the middle of the street and the trees and the streetlamps arch above me. It feels like I’m moving through a tunnel.

AFTER SOME TIME, WE PASS BY THE gorge again. The apartment buildings have sunk deeper into it. Windows are cracked and laundry is laid out on the ledges, over the broken glass. The wet seeps from the hanging sheets and runs down the walls, darkening the concrete.

You want to take a closer look.

We can rest here for the night, you say.

I WALK. I WALK AND I WALK, AND there is no one who will take the guy’s money. I want my palm read. I want to meet a wolf. I want a train to run out of this city and I want to be hit by that train

When the guy wakes up in my apartment, I hope he will continue to live there. My place is bigger than the squat houses at the city’s edge. It is bigger than the boxcars.

I drop the guy’s money, bill by bill, in the street. This way, he will have nothing. He will have to stay.

YOU CRAWL UNDER THE CHAIN LINK fence, and I follow you, to the gorge.

In the gorge, there are many dead children, bobbing up and down at the water’s surface. They are pale and silvery in the evening light, dressed in white pajamas. The apartment buildings are sinking.

You say you will go up the buildings first. Ride the elevator squeak squeak squeak to the top floor.

I sit down at the lip of the gorge.

I will wait right here, I say.

I WALK THROUGH THE SMALL HOURS. It is dark. I passed the junkyard a while ago. The porpoise and the little girl, the parking lot. I don’t know exactly where I am anymore. I am far from my place.

The buildings drop off as I walk and the sky opens.

I am heading for the woods at the city’s edge. I know you live there now, by the old railroad. You’ve been living there alone since our child died.

THE CHILDREN IN THE GORGE ARE ours. They were too beautiful for us to keep, in a shopping cart, or walled up in a tunnel, so we drowned them here in the gorge.

The trees grow in monotone. There is no graffiti to wet their roots. I lie down in the brown leaves and listen to the wolves howling deep in the water.

I WALK UNTIL I AM LOST. I FEEL THAT I’ve been lost here before. Not last night with the guy, but another time, when I was alone.

When our child died, you left for the railroad, and it was as if you took her away. As if the two of you were together without me, in a place I couldn’t follow.

THE WINDOWS IN THE APARTMENT buildings have no glass and I can see the dark hallways inside, filling up with water. The apartment buildings are all but swallowed.

In the gorge, the children’s white pajamas billow gently around their small bodies. I look for your face in the windows.

SOON THE BUILDINGS FLATTEN, THE streets taper and the asphalt starts to crack. The sky lightens and the streetlamps sputter off.

I hear dogs barking in a cage somewhere. Maybe they are not dogs. Maybe there is no cage. The trees are thickening. I walk.

WHEN I WAKE UP, I AM LYING ON MY back with one arm dangling into the gorge. The arm is wet and limp. I pull it up with some difficulty.

I look down into the gorge to find you, but only the satellite dishes are left. They bloom on the water like pale lotuses.

You are gone and you took our children with you. I miss their silver bodies.

ALL THE STREETS COME TO DEAD ends. I cannot follow them anymore, so I hike through the shrubbery. I find a footpath that runs through the trees.

The trees are losing their leaves.

I walk on in my soft shoes. I call out

YOUR NAME echoes in the gorge. I call it out again, and I think I hear a wolf howl.

The gorge is flooding. The elevator squeaks far below. The satellite dishes are submerged now. I have to find

THE WAY BACK to the streets is obscured by the undergrowth. I cannot tell what is the path anymore. The ground is all brown with leaves.
THE LEAVES ARE MATTED IN MY HAIR. I walk back to the chain link fence, claw through it. I make my way through the shrubbery and
THE TREES BEGIN TO THIN and metal is glinting in the undergrowth. Rusted tracks. It is
THE RAILROAD ends and soon I see the junkyard, and beyond that, the parking lot.
I GET CLOSER AND I SEE THAT someone is coming down the tracks.
Process News

Thirii Myint has complicated feelings about beanies. You can find her writings at:


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