Concede the heat of noon in summer camps. The quarters wavering in bottled heat, cots lined up in the big dark rooms that are pitch black if you walk in out of the sun. Black, quiet, empty, and the screen door banging shut three times behind you. Allowed in alone only if you are faint. Perhaps the heat has come over you, settled in from above and sucked your insides until you must lie down to sleep in the empty cabin while the rest are at hiking or canoes or archery. Now you lie there sleeping and the room is heavy and warm, but cooler than noon, the rough wooden walls exuding shade. The cots are precisely mute. Identical and different in olive green blankets, each pulled tight and tucked. In your mind, you see the bodies lying there, each in its own future. You are frightened because it is you here with the future. And they are scattered along Mud River walk, obscured by dense leaves, their occasional cries no louder than the sounds of the invisible birds. Or they are standing in line before bright targets stretched across baled hay. They are holding taut straight out, pulling back on the strings with all their strength.
Recommended Reads | Back to School
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An extract from Ben Lerner’s latest novel, The Topeka School.
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