oscar’s fifth chapter: the high and low, new-morning tides of a brain.

Oscar shuffled into the kitchen. At the stove, dancing slightly, was his mother, wearing a wildly floral bathrobe, red cowboy boots, singing folk songs from the twenties and thirties in an exaggerated Broadway manner. She was also wearing a poorly applied mask of pancake batter as she sang lightly, to an audience of one, and flipped pancakes with a short but happy sizzle. This is what Oscar woke up to.

“Bon dieu, my beamish boy!”

“Good morning, Mom.”

Flip, sizzle, sing too-rali-oo-rali-oo-rali-AY!

“Hey, Mom…”

“‘… Sweet Betsy from Pike.’ How’s your book?”

“Oh, okay… I read one sentence over and over and over last night before I fell asleep, and now I can’t remember anything about it.”

“Oh,” she said pointing the spatula at Oscar’s head,” It’s in there, dear. And when you pick up your book and find that sentence, you will be instantly, intimately familiar and cozy with that sentence and all it’s meanings – if not more. That sentence will probably mean more to you than any other in the book, and you should write the author a little note telling him – or her! – which of the sentences you slept with. They’ll be very happy to hear from you, I’m quite sure.”

“Well then, are the other sentences wasted?”

“Oh no, dear, absolutely not. Someone somewhere will fall asleep to one of those other sentences, so they have to be there.”

“Can there be a book with just one sentence?”

“Oscar, there can be anything you can imagine; and once you’ve imagined it, it’s there.”

“Then would all those other maybe blank pages be wasted?”

“Honey, when you talk about an idea and creation, there is nothing more meaningful and rich with possibility than the blank page. Well, except maybe an empty wall.” She poured out two more pancakes to sizzling applause. “It’s bigger.”

The pancakes bubbled and Oscar started. The moon lay sizzling on the grill, and it was just as flat as he remembered it last night. His mom shuffled the spatula under one of the moons and flipped it over revealing its dark side. It was very smooth.

Flip sizzle. More applause.

Oscar was waking up. He wondered what Captain Crunch would taste like in the pancakes.

The moons on the grill showed their appreciation for Oscar’s mom’s Broadway interpretations of the old folk tunes.

“Hey Mom?”

“‘I can seen by your outfit that you are a cowboy…’” his mom sang.

Oscar sipped his grapefruit juice and considered a new purpose for his life: he was going to write the sentence that could be buried somewhere in a big, fat book full of smooth, white, whispering, infinitely dense nothing.

He ate four sides of the moon – all dark but rich with melted butter and sweet with real maple syrup – then retired to his room to contemplate his sentence.

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