Wien: An Excerpt

by Elise Wien | 5/24/17 2:15am

Latika Sridhar ’16 came back this weekend for Green Key and performed with her band, Half the City. This past fall, she had a cameo role in my play “The Game,” where she played The Kid Who Lives in the Fieldhouse. Her speaking voice is just as musical as her singing one. Here is her character’s monologue:


There once was a runner so fast

Broke records in every class

So quick did she run

Her atoms succumbed

And turned straight from solid to gas.

People don’t really notice anymore. It’s one of those things where you show up one day and appear somewhere so regularly that you become part of the landscape. It’s like Jerry. You know Jerry? Of course not. He’s this kid on the baseball team who was benched so often he actually became part bench. He’s in the dugout right now — his thighs just melded to the thing. Macguire spilled his Gatorade on him last Tuesday. Didn’t notice at all. I go down there and talk to him sometimes. Funny how something as simple as changing elements will completely shake up your priorities. Now his two greatest fears are someone farting on him, and rust. Anyway, I guess I notice him now because we’re both part of the landscape. The trees fraternizing with the mountains, you know?

How I came to live here. Right. It started three months ago, yesterday. We were here — we were always here — practicing. I would run and she would time, then she’d run and I’d time. We’d go on switching off like that for hours. She had been inching toward a new personal best — having milliseconds off her 800 meter — and I knew she’d break the record. She was the fastest girl in the world.

The police are after me now, since I was the last one with her. The physics department claims it’s impossible, but I think that’s just because they haven’t encountered particles that move as quick as she does. The custodian’s been real nice to me, sneaking me blankets and water. They think — well, I think they think — I killed her. That’s been a real trend in these parts, men killing their wives and girlfriends. I don’t get that. It seems to me, loving someone, the last thing you want is for them to disappear. Fault in understanding, that’s why we fly over distant lands and kill other people. But to kill someone you know you love — maybe that’s too much understanding. Maybe you understand her too deeply and that scares you and the only way you know how to deal with it is to get rid of her altogether.

We were that type of in love where you can’t seem to pinpoint the moment you fell in love with each other — can’t even remember the first time you met, because your timeline is bent altogether. The image I have of it in my mind ... she’s running, right? She’s on the track, and ... do you know Kepler’s law of orbital motion? That orbiting planets sweep out different distances at the same speed? In my mind, I am the gravitational mass and — and every time she comes around to my side it’s like her pace turns to lightning. It’s like, zeeeeeoou.

(Doppler noise and hand motion)

You know? Zeeeeooou. And ... it’s the strangest thing, there’s this breeze. The windows and doors are closed, my glasses are all fogged up, that’s how hot it is in there — but the sensation of wind hits me all of a sudden. And somehow I know it’s coming from her. Then I thought again, and, no — the first time we met was before that. It was the first day of class; she sat in the last row and I sat in the second to last row and I could feel this heat coming from behind me, like when you sit with your back to the sun. But every time I think about it now, it’s as if I’ve known her even before this — like ever since I met her, my future actions have changed my past. On a quantum level, how photons change their behavior based on future obstacles. Their future affects how they behave in the present, which, once discovered, becomes their past. And it’s as though, on a quantum level, I knew this. Like my atoms were always leaning toward her; ever so slightly. And I can’t pinpoint a beginning. She had this capacity ... to direct the weather. That day, she was kicking up dust, paint chips. And she kept running, and running, and running. The pile of hurdles in the southeast corner blew up in a flurry. And she kept running, and running, and running. The southwestern light fixture — that one — fell straight down and shattered, glass five feet all around the point of contact. And she kept running, and running, and running. And she ran so fast that the atoms in her body actually began to vibrate faster, and faster, and each time she made a lap they sped up, and sped up. And she kept running, and running, and running. The wind started to circle around the track, her own personal tornado. And she kept running, and running, and running. Until finally, she sublimated. Skipped right over liquid and just turned into gas. That’s why I live here now. You can’t see her, but sometimes when you feel a breeze in here, you know it’s her, just — running. She talks to me sometimes. Whispers statistics ... gossips about the nitrogen in the room. Lots of people don’t believe me. They say the reason I can’t remember a beginning is because she never existed, that things without beginnings could never exist. But I saw it. I did. Anyway, that’s why I can’t quit. I want to stay on this team forever. I won’t graduate ... heck, I don’t even need to go home anymore. I’ll sleep in the sand pit. I’ll eat the little black bits that hold down the Astroturf.

I get nervous every time the door is opened for a long period of time. Nervous that she’ll fly on out with the air.

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