Calculating a Body by Bryce Emly
In life it is never a mathematical proposition which we need, but we use mathematical propositions only in order to infer from propositions which do not belong to mathematics to others which equally do not belong to mathematics.
In that full second before flight finds stillness, before head fills with quarters and lungs stretch with dirt and blood, before bone tips split skin, before windshield splinters into stars and car completes its first rotation is everything physics needs to prove: a body in motion will remain in motion unless acted upon by the gravity of youth; only matter can’t be created or destroyed.
70 miles an hour over a bridge is a speed too great for this earth, the velocity of denial that wrenches logic from the gut for just long enough to forget motion is an arc that ends in a bed of wet grass and glass dust.
All bodies are defined by constant motion: each descent into October night, each ounce of pressure on a pedal, each correction to a wheel necessarily random. The only thing to expect is collision.
Once a body leaves another, it’s just motion, and never enough resistance to slow the velocity that has to end in stillness.
Where the path off Cemetery Road intersects with the oak sapling is the point plotted. But certainty of position, by principle, means equal uncertainty of momentum, whatever could have been becoming values arranged into the equation of an existence.
Anything can be predictable, even watching tires spin themselves still, wondering how anything but disorder should have been expected.
There’s always exchange: flesh for dirt, paint streaked onto tree, a body to the earth. A gas pedal is subject to whatever drives the foot of the reckless, the memory of what comes next subject to the need for the memory of what came next.
After, observing becomes remembering, measurement that always changes by its measuring as a Chevy Lumina becomes a fucking symphony every time it delivers the body to a 60-year-old oak tree.
Bryce is a freelance writer and MFA student at NC State. His work can be found in Best American Experimental Writing 2015, Mid-American Review, Prairie Schooner, Your Impossible Voice, etc., and he serves on staff for Raleigh Review and BULL: Men's Fiction.