by Mark Gluth
(available now from Sator Press)
The following is a passage from No Other. In a sequence of haunted seasons, Tuesday, Hague, and their mother Karen are pained by the aporia of love and death. With powerfully elemental prose, No Other lays bare the mysterious and emotional fate of a small family.
In Mark Gluth's beautiful family gothic No Other, the reader encounters a landscape of mood and mystery, burning with a stripped-down pain. Gluth's sentences devastate in their raw economy, attempting to penetrate the everyday, tracing abbreviated existences struggling to survive through bare seasons. — Kate Zambreno, author of Green Girl & Heroines
In clipped, incantatory verse shined from whorls somewhere between Gummo and As I Lay Dying, Mark Gluth's No Otherinvents new ambient psychological terraforma of rare form, a world by turns humid and eerie, nowhere and now, like a blacklight in a locked room. — Blake Butler, author of 300,000,000
It's devastating. — William Basinski, composer of The Disintegration Loops
At the end of September Tuesday got an earache. It shot down her jaw. She was a shape on her bed beneath the drapes and the window behind them. When her palate swelled it pushed against her tongue. Chills wracked her shoulders as she stood in the shower. She held water in her mouth after she turned off the faucet. Her skin felt cold from the air. She just left her hair wet and put on her robe and brushed her teeth. The hall was empty. It smelled like perfume. In her room she thought that she should drink tea. It was because her roommate said to. She took the mug out of the microwave. It burned her hand. Her elbows and chest ached when she coughed. The room spun, her balance fell away. She looked at the building across from her dorm. Leaves swirled around the HVAC units on the roof. The light was there because she could see it on them. The bricks and windows didn’t move until she fell back onto her bed. They cut to sky. When she squinted it cropped the sun. She reeled as she ran. It was down the hall and towards the bathroom. She threw up in the sink. The water flowed from the faucet. She just left it on. She sat on a toilet. The tile in the stall was damp. She slipped her foot from her flip flop and felt the cold on her heel and toes. Her face swelled with fluid. She rested it on her hands. Her sinuses ached beneath her fingertips when she pressed them. She stood in front of one of the mirrors. She dried her hand with a paper towel. A girl helped her back to her room. She rested her ear on a hot water bottle. Her cheek hardened and swelled beneath her skin. She massaged her neck. Her roommate touched her forehead. She told her that she needed to go to the doctor. Tuesday rubbed her finger against her thumb. Her roommate said she should call her mom. She said that she could wire Tuesday money. After Tuesday dialed the number Karen answered. The sound in the background was a buzzing wire. After she said Hey Mom it was the only thing that wasn’t silent. Tuesday spoke and begged. She didn’t say anything. She said But I have this fucking fever. She just lay there on the bed and stared into space. She put the phone down and shuddered. What the fuck. Her roommate said Don’t worry dear. She told Tuesday that she could use her credit card. She said No. She told her that she wanted her to. Tuesday shivered as she walked down to the parking lot. Her roommate drove her across campus. The nurse swabbed the back of her throat. They gave her a shot of antibiotics. They gave her sulfa drugs. Her stomach burned when she took them. Her fever lasted a week. She lost weight because she lost her appetite. She mixed honey into vinegar and water. She gulped it. The skin on her chest and fingers swelled and peeled from her necklace and rings. Her roommate went home for the weekend and Tuesday forgot to eat. She only drank water. Her roommate didn’t return. It was because she was in this accident. Her father picked up her stuff. He put it all in the back of a truck. Tuesday asked him if she was in the hospital. He only said she was ok. He kept saying it. Some girls started a collection for her. They had a bake sale. Her parents used the money to pay towards her funeral. She’d taken a turn. Tuesday’s hand shook while she read that sentence in the email that her roommate’s parents had sent out. She didn’t feel it because her hands and everything were numb. She closed the email, her laptop. There’s no way Tuesday could think about it. She didn’t. They let Tuesday drop her classes, the college did. A friend of this guy she knew was looking for a housemate. She got a job and moved out of the dorms. She bought a mattress at The Salvation Army. She put it on the floor. Her room was tiny. It was a studio in the otherwise unfinished second floor. She couldn’t open her dresser drawers all the way without standing on her mattress. There was this bigger bedroom for rent on the first floor but it cost more. Tuesday just lay in bed and drank echinacea tea. She ate rice and frozen pizza. Her mother didn’t have her address because she didn’t give it to her. She got a cell phone. When she held her hand up to a candle she didn’t feel anything. It was because she was only thinking about touching it because she was in bed and the candle was on her dresser. Her water had been cold until the ice melted. The glass was empty. There was something at the bottom. The candle wick extinguished because the tea light had melted down. Then it turned dark, the room and everything.
Tuesday’s housemate was named Ingrid. They stood in the kitchen together. Ingrid said she realized that she recognized her from this class they’d had. Tuesday was nibbling on a cracker. Ingrid said cheers as she clinked her beer bottle against her water glass. Tuesday didn’t know what to say. She smiled, she looked down and away. Ingrid said she was drunk. She told her that she was going to bed. Tuesday shut off the light. The kitchen was dark then and she stood in it. When she walked into her room she got into bed. The rain started and it didn’t let up. Damp drafts came through the walls and from around the windows. She pulled her blanket over her head. She had to buy a raincoat because the jacket she had soaked through to her skin. Ingrid invited her to her boyfriend’s for Thanksgiving. They walked in the drizzle carrying platters of food in cardboard boxes. The wine they drank with dinner was sour. Tuesday drank coffee afterward. Her stomach settled then. The apartment was hot from the oven. Something warm spread across Tuesdays cheeks. Ingrid’s boyfriend talked about leaving his Datsun at their house. It was because he was going to be going to Guatemala. Tuesday asked him if it ran. He started to talk. Ingrid laughed, she said Honey, kissed him. Tuesday looked down because she wanted to leave because she thought they wanted to be alone. She didn’t get up. Ingrid put her hand on her shoulder. She poured her more coffee. That night she lay in bed and her eyes strained towards the ceiling. Her jaw and head cramped then. She fell asleep all headachy and sobbing.
Ingrid had a going away party for her boyfriend after classes broke. Tuesday didn’t know any of their friends. She drank wine. She walked around the room until she had drunken so much that she had to sit down. It was because all the light in the room had narrowed then spun. When she woke up she walked into the bathroom. She had diarrhea. She gagged when she brushed her teeth. A few days later the house was empty. Ingrid had gone home. Tuesday stayed. Ingrid had asked her if she was sure when she hugged her before she left. She asked her why she wasn’t going home. Tuesday said it was because her mom was a selfish bitch. She said it was because she didn’t want to see her. Ingrid looked into her eyes. When Tuesday was alone she turned on the furnace and all the lights. On Christmas she just slept because she didn’t have to work. When she woke up it’d been a year since Hague died. She stood there and looked out the window. Everything was grey because the sky was white. Fog came in, it gave way to rain. It hit the peeling side of the garage in waves. She watched that happen. It was drapes that she closed. She felt cold regardless. It was because everything was. She boiled water for coffee, looked under the sink for paper towels. After she peed she blew her nose. She sat at the kitchen table with the lights off. She just stared into the distance like the wall she was facing was some great length away. A year ago she’d held Hague as this cut belt unwound then slackened. She thought that and repeated the thought. She kept until it was just these images that disappeared when she tried to focus on them. The wall hung still. Her welled eyes were behind it. Time that passed was changing light. These shadows reminded her of other shadows but Hague was standing in front of those so she blinked. She made it upstairs because that’s where she aimed for. When she moved towards something she moved away from everything else. Tuesday just lay on her side and hugged her knees to her chest. She held them so tight she shook. She stopped. She just lay there and nothing stopped.
Ingrid came back after New Years. She rented the third room out. It was to a girl named Rachel. Ingrid’s eyes were bright in the lamp light of the living room. Rachel and Tuesday were hanging out with her. She said that they should take the Datsun out for a ride. She said Come on.
Rachel and Ingrid walked into the kitchen. Tuesday stood outside. She opened the car door and pushed the passenger seat forward. She climbed into the back. Burns pocked the lamb’s wool seat covers. The car started after Ingrid played with the ignition. She drove them through the suburbs and out into the fields that surrounded the city. They took the freeway past malls and lights and stores. Ingrid blasted music. The door panels rattled because of the speakers. The exit they took was lit by a gas station sign. They drove on a road that was gravel and dark, thus empty. Rachel and Ingrid passed a can of beer back and forth. The road ran parallel to the freeway. Tuesday closed her eyes. She opened them. Flooded floodplains were glassy planes. They rode over railroad tracks. When Tuesday turned she looked. The freeway looked like lights tracing the shape of the freeway. Fence posts spun away against the darkness. Rachel and Ingrid spoke and smoked. Rachel cracked a tall boy. When she passed it back Tuesday said she didn’t feel like drinking. Then she didn’t say anything. She took it, sipped on the can until it was empty. The booze made the world stretch out until it just lasted forever. She tilted her head back. She looked out the back window. It was all a smudgy arena. That’s what she saw. She watched the lights of the city as they approached it from a ways off. Her thoughts and the night just drowned in the shimmer. Their street was a hill and it didn’t have any streetlights. The car began to rattle as Ingrid pulled it into the driveway. It was all shadows because it was between two houses. Tuesday coughed because of the cigarette smoke. She stepped in a puddle because it’d rained and the driveway was packed dirt and level. It was because she was too buzzed to pay attention. She said Fuck. She stumbled as she walked inside. The house was old. The foundation was bricks and cement. The floor shifted beneath their feet when they walked. Ingrid stood in her room with her. She said that the smell was coming from the carpet. She told her to nail a tarp down over it. Tuesday bought old blankets and laid them over that. Her room was on the side of the house. The stairs led right to it. Her window showed an alley. With the angle of the light her room was all golden in the afternoon. The days were so short. The tree limbs shifted in the wind. Rain washed away snow. It all turned to ice when the sky turned clear. It wore on. Tuesday walked home in the dry cold at night. She peeled off her scarf and hat. She left them where they were. She had to hang fly paper from a tack because flies filled her room. They poured through a crack in the ceiling that lead to the attic.