The Study by Ryan Griffith

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On the record Lydia Ruslanova was singing a war song, the wounded bird of her voice trying to fly, quivering, hurt, temporal, employed not as an instrument of beauty but of grief, so that as we sat in Slava’s study—dusk, cognac, The Fall of the Roman Empire—we were all wounded in time, together but solitary in the particular cages of our memories, our losses, our deaths, the feeling I once had many years earlier as a child at the circus in Fresno, California on a hot September night before school had started, when as a final act they removed the net for a family of Romanian acrobats, and under the sickly spin of light I saw a woman on the high wire teeter and drop, alive briefly in the fall, grasping and gorgeous, a dilation of time forever caught in the cinema of remembering, and the crowd released a collective animal sound before my grandmother clapped her hands over my eyes and there was the most perfect silence I have ever heard, each of us trapped in the specific machines of our grief as the lights went out and darkness came on.

Ryan Griffith’s fiction has appeared in, Fiction Southeast, NANO Fiction, and The Wigleaf Top 50 Very Short Stories of 2012.  He currently runs a multimedia narrative installation in San Diego called Relics of the Hypnotist War.  You can visit his website at

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