M. Night Shyamalan’s History of the World – Diana Valenzuela
This is the Truth:
1. The first world was created by a terminally bored lunatic. Suns were worlds, worlds were suns, space lay at our fingertips.
The lunatic god pulled a cosmic trigger because bored bored bored bored, he was bored (or maybe hurting). He expanded his soul, blew his nose, dug his elbows into banks of floating stardust, and spent eight hours kneading a moist little globe, a noisy, beige-and-neon globe, the sort of world one would imagine when recalling the mid-eighties. This god was pleased because he liked the song “Careless Whisper” and because he foresaw the supposed beauty of a young Charlie Sheen. Pleased, yes, pleased.
2. This god also created Birth who in turn created—with the gestural language of anger—a host of faceless child gods.
Once the first world had cooled completely, the child gods built their own monsters, monsters with invisible skin and wide, visible jugulars that my family loved. We were the jaguars, we destroyed the first world, us with our lice-ridden fur, us with our ability to digest giant throats for fun and profit. From the beginning, my family managed carnage better than anyone could have guessed.
3. The second world was the work of a wide-mouthed feathered serpent, the tepid type of feathered serpent you’d see cast as a white-boy love interest for a two-episode arc on the sitcom Friends. Backwards baseball cap, plaid professional, well-groomed snout, crooked tribal tattoo on his left bicep, girlfriend with shoulder padded blazer—this god created human life. But who would want to be human at such a time? Mind you, Seinfeld had just jumped ship and everyone cared about Bill Clinton.
The humans were made in the image of their creator. They were soft. They liked bad television. They ate mayonnaise. Their hair fell around them in bright, blue feathers.
When their god wasn’t looking, it was easy to call them close and coo sweet nothings until they popped like piñatas and oh, my family lived for centuries.
3. The third world was built by a water fetishist god who had a handful of aquatic seeds, a pinch of human DNA, and a big old heart that hid right behind his tonsils. His world looked something like the beginning of the film Prometheus only without any of the stunning visual effects or sporadic plot holes—just a blurry, grey mess of falling oceans.
But my family hated swimming, we demanded glitter, we demanded high top sneakers, we begged for Starbucks caramel lattes, we cried for Hot Cheetos, we demanded, demanded, demanded, we consumed and ate and shrieked, Moremoremoremore.
So the water fetishist spat globs of blue and orange fire at his world. Like, even he had to admit that being a god wasn’t much worth it if you had to go around serving everyone. Might as well go live for yourself, no?
The humans turned to ash and dirt, the plants turned to gravy and sludge.
We cackled into our scorched, flaking fists.
4. The fourth world was introduced by a goddess who was known for not caring, just not caring at all. We thought she might be the sort of pop-punk loving, early 2000’s-fixated, teenaged god who wouldn’t give us trouble. But no, she was a wife, she was a mother, she left her world bare and wanting until it devoured itself in a flood.
Confronted by cannibalism (humans atop humans, earth churning up and over earth) and my family’s rage, she stood atop her earth and shrugged. She waded into her deathly, brittle ocean as if she were dipping her toes into a swimming pool. Men turned to fish at her submerged feet and we heard them sob, we heard them scream. They needn’t have worried—centuries later, she was reborn in ice, her face frozen into a slight, pale oval. Some of us argued that she could have played Betty Draper on Mad Men.
We gorged ourselves on fish.
5. The sun god came to create this last place, the world that starts with two rows of yellow corn in my east Oakland backlot. The sun god nudged it all into motion gradually, pulsing his fingers around the world like it was too hot to hold. He took the bus up from El Paso to stagnate at a lunch counter, dragging along a big crowd of brown children. He adopted railroad DNA and filtered it into that hot-blooded drive to watch as many Fast & The Furious films as possible before science class in the morning. He collected dreams that form as sepia-toned flashes of thin, silent Juárez, the houses that stretch long in dreams, the fields of hands waving the train so far away.
Then, the sun god went out and got a bunch of stuff.
Our world started with Costco muffins, Sinatra records, spangled, Coke-colored, plastic, beaded stuff, just so much stuff, miles and gallons and acres of stuff, all of it spackled onto the mock-brick linoleum, the rickety shelves of grocery store romance novels, the garbage bags stuffed with firecrackers, and our weary human legs and ankles. Jaguars no longer.
The world is mixed-up roosters crowing at five in the afternoon, hoards of mouth-breathing neighbors who call the police on each other for fun, roving bands of cousins from Walnut Creek who flock east to eat our tomatoes. My cousins are muscular, and mostly darker than me (sometimes lighter). They are angry when I ignore them, when I read books, or when I think too much. They are angry that I have coarse, staticy hair. They are angry when I tell them that I have not seen the film Unbreakable.
A masterpiece, they say.
To cure my frizzy-haired, uneducated illness, my cousins push me onto the couch. They turn on the television, and they order me to reform. The fog hasn’t burnt off yet. I hear my cousins sifting through my comic books. They leave small, silent gifts: skin cells, hangnails, particles of rich, red, Walnut Creek dust. They borrow my Usher CDs, they jabber into rhinestoned cellphones, they race outside to search for crop circles in our two rows of corn. They are years older than me, high school freshmen with picket fence braces and pounding, twisted jugulars. I sink into the couch.
We have seen Unbreakable. We have seen Signs. We know everything.
We know that some people follow us home, some people ignore us in the street. We know how to shrug and sigh when our friends say, ‘It’s like, you’re not really Mexican at all? Like, you like white people things? Like rock music and stuff?’
Whatever. We know how to act the part. We know how to ruin everything. We’ve been around for a while, we know how to wait.
I do not live in Walnut Creek. I live in Oakland.
I know the Truth.
Diana Rae Valenzuela is a college dropout with a slight blogging addiction. She has a tattoo of an ‘X’ on her left thumb from a short-lived straight-edge period. She is twenty-two and a half. Once, a rock fell out of her ear. She tweets @internetpenpal.