A Cartoon Universe

Todd Sullivan

A Cartoon Universe

Seong’s classmates cavort on the ceiling, their shrieks of laughter raining down to drench his hair. He creates a flock of sparrow and blue jay origami on the wooden nest of his desk, forced focused on the delicate manipulation of kami paper. Don’t look up, don’t look up, he mantras to himself, berating his eyes when they threaten to betray him. Shame sets fire to the back of his neck, threatens to rise up his jaw and chin to flame his face red.

“Spider, spider, stuck on the floor,” his friends chant. Jae-Seong’s hands quiver, tears watering his vision. He wishes to dance between the lights, join his classmates in play, but he’s been practicing how to defy gravity for days and all he has to show for it are Rorschach bruises from his falls. One plus one equals two, E = mc2, the sun rises in the morning and sets at night. Rational rules make rational sense, and no matter how much he wills it, he simply can’t get over the fact that he’s been walking floors and staring up at ceilings all of his life. Now the world is asking him to fly.

Jae-Seong settles the origami birds at the precipice of his desk and taps a madcap rhythm on the polished surface. The flocks crane their necks, flap their wings, and take silent flight to circle like a halo above his head.

      In Looney Tunes worlds
      rational minds bloom

Todd Sullivan teaches English as a Second Language in South Korea. His fiction, poetry, and non-fiction have been published internationally. He was listed on the preliminary ballot for the Bram Stoker’s Awards in 2018, and was nominated for a Pushcart Prize for poetry and fiction in 2023. He currently has two book series through indie publishers in America. He wrote for a Taipei play and web series that focused upon African narratives. He founded the online publication, Samjoko Magazine, in 2021, and hosts a YouTube Channel that interviews writers across the publishing spectrum.

Backstory:Editor’s Notes & Image Credit: Photograph of a flock of origami birds–a type of crane (Rishabh Dharmani on Unsplash)

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One Response to A Cartoon Universe

  1. John Baumgartner says:

    Nicely written and read – this is my morning ‘takeaway’ about the roadblocks that can come from ‘overthinking’ a thing beyond its intended purpose: let it go and let it flow!

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