Selections from Barrow Street

"Parable of the Beginning," by Bernadette Geyer

It began as a joke.

It began as a challenge to see who could tell the funniest joke.

It began as a story that went on so long it became a joke.

It began as a sound wrenched loose from a throat. A laugh.

It began as a laugh that suddenly changed.

It began only when the laughter suddenly changed.

It began as a change they only suddenly noticed when the laughter stopped.

It began as a silence following a contagion of laughter.

It began as a contagion that spread among them throat to throat.

It began as a cure to a contagion.

It began as a rejection of the idea that a contagion could be cured.

It began as a rejection of an idea.

It began as an idea that could be rejected by those with other ideas that could also be rejected.

It began as a proof of a theory that some ideas cannot be rejected. But they rejected the theory.

It began as a theory that had yet to be proven.

It began as proof.

It began as irrefutable proof.

It began when they began to refute it.

It began with the burning of the papers that would prove it.

It began with fire.

It began as a fire that spread like a contagion.

It began again and again until they no longer knew how it began.

It began as an argument over how it began.

And in all their arguing over how it began, they failed to notice how suddenly it ended.