Two Ruminant Third Graders Discourse Upon the Falling Autumn Leaves
Translated from the Third Grader
Ed. note: The dialogues of Percysius and Kevinocrates present unique challenges to the translator. This version does not pretend to be definitive—only approachable. We have trimmed the glue paste and erased the pencil smudges while trying to keep core intent intact. That said, there will be distortions, if not mistakes. Phrases that seem senseless, vague, or stupid are often just that. Dialectal usage is rampant. Many a scholar has been lost in this bog. But it is our hope that, via rhetorical amplification, these dialogues will reveal new and unheralded facets of themselves. That the Multiple Santas Symposium, Infinite Recess Time Loop of the Sophists, and Prolegomena to Fourth Grade (along with this dialogue) are all touchstones of Third Grader thought has never been in question. But now more than ever we must remember to look past the prevailing influences of androgynist First Grader hegemonizing and acerbic Fifth Grader relativism to the unique insouciance offered by the magic marker landscapes and digressive baroques that can only be found in the oft-overlooked byzantine prodigality of the Middle Primary. Look closely. There is cruelty, yes, but there is also optimism. It is a realm that evokes the simplicity of lex talionis and the vim of Rabelais. It is strangely exotic, yet we can find its micturitions in unexpected corners of our own world. Let that be sufficient reason for this translation.
Kevinocrates: Welcome, gentle Percysius, to the Matz backyard. Let us hasten to lawn’s edge where we may lie covertly behind those raked leaf mounds.
Percysius: That is agreeable, Kevinocrates, though I confess to not understanding your urgency.
Kevinocrates: Should we be seen from the kitchen window, mayhap matron Matz compels us to don additional garments. I desire to avoid the indignity.
Percysius: Lead onward then. I may truly boast that no matrons have afflicted me with unwelcome garments yet this day.
Kevinocrates: May it ever be so.
Percysius: I leap—ah joy, ah joy!
Kevinocrates: I beseech you to contain your rustlings—we must be covert. There, let us push up the mounds somewhat and then lie with feet downslope.
Percysius: Truly this vantage does give a sense of the clandestine. We are assuredly not to be detected here.
Kevinocrates: I presume you have no such leaf mounds at your home, Percysius?
Percysius: Indeed, I am aware that your leaf mounds exceed those of all the millions of multitudes of other mounds in the world. This is surely due to your fortunate proximity to yon oaks.
Kevinocrates: It is as you say, to a thousand and thousand hundred even—the Matz leaf mounds are the greatest known.
Percysius: But let me ask you this: should a tempest arise and scatter your mounds here and about, what then? Perhaps you might give a lachrymose account to matron Matz?
Kevinocrates: Or perhaps I might give you an edifying bastinado? I am surprised to hear such caddish words.
Percysius: Fie, your success at that endeavor is no certainty. But I offer this observation only to point out the transience of the autumnal. Is this season not poignantly transient?
Kevinocrates: Yes, its arrival and its passing does illuminate the idea of transience. I have gained this wisdom in recent years. It is why I feel ambivalent over the approach of Halloween. It too will pass.
Percysius: This transience illuminates a curiosity: there is the pleasure felt in anticipation and the pleasure felt in experience. Imagine a caramel that will come into one’s possession on Halloween. Should one think of its passing while experiencing its pleasure, does the pleasure not diminish?
Kevinocrates: I believe it does. And should one think of the caramel’s passing even while anticipating its pleasure, does that anticipatory pleasure not also diminish?
Percysius: Just so. All pleasures are like the falling leaves.
Kevinocrates: The leaves fall every year, and you and I grow older. Someday I will be ten, and I am weary with the wisdom of this world.
Percysius: Then let us consider these falling leaves. For they evoke a curious range of sentiments. These sentiments are neither wholly pleasurable nor wholly saddening.
Kevinocrates: I would taste a caramel this moment.
Percysius: Indeed, impetuous Kevinocrates, but the falling leaves—
Kevinocrates: In fact, I now recall that I have pocketed a confection, which, though not caramel, is in fact a sticky, sweet morsel. Here. You are welcome to partake.
Percysius: Some manner of dross is attached to the confection.
Kevinocrates: That is so. We shall detach this dross, though it require the patience and precision of the surgeon.
Percysius: Such a shade of color cannot have arisen naturally in our world.
Kevinocrates: An artifice to be sure, though in taste it may evoke the strawberry.
Percysius: What a devilment this dross is. Do you keep a kennel in your pocket?
Kevinocrates: Persevere, Percysius, and you shall—ah, I have lost my morsel in the leaf mound. Despair!
Percysius: Do you become lachrymose, friend? Do you feel as if you were five?
Kevinocrates: You are a knave to say this. Where did it go? Ah, there it is, gleaming like a pink sun, yet browned with a seasonal tarnish.
Percysius: Do you persist? I challenge you to eat the half-gleaming morsel in its current autumnal garb.
Kevinocrates: Gladly, though it must be that you then consume a portion too.
Percysius: I am content with my allotment. Go now, prove yourself.
Kevinocrates: You also must prove yourself.
Percysius: I deny that premise.
Kevinocrates: I doubly insist that you prove yourself.
Percysius: And I doubly deny that premise. Lightly now, Kevinocrates—do not invoke the treble for a trifle.
Kevinocrates: Very well. But observe: a capricious gust brings more leaves. Ah, October.
Percysius: It is said that in other climes there is naught of the autumnal. Instead, there is an eternal summer, unvarying and desolate.
Kevinocrates: What sinister tiding is this? Do the inhabitants of those climes go mad?
Percysius: Yes, the madness thickens their tongues and causes them to speak with afflicted cadence.
Kevinocrates: I swear by the great spirit of autumn I will never visit such places.
Percysius: Not even after new year’s frigid advent? What if Patron Matz—
Kevinocrates: Hark that guttural rumbling. Matron Matz rides to marketplace for comestibles! We may now cavort.
Percysius: I leap—ah joy, ah joy!
Kevinocrates: I also leap—ah joy, ah joy!
Percysius: A brazen thought arises: dare we exceed Nimrod’s great edifice and build one towering mound of leaves upon which we might cavorting leap?
Kevinocrates: Ah, intemperate Percysius, your hubris matches my own intoxicated ambition. Here are workmen’s implements to hasten mound’s a-mounding.
Percysius: All for the cause now, heave and ho, heave and ho!
Kevinocrates: Heave and ho, the monument grows!
Percysius: The great work nears completion. Once more to heave, once more to ho . . .
Kevinocrates: Once more to . . . the gusts! The gusts! Despair! Lachrymosity!
Percysius: O consternating vagary! Lachrymosity!
Kevinocrates: The wind makes mockery of our work. Woeful October, I resolve to depart to another clime where there is naught of autumn’s harsh lessons.
Percysius: Forsooth, that is a weighty oath. Will you depart immediately?
Kevinocrates: I will! Though I will first obtain a pouch of comestibles. Will you see me off?
Percysius: I will. Perhaps I shall ramble upon the road with you for a league, much like one of these cursed leaves.
Kevinocrates: Leave off the leaves and let us to the Matz larder. There we will find both loaves and rounds, sweet elixirs and simple quaffs. Tis soon enough I warrant that I will sup on apples of the road.
Percysius: A hard road is made pleasanter by ample provisioning.
Kevinocrates: And a hard provisioning is made ample by being pleasanter.
Percysius: Indeed, Kevinocrates? Who gave tongue to that?
Kevinocrates: I am unsure—nobody, methinks; I grow lightheaded. Come!
Percysius: Boldly now, a traveler treads an entryway but once and trepid with his treats retreats to trail’s travails.
Kevinocrates: And who gave twisted tongue to that twilled wittery?
Percysius: Ah, now it is I that grow lightheaded. No matter. Let us fill this pouch and away.
Kevinocrates: A peck more of those fruited biscuits, a handful of jellied confections, mayhap a sample of these small cakes, a bubbly—
Percysius: Hark again—does not that guttural rumble signify your matron’s return?
Kevinocrates: This cannot be. A calamitous turn; we must exeunt!
Percysius: To the leaves! The dun and autumn brown will hide us.
Kevinocrates: To the dun and autumn brown!
Percysius: Ah sweet rustlings of October, give us succor in our need.
Kevinocrates: We are now well hid. This day has edified me of my mercurial wobble. By the sweet dun and autumn brown, I will not depart to another clime.
Percysius: Nor will I desert the falling leaves, be they pleasurable or saddening. Do you wish to leap, Kevinocrates?
Kevinocrates: In truth! Matron Matz will knell soon enough; for now, let us leap and cavort.
Percysius: Ah joy! Ah joy!
B Myers works on the nonfiction side of publishing and has edited books on every conceivable subject, from astronomy, history, and music to paper airplane kits and picture books of puppies. This is his first new fiction in a decade, but dusty old tales can be found in the archives of such publications as Strange Horizons, Raven Electrick, and Bewildering Stories.