Frightened was I, perched upon horizon awaiting event descent. Albeit, the dawn I had awaited had the breath of a thousand holy nights and days, composed of parchments immortal in the light of the abyss I so squandered—deliberately; subconsciously and its opposite—and fixation met me upon the acceptance of my graven thirst that left me with a clarity unparalleled to that of any other breath that would so assume position of Logos himself; and thus, the paths of my labyrinths have been washed and cleansed, and evil does not befall them — even if they should penetrate, as their blood be an acid written into the raison d’être from the roots of their chromosomes.
I bed him then, calling upon him, exalting him — a result of knowledge dereliction, of self; of Love. In my mind the wish and desire became truth, to which all demon wrought a fallen knee — I wielding the final element in the composition of self: the peace of absence: of becoming — : of being. Surely this was of a vigor, irrefutable and irrevocable, and irreversible; and respectively, then I became my own child, my own woman; my own self. And how could such teach that what has been sought, by the sheer magnitude of a simple minute smile and volume of a laughter so joyous, so innocent—benevolent, selfless; yet somehow being entirely frightened of the possibility of being devoured by mine own fire, as I too, made his own flicker with the wind of a titan’s pursed lips.
Truth sits perched upon our tongues—the cliff of mind frame aware of the daunting war that haunts our eyes a horrific inversion that follows us into the dimensions of our dreams. We found Him in just event, in the outskirts of our peripheral, hung as dry hide to warn limbs in trespass: Cronos. Has ceased to speak. He has ripped out his throat in the event of Us, and smiles a sinuous nebulae, bowing his hands an enticing black night.
On The Other Side of a Dream
We shared a life together, a kiss. It had been spontaneous on my end, the kiss, though I knew she was waiting for me to take notice.
Our last night, [sit: camp, college, tour,] throngs of us walking up and down the wooded hills in the dark - laughing, young enough for magic, old enough for red plastic cups and bottles of beer. Standing around, chatting with a pixie eyed sweet little thing, she walks past in her own pair of jubilant conversation; here is my opportunity.
It could have been any of us, really, but she chose me. I know this because we were suddenly moving, my pixie friend and I, in fact I was pushing her - gently and playfully, to catch up and intercept. I leave my pixie with her pair and square off, hands on her bare shoulders.
Now I have braces, smiling, confident. I’m that guy in this story - somewhat small for a man, (or boy perhaps, our ages fluctuate throughout), but standing tall with the admiration of my peers. I say something endearing, something promising about the next time we’ll meet. She smiles shyly, slyly, expectant.
Our kiss is enough, tender and exciting in the way only a first kiss can be. I would have ended it there, but the story goes on, waiting for a belated conclusion with me in the peripherals, my role complete and shortly relished.
In the morning she wakes and embraces her husband. Whatever ages we might have been are at least ten years behind her cup of coffee, a half read edition of The Paris Review, a brief conversation concerning that evening’s supper.
As I dissolve into memory’s shadow, I take comfort in knowing that my maker chose me, that I have kissed the lips of god herself.
A man is floating on the creamy cushion of a loveseat, his loveseat, with feet up on the glass table. A trained eye would notice that the cigarette was freshly lit, while the average eye would notice that it was in the man’s hand. His right hand, for his left held open a very unassuming book. His eyebrows arch and his back straightens as he places the cigarette in his mouth and turns the page. At 3/4 of its length now - it begins to crumble in ash. The man reads on - half way. Something in his eyes suggests revelation. It was a good room for reading, it was well lit, easy to see - 1/4 of its length now. The man’s mouth shoots open as the flame encroaches his lip and the ashes cascade down on his neat attire - revelation is found in this, a flash-fiction.
Rain (a tiny piece of prose)
Rain courses down the glass in tiny rivulets that collect in shimmering pools. It’s the kind of rain that can only happen in the middle of summer. This rain announces its power through wind and hail and thrilling thunder and expends itself in twenty minutes. It’s the kind of rain that comes close, but not close enough, to blotting out the golden glow of the sun. The storm where rainbows shine in the middle of the downpour and the fiery ball in the sky gloats over the pitiful attempt at depression.
It’s in the middle of one of these rains that I stare at the tree in my backyard. The tree isn’t special. There are no lover’s initials carved into its crude bark. There are no high branches that couldn’t hold a twelve year old girl long enough to prevent the breaking of her arm. A long forgotten tree house doesn’t rest upon withered limbs calling out from childhood for a visit. No, this tree simply stands. It stands tall and strong – unbending and unwavering through the fierce winds that have beaten against its sturdy trunk for ages. Its massive foliage dances with the rain, celebrating a much welcome drink.
I smile at this old tree – this pillar of existence – and though my tears match the streams cascading down the windowpane, my heart finds a spark of hope.
The most visible part of her was her eyes. Her blonde hair, pale skin, they blended into the white and blue austerity of the room, a place no one could ever get comfortable. But Ellie’s eyes cut sharp from above the blankets she had pulled up over her nose, pinning Jackson to the wall like a butterfly without touching him. She was beautiful, undoubtedly, and he’d follow her to hell if she asked, grinning the whole way, but when she looked at him like this, shewas damn near terrifying.
“That’s what happens here, Ellie. You know that.”
Little-girl obstinate, Ellie shook her head. The motion dislodged her sheet, bending for a moment to reveal her nose and a flash of her pink mouth, darker than it ought to be. For one insane moment, Jackson thought she might have been drinking blood until he realized she just had her mouth open. “Everything’s the same here, Jacks. Everyone else is boring.”
“You know I’m just on meds rotation.” He could feel her pulling on him, her energy grasping for his and he wanted to sit down on her bed and stay with her, coax the blanket down from under her eyes and make her laugh. He was used to strangeness here, but hers seemed sane. She was just odd, not mad. He didn’t know why she was medicated and in the hospital. He didn’t know why he couldn’t leave her alone. “In and out, as soon as you take your pills.”
A sly smile crept across Ellie’s face, quirking up one corner of her mouth. “So if I don’t take my pills you have to stay?”
“I have to call security.” There was no bite behind it, he just inclined his head towards her. She wouldn’t make him do something like that. She wasn’t crazy.
“Oh. You’re going to call security?” Darting forward, Ellie seized the cup of pills from Jackson’s hand, placing her palm over the top of it so none of the medicine spilled. “Okay. Do it.” She jumped back and stepped on top of her bed, standing on tiptoes and stretching her arm up above Jackson’s head so he couldn’t reach it. “Call security!” The taunt spilled from her mouth on the fringes of a laugh he couldn’t help but give in to.
Jackson stepped forward, prompting Ellie to try and reach her arm higher. “And what if I am security? What are you going to do then?”
Though he was ostensibly in charge, her eyes were all hunter, loam and foliage and rain behind her hazel eyes. “Then I suppose you’ll have to make me take them.”
He struck out and grabbed her, hands around her waist so he could pull her off the bed and spin her one-eighty degrees. Ellie shrieked with laughter in his arms, still trying her level best to keep the dixie cup high above his head, even as he let her drop in increments towards the ground. Finally, her bare feet touched the tile floor and Jackson was able to slide his hand along her arm until he grabbed the cup from her hand. Abruptly, he became aware that he was pressed up against her, she looked up at him wide eyed and out of breath.
“Take your pills.” Jackson dumped them into his hand and pressed it over Ellie’s mouth. If his voice was huskier than normal, that was nothing compared to the shot of electricity that went through his brain when she took the medicine into her mouth and he could swear that for a second he could feel her tongue against his skin. “There, see?” He needed to let her go, but the thought and the impulse that allowed him to actually loosen his arm and stepped away seemed to occur through quicksand. “That wasn’t so hard.”
“I suppose not.” When had Ellie begun to whisper? “But it doesn’t solve the boredom problem. Will I see you later?”
“Yeah.” He pasted a shaky grin over the uncertainty in his chest and turned back to his medicine cart, wheeling it out of her room and onto the next one. With his back to her, Jackson didn’t see the triumphant smile spreading across Ellie’s face.
Last week, it was the girl with long brown hair and eyes like the sky. With skin clearer than water, she was perfect in too many ways. Her laughter trilled down the hall, sending nausea to my stomach but only for a second. She liked the attention, but she was too caught up in the opinions of others to see the beauty you contain.
This week it’s the girl with brush strokes of blonde falling from her scalp. Her voice carries hints of confidence as she speaks to you like it’s nothing. She consumes your time. With a smile like the sun and eyes like the Atlantic. Her and I are nothing alike, and maybe the two of you are too similar to ever be a perfect match.
Next week it may be a new girl. I suppose it’ll be the tall girl in the Sophomore class who has a body like a model, with horse-like hair and big brown eyes. You seem to stare at her a lot, and anyone can see she’s stunning. She plays soft fades of lullabies on a polished violin and somehow gets more beautiful every time you look at her.
Your habit of getting attached to people always seems to leave you hurting, but you let it happen anyway. It still surprises me to look back to the times when you spent more than just a week giving me your affection. At this point, I can’t remember if it was a dream or not.
One day, one of these girls will start to see in you what I saw in you so long ago, and when that day comes, I imagine your clothes won’t smell like your own anymore, and the hands that used to fit perfectly with mine will fit with someone else’s. I just hope that whoever this girl is will give you more of a chance than I ever did.
It all went horribly right,
because she had hands that were red at the fingertips; hands made to love the cool kiss of dew in the first breaks of the morning. When the final drops of the light chased down the drain, shrugging shoulders, she’d hop away from her lonely rock and swim to shore abided by only the rush of water passing her ears. Greta, she was called, Greta Fence.
She introduced herself promptly to the inquisitive. Fence as in white picket? Indeed sir, and the little white woodchips were her grinning teeth. A job interview was enough to push the final nervous wrecks off of the edge. Greta watched them behind a glass panel. They waited with cool steel eyes, but Greta relished the dents and chips showing in the metal.
Straightening her straightjacket, combing back the scales along her thighs, she welcomed the next person in. She waited to see how they hoped to fare. A siren is as vicious as the whining of your alarm clock far too early in the morning.
She touched the hairbrush she could no longer use, her hair long buried with the body she left behind. M4R15A’s hand ran over the smooth blue metal that served as her head, the other replacing the hairbrush to the dresser. It was a mockery of a little girl’s bedroom, their silly attempt at helping her adjust to her new life. They were obviously trying too hard. After all, an ARC snuggling a giant pink bunny at night would just look silly.
Not that she needed to sleep anyway.
A light knock came at the pink door, adorned with white flower stickers and an over-the-door coat hook. She reminded herself that she’d had to get rid of that too.
Jason, the leader of their team, was standing on the other side. He was much unlike her: brown eyes, brown hair. He could anonymously melt into any crowd, while she stuck out like a shiny blue sore thumb. She wasn’t surprised that he commanded them. He knew what he was doing, and had more experience than the rest of them combined.
“Yes? Is there something you need?” she asked, trying to make her voice sound as cheerful as possible. He stood there with his hands shoved into his pockets, a slightly bored look on his face. Or maybe he was tired. His eyes were slightly bloodshot and his skin looked paler than normal.
I guess everyone has their own problems, she reminded herself.
“Just wanted to see how you’re settling in.” He leaned into the room slightly, glancing around at the room designed for a child. “This is a bit much, don’t you think?”
Something in her whirred, and her sensor lights glowed a little bit brighter.
“Yes! Thank you!” M4R15A threw her hands up in the air in relief that finally someone understood, and ended up tearing holes through the stucco ceiling. Dust settled on both their heads and she slumped over in frustration, and audible “urgh!” lurching out of here.
“Maybe we can… find you somewhere larger,” he suggested, shaking the flakes out of white out of his hair. “Less pink, too.”
“That… that would be nice, thank you.”
As they walked down the hallway, she filed through his digital dossier, in hopes of finding some way of repaying him for his understanding.
I guess I could start to like it here.
The Man in the Well, by Ira Sher
I was nine when I discovered the man in the well in an abandoned farm lot near my home. I was with a group of friends playing hide and go seek, or something, when I found the well, and then I heard the voice of the man in the well calling out for help.
I think it’s important that we decided not to help him. Everyone, like myself, was probably on the verge of fetching a rope, or asking where we could find a ladder, but then we looked around at each other, and it was decided. I don’t remember if we told ourselves a reason why we couldn’t help him, but we had decided then. Because of this, I never went very close to the lip of the well, or I only came up on my hands and knees, so that he couldn’t see me.
And just as we wouldn’t allow him to see us, I know that none of us ever saw the man in the well. The well was too dark for that, too deep, even when the sun was high up angling down the stone sides like golden hair. I remember that we were still full of games and laughter when we called down to him. He had heard us shouting while we were playing, and he had been hollering for us to come.
He was so relieved at that moment. “God, get me out. I’ve been here for days.” He must’ve known we were children, because he immediately struggled us to go get a ladder, get help. At first afraid to disobey the voice from the man in the well, we turned around and actually began to walk toward the nearest house, which was Arthur’s.
But along the way, we slowed down, and then we stopped. And after waiting what seemed like a good while, we quietly came back to the well. We stood or lay around the lip, listening for maybe half an hour. And then Arthur, after some hesitation, called down, “What’s your name?” This, after all, seemed like the most natural question. The man answered back immediately. “Do you have the ladder?” We all looked at Arthur, and he called back down, “No, we couldn’t find one.”
Now that we had established some sort of a dialogue, everyone had questions he or she wanted to ask the man in the well. The man wouldn’t stop speaking. “Go tell your parents there’s someone in this well. If they have a rope, or a ladder,” he trailed off. His voice was raw, and sometimes he would cough. “Just tell your parents.”
We were quiet, but this time, no one stood up or moved. Someone, I think little Jason, called down, “Hello. Is it dark?” And then after a moment, “Can you see the sky?” He didn’t answer, but instead told us to go again. When we were quiet for a bit, he called to see if we were gone. After a pause, Wendy crawled right to the edge so that her hair lifted slightly in the updraft. “Is there any water down there?”
“Have they gone for help?” He asked. She looked around at us, and then she called down, “Yes. They’re all gone now. Isn’t there any water down there?” I don’t think anyone smiled at how easy it was to deceive him. This was too important. “Isn’t there?” She said again.
“No,” he said. “It’s very dry.” He cleared his throat. “Do you think it will rain?” She stood up and took in the whole sky with her blue eyes, making sure. “No, I don’t think so.” We heard him cough in the well, and we waited for a while, thinking about him waiting in the well. Resting on the grass and cement by the well, I tried to picture him. I tried to imagine the gesture of his hand reaching to cover his mouth each time he coughed. Or perhaps he was too tired to make that gesture each time.
After an hour, he began calling again, but for some reason, we didn’t want to answer. We got up and began running, filling up with panic as we moved, until we were racing across the ruts of the old field. I kept turning, stumbling as I looked behind. Perhaps he had heard us getting up and running away from the well. Only Wendy stayed by the well for a while, watching us run as his calling grew louder and wilder, until finally she ran, too, and then we were far away.
The next morning, we came back, most of us carrying bread or fruit, or something to eat, in our pockets. Arthur brought a canvas bag from his house and a plastic jug of water. When we got to the well, we stood around quietly for a moment, listening for him. “Maybe he’s asleep,” Wendy said. We sat down around the mouth of the well on an old concrete slab, warming in the sun, and coursing with ants and tiny insects.
Aaron called down then, when everyone was comfortable, and the man answered right away, as if he had been listening to us the whole time. “Did your parents get help?” Arthur kneeled at the edge of the well and called, “Watch out.” And then he let the bag fall after holding it out for a moment, maybe for the man to see.
It hit the ground more quickly than I expected. That, combined with the feeling that he could hear everything we said, made him suddenly closer, as if he might be able to see us. I wanted to be very quiet so that if he heard or saw anyone, he would not notice me. The man in the well started coughing, and Arthur volunteered, “There’s some water in the bag. We all brought something.”
We could hear him moving around down there. After a few minutes he asked us, “When are they coming? What did your parents say?” We all looked at each other, aware that he couldn’t address anyone in particular. He must’ve understood this, because he called out in his thin, groping voice, “What are your names?”
No one answered until Aaron, who was the oldest, said, “My father said he’s coming with the police, and he knows what to do.” We admired Aaron very much for coming up with this on the spot. “Are they on their way?” The man in the well asked. We could hear that he was eating. “My father said, don’t worry, because he’s coming with the police.”
Little Jason came up next to Aaron and asked, “What’s your name,” because we still don’t know what to call him. When we were talking among ourselves, he had simply become the man. He didn’t answer, so Jason asked him how old he was, and then Grace came up too and asked him something, I don’t remember. Finally, we all stopped talking, and we lay down on the cement.
It was a hot day, so after a while, Grace got up, and then little Jason, and another young boy, Robert, I think, and went to town to sit in the cool movie theater. That was what we did most afternoons back then. After an hour, everyone had left except Wendy and myself, and I was beginning to think that I would go, too.
He called up to us all of a sudden. “Are they coming now?” “Yes,” Wendy said, looking at me, and I nodded my head. She sounded certain. “Aaron said his dad is almost here.” As soon as she said it she was sorry, because she’d broken one of the rules. I could see it on her face, eyes filling with space as she moved back from the well. Now he had one of our names.
She said, “They’re going to come,” to cover up the mistake. There it was, and there was nothing to do about it. The man in the well didn’t say anything for a few minutes, then he surprised us again by asking, “Is it going to rain?” Wendy stood up and turned around, like she had done the other day. The sky was clear. “No,” she said.
Then he asked again, “They’re coming, you said, Aaron’s dad?” And he shouted, “Right,” so that we jumped and stood up and began running away, just as we had the day before. We could hear him shouting for a while, and we were afraid someone might hear. I thought that toward the end maybe he had said he was sorry, but I never asked Wendy what she thought he’d said.
Everyone was there again on the following morning. It was all I could think about during supper the night before, and then the anticipation in the morning over breakfast. My mother was very upset with something at the time. I could hear her weeping at night in her room downstairs, and the stubborn murmur of my father. There was a feeling to those days, months, actually, that I can’t describe without resorting to the man in the well, as if through a great whispering, like a gathering of clouds, or the long sound, the turbulent wreck of the ocean.
At the well, we put together the things to eat we had smuggled out, but we hadn’t even gotten them all in the bag when the voice of the man in the well soared out sharply, “They’re on their way now.” We stood very still so that he couldn’t hear us, but I knew what was coming, and I couldn’t do anything to soften or blur the words of the voice. “Aaron,” he pronounced, and I had imagined him practicing that voice, all night long, and holding it in his mouth so that he wouldn’t let it slip away in his sleep.
Aaron lost all the color in his face, and he looked at us with suspicion, as if we had somehow taken on a part of the man in the well. I didn’t even glance at Wendy. We were both too embarrassed. Neither of us said anything. We were all quiet then. Arthur finished assembling the bag, and we could see his hand shaking as he dropped it into the well. We heard the man in the well moving around.
After 10 minutes or so, Grace called down to him, “What’s your name?” But someone pulled her back from the well, and we became silent again. Today the question humiliated us with its simplicity. There was no sound for a while from the well, except for the cloth noises and the scraping the man in the well made as he moved around.
Then he called out, in a pleasant voice, “Aaron, what do you think my name is?” Aaron, who had been very still this whole time, looked around at all of us again. We knew he was afraid. His fingers were pulling with a separate life at the collar of his shirt, and maybe because she felt badly for him, Wendy answered instead. “Edgar.” It sounded inane, but the man in the well answered. “No,” the man said.
Little Jason called out, “David?” “No,” the man in the well said. Then Aaron, who had been absolutely quiet, said, “Arthur,” in a small, clear voice, and we all started. I could see Arthur was furious, but Aaron was older and bigger than he was, and nothing could be said or done without giving himself, his name, away. We knew the man in the well was listening for the changes in our breath, anything.
Aaron didn’t look at Arthur, or anyone, and then he began giving all of our names, one at a time. We all watched him, trembling, our faces the faces I’d seen pasted on the spectators in the freak tank when the circus had come to town. We were watching such a deformity take place before our eyes, and I remember the spasm of anger when he said my name, and felt the man in the well soak it up. Because the man in the well understood.
The man in the well didn’t say anything now. When Aaron was done, we all waited for the man in the well to speak up. I stood on one leg, then the other, and eventually I sat down. We had to wait for an hour, and today, no one wanted to leave to lie in the shade, or hide in the velvet movie seats. At last, the man in the well said, “All right, then, Arthur, what do you think I look like?” We heard him cough a couple of times, and then the sound like the smacking of lips.
Arthur, who was sitting on the ground with his chin propped on his fists, didn’t say anything. How could he? I knew I couldn’t answer myself if the man in the well called me by name. He called a few of us, and I watched the shudder move from face to face. Then he was quiet for a while. It was afternoon now, and the light was changing, withdrawing from the well. It was as if the well was filling up with earth.
The man in the well moved around a bit, and then he called Jason. He asked, “How old do you think I am, Jason?” He didn’t seem to care that no one would answer, or he seemed to expect that no one would. He said, “All right, what’s my name?” He used everyone’s name. He asked everyone. When he said my name, I felt the water clouding my eyes, and I wanted to throw stones, dirt, down the well to crush out his voice, but we couldn’t do anything, none of us did, because then he would know.
In the evening, we could tell he was getting tired. He wasn’t saying much, and seemed to have lost interest in us. Before we left that day, as we were rising quietly and looking at the dark shadows of the trees we had to move through to reach our homes, he said, “Why didn’t you tell anyone?” He coughed. “Didn’t you want to tell anyone?” Perhaps he heard the hesitation in our breaths, but he wasn’t going to help us now.
It was almost night then, and we were spared the detail of having to see and read each other’s faces. That night it rained, and I listened to the rain on the roof and my mother sobbing downstairs until I fell asleep. After that, we didn’t play by the well anymore. Even when we were much older, we didn’t go back. I will never go back.
Walking on the moon alone
A black crow came calling out your name the day you were born. Detached from the world at large, the umbilical cord was slashed right after birth, and you were left to float aimlessly in the vapour of life. Days rolled on and off the calendar churning months into years, and they too past silently, flowing away from you. Time a mere reflection of where you had been, while your own face was a reflection of a non-existent life, invisible.
You lived in seclusion off of the 9th concession road, in what felt like a one room house. Out back, a thin crooked cat-tail creek wound round the overhanging cotton trees, with water that flowed with barely a trickle in spring, and the creek-bed would be dry before the first week of summer. Your life was a bland pasty affair, you lived naked invisible to the rest of the world, non-existent, in obligatory obscurity. The banal exchange of thoughts in your head range from flat to black to imperviously thick, you think it some poor magicians trick, to have left you to your own devices. Left you cold and lonely starved for attention, with feelings you were afraid to mention, aloud.
You were the one that always felt cold, alone in a crowd, yes you—with feet planted in the terra-firma and your inflatable round head stuck up in a cloud. A dirigible if ever there was one, a ribald block of flesh resting on square shoulders, faceless, comatose, body hollow, soulless, heart afloat but tethered like an anchor to a spineless form. Talk was cheap and plentiful, perhaps even bountiful equipped with multiple single syllables, it rounded out your conversations—those you only envisioned you had with your missing soul.
Your flesh washed and clean of blemishes, softened by the crushed bones you ground to exfoliate your pale skin, you glow iridescent at night, shining in the hidden shadows of moonlight, with teeth too small to chew the fat, so you sat in silence during those winter nights praying for daylight, for sunlight, for warmth of any kind, to wrap around your flesh. A shawl made of giant yellow star light. Maybe this would ignite some key, bringing you back to reality, hopelessly you still cling to this shawl, in your bipedal walk, holding it with your bipedal hands.
Cling to me, you begged the sun, cling to my retched body and keep me warm, cling to my last breath, my last thought, cling to me like a bad habit, cling to me like a feral rabbit, cling, cling, cling to my lost soul, so I can see it and finally grab it from the stars, from the sky, from the earth before I die.
My father told me the value of treasuring things. He often spoke about the little stuff he had collected and kept safe inside a chest. He was a very sentimental person— someone who treated memories like figurines my mom displays on wooden cabinets. They are men, they are women, they are children— glass people that dad had given her on his trips across China. Who on each golden hour catches the glimmer of the sunset that peeks through the windowsills of an incomplete home. Mom spent every morning to clean them as if they were her own children and I forget when was the last time she treated me that way.
I have grown older and far too heavy for her to cradle me back and forth like the she did before when I was little. I could no longer fit in father’s chest of treasures— I remember how he would neatly put out his collection of notes, letters, postcards, dried petals, caps, photographs, journals and place them on the floor like castle stacks on the beach. He then carried me and gently set me down in his chest. He always said “perfect” as he smiled and tried to close the lid while I was still inside.I have started my collection with that memory— kept safe in a half-filled box.
i would run too if i knew whether you still loved me.
i am scared of falling off this world, he told you once, and you said that gravity was gravity and that he would never fall. he’d never have a chance of falling like this - mucking around in a city with light pollution so horrible that you couldn’t even see one star. and then he took your hand, his fingers curling beautifully around yours and whispered, i don’t believe you.
you haven’t seen him in ten years. you tried to call him on his cellphone with the last number he gave you. and you got an answer, yes, but it was a rough voice that didn’t sound like his. it was a voice that demanded your name and a voice that shouted goodbye when you said that you were looking for the boy you loved. (but maybe he’d never truly left and he was just wasting away into a hardened heart, and maybe the man who answered was actually him. and you know that goodbyes are bittersweet but maybe it was the right number, and you finally got to say goodbye.)
today, you went to the little house two streets away from yours that he used to call home. and you used to go there every week because he held you like you were more beautiful than you really were. but there was no one there and the front yard was overgrown and the mailbox was overflowing with junk mail and your own desperate letters. you even went to las vegas once, thinking that he might’ve secretly gotten on a plane and flown there, since he used to always talk about going there someday. but all your clues and leads disappeared into nothing and your heart dissolved into air.
you’re married now. you’re married to a lovely person who’s so beautifully predictable, but you still find time to wonder about his smile and who’s seeing it now, if anyone is at all. you wonder whether he’s happy, or even alive. and when that thought comes, you imagine a lonely gravestone and a lonelier funeral. and sometimes, you wish that he’d just barge in through the door and put his hand in yours again and run away with you, pumping life into your mediocre heart.
other times, you get so angry, thinking, why didn’t you take me with you? i loved you, so why didn’t you take me too? and you rip up pictures of him and one day you’ll run out of pictures to rip up, and you don’t know whether you’ll be happier when that day comes along. and your husband asks you why you’re crying even though he’ll never get it.
but on some days, you just stare out the window and hope he’s still alive and running. he was the only one who escaped, so you press your hand against the glass and whisper, run away from here. i love you, but keep running.
run, run, run away from me.
Rook Ridge (By Brendan Albetski)
“How many dead men live in the woods?”
“I asked: How many dead men live in the woods?”
“I’m afraid the question don’t make much sense, Sandy.”
The sun was going down over the trees. Sandy and Burke sat out in front of Sandy’s store. The overhang no longer kept the setting sun out of their eyes.
“Well if you’d have seen old Albert Abercrombie today you might. He shuffles into my store like he always does, practically smacks his head on the doorframe like he always does, and then goes and buys enough provisions for maybe half a week. A whole week, if you were living light.”
“Did he cause you any trouble?”
“No, he never said word. He just paid and left, like he always does.”
“Well he only comes to town every couple of weeks.”
“That’s just the thing, isn’t it? He only buys provisions for maybe half a week, but he doesn’t come back for three, sometimes four weeks! How’s he living on half a week’s provisions for that long?”
“Abercrombie lives off the land. People used to do that, you know. He’s a hunter.”
“Bullshit, he’s a hunter. He can barely bend low enough to get under my door. He ain’t sneaking up on shit in these woods. He’s a dead man walking, I tell you.”
“Sandy, just because a man lives in a way you don’t understand don’t make him any less a man.”
Sandy and Burke sat in silence on the porch. Sandy fidgeted with the tab on a beer can.
“Something about this place don’t feel right. Never did.”
“Place don’t feel nothing. It’s you who don’t feel right in it.”
“One way or the other, my skin is always crawling. That Abercrombie looked at me today. I peered up under those big eyebrows of his and I looked him right in the eye. I don’t think he was expecting it but I don’t think he cared either. I got this feeling: like fingers walking their way all around my skin.”
“And now you’re spooked. Give it a rest, he’s a creep, but he’s not a monster, and he’s sure as hell not going to follow you home and murder you with an ax.”
“I didn’t say anything like that. It’s just the feeling. I knew what it was because it wasn’t foreign. Because I think I felt it all my life and just never realized it.”
“You’re an odd sort, Sandy.” Burke crinkled the beer can in between his fingers.
Sandy nodded, “Perhaps I am.”
The name of this story is “Tense.” I am was.
We live in the house near campus that houses English majors. In the woods behind our house lives the ghost. He has a beard and he will say, I am lost and thirsty.
That is all he says.
Sometimes he will glow blue, but all we can think of is tense.
I was lost and thirsty, someone says.
But he is present, someone notes, which means he currently is lost and thirsty.
He is only current in that he is something that was started in the past and is now finished in the present as something that is finished can also be in some ways present, someone chimes. So: He has thirsted and gotten lost.
Now you are confusing things, the other says.
Now you are just emphasizing any words, says the other.
Shush up, says someone by the window. It is certain that he has happened in the past and is continuing into the present, perhaps even into the future so thus: he has been lost and thirsty.
Or if we are to believe in our hearts that he will continue into the future, and why not?, then perhaps: He will be lost and thirsty.
Scars sing of tales untold, of the epic stories that have traverse the land of Dermis. Once flat plains, unmarred and pristine, now affected by time and trauma and a few mistakes or five. But it is all the more interesting, with its imperfections. Such a chorus could be dedicated to each, a record of its life, a memory of what once was.
There Goes A Regular
I promise to keep this brief (or at least try):
So I’m moving to New York tomorrow morning. I’m anxious, I’m scared, I’m excited, and I’m ready (I think, I hope). I have one million feelings about Los Angeles and leaving it and joining its largest rival but those are feelings that are too specific to just me and who needs the umpteenth tl:dr navel-gazing “I’m leaving LA, I’m joining New York” blog post? My love letter to Los Angeles will be a perpetual draft I will write every single day I get to stay on this earth. It’s home in so many ways and the people here are so wonderful that it breaks my heart into three-dillion microscopic pieces just attempting to wrap my head around it all. Everyone knows I love this city like a family member and everyone who lives here that I love already knows how much I care.
But I did want to say something about taking chances and the soft braveries I’d like to believe still exist in a generally easy and calm generation. Someone wrote something several months ago about how the simple act of asking someone out in public is a truly brave moment because it’s honest and accepting of the numerous ways it could go wrong. And I think that’s true and great. Am I moving to New York because there are more job opportunities and I can live without a vehicle and to fux with the career rut I’ve been stuck in out here? Yes. Am I also moving across the country for love? Hell yes.
And, as many people have timidly expressed, could things potentially go south—financially, mental health-wise, relationship-wise? Yes. Everything can be fucked with. But I’d rather live my life trying and believing in optimism and love and all the other wonderful things that exist in this silly world to balance out all the obscene horrors.
I’m not the most pragmatic person in the world. I’m down to gamble and wing it, for the most part. But there is a very, very small village in my mind’s landscape occupied by roaring Pragmatic Pagans—they’re wild creatures who occasionally pop into the foreground and try to squash my optimism for chance and randomness. Not often, but sometimes, their moon howling parties remind me to briefly tour their allotted zone in my pink-tissued fake world. Most of that world is occupied by a soft suburban romanticism. When I visit them it is only brief, flighty tourism, for I could never live there, there in that beautifully prepared and calculated land of pragmatism because truth be told, I’m just not cool enough. For twenty-six years I have been far too romantic to be ultimately cool. And I thank my my gushing, soft, emotional zones for their openness and their tenderness and I thank the fading beam of youth, of which I will hide behind, for its ability to make synonyms of stupidity and bravery. And I will hope with all my dusted bones that moving 3,000 miles from home—from family, from the desert-baked basin of myself with Mojave air forever filling my cells—for love (for love!) will fall under the category of bravery, simultaneously winking at the notion that it wouldn’t exist without at least a dash of the stupidity category. O, how I can sleep with that rationalization! A well-rested, possibly brave and definitely dicey, sleep with wild dreams of exploration and love and growth rather than the dreamless log-like slumber of a comfortable, sure-footed fool, calculated and cowardly.
And here I begin, like a screaming come across the sky. Los Angeles, I fucking love you.
Thanks for all the greatness, you beautiful friends who continue your own LA stories.