Happy autumn, everyone!
In the midst of many a writing project, I wanted to close my twenty-seventh year around the sun with this piece. Within it are many hidden meanings, both in my life and in the lives of those who have (in one way or another) deeply moved me. In an effort to bring forth the experiences of those I did not know or understand, I merged them with my own.
I felt this work of fiction would be most appreciated if I kept those meanings private, thus allowing its context to move freely about the mind of the reader. However interpreted, or pertinent to your own, I do hope it is a joyous experience to translate. For the lessons I learned here were manifold, and impressed upon me a desire to be more than just me. In other words, it was in the convergence of two states that led to a greater understanding…of the roles we play and the roles we, in turn, play for others.
I think there is something beautiful in being inside oneself, and also in being out. I wish that this rings true to many of you, and inspires you to both be yourself and be (if ever so briefly) someone else. For oh, the life you will live…if you choose to live more than just one.
October 8th, 2016:
The summer of my ninth year was an unusual one. The air was heavier and the hours longer.
Strange odors bubbled up from the water, pushing thick layers of foam to the lips of the lake. And, mixing with the mud along the outer rim, filled the surrounding fields with the smell of rot. Every day was endless, and dragged with it a breeze like dog’s breath.
I kicked angrily at piles of papers that had turned into mountains. I slapped at tufts of dust that clung to my legs, flicking them back into corners that hadn’t been cleaned in weeks. And I pressed my face against the covers of magazines, peeling the pages from my cheek when it no longer felt cool.
There was nothing, it seemed, that could distract me from the heat.
But into the night I listened to my father talk. About the “before” times and the “after” times. The happy years and the not-so-happy years. Brown bottles spilled from the sides of the recliner, clinking together whenever he stopped to wipe his mouth with his forearm.
Where once the stories he told were exotic and wondrous to me, they were now arguable. Versions changed as the darkness fell and, again, as the darkness lifted.
Yet still I listened, beads of sweat collecting along my skin. Still I sat, and watched the dust like tumbleweeds across the floor.
The winter of my twenty-sixth year was stranger still. For though the season of the cicada was gone, the feeling of fever had stayed with me.
I was now prone to fits of melancholy, when the bile in my stomach became blacker than those nights I once knew. Roots hung at my scalp. Long blonde hairs snaking from the side of the sink to the drain.
Even with the sleeping pills, I wandered around dully.
Two eyes eternally open, dreams came about as visions. Down hallways. Up corridors. Spinning and spitting and splintering through conduits built by my brain. And tied me to trances, where watermarks blurred about the things I saw in the light.
But into the blush, here in this room, I could see the dawn of man. The suffering of man. Bump, bump, bumping into the night. Loose-lipped and lack-thighed.
Yet such was the silence, borne by last minute reservations and the uncomfortable brushing of elbows in the elevator. Slowly the clamor of the streets below began to settle. And up from the lobby, out over blemished carpet, I finally happened upon that which moved me to words where none there were.
It was in this place that I felt free, and could watch the planes cut through the early evening clouds without worry. And watch I did, with great concentration, until the hotel window filled with steam and my breath began to hit my chin in odd intervals.
But the dusk pressed on, and my sleeping husband began to stir about. An overture of deep groans. A chorus of exaggerated yawns.
At long last, the sounds of labored breathing started to quicken and a sort of synthetic breeze began to float about him. It was then that I could feel the space around my mouth grow thin, and I resolved with near certainty that it was being sucked up by the stale air that swelled above.
A place of once white. Now yellow. Covered by a ceiling of easeless eaves that whispered things that I knew, and things that I did not know. And fell like mist into my mouth.
There was only the expectation of pain at that point; an empty pocket rife with a very circumstantial anxiety. Yet tremendously my excitement grew, made even more so by the distance already put between the planes on the tarmac and me and my husband.
A vicious unraveling, I walked to the cantilever chair. Particles of dust kicked up in my wake glistened in the artificial glow of the desk lamp. Greens and browns burst into glorious shades of gold and silver, spanning rapidly around the pockmarked rug. Like fireflies I caught for my father, and lined them up in jars along the driveway for him to see from the house.
Thus the time came. Filth and flickering light shined in all directions, yet fell gracefully in warm pools at my lap. And, looking down, I saw the spaces between my fingers. Spaces that had been so filled with tightened skin and cramped palms the past few years.
But still my body began to open up in a way that was both new and wondrous to me. And, as he sat up and peered over, I could not remember a time there was such a color about his eyes.
“You go first.”
For in the infinite infinity of this room was the great con. Ashes to the ocean. Death to that which was already dead. These things I feel…I feel nothing.
Reaching, reaching, reaching for the sun, he was. Like my father, still going on and on into the sweltering nights about the emptiness some people leave behind.