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Winter

All you do is move your body and settle down on the couch to read. Sometimes you’ll feel restless. You’ll get out the sewing machine and buy fancy fabrics off the internet. Pillows will be made and the couch you settle onto seems brighter and prettier than before. The owl pillows you bought in 2012 and never sewed together look quaint and not quite fitting but you’ll put them on the couch in the guestroom for somebody to see.

Two mornings a week you pack your swimsuit and towels and a bunch of cosmetics and go to the pool with the long lanes before work. It will tire you and excite you in a way that has everything to do with your unbound love of Haruki Murakami’s prose and nothing to do with the imaginary triathlon you imagine maybe training for. Besides you don’t have the bike for that.

Three times a week in the afternoons you’ll go to the gym and lift some weights and then run on the treadmill, which is too warm in winter, but still. In the sunshine on Sunday afternoons you’ll also run outside.

Your body is not betraying you because it can do this and your mind needs to settle because all those words are inside and you miss them and feel them and can’t type them with all those aches. 

Fox and dagger

The truest stories are the most tedious to read. The non-uniqueness of each tiny problem. How everybody has said the same words at one point in their lives. No, we are not special, yet each unhappiness trickles down towards the organs in uncharacteristic ways. We must be something else, we’d say, and caress our egos with soft strokes. Now here we are, nothing else, and it has to become a story.

Once, there was a fox. He had red hair and wrinkled skin and a vivid imagination. In his daily life he had made some friends, but he was unsatisfied. Insatiable, maybe even. His friends were of the kind and generous variety. Fox was also kind, if a little unforgiving.

Fox attended a meet-up for fellow professionals and it was a blast. He worked the room and had a couple drinks. He sat next to a person he didn’t yet know, a handsome fella with bright eyes and a keen interest in small talk. “Well, look at us,” Fox thought, “I am going to ask for his number.”

The internet, that deep swamp of connectivity. Fox made his moves. The fella had a name and it was Dax. Like the hound. The moves were not well rehearsed but well-meant. Once, Fox wrote an email. One time he called to ask for a tea and coffee date. Fox had an open heart in those weeks and Dax listened intently to all the stories tumbling out of Fox. It was necessary. They were a good match.

They had settled into a comfortable routine, one would think. Into a solid friendship even, where you sometimes think of the the person and then proceed to write a postcard. Days went by and life was good. Maybe Fox sometimes had thoughts of that certain kind. Where he’d have given a leg for a touch to last a few seconds longer. But he was silent and stuck his hands deep, deep into his pockets.

It would have been easier if there had been a falling out. Something drastic, a bomb that goes off and after the stunned period at least you can pinpoint what happened. “Ah, the explosives” you could tell yourself, then look to see if the others had noticed it, too. And they would shake their heads wistfully and look at you in pity, signaling that yes, they had been there, too.

This is not what happened. There was only a growing darkness that spanned the distance between them. Dax’ words and actions drifted apart like lonely ice sheets. His words were warm as usual and full of promise. His physical absence, however, was what filled Fox’ daydreams and journal entries with a sense of dread and being lost. He was drifting, too. Dax had no time, he said, no opportunity to meet and all those long days and nights studying were a necessity. Fox wanted to believe with all his might and pressed his eyes shut hard until the vessel burst and it hurt just a tiny bit more than being neglected. Oh, the ego! And why won’t he like me anymore? The truth, they would say, is not that there was a falling out or an event that made life stop for a millisecond before shifting the clock and the round earthen globe a millimeter to the new. To the not-quite-the-same. The truth is just that your friendship means nothing to him now. There are so many things worse than being forgotten, Fox said, this does not matter. It is not unique, my unhappiness that trickles down my throat and lodges in my insides. 

Missing

When a person goes missing, somebody is bound to notice.
“I killed him,” I always told people when they found out. “Not literally! Metaphorically,” Amber was quick to add when the eyes grew wide and the silence palpable. Soon the discussion would refocus on a different topic, with Amber clutching my hand too hard to shush me up.
I didn’t think it made a difference: his absence felt the same to me. It filled me up. His death didn’t eat at me the way the silence did.

What is a metaphor? That it must have hurt beastly when I stuck the knife into his chest four times? The steel gnawed into him and it was so silent, the gushing blood. Surprised me. I would have thought he would be louder overall, more spiteful. The turning point was casual and quick, his large eyes staring at me in the dim light next to the bed. I should have waited for daylight maybe, for him to be awake. To witness. I always needed witnesses for us. Then I had run out of people to talk to about him.

Some had chosen Amber’s side, as if he had anything to do with us. Others simply grew restless and bored with the story of nothing. What is bleakness? Each morning staring at empty inboxes. Each mango soda drunk on the beach surrounded by beach ball throwing college students. Each cold caught after sitting too close to the air conditioning in the economics library. A brief history of avoidance.

He must have had family but the newspapers said nothing. I heard nothing from the police either. When I told Amber her eyes grew small, unlike his in death. Tiny eyes asking me to go lie down. “Everything will be okay,” she said and brought me a glass of water. “ I know,” I replied. I made it so.

There are many stories out there now, I sometimes get confused. What is the present? A frantic rush to understand what just was and what will be. Each postcard carefully composed in a brain in different cities, then not sent. This is the present, and this is.

I look into my mailbox and it’s empty. I miss him every day.

We shall all howl at the full moon

With ice cold feet they burst through the doors and hide in a dance floor darkness. Limbs brushing against each other, deep in thoughts. Breathe in the generated fog, the damp air, the crisp breeze near the window. Scream something in my ear please, come up close. 

That’s all we’ll do, that dancing.

aliterationmag:

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Congratulations to April’s contributors, tminstral, lizletsgo, unfeignedheart, futureancestor, wordsbyjake, theartmedley, thespiritcodes, deeplystained, octobermoe, materialmirage, lovedly, rakuli, theincrediblemeeow, and silentmanjh! aliterationmag:

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Congratulations to April’s contributors, tminstral, lizletsgo, unfeignedheart, futureancestor, wordsbyjake, theartmedley, thespiritcodes, deeplystained, octobermoe, materialmirage, lovedly, rakuli, theincrediblemeeow, and silentmanjh!

Friday night

Your windows are vast and spill candle light reflections back at me. The opposite of clinical, your living room, where I began dissecting each shadow movement a few months ago. The dark couch my operating table for removing all these splinters and itches. Hold still, I tell myself, count to three Mississippi, then leave the room under the pretense to get some more water. Water, water, everywhere some spillage where I opened you up too briskly. Somebody else once looked after me as I left rooms to get more water. Across an ocean and a forest somebody is always looking at somebody else’s back and ass and shoulders and wonders what to do with their hands now.

This is the one lesson we’ll need to teach a child, to look up and wash her hands clean in disinfectant after brain surgery. More clean hands for more sullen minds. More compromises in the professional business of grinding your heel into aspirations as you spin and delete chat histories.

How one could eat potatoes on the floor, cooked and tenderly wrapped in melted cream cheese; I’d thought we’d get on the ground for one act only.

Conceptualize your lighthouse

this is where you fought them with the key between your teeth and a fierce growl inside your throat. All the ways a body signals discontent: liquid, sounds, neurons firing, keeping core temperatures from plummeting. Catching an off-shore break:

Sssh, I am prepping for the grand deception.

Berlin

A red balloon pops up in the sky in front of you and its color splashes against the blue and white, and you might want to take a photo but the wind tears it away too quickly so you just breathe.
You eat all the cake, all the mousse, all the chocolate until your stomach and belly extend and you finally have a reason to raise your voice, to berate your beastly body, until you can love it again.
You and your body sit in an empty pathology lecture hall, on the blackboard you write one hundred times all the ways your body is betraying you. Then you both start crying and hug and promise to be better, the sobs echo up to the last rows, but you sober up and repeat that you will love more, care more, breathe more. On the table they sometimes put corpses and cut them open under a microscope. Write everything one hundred times.

Newborns

The way they jump up and down on the dance floor, with bottles of beer and glasses of clear liquors, one in each hand: it seems as if they are maybe ten minutes old. Just last week pushed out of their mothers’ uteri, so fresh and plump. Sweet dancing babies. It will be so easy to find flaws with you: each eyelash glued on too thickly, each pair of hands so free of callouses. Such few scars. Such greedy throats and booming voices screaming for more of these precious experiences hugging strangers and licking somebody’s teeth under the disco ball light. Sweet tiny, hungry babies falling on top of each other as the final take-home song blasts rhythmically into the night: the shapes you create of things I have never even heard of.  

A preliminary excerpt from the Capsule Hotel

“I am always right behind you” he breathed into the space between us. The words were hardly audible, yet I caught the threat clearly. That grin with those immaculate teeth. His hand seemed to grow the closer it moved toward my face: in a capsule close is all you know. A sharp, yellow pain shot into my brain, and as I closed my eyes something exploded inside. Two breaths. I opened my eyes. His hand lay on my left breast.

Now there were several ways this could have gone. Me pushing his head against the plastic TV and pressing both hands onto his Kehlkopf was not the most pleasing option. His eyes rolled back into his head. The lips quivering. It makes no sense that I was this strong. How was he so quiet while dying? Capsules have no real walls, thin plastic and a roll-down curtain in the front. Everybody should have heard. His skin grew grey and then he stopped breathing. I stopped, too. His body sunk against the thin mattress. How did we even fit into the tiny square? A body to deal with. I listened intently to the chatter surrounding us. I could decipher a few Japanese words, the sounds familiar on my tongue. “Shinu means to die,” I whispered into his left ear, the other one down on the pillow as if arranged.