She was the new girl yet again. Late August heat, hair a little blonder, she wore sun-kissed skin. A twenty-fourth birthday and graduation around the corner. There was no way of knowing then, how her life was about to change. A magnetic pull, the end of an era. She could feel it in her bones. Like the left side of a book getting heavy as the right thins out. She never met a man so charismatic. The kind that draws you in with deep-to-the-core conversations. And the laughs, my god, are they unmatched. When he makes her laugh, she tilts her head back and the whole world disappears. She could find him in the dark.
In a sea of strangers there would be no searching.
Burning leaves and the stillness of November. They came and went; those nights when the fireplace turned the whole house into a sauna. The kind of heat that wakes you from your nightmare, makes you second guess where you are. And in those long seconds where you’re so very lost and longing for answers, you throw the covers off to shiver, to wipe sweat from your brow, to deep breathe dust. As the embers below go out, heat escapes through cracks in the foundation and rotting wood ’til you turn cold again. You always turned cold again.
Rust, white tails and tall grass. The old memories that stain.
Rummage through the thoughts that are bound to make themselves known. Microwaved coffee and a looming deadline. You sit with your thoughts and wonder, they tear you down at every turn. You curl up, alone in the garage. The cigarette smoke twirls, patterns of dwindling days. Let those thoughts twirl away, to disappear somewhere in the ether. Dust, metal and plastic. It’s so difficult, I know, but you have to keep going. Find it in your bones: that fire that lit the way long ago. Promise yourself that it’s still there, as real as your beating heart. As real as the sunlight and shadows. Nothing worth having comes easy.
“Even if it requires every last ounce of everything I am, I force myself to just move my hand enough to write those words each and every day, even if what I write is complete gibberish.
The words might not be Pulitzer-worthy, but they are something. Something pretty phenomenal actually. They are literally my fight against depression.”
Open window, cool air. Reluctance. No, get up. What day is it? It’s Thursday, I think. Work in an hour. Yes, it’s Thursday. Coffee, cigarette, thoughts. Rushing around is a choice, but every minute counts. Toothpaste, irritation and that damned mirror. A sharp glance at the clock. Every minute counts.
Ashes and anxiety. You’ve been through it before.
I drove as far as I could the day the sun disappeared. Rugged, granulated, total black-out. Vastness. Navy blue skyline. She carried a pocketknife with the blade out as we trudged across the beach. There was one right ahead. All the time they wandered, sick and mad from the water they drank. We lived in nothing short of a mansion. It was old but in good shape and we were lucky to be outside the city limits. On the coast, when wind subsided, we heard the ocean rumbling. Calling. Cold, green, endless. I turned to her with a signaling look. Her eyes, gray, wide with terror; she knew too, one was out there, moving in the dunes before us. Kicking the sand beneath me, I wished we were inside the house already. This one swayed, wearing a white hospital gown, untied, fluttering in the coastal winds. Her head tilted, hair like a flag in the breeze. I could only make out small details. Never stare for too long. Come on, we must go. The house is just ahead. With her knife out, she followed close behind. We passed by, feet digging into the sand. You only remember what dark is when all the light has gone. The grid went down some months back. It’s the price we pay for how badly they were treated. We forgot them, and so we lose our light. I lost more than light that day.
Head down to the beach with your head down. Feel sorry for yourself. Give it time.
That’s what they always say.
As if time is a blanket that will wrap itself around you
and then, only when you’re ready, shed the skin that needs letting go.
I’m tired of those conversations.
I can’t tell if it’s getting any better or worse.
I can’t tell if I’m getting better or worse.
Sadness is a strange friend. Cardboard boxes and empty bottles.
We used to laugh for hours
at their expense.
The nights grow longer.
they blink by.