She was here.
But not really.
She’s in limbo.
Like between sleeping and awake.
Like between breathing and not.
An elaborate veneer of external liveliness.
The lights haven’t been on for weeks. A hot meal and central heating were privileges we couldn’t afford. We considered our small TV, sitting on top of a box labeled “shoes” in our empty living room, an exotic item.
It stared blank faced at the two of us.
His body protected me from the cold. Rough carpet rubbed against my exposed skin. We were a tangled mess of heat and pleasure under a single, tattered blanket.
Outside the wind screamed and rain pelted the roof as if upset we could find joy—delicious joy—in a time meant to break us. A time we’re supposed to want more.
… is enough.
A little thunder
Shaking the concrete jungle
Is Mother Nature
Jabbing her elbow in my
Ribs, reminding me what’s real
“We’re in paradise,” they said. “Unhappiness doesn’t exist here.”
As they smiled and ruffled my hair,
I felt darkness overtake
The last bastions of light
In my soul.
“Yes,” I said. “We’re in paradise.”
Picture by: Gerald Friedrich
It’s odd not feeling. It’s like having a tight ball sit above the heart, its form writhing like a baby in the womb. Desperate for air. For life. When that ball unwraps itself, something bursts out and fills me despite my pleas.
It’s them, I realize as they incapacitate me. It’s them. The feelings. They’re back.
They’re like a rapid
Current plummeting the shore
A merciless force
Photo by: Patrick Jennings
Your words are
More valuable to me
Than precious gems
Than life-giving air
Imagine, if you will,
What would happen
If you used them
To destroy me
We’re all waiting to die.
I learned that truth at a young age and hoped Death would save me from the minutiae of life. When he didn’t—if Death was indeed a he—I got desperate and figured I’d force his arrival. I remember sitting in my room holding my father’s gun to my head, the cold barrel digging into my temple. A twisted smile plastered on my face. I felt as if I was a lover waiting for my date to arrive, but the bastard stood me up.
For the sake of my concerned parents, I started preoccupying my time with normal things while I waited for Death. This meant getting a job at a local market where I dealt with high nosed customers. Secretly, I hoped I’d trip and break my neck or get hit by a car.