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It brings life, and it can bring death. I have craved it. I have searched for it. Sometimes, it is an easy quest. Sometimes, nothing is easy.
The world has changed, and the old rules don’t apply anymore. You gotta wrap your brain around that or nothing else I say is going to make a damn bit of sense. You can’t try to understand this using the things you’ve been taught.
That was the first step. They untaught us.
It happened so fast, we barely realized that it was happening at all. And by the time we caught on, it was too late. We had lost too much while trapped in passive entertainment. It had passed us by. Freedom, joy, love, hope. All of it was gone.
And it all started with the water.
You think gold is valuable? Then, you’ve never been truly thirsty.
#2minutesgo Tweet it! Share it! Shout it from the top of the shack you live in! I will be out most of the day, but I'll be back...#2minutesgo Tweet it! Share it! Shout it from the top of the shack you live in! I will be out most of the day, but I'll be back...
I caught a whiff on a wayward breeze, and she came back to me. Smells are weird like that. They can yank you into the past faster than anything. I hadn’t thought of her in years. We had both moved on with our lives. But the smell of the perfume tickled my nose and tripped some wire in my head. Suddenly, I was looking around me like she’d be standing there.ReplyDelete
That smell followed me all day and brought other memories with it. Some were good. Most were bad. They sat like devils in my brain, picking at the soft tissue. They made my breath short and they reminded me of what a terrible person I’d been. What a terrible person she’d been. What a terrible thing love truly is.
I went to the smoking area by the bus stop. I don’t smoke, but I wanted to smell something other than regret. I wanted the soft wisps of smoke to cling to my clothes, concealing me. But it didn’t work.
I went to sleep that night with a riot in my brain. And I woke up feeling the same pain.
It was evening, and the walls were closing in. That’s a cliché, but I swear they were. I needed to get out, but I lacked motivation. I was stuck to my chair, paralyzed. Thoughts raced through my head and I raced to keep up with them. My heart was pounding and my skin crawled.ReplyDelete
I was trapped. And the worst part was that I had trapped myself.
There was no one to blame.
I tried. You need to believe I tried. To keep the walls away. To keep my hands steady. To keep my brain on track. But there was nothing except fear and an overwhelming sense of disease. I could not abide myself. I could not look at my things.
Instead, I closed my eyes as tight as I could and shoved my fists into my eyeballs, making fierce fireworks and flashes of light.
I prepared myself to make it through another night.
He was running as fast as I had ever seen a man run, and then I heard the reason why. About thirty seconds after his blue jeans and torn shirt went flying by, I heard the deep baying of hounds and a man in uniform appeared holding the leashes of three incensed bloodhounds. The man saw me and stopped.ReplyDelete
“You see a man running this way?”
And then he was gone. And I could feel the words in my mouth still, but they didn’t make sense. The man could have been a serial killer. A bank robber. He could have been anyone. I sat down on a stump and tried to figure it out. I should have said yes. There was something about him and his flight, though. The pure terror. And there’s part of me that always has to root for the underdog.
Especially when that underdog is a man being pursued by three of the meanest looking real dogs I’d ever seen.
I lay down on the soft earth and tried to forgive myself. And then I heard gunshots.
And the barking stopped.
Hallowed be her name.
When she first came here—the skin beneath her hazel eyes smeared as if an artist had been learning charcoal, the eyes themselves almost pitiless—we called her Trashy, soon shortened to Trash. We meant nothing bad by that. "Trash panda" was a nickname for raccoons, and that was all we meant. But Trash—Raylene—heard only bad. Today we'd call it slut-shaming, only we weren't slut-shaming anyone. Yet she felt slut-shamed.
I still remember her room, the three dreamcatchers: the obvious one over her bed; another in the exact centre of her small window; and the other hanging from the doorframe, like mistletoe meant to stop dreamers dreaming bad things instead of lovers kissing good ones.
She never knew it, and even I only figured it out far too late, but I was her sister.
Trash was skinny and chill as a frappuccino straw. She liked to eat but she often couldn't. Her moods precluded co-option of solid fuel. In fact, that's even how she would have said it back then: "My moods preclude co-option of solid fuel." Her speech was unique. Like she began her thought in English, heard it in Venusian, then translated it hastily back into English.
I secretly adored her eyes. Not the shadows that made me think of future ghosts scribed in hindsight, but the marketplace of colour shimmering in those irises, even when her will held them steady as edicts. Her face was its own proclamation, the golden emerald eyes an enactment within.
You might have actually loved her too.
'm making it sound like she died. Far as I know, she never died. She simply left. Left us. Joined someone else, far as anyone knew. On cold nights, I try to warm myself with the thought of Trash, surviving, articulating her offbeat vision to some spellbound soul.
But yes. Trash never laughed, though she found some kind of humour in everything. She told me how often this bothered people around her. Related this story. She was small, maybe seven or eight, and her mom won some local contest and they went on a trip to London, a hardscrabble momma from the American South and her no-account daughter, first time either of them left America. Some point, she was sitting on a barstool in some dark pub that smelled like unfiltered tobacco smoke and cheese and onion crisps (she remembers her first taste of English chips even while she's forgotten the endless flight itself or Heathrow or the narrow streets or the tiny houses) and her mom was chatting with three men who seemed smitten by her voice, by her look, by her difference. And Trash, quiet, alone, stared ahead at the array of bottles, all that bright-hued glass, and thought about why adults seemed so sure they were in control when most times the opposite was true. And she nearly smiled, but she didn't want to give reality the pleasure of agreeing with it, so she decided to remain stoic. A girl of stone, perhaps more limestone than granite. Emotion was real to her, but expressing emotion felt like a luxury. Seemed one of the men noticed her reserve and came over to her, and she never forgot this, but he touched her upper arm where it was also her shoulder, not sexual or creepy in any way, and he looked in her eyes—his were the palest blue and you wouldn't gainsay someone who called them grey—and said, quietly yet not secretively, "Cheer up, darlin', it might never happen." Then he went and rejoined the other men serenading her mother, and Trash tried not to think about it but failed. It might never happen. What might never happen? It was too open-ended and infinite. Too soaked in plausible. It made her mind feel like all life shrank to a point, a point at which it must decide on cheering up or cheering down. Like it was a sinkhole hoping to warn the neighbors. Like a graffitied road in an abandoned mining town.
How do I know all this? It's like we switched places, traded pasts. It's like Trash stayed and I left. Maybe I'm mistelling it or misrecalling it.
One thing she knew that no one knew is this: everything aspires. A moth seeking light and dancing ungainly around it, tracing some newfound poetry in the expectant night. A two-lane road between cedars. Drunken songs after hours. A comet. Fresh-hatched turtles clambering over sand. The winning goal in a World Cup final. Migrants. Warmed cognac. The sun melting on the blazing rim of this world. Midnight mass. Laughter.
Though I don't know this, I know this: Trash is there still. On that blazing rim. Sipping Rémy Martin. Laughing at the exertion of turtles. Loving angrily. Living within the penumbra of borders. Trying not to notice the chainlink. Trying not to cry.
Oof. You got me right in the chest with this one. I love the first paragraph and it's bookended perfectly. Universal aspiration - that whole part rocks. I love the flow and rhythm, too.Delete
This is gorgeous, David!Delete
The bags were by the door. He was surprised how little he’d packed. Camera. Dog food. Laptop and backup drive. A few clothes. Enough food to last a few days. Batteries. Mosquito repellant. A sleeping bag. A first aid kit. Bottles of water. Important documents.ReplyDelete
Maybe this was what simplifying life really came down to. What would you take with you in an emergency.
Japanese Americans in World War II were told to bring “only what they could carry.”
Refugees fleeing violence and trying to enter the United States did the same.
All the crap that mattered so much when you saw it advertised, that you just had to have. In the end, none of it mattered.
The dogs sat near him. Felt his distress. Wondered why he was crying when he saw news from friends less than twent miles away who were lucky enough to make it out, even as they saw the trees they’d loved disappear into ash and smoke.
The dogs. If he had to leave everything else behind, the dogs mattered most.
He’d been awake most of the night, staring at the red glow on the horizon. Even at full moon, the red light was brighter. There were clouds of smoke extending high into the sky, like genies released from a gigantic lamp.
He and the dogs waited. They watched.
And they prayed, one in whispers, two with tails.
I love that last line. And I've been in those shoes. Where you realize that you packed all the shit you REALLY need in like ten minutes and there's nothing to do but wait. And you realize that nothing is that important unless it has a heartbeat. <3Delete
If I was to ask you, “What is it you want from me; what is it you expect of me?” I wonder what I’d hear from you.ReplyDelete
Am I the trash heap for sorrows, the already flaming dumpster of self-inflicted woes or those committed by others upon me? What’d be the harm in tossing a few more on the fire, right?
Or am I an ancient outcropping of granite shoulder that will support you and you and you if you’re searching for a clear view of this cloud-bound world?
Is it more tears than your own you seek, mute nods of understanding, even if I’m as numbed by this shallow section of life as a puddle?
Or is it sorrowful, powerful words that frame your worries in some ripples built of nothing but 0's and 1’s, or perhaps you’re looking for me to display with countless lies as I splash into existence as prisms of my view of a world in all its squint-eyed beauty?
I’m tired now, barely capable of spitting these droplets of words out here. But you know I’ll do my best to be whoever you need.
If only someone would do the same for me.
This is raw and powerful. No punches pulled. Just the way I like it. The dumpster fire is epic symbolism and epic writing, my friend.Delete
This may end up being part of a longer piece, but for today, it's a complete thought for me.ReplyDelete
Let the children have a wilderness to explore.
Young minds need time to play in a jungle
before the world teaches that pirates and monsters are real.
Oh Dear, this is turning into a whole novella now... But here's a start. More tomorrow.ReplyDelete
Carol Ann Johnson was an orderly sort of woman, neither pretty nor plain, old or young. The kind with a purposeful walk and dirty blonde hair and a practical outlook. You could tell from the jut of her jaw she disapproved of quite a lot of things, but kept her mouth shut about them mostly, contenting herself with doing good deeds where she saw the opportunity and allowing herself to instruct others as to their most obvious paths to self improvement only when it seemed appropriate.
All the Johnsons were like that. Like most of their neighbors they were staunch Lutherans who believed every word of it, including the part where the pastor insisted that even though Jesus had already died for our sins the path to salvation lay as much in our own hands as God’s, Heaven not being guaranteed. But it wasn’t until her father Bud’s heart gave out the same day as the combine that she began to understand just how limited a thing Christian compassion could be, meted out in covered dishes for two weeks after his funeral by the neighboring farm wives, in half hearted offers to help with his crop from their husbands, and of course, wanting to know the date of the auction if she ever decided to sell. She couldn’t blame them, either. The government being what it was these days, it was all too easy to believe bad luck could be catching.
So, left to her own resources with the past due notices piling up, when a trucker named Dwight D Harney ran his eighteen-wheeler into her father’s prize cornfield at 3 in the morning one day in August, Carol Ann did not recognize the blessing right at first. But she hopped on the tractor regardless and went down to take a look. A great. bent bear of a man was leaned over the steering wheel, bleeding from the head.
“Goddammit! “She cried to no one in particular.”You can’t die here! You understand me?”
But she was a Christian and there being nothing else, to be done, she managed to haul him from the cab, into the tractor and off to the Urgent care in Clinton.
Which was closed. So she tried the emergency vet at County road 12. Doctor James was a well known stoner, an insomniac with a fondness for punk rock and a broader view of life and death than many of his neighbors in Iowa, most whom had difficulty deciding between their welfare of their animals and the humans who surrounded them.
“He’ll live,” he announced. “ I stitched him up and he’ll be okay But….”
“But what?” Carol Ann inquired.
“He’s got amnesia. Temporary, I hope. Don’t even know his own name.”
“Shit. What about the cornfield?”
“Can’t say about that. Can’t keep him here either. I could lose my license.”
“So, do I call the Sheriff, or what?”
“Not up to me. “ He peered at her . “ you saying you want advice?”
Carol Ann straightened her spine. “ You need to be an asshole?”
“Take him home, give him a couple of days. He’ll come back around with some rest and good food. You think you can do that much?”
Caroll Ann shook her head, then nodded. “ Fine”. She said. “Just fucking fine.”
Back on the farm, the dawn was just breaking, bathed in rose and pink and gold. She got the trucker installed in her Dad’s old bedroom, and out of habit, set up the coffee for the morning. It wasn’t until she wandered out onto to the back porch, her eyes sandy and her back aching with tribulation that she she heard the music, echoing like angel’s voices through the emptiness of the dawn.
La pena y la que no es pena, Llorona
Todo es pena para mí
La pena y la que no es pena, Llorona
Todo es pena para mí