Friday, February 16, 2024

2 Minutes. Go!

The air smelled of ozone, and the animals were alert. Hidden beneath the boughs of an overgrown tree, the boy waited. He was good at waiting. He had had lots of practice. What he was waiting for, he didn't know, but he felt that if he waited quietly, patiently, it would be revealed to him. This knowledge was first and foremost a prayer. He had faith. Misguided maybe, but he had faith.

He was a jumpy boy, easily startled. He hated that about himself. Always flinching. Always averting his eyes. He wasn't much of a man, he figured. He wasn't tough or particularly strong. Fights scared him. They made him frantic. Because of this, he didn't hang around the kids his age. They were pugilists, all of them. He had sampled their wares and regretted it. 

He was busy mastering an itch. It started at the base on his spine and climbed up his spinal column to the back of his head. The itch could ruin everything, so he suppressed it. He was good at suppressing things. It was a talent that served him well. 

The gum he molded to his teeth was long devoid of flavor. He was thirsty. Hungry. The gum was wearing out his jaw, but it kept the awful dryness away. 

When the buck emerged from the edge of the clearing, his heart almost stopped. It was white. Pure white like it was God's very own deer. The boy knew it could happen, but he'd never seen one. A tear sprang from his eye as he realized something. 

You could be different. You could stick out like a sore thumb...and you could still be beautiful. The boy tucked that knowledge inside his heart. When the deer left the clearing, the boy got up to go home. He was feeling lighter. He wanted to put on the soft clothes that he kept hidden.

He was thinking about how beautiful that deer was. 

Friday, February 9, 2024

2 Minutes. Go!

Her eyes open, and the room changes temperature. You can feel it. A cold gust that whips through the apartment, changing nothing. You lie still. Pretend to be asleep. You are not great at pretending, but she is not perceptive. She is looking with wolf eyes, and they are easily misled. She has no pack to back her. Lone wolf, she.

When she rises, she will start her morning process. The same way she has started every morning for forty years. Same stretch, same tea, same mug. She is married to her habits; she finds safety in them. Safety from what, I do not know. I've been wondering about it for decades now. 

When I get up, it is all pantomime. Man wakes up. All playacting. I don't have a routine. I pretend to stumble, half asleep, into the kitchen. Pour myself the coffee she made. Wonder, as per usual, if it will be the last cup of coffee I ever drink. She watches me with such expectancy. 

But I live. I carry on. I keep sleepwalking.

I'll wake up when she closes her eyes again; that is my time.

Friday, February 2, 2024

2 Minutes. Go!

The anger makes you shake. It makes your voice quake. Like you're about to start crying or spitting blood. It radiates off of you, and everyone can see it. It's like a rattlesnake tail, that shake, that rattle. It gets inside you and starts flipping switches. Old ones, made thousands of years ago when predators roamed the land, and we didn't have guns to punch holes in them. It's a natural response, and it is appropriate. 

Still, it's unsettling. It makes eye contact difficult. It makes you feel like danger is all around you. You turn into an antelope, anxious on the veldt, frozen in place while your comrades spring and jump and run away. Fight, flight, or freeze. If only you didn't always default to freezing. The veldt would pull your card quick. 

Anger and fear can get mixed up, and, combined, they are a potent cocktail. 

I call it the American dream. One part paranoia, two parts unwarranted pride. One part individualism. One part propaganda. 

Shaken, not stirred. No one has time to stir. 

Pour into a chilled glass and smash it into your face. It's good for you. It builds character.