Perhaps they are not what you think they are.
I wake up to an early morning aurora of colors, a phantasmagoria of hues, if you may. Today, I breathe in the medleys, I breathe in you, and not much else. You fell asleep as I fell asleep, embracing a pseudo-us and choosing to meet you in a half-lighted dream. I understand that we are complex; we are sentences and we are shifting glows of light. I have lost my ability to write short lines, when there are so many new colors to name. Let me try.
Purples are greens that are finding their way.
Morning light is a pixie ball’s glitter.
I’d kiss you if you promise not to wake yet.
We are more than shadowed dreams.
Look; I am still here.
“There is something to be said about trying,” she said, watching the people come in. The rustling grew louder. “There is something to be said about fear.”
The girls nearby were gossiping. She heard no words, but she felt their excitement. Despite the strange packaging, stories were stories.
The exercise was to write yourself into a story without becoming the story. Be the hero without winning. Be hurt without dying. And send yourself out to be loved.
A boy, red hair with freckles, raised his hand. “What if no one takes us?”
The proctor laughed. “Then look again. You’ll realize you were wrong.”
The months of the year have probabilities. August always brings some surprise or the other, October feels a bit like hope, and December feels like time standing still. And January — January almost always feels sad. There’s something heavy or cold, like a very small ice flower bloomed inside my chest and grew and grew and grew.
It’s no different this year. I have been let down, I have broken down, I have been found, lost again, or swirled all around a proverbial whirlpool of bad weight. There is not enough room in my glass lungs, clumsy hands. In my determination to be strong, everyone (including I) forget how fragile I can be, and trust me to put myself together when I fall apart.
And I can. But the thing about learning to depend on yourself is realizing you can’t trust anyone to fix you for you anymore. They are angry with you for locking them out, and angry with you for locking them in. There is not enough room in my feather heart, burning eyes.
He looked at me straight in the eyes and made his offer: he could save me. I wasn’t ready for this. I thought that we were made of apologies and golden expectations, not whispers and thanks. I didn’t even notice how easy it was to deny something if you were positive it would never be yours. It’s uncanny how absent-minded our dreams can be. I shook my head. I’m fine.
This world is made up of good things and bad things. We learn that early on. One thing we are almost never taught is how to tell between the two.
Love, a good thing.
Ache, a bad thing.
Friends, a good thing.
Lies, a bad thing.
I’ve played this game. I’ve been on both ends. I’ve asked children to tell me what it means to be good.
Wings: good things for youth, bad things for elders.
Secrets: good things among friends, bad things between them.
Smiles: good things for the lonely, bad things for the insane.
What about you? Where in the universe could I possibly put you?
Nearly four years later and I still don’t know why you loved me. I had the words prepared for this, but your lips steal them from me once more. (Your favorite thing about me was my smile.) Words in ink scare most people away, but you wanted each drop in place. You were wrong for me because you shook my very foundations. I can’t be trusted with great love. I might rule the world with it.
I have not been to every one of your shows. I have not heard your voice enough to memorize it and I don’t remember what you said when you first spoke to me. I wrote you as fiction but you refused to be anything other than my truth — and that is exactly why I feel for you. I lack the words. But I comfort myself with the idea that in another world you are singing for me.
Her smile was crafted carefully by habit, years of faking. When she tells me her stories — how he lied and forgot her and how she became a shadow — I hear a shaky voice, but see a clear, bright smile. I know I always said the sky was a blanket and that the breeze was my solace, but she is inconsolable in secret. There is no other way I could have found her.
He stole a glance. She tried not to shake too much, tried not to forget how to breathe. The pain traveled from her stomach to her chest and spun all around her mind. He had been away for a year or so. Her mind went blank while she shivered and froze. A thousand days ago he was looking into her eyes and shouting her name across the field; she doubted. She ran away. She spelled impossibilities into the rivers. He stole a glance.
It was here, in this very same room. “You’ve told me two lies for every truth, and I don’t remember that part of the game.”
“So you think it’s a game.”
She said nothing, only counted heartbeats under her breath. Finally: “What now?”
Silver slivers in his eyes stared her down. At what point did she lose him?
Play back the last ten stories, and you’ll know more about me than the next ten weeks of quiet. You don’t remember because you don’t want to remember the things that pull you down. The words are all wrong if they aren’t missing, but I’ll keep going if it’s going somewhere.
A list of strange sensations: free-falling in slow motion, forgetting, following a winding road, playing for food, thinking about what you’re doing, realizing you love someone who does not fit, when days go right, poetry in straight lines, water that tastes dry, remembering, love.
At 9AM you said you’d be there.
10:30, I am uneasy but excited. There is lots to do and I am hopeful.
11:27, the person is early.
12:43, you are late.
2:15, I haven’t heard many laughs in this room in a while. The dark is light, but I am keeping it close, nonetheless.
3:21, where did we get lost?
4:06, I may have forgotten to look for you.
4:28, I ran into our old friends and spent some time looking back, successfully asking nothing about you.
5:33, what if?
7:00, maybe 9AM was a dream.