la fin d’été manique // catching one’s breath // a short, short story & a poem
you lean slowly toward the exit, “i have no idea what i am doing here, actually.”
"are you afraid?"
"then i’m not either."
"i know you are. you always are."
"how is it even possible that we’ve come to know each other so well?"
you pause to shift and contemplate, “it defies all reason, really. doesn’t it?”
i take a sharp breath in and look away from you. i look at the ugly interior wall and wish so badly that it was a lake, or a line of trees, or some sort of formation of rocks that i was looking at instead. i wish that my knees were scraped and that my skin tasted of salt and that i felt tired, holy, and warm instead of this nothing. this non-thing; this not knowing that crept into my bones & kept me trapped within my body like a prison. occasionally i could escape, like a burst of ephemeral light, but i did not know my terrain enough to understand how to make that happen. it was always by magic accident, so i remained mostly stuck.
"my fingers feel like they might burst." i heaved awkwardly into the silence, like some kind of impossible life preserver.
"because they have been still for so long."
"what do you mean? you are twitching and fidgeting with them constantly."
"i meant that figuratively. like, not literally still."
"oh. i see."
"no, not really."
"look, if you wanna’ go, just go."
"no. i said that i was done escaping. remember?"
"no. i think that you said that to yourself, like silently, not to me."
"oh. well, i meant to say it out loud."
"okay you meant to say it out loud."
"what about the not running part? you don’t have anything to say about that?"
"did you say not running? i thought you said escaping."
"whatever. running, escaping: po-ta-to, po-tah-to. anyway, you’re just being evasive."
"i am not. linguistic precision is very important to me. there are no such things as synonyms. everything means something different. something unto itself."
"you are so infuriating."
"then why are you still here?"
"i told you. i am not running-slash-escaping anymore."
"i’ll believe that when i see it."
"ah ha! so, you don’t trust me?!"
"of course not. you don’t trust me either. we’ve both fucked this up too many times already for some sort of precious, simple trust situation."
"it’s not too late though."
"i didn’t say it was too late in general, necessarily, i just said that it was too late to be simple."
"but when is it ever simple?"
"look, there are three entities here: there’s you, there’s me, and then there is our relationship, which resembles a mangled, helpless animal laying by the side of the road."
"i know, i know. but it’s still there, isn’t it? it’s still laying there. And us here, us talking right now is like we’re bending over it and inspecting the nature of its injuries."
"it’s not that easy."
"why can’t it be? i can’t believe that you’re this defeated. are you really this defeated?"
"look, i will probably always love you, but —"
"i’ll probably always love you too. i do! i do love you. i love you and i’m tired of just theoretically loving you. i want to do something about it."
"i want to too. i’m tired of just theoretically loving you also, but i’m more tired of theoretically loving myself. i don’t know what i want, or even how i feel half of the time because i’ve been too scared of myself for so long. too scared just to listen! i don’t know how to hear myself around other people. how do people learn how to do that? i don’t even know what the fuck i’m doing! how the fuck do they do it?!"
"slowly. slowly, & with practice probably."
"are you afraid?"
"well, i’m still not."
"good for you."
"i’m still here, too."
"so am i."
"so let’s just be here."
i have been
growing up and
into a certain kind
like a tree rooted
firmly in the dark earth
i am not waiting
for a magic wholeness
to christen some moment
in the void, unknown;
i move into each
(and now! and now!)
whole and sufficiently
scathed to recognize
the vast beauty,
the immense frailty
that is this living —
that becomes strength,
that seizes our
(and open! and open!),
that brings us into
this peace of not-knowing,
of not closing,
but of moving
forward, of exploring
our solitary territory
with a joyful curiosity.
of being excavator;
of being tied solemnly
to the present moment;
of going to the