I take it with me everywhere. I see everything I see through it, a dusty desert through the lens of a carved-out orange, a flame within a fire, a kaleidoscope of symbols that arouse the same combination of emotions that occurs when reeling in a fish from the sea: an excited jolt and then dull inevitability. They materialize that way, too. At first, a small tug begins in my fingertips and moves down my arm and settles in my shoulder bone, a warning to pull in before I am pulled out.
I might see a paper napkin on the ground, half of it pulsing upward with the wind like a mouth that changes its mind just as it has inhaled to speak something terribly true. This will remind me of surrender, how easy it was to live without that excruciating pause that occurs between thought and speech. I will be sad for a moment and then I will remember. This is how it is now. The world has a lens over it. Every tree and bicycle, bear and bird, orchid on a shelf in the market, every vulgar hot dog stand, the woman laughing at the bar where I am writing this, even in this corner where I’m sitting in New York City—beige with sunlight diluted from all the work it’s done down the windows of buildings before it is allowed to fall on the four trees—all are colored with this same story. If a story can be a color this one is a shade a lazy person might describe as brown. It is the color of the desert which some, usually those who are prone to hyperbole and to fall in love easily, wish were red. It is camel-colored, which makes it sound exotic, and it is not exotic. It is almost orange, if orange weren’t so liquid. It is an orange abandoned under the sun, and everything is painted that dried color now. This occurred when I met him, but I never noticed it until he left. Every story is still this story, going on without itself.
For example, I am in New York City. Here I’m not eating a plum, not shifting to maneuver a sidewalk, not navigating back to the dark hotel room at three a.m. not yawning and not looking at the bottom of my feet kicking behind me and trying not to write those lines etched in their arches that tell the stories of the places they’ve been and never touched.
How to stop it? How to tell it if it is my only tale? Maybe I can change the names of our characters and make everyone believe it didn’t happen. Maybe I could change the color of our eyes and make us believe it didn’t happen. Maybe I can cut up magazine letters and glue the whole story to paper like a ransom note and mail it to myself so that for only money, I can come to my own rescue. Maybe the boy character could be a painter who paints on the backside of the canvas and isn’t aware that the image is revealed on the front. Maybe the girl character has a problem with her heart. Maybe her heart beats like a hummingbird heart, 1260 beats a minute, and everyone knows her life will be shorter but she pretends she doesn’t mind. She pretends it is a gift, being part-bird. She can join a circus if she wants to, but instead she chooses to invent tornadoes that never touch land, wind that doesn’t actually move. She sleeps while outside an orange window the rest of the world churns in a dark and glittering soup of strangers. All her heads and wings are pinned inside that glass case and they come and they stare at her: Why can’t she move? Why doesn’t she escape? How much did we pay to see this horrible sight? Can we get our money back? This is no girl with the heart of a bird, four sets of wings, two heads and a tail. She’s just a girl, just in case.
posted by holly.