May your keys be slightly crooked, and force you to work to open your doors.
May you wake up with vague feelings of shame, but no memory of what caused them, and carry them in your pocket for a few days thereafter.
May your shower be tepid, but still warmer than the way you feel about yourself.
May all your microwaved lunches be burnt on the outsides and cold in the middle.
May all your neighbours make incredible smelling foods when you have nothing in the house to eat.
May you just suffer, in general, you know what I mean?
Instead of writing, he moved his desk away from the window. Had it face the interior wall.
“Light’s better this way,” he said when his wife, attracted by the noise, asked. But that wasn’t the reason for the rearrangement.
The words weren’t coming. Couldn’t meander from his mind to the page. Got tossed ashore somewhere in his shoulders. And the neighbour’s kids were out in their backyard. Right outside the window. All smiles n laughter on their slip n slide.
He thought that wasn’t bad. He hurried to the desk slashing diagonal across the room, and wrote, fingers moving furiously.
Fissures grew and groaned creaked and closed. We walked over them, trying not to pay attention to how unstable the ground was.
“Just the house settling,” we’d lie, yelling it across from the kitchen to the living room, or from whichever two rooms we happened to be in. “Might have been a truck outside.”
We did the things we’d always done. Tried new things. They didn’t take. Maybe we didn’t give. Quiet moments led to reflection so we avoided those. Radio and television and oven fans ran all day long.
And then it was something else. Not better, but different.
He watched the deer crash through the river’s thin ice and ran out, barefoot, leaving cup overturned and coffee spilling on the kitchen floor. Thigh deep snow, an impossible length of it between him and the thrashing animal. It’s bleating getting louder. Hooves beat against ice. Shatter sound of it echoing in the empty morning against the heavy snow-covered pines.
Into the water. Biting cold. Gasping. Skin red and raw already. Making his way to the now quieted animal, accepting its fate. Hands on hind and antlers, pulling and pushing and heaving.
Later in the bath, wishes he did more.
Set your heart for a party of six, full dinner service. The little fork is for show, that’s all. Soup, too salty, and under cooked ideas. We’ll split the bill. Straight down the middling rut. Wagon wheels stopped turning except on television. No trains west to hop. Ships to sail across oceans, questions like waves. Lapping, over toes and up legs, but you better not stand there any longer. The tide’s going out. Milk your sorrow into your cup, because all they serve is sugar here. A clatter from the kitchen. A small fire, nothing to worry about.
Nose almost against the mirror, a hand swiped circle cutting through the fog on the bathroom mirror. He looks away, down to the side. Damp, well-worn paper in his still wet hand.
Back to the mirror, he repeats the lines. Trying different variations. seeing how the words, how he says them, can change his eyes.
He`s looking for honesty. Sincerity. Kindness.
He looks down to the page again, chooses another line. Looks back to the mirror. Rehearses.
Nothing yet. He takes a step back, growing colder. He smiles, steps forward, tries another line, sees a spark of caring.
We wear ripped jeans, leather jackets and heavy eye makeup because we want to people to think we’re dangerous. We stand on street corners, snarling at the squares carrying briefcases, groceries or bawling children.
“We’ll never be like them,” we say, passing a crooked cigarette between us, shivering in the March damp.
Later we waltz through the narrow aisles of the corner store. The clerk keeps watch, but pretends he doesn’t. We can tell. It’s invigorating. One of us pays for a bottle of wine while the other flips through the glossy celebrity magazines.
We’re aloof when asked for identification.