via the Daily Prompt
I pull on my shoes to forget. They’re white, with orange stripes down the side, and have thick soles and red-and-blue alternating laces. When I put them on I lose myself. I sprint down the street to warm up, and I count my breaths, measure my heartbeat, hold the bottle of water at my side, because if I take a sip, I lose.
I lose again and again.
By the time I reach the dirt path next to the orchard, I’ve lost three times. Bent over a low wall, my eyes bursting from their sockets, pushing hard against my lids, like I’ve drunk a bottle of vodka, or spun too fast on a roundabout. I’ve got to take a sip or else I’ll be sick.
In the countryside the air is much cleaner, I can’t taste the exhausts, and I fall into a regular trot. I dodge the horse shit, and look at the farm manors that (the thought blindsides me, three cannons roaring, slicing right through me) I would love to live in.
On the windowsill I put a green plant with curling fern-like leaves. The greenness pulls me outside, and my mind bursts through the glass. In the garden there’s a bust of a Roman Emperor, Caligula I think, covered in crawling ivy. His stoic eyes watch me as I water the roses, that I hate, but I’ve kept them to remind me that I used to hate something much more, much more than the red roses, which sometimes prick my fingers, and sometimes draw blood.
On Sunday’s Mum comes round and brings things that I need, like soap and marmalade. She offers to wash my clothes but she doesn’t know that I don’t wear many things, and they’re already all clean. I don’t need dresses to make me feel good. I am strong. She gets upset. There’s an innate desire inside of her to offer help, but she doesn’t know it’s too late to offer help, that I don’t want her help, not now, not then. It’s too late. We sit silent over dinner. Neither of us know how to speak, not now, not then.
I pull on my shoes for silence, and all I get is noise.
I reach the end of the path and look over the valley, which is misty, and the air is very cold, so cold that the sweat on my back turns to ice, the thin t-shirt sticks to my skin, I take a deep breath of the silence and for a moment there’s nothing, I’ve forgotten, this is the moment I’ve been chasing, and then it fades, I’ve got to turn around, run on back, else I’ll get cold, my nose is already running, and everything comes rushing back, like cold air into my lungs, numbing me and reminding me.
Check out yesterday’s story, “Exquisite: intensely felt.”