Shook The Dust Off Several Months Too Late
(They call this flash fiction.)
We cannot grow while inside familiarity. We remain wrapped up and comforted, until a glimpse of unknownness rips a small seam, opens a small wound that we cannot help but look through. Pure, cleaner light pours in through that small piece of weakness, stitches slightly frayed and unbecoming to the eyes of others; those who know you most. They will try to quickly patch you back up, to mend you with thread and needle and kind words that sound to your ears like stones. They aren’t prepared for what you’re about to do, and neither, most likely, are you. You claw at the wound, pulling it wider, letting in more light from the unseen stars.
At first glance it seemed repairable, but you now wish to become undone, ridiculous, far-flung and completely shattered. It starts to seem a good idea to throw parts of yourself away, partially rotten pieces that you previously thought mattered — they don’t. It’s easiest to throw them into the dark sea, or out of a moving train onto tracks you now have no desire to revisit. It is also easy to let late-night-early-morning thoughts escape out of the window into the thin blue light; you can watch them leave, weaving their way through space and time until they are nothing more than someone else’s dreams of you.
They will try to remind you of these pieces, they will pick them up from the roadside and dust them off, bring them back to you with weeping eyes and cold fingers and say “But look, here you are”.
You will know they are wrong. Your body will curl inwards like a shiny beetle until they have left you alone again, alone enough to expand back into the sacred space. You have filled out to fit the shape they made for you, saturated but only as much as what others believe you to be capable of, what you feel like to them. It feels like a million pinpricks and a locked window, keeping panic on the inside.
Circling what you trust to be your one and only heart, pacing until you are sure it still works under pressure. It doesn’t feel much like freedom, but then you were always more comfortable in cages. The threatened excess of clean air brings with it a feeling of suffocation and staples, and you’ve got to get better at flying. In the meantime you can worry about shame and being chased by bees. Someone looks at you sideways, says “My haven’t you disappeared” but it’s only conservation of their own important.
A woman sits alone at a table, her hand pressed over her mouth as she shakes her head at nothing in particular, her dark hair complaining at being twisted like that. She listens to something that exists only in her mind, counts her fingers and frowns in concentration and what is written in front of her. She is trance-like and doesn’t notice me looking; I scratch the side of my neck and black eyes from across the room flick to me and back again, so I hook my left foot over the back of my right ankle and return to the paper.
Don’t move for another few days, can’t. Pack yourself up into tiny sections so that nobody will notice you leaving, so that nobody will notice if you fall into the ocean on the way there. You turn around and see stacks of old pancakes in the kitchen, and wonder where they will go, who will eat them.
Light is peeling up off the opaque windows, licking its way over buildings and the dead fly on the ground beneath your chair, returning to the sun one degree at a time.