We rode our bikes out to the farm stand — a farm stand with ice cream, with an ice cream window, and we got the peanut butter, and we got the double chocolate.

The teen in his apron, his scoops copious, grandiose. He was dedicated, adept with gesture. Elbow deep in the cardboard barrels. With rings on his fingers he — teen, small god — dispensed and dolloped. Garrulous in wire glasses: in this way he gave the world light. The ice cream, so much it melted, the cones drenched in extreme sweet. Each cell of sugar, filled with sugar. I will give this kindness a name, its name will be October.

In the field, moths rose like fine grey dust. Each stalk shone gold and the shine was October, October’s thousand filaments. I was not happy. Thinking back though, there was something else, something in the scraped-out place where happiness would’ve been. And the crows, making their ink gestures. And the shape, where there might’ve been deer, where there were no deer.

I didn’t notice, in October, the day inhabiting the day. This was in Ohio. Corn mazes were just corn mazes. Pumpkins were just pumpkins, of course they were. Country roads were country roads; they became bridges and the bridges arced over the highway. On that day we allowed for it, though: riding our bikes on the country road, the highway not worth noting.

Gratitude is a word. In October I didn’t want to be there. We rode our bikes all the way to the farm stand, then we came all the way home. The dark leaned toward our windows. Inside the house: it feels like a beautiful phrase now, though I hated that house, resented it. I sat on the futon. My forehead leaned toward the glass pane, the dark. Maybe a little rain freckled, and we’d just missed it, the rain. Maybe we were in bed, watching Netflix. Maybe we were watching a show I didn’t even like: a show about a tortured sheriff, or that other awful show, about a girl who lost weight.

I know what you think, reader, you think something bad has happened since then. No bad thing has happened since then. It’s just: I confused gratitude with capitulation. I confused gratitude with losing. I confused gratitude with something someone else had, not me. All the world was something someone else had; what was there to be grateful for? The only thing that’s been lost since October is October. At the edge of the month something flickered. Something flickered in my eye, then it was gone.

Thinking about cities, cats, public and domestic spaces. New Republic/ Brevity/ TriQuarterly/ American Literary Review. https://www.racheltoliver.com

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store