This story is part of our Summer Fiction Month 2020. Click here to view the stories featured this Fiction Month, as well as past fiction pieces. One morning in late spring, when only the earliest risers of the orchard were awake, a car was found crashed into the milky river that surrounded the town. The man
As they sipped the tea they decided to trust their guts, and let each other know when they were not comfortable. The liquid poured into their stomachs, sedating the unnecessary anger, and relieving a bit of the weight off the world. Maybe that would help. If only a little. Until then, together they would live, create, twirl, and scream. And realize that the world is finite, and tea gets cold. So it is better to sip slowly and gently. They turned to each other, flecks of light in each other’s eyes, and smiled.
A man stands in a train station. He wears a wide-brimmed hat and a long black coat; his hair—what little peeks out from beneath his hat; one suspects he is thinning—is dark, streaked with gray, and unkempt. It runs down the back of his neck, and even out over the collar of his shirt. His face is lined with age, but there is little hair on his cheeks: his grooming is impeccable. He stands within the sight of a great standing clock, but he does not look at it.
Looking deep inside the mirror, he thinks: I am wholly contained inside my skin. His image coats the surface of his eye. He presses his elbow into his side. He squeezes his fist and wrings out his bicep. His body, steaming, stands before him in the grey, sending signals: his image back and forth between him, grey, satiated. He stretches his lips, presses his cheeks into his eyelids and sends up a special kind of prayer. You beast. He strains to call forth his deathless name: Monster. Monster.
As the years came for me I learned to cope with problems in the most artistic forms I could. I would swim to liberate myself from any burden or remorse. It didn’t matter what time of the year it was. I would throw myself in and give my all to the ocean, my hands continuously trying to unbind from where they belong. Nothing was rigid; there was a constant movement, an unbreakable peace.
I know we were married, but that day itself has gone from me, recently. I had it until yesterday, or the day before. It was not a space I immediately noticed. I ran through my life, wondering what was missing, and noted at length that that day was gone. Sometimes it seems there is order to the washing away of my mind, but in truth it is sporadic. I hear a baby cry. I remember the birth of my daughter, all at once, her red face.
She sat on the toilet seat to wait for the dye to set, and while she did she ran a bath to soak her feet in. She poured in mint bath salts. She thumbed through a magazine. There was a spread about women before and after plastic surgery. She no longer thought plastic surgery was vain; she thought it had to do with the autonomy of a woman’s body. She associated it vaguely with the word empowerment.
This was when I was never sure what I was doing. I had decided that the way for me to be happiest was to not think too hard about anything as long as it felt right. It was a time when I was a heathen and I was happy with how I had justified it.