Internally Godzilla is welcomed. I hope for something large and brooding to be fearful of. Instead my tongue swells with grief while the sunlight wrinkles my skin. Time decays waiting for a silver cumulus to let go of the shoe and I squeeze out all of my tears until I have nothing left for the rain. What will I do when my body disagrees? I’d rather choke on the dust that I leave behind than the dust that I gathered while I was here. This peculiar illusion of control corners me like a beast at feeding time. You would think by now I’d have learned enough to bathe in the sunlight instead of the blood but this slaughter is all that I know. I cashier myself until my shoulders curve raw underneath the flag of my own war.
We live and we die, and neither occur they way that we hoped. The day doesn’t go as planned, the career doesn’t go as planned, the years don’t go as planned. There’s an affair we walk past, or a job offer we walk away from, or a failure of both from which we walk on. There’s a machine inside our brains trying desperately to process the rights, the wrongs, the should-haves, the should-have-nots. It cranks on, swallowing the years and the minutes until, before you realize it, those years and minutes have equaled a decade, sometimes two, and your crisis, the servant of your internal struggle has held a million faces. Some you’d like to forget, some you beg the universe to etch to the back of your eyes so you can still see them in night-sleep, or forever-sleep, when it finally comes. Then you’re left with the “what was his last name again?” and the “when I was on a business trip to Missouri once I met this guy that…,” “I remember when I changed careers how I was convinced I’d never eat anything but Ramen noodles again…,” “I stayed up all night long on my 30th birthday in a hotel room in Chicago, with a married man, and just talked…and then one night I didn’t…,” “I toasted a stale glass of draft beer out of a plastic cup to Bobby Knight at a little league world series game in Williamsport, Pennsylvania when I realized after about 17 minutes who it was I was talking to, an impromptu trip that I hadn’t planned to take…,” I was engaged three times and never married, and thank God I walked away from the first two, or I’d have never found the third, sometimes when you love you still need to leave…,” “I’ve turned down several life offers that maybe I shouldn’t have and taken other’s that bear the same burden…,” “I was holding my grandfather’s hand when he drew his last breath, and was still 15 miles away 3 years later when my grandmother drew hers…,” but at the end of the day, at the end of the years, and the end of the decades we have all walked past, walked away from, and walked on. These are the steps of life of which we all must take; without them, we’re merely standing at the door.
Sometimes my blood stops flowing and pools inside of my head until the ache overwhelms my spirit and my sleep. I sit dormant in the dark, helpless to the creature that arts the colors behind my eyes. My heart swells inside the river of my throat and then pounds like a monster knocking at my door. In shy surrender I turn the knob and a flood of defective memories flows in pieces that haunt my present with ghosts of my past, rushing with it the distorted faces of my tomorrow. Like a shield it shines a mirror that robs the sleep from my eyes and stabs through my ears like a steam engine. Shards of reflective distortion then break my bough, letting the blood from the branch of my vein until it pours out my hopes into a pool of blue, cradle and all.
There is a danger of pulling my eye out with the needle that they’ve chosen to rest between my gums. Why is the light so great? Is it to display my fear for all that enter the room? How did we ever evolve without the agendas of medical waste? The stairs fall away like dark stars forcing me to walk un-tethered. My neck slides like a trombone that only plays music for the dead. I cough loud enough to earn a respite but I’m careful not to swallow the warmth. The shadows outside my window wait to fill my mouth with concrete, and rust.
You say that you feel like you’ve been walking for one-hundred years and I watch the shadows carve your face like a razor. I look around your sanctuary while you cough your life out over a private sink and I see it’s nothing more than a room with black walls and dead flowers. How long has it been since your bones have danced with the door shut? What will you do until the pirates come? Paint your own portrait the color of the water? Go ahead and sip your money as long as you can but don’t forget the ferryman. Do you truly think Charon will believe that thieves filched the fare from your eyes? Take a millstone with you when you leave and pray for pennies; and for heaven.
Heather Tinker is a freelance writer living in upstate New York. She has just finished her first novel, The Red Door, due for publication this winter. She is also the founder and publisher of Writeontheedgeny@wordpress.com, an online magazine that portrays the work of local artists, writers and photographers. When she’s not busy working a real job or practicing her craft she can be found warding off the demons of the world with her 7 year old Great Dane, Grey, her 7 month old cat, Charlie, and the man insane enough to volunteer his time with them all, her fiancé Mark. You can visit both her dark and her light sides at her two blogs, http://