Tiny Wings

I feel heavy these days. Like I’m going nowhere. Stuck in place. Then there’s this L.A. traffic. A parking lot on the highway.

I step out of my car and look around. I see a pretty girl two cars over. I’m struck by the feeling to do something unprecedented. I’m going to go up to that girl and say, “You look like someone that I’d like to make important in my life.”

But as I approach, I see her eyes meet mine, and I hear her car door click. My chest contracts. There it is again. That heaviness. What am I thinking?

The guy next to me gets out of his car and shouts, “Hey, what are you doing?” I start shuffling back. “Nothing,” I say. “Exactly, nothing,” he says. What does that mean?

When I reach my car, I see the doors of all the cars on the highway open. Everyone is milling around. “What’s going on here?” I ask. “Nothing!” they shout back in a happy, celebratory way as if they’re shouting SURPRISE.

Suddenly everyone breaks free from the ground and float into the atmosphere, like balloons fleeing a birthday party. My heart goes wild. “Come down,” I shout, but the wind begins to sweep them away. Then I realize these aren’t exactly strangers. This is everyone I’ve ever measured my talents and reputation against. They are light, and I am heavy.

I spot the pretty girl high above everyone else. I climb onto the roof of my car. It buckles, bends, sinks. I wave at the girl. She shouts down at me, “You are not deprived!”

This means nothing at first, but then I remember: my tiny wings.
I pull my shirt off, and there on my back is a pair of atrophic wings. They do nothing at first but once I stop looking at everyone in the sky, I soar.

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How to Live in the Dark

First find a snug place in the corner of the garage, clear from your husband’s parking spot. In fact, grab a beach chair from the shelves. Shut off the lights, sit in silence and then wait.

But before that, call your daughter who’s just started college. Express your pride. Remind her of the days when it was just the two of you. Before your boyfriend invited you to live with him. Don’t take her dismissal personally. See it as a win. She has no memory of living in dank apartments that smelled of gas. She lucked out. You lucked out. You got a good guy. You got to stay home and raise her, and she got a stepfather who treated her like she was his own.

But before that, block your supposed friend’s number from your phone; unfriend her in fact. Eliminate the drama. You don’t need some envious bitch shit talking in your ear. She’s jealous. You know her husband can’t keep a job. She’s had to watch you get everything you’ve ever wanted. When you asked your husband for a new car, you got it. When you wanted your daughter in private school, she went. When you wanted another child, you got a son–even when he was unsure of the idea. You got a good guy. Who wouldn’t be jealous of that?

But before that, find a hobby. Take up scrapbooking, aromatherapy, candle making. Go to the gym. Lose that thigh fat that you hate. Otherwise, you’ll go nuts waiting for your husband to get home from work. He says you want the lifestyle, but not the time it takes to pay for that lifestyle. Not true, but you can see how he feels that way. You don’t want that. You want him home, so he’s rested, not tired, so that he’ll want to have sex, and the two of you can feel connected. Finally connected. He might have had cold feet the week before your wedding day, but you reminded him that love is something you fight for, especially for a relationship like yours.

But before that, you need to put your doubts finally away. Stop gossiping with your friends. He’s right; you are paranoid. What does it matter if he sleeps with his phone? Are you really surprised that he picks fights with you when all you ever ask is who is he texting? Isn’t it always work? And stop wondering why he sits in the garage so long after pulling in. From day one he promised, “I will always take care of you.” He said that when everyone else only saw you as an unemployed girl with a baby. You promised yourself if you were ever lucky enough to find a guy–a good guy–you would do anything to keep him.

But right now, the garage is opening, and your husband is pulling in. He’s on the phone. You’re on a beach chair, in a corner, out of sight. The engine shuts off; the car lights go dark. Your ears tune to the conversation. It’s a female voice on the line, but you can’t make out what she’s saying. You’ve heard that your senses are heightened in the dark but as you sit there listening to a far-away voice and the even breathing of your husband, you realize that you’ve never known that to be the case.

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Goodbye Moon

After unknotting the rope from the oak tree, the moon became untethered and drifted forever away. It was a mystery no one could explain–no one but Kieran, that is to say.

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Sight for Sore Eyes

This morning I wake up to find my eyes at the back of my skull. I wedge a finger into my eye socket but it’s no use, they’re out of reach.

They rattle around in my head like a couple of olives in a jar. I angle my head so that they fall back into place, but instead they slip into an unknown hole.

When my eyes finally settle I can see that they’ve fallen into a room where a young girl sits, sad and half-dressed. I recognize this memory immediately. The young girl is staring at something out of view. I know that that something is me.

The view of this memory is no good, so I readjust. I drop my head below my knees, and the entire room turns upside down, my eyeballs fall to the ceiling, but everything else remains unaffected by the shift. I see myself and the girl but I can’t hear what we’re saying. No matter, I know exactly what we said. It’s a Sunday in my childhood bedroom. We’ve just had sex. Two days from now, our relationship will be over.

I’m trying to console the girl. I’m saying that a lost necklace isn’t an omen. It’s not a sign of a doomed relationship. I’m saying we’ll never break up-our love is strong. I see myself saying these things and I can’t decide whether I’m lying or pretending that it might be true.

I lift my head back up, and the room flips back into place, my eyeballs fall onto the bed. My foot comes into view, looking strangely young. I hadn’t realized it aged, but clearly it has. Then the young girl comes over to the bed and touches me.

She caresses my foot and says something kind to me. It hurts that I can’t hear her voice. Her eyes are big and crowned with enormous eyelashes. I see for the first time that she knows that I no longer love her. And I see that she is pretending to believe whatever comes out of my mouth.

I pound my head to jolt my eyes away from her. They roll over, and a naked boy comes into view. I don’t like seeing myself naked. I focus on my face. I read my lips, and they say, “Things get lost all the time honey. We’ll find it.”

Even though I can’t see her, I know the girl smiles and says, “Of course we will.”

I watch a stupid smile come over my face, believing that I’ve convinced her. I see myself stand up and search under the bed.

I shake my head again, and my eyes get tossed across the room.

The young girl is crawling across the floor inspecting the carpet while I swipe away boxes from under the bed.

I angle my head so that my eyes roll over to the girl, right by her head. They see what she sees. She is not looking for the necklace; she is staring at something I scribbled under my desk when I was twelve years old. It reads:

When someone loves you, they say your name like they’re singing.

It pretty much sums up what I had learned about love from TV and movies. At that age, it seemed like a revelation.

I try to find the hole from where my eyeballs originally slipped into. I roll them over to the couch, then to the door, then to the lamp. Nothing. But what I do find is an embarrassingly thin necklace wrapped around the cord of the lamp.

I roll my eyes to the bed. I see dirty clothes. I see shoe boxes. I see me. A determined young man that keeps searching in all the wrong places. A young man struggling to see things as they are and not as I wish them to be. A young man that thinks he can break the heart of a young girl without harming it. I see that now, but I didn’t see that then.

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