Will-O’-Wisp Coffee

It’s a day for turned up collars and hurried footsteps, strained of color and filled with the silent noise of clattering thoughts.  I can’t tell if it’s everyone or just me, but the air is too loud with pressing need, too still with expectation, too far away to reach, and too close to ignore.  

I need a cup of coffee. 

There’s a coffee shop at most street corners, but they are only just that.  Coffee shops.  

If, however, you turn down Fairy Ring Street and turn right into the alley between Oak Stump shop and Dancing Lights bookstore, you’ll find yourself stepping inside the Will-O’-Wisp Coffeehouse. 

I’m already stepping over the threshold.  The smell of freshly ground coffee with a hint of hazelnut and chocolate fills my head, already putting a damper to all the noise inside.  Just enough that I can read the menu without the words bouncing straight back out again.  

Fairy lights float overhead, a few of them lowering to settle in my hair.  They can always sense darkened and muddled places, and it is their nature to draw close and give them light, even if such places are in the mind and they can’t quite reach.  They are endearing and warm and lightweight, so that even the most fragile could bear them.  

So that even I, worn down by a crowded mind, could feel their light.

The menu is written in swirling calligraphy until you try to read it, and suddenly it’s in large printed letters that anyone could read.  There is black coffee roasted in dragon fire, and my best friend Kandy swears it fills her with the strength of a stone fortress.  I tried it once; all I felt was a bit straighter, a bit grounded, and a bit more ready to take on a week of little responsibilities that chip away until I’m bent to the ground.

There are steamers, flavored with the comfort of a crackling hearth, the peace of falling rain, the softness of down-feather beds, and the warmth of newly dried laundry. 

There are teas, steeped in the golden leaves of soothing rest, the emerald leaves of stable breathing, the silver leaves of gentle waking, and the obsidian leaves of strengthened systems.

And then there are the specialty coffees, mixed with steamed creams and a shot of something more.  These are my usual orders.  There’s shots of clarity, wakefulness, courage, patience, memory, forethought, and whimsy.  Up to two shots allowed per drink, any more than that and they can’t be held responsible for any bouts of hallucinations, excessive dancing, or sudden disappearances.

Today I order a double shot of clarity, with whipped dreams on top. The price is split as far as payment, with the majority of the cost standing in dollar amounts, but the tax is charged in secrets and rhymes, stories and daydreams, memories and laughter.  I place the bills on the counter and tell the cashier the dumbest pun I know.  I hadn’t realized I could recall one until now.

A fairy light drifts from my hair to chase the shadow under my hand.  I hear the sound of steaming cream, dripping coffee, and the soft chatter of others around me.  I sit down at a cherry wood table, vines of ivy wrapping up its legs.  

It’s a day for relaxed shoulders and a slowed pace, looking for shades of color and sorting through a scattering of thoughts.  I cannot bear everything at once.  I was not made to. 

It’s a day for a good cup of coffee. 

Attached

Grayscale Photo of Person Standing on Seashore

Don’t get too close.  My teacher has said it often enough that it pulses with my heartbeat. One is soundless, two are noticed, three rouses suspicion. It is not in your interest to get attached

I never tell her about pulling Kylie out of the flames, wrapping my arms to hide the burn scars.  Reckless, without thinking. 

Explore.  Gather information.

She doesn’t know how I traded that costly document so Rachel wouldn’t have to give up her dream.  Irresponsible, sentimental. 

If the group helps you with this goal, then stay with the group, but don’t get careless.

I don’t speak about when I got caught because I stayed behind for Denton; out in the open, suspicious and easily caught.  No gain to be had, no caution employed. 

Don’t get attached. 

We’ve really put our foot in it now.  Kylie is taken, held in the black fortress, surrounded by a city of enemies.  We need her back, we need her safe.

My teacher knows a few things about that dark place, and we would take whatever we could get.  It was a strange thing to introduce them to her.  I warned them to be on their best behavior, but still, we’re a mismatch of quirky people.  There’s only so much we could do.  I think, despite our best diplomatic efforts, we put her in a bit of shock.

Each of our questions were met with successively longer pauses, and increasingly hesitant answers.  Her gaze was burning a hole through my forehead as the minutes dragged on, but we needed her answers, and I was ready to throw everything else to the wind.  I stood tall and held her gaze, daring her to brush us off, cornering her into taking this seriously.

Eventually, there were no more questions she could answer, and she pulled me aside. 

With narrowed eyes, she asked me, “How close are you to them?”

One is soundless, two are noticed, three rouses suspicion.  It well may be our job to get involved, to have a finger reaching every corner, but not like this.  She was waiting for my other motive, my better reason to try this folly.

I looked straight into her eyes, which flamed like auburn fire, and said, “I’m not an idiot.  I know what I’m doing.”

The dark city now stretches before me, dark and jagged and filled with things that slit throats in the night.  Denton and Rachel are my only source of warmth in the face of this monstrosity. 

I didn’t tell my teacher a complete lie. 

I don’t know for sure that I’m not an idiot, though I like to think I’m decently smart.  Smart enough to have something of a plan.  Smart enough to have a decent chance. I know I spoke the truth when I told her I know what I’m doing.

We slip into the city, stepping light as air, eyes on the black fortress where Kylie is held.  Somewhere.  

I won’t return when this is over, no matter the outcome.  I’ve chosen my path.

I’m getting attached.

Sinking Heart

They say I have a heart condition.  Here I was thinking it was my bones. They have been so heavy.  I guess my ribcage knew it held a sick heart within, I guess my legs buckled from the news.  I suppose it’s all connected inside, and pieces of me are falling like dominoes.

They told me my condition isn’t rare at all, though often it’s mild enough to go unnoticed.  It will build up inside if one is exposed too frequently within a short timespan.  Build and build and then take the heart hostage.

They call it disappointment.

If I continue to be exposed, it will spread to my lungs, my gut, my brain.  I want to hope it won’t happen, but they’re warning me against trying to hope.  It’s too soon.  Too risky.  

I’m not sure what to do without it.

I’m shown a chart of how disappointment cuts and slices away at the heart, leaving little wounds that grow with time.  I think my energy is leaking out of them.  I think my condition is worse than I thought.  

They won’t tell me of a remedy.  I need to find one.

There’s a fog rolling in behind my eyes, blurring the horizon.  I want to ask for help, but they’re all backing away with apologetic eyes.  They think it’s contagious.  I think I believe them. I ask them for something, anything to hold on to.  They say something like that could make the condition worse.  I don’t have the energy to argue.  My heart isn’t pounding like it used to.

My hand flailed out in a dull panic, hitting something solid and holding on instinctively.  They said it could make things worse, but I don’t want to fall. In my mind, I imagine being pulled, like I am dangling off a cliff and someone has me by my wrist.  I don’t want to fall, but trying anything else seems like such draining work.  Anything helpful is in that rolling fog.

However.

I don’t want to fall.

My heart is sick, and I must be gentle with it.  My bones are weary, and I must find them rest.  My mind is lost in a fog, and I must spin for it a shining thread of hope.  

They warn me against it, but I’m willing to take the risk.  Light but strong like spider silk, I will spin hope until I am once again surrounded by its web. Without it I have no courage, without it I have no strength. If this thread is broken, I will spin another.  Again and again I will spin, for though a breaking thread hurts terribly, falling . . . 

Falling would kill me.

Thoughts Like Pennies

viewing-city

I stood quiet among a crowd,

A gentleman stopped by,

The corner of his mouth turned up,

Inquiry in his eye.

“You’ve been awful quiet,” he said

“I hope you do not mind,

But might I ask what’s going on

That you so still I find?”

I had been reflecting on how,

With great powerful strides,

A horse could run so very fast,

It seems that they might fly.

I also was thinking,

What it’d be like to see,

A real dinosaur still alive,

What color would it be?

Then I got to wondering,

The crowd I was amidst,

How each of them have different lives

That with mine intermixed.

I’d thought about a book I read,

Just finished yesterday,

How the protagonist carried on,

Fighting against doomsday.

Also, I had just now noticed

This little girl and boy,

How in the crowd they romped and played,

Just giggling with joy.

But how to explain to this man,

All of these lovely things?

I couldn’t find the words to say

All that from my mind springs.

Besides, those thoughts seemed silly now,

Steady they were shrinking.

Looking up I softly replied

“I was only thinking.”

City Fairy

Photo by Steven Arenas on Pexels.com

This city is not a place where fairies live.  Not anymore.  This place is hundreds of busy streets and a thousand conversations and millions of curious thoughts.  It is cement and bricks and wooden frames, paint and awnings and patio umbrellas.  This city is not a place for flowers.

It used to be.

My father told me about when he was a kid, how he would visit this city with his family.  He told me about how the widow boxes overflowed with blooming vines, how there were bright fruit trees that lined the streets, how petals were caught by the wind and never landed.  

He told me about how pollen built up until it was difficult to breathe, and how the bees swarmed up and down the avenues.  

It is a strange thing to imagine now, but sometimes I see an old window box bent and empty and clinging, and I can almost see it.  I have to be careful of how hard I try to picture it, however, or things will start growing and I will get caught.

Father said it was beautiful.  He said it was a shame it couldn’t last.  He’d shake his head and tell me ‘what is beauty for some can be death for others,’ 

He would say, ‘if you can, think of both when you create.

I think of the bees and how very hard they search for flowers.  I think of how the sunlight tries to brighten every street.  I think of the way some eyes itch and heads ache and throats swell when pollen is thick in the air.  I think of children weaving daisy chains and wishing on dandelion fluff.  I think of weeding and blisters and angry stings and how magical it would be to live where there were always petals floating in the air.

Down the sidewalk, there’s a little boy standing by his mother, who is caught up in conversation.  He’s looking at me, out of passive curiosity, out of boredom. 

This city is not where fairies live.  But who said they didn’t visit?

I catch his eye and tilt my head towards the ground, to where a building corner meets the ground.  My hand sweeps out in a small gesture, and bright yellow crocuses break through the surface in a cluster, their flowers opening to give the air a brief scent of spring.

This city is not a place for flowers.

But it remembers how it loved them.

The boy’s eyes are wide, and he’s tugging at his mother’s sleeve.  I toss a wink over my shoulder as I walk away.  There is wild and there is caution, and between the two reside small moments of wonder.  Yellow is the color of that boy’s moment.  Perhaps yellow will be the color of magic for him.

This city is different, but that does not mean it is for the worse.  There is a soft cherishing of wild things that floats in the air like dandelion fluff.  There is a sense of mystery left in the minds of people who caught the glimmer in my eye.  There is a pulsing wonder in the heartbeat of the streets.

It is whimsical to some, and grounding to others.

Consider both when you create.

Fine

We’ve got a problem.  

This is all hands on deck, unfurl every sail.  There’s a storm approaching and we’ve got to out run it.  This wasn’t supposed to happen.

You asked me how I’ve been and I told you I spent yesterday crying on the floor.  We’re not sure what went wrong, those words weren’t in cue.  I was supposed to say I was fine.  Now you’re blinking from the whiplash and asking me what happened.

Apologies for the blank stare and silent tongue, there’s panic in the mind and fires have erupted everywhere.  Please be patient, we are scrambling for a response, but it’s hard to form one with the alarms blaring at me to say I’m fine I’m fine I’m fine.  There’s been a malfunction.  

I can see the furrow of your brow, the words forming in your mouth.  I want to say ‘I appreciate it, but you really don’t have too’.  Honestly, I’d rather talk about my weird dream last night, or your weekend plans, or anything else but this.

Because I am fine now.  Or I’m better, at least.  

I will be fine soon, really, I don’t know why I brought that up.  Please help, we don’t know how to backpedal our way out.  We’re opening every door we can find, scouring for something to say.  

We’ve got a problem.

Something has been unlocked in the process, we’re experiencing a backdraft.  There’s a suffocated memory suddenly exposed and it’s flaring up.  This is a code red.  I repeat, we have a code red.  Someone, anyone, put out the flames before they consume me.

We’re dousing everything in water.  So sorry for the delay, we can hear your questions.  Please give us two to three business days to get back to you.  Every hose is on full blast, flooding the place.  Flooding me.

Please excuse this burst of tears, they aren’t what they look like.

Smoke is filling every crevice, thick and toxic from the memories it comes from.  It’s staining the walls gray and black.  We’re flooding them too, my tears are contaminated with smoke, flushing it out.  It’s getting on your shirt.

When did I start crying into your shirt?

I can’t say I’m fine, you won’t believe me.  We’re struggling to shut the doors we’ve opened in hopes of containing the problem.  No one has a script anymore, we’re flying by the seat of our pants.  There’s so much water and it’s too murky to find anything in it.

I’m sorry, I tell you, I don’t know what’s wrong.

But that’s not true. 

I’m not clueless to this train wreck of a conversation.  I watched it unfold in slow motion.  What’s wrong is I wasn’t ready to talk about yesterday’s breakdown.  What’s wrong is that I panicked, and I flung myself into memories without caution.

What’s wrong is that I have always shut these doors as soon as I could and let the pressure behind them build.  

I’m fine, really, today has been fine.  What you’re witnessing is from the past when I wasn’t.  This is just a result of poor cataloguing.  This is just my mind still in a wreck from a previous hurricane.

We’ve got a problem.

I haven’t been caring for old wounds.  I haven’t had the energy to open those doors.  They were closed to keep memories from overwhelming me, but they can’t stay this way.  This isn’t sustainable.  This isn’t inconsequential.  This isn’t fine.  I can’t do this alone.

Huston, we have a problem.

And I’m going to need some help.

School Books And Sheep

School books are stacked on my desk, never to be needed again.  At least, that’s what everyone says.  Funny how books simply stuffed with information are considered so useless the moment they aren’t required.

School is over.  Tall grass tickles my ankles as I walk out the back of my house.  Do not misunderstand me, I am not terribly sad to see it end.  I was not one who enjoyed school.  I was not good at it.

But my word, did I try.

I wanted to hold on to everything I learned and I wanted to stay ahead of deadlines.  I wanted to make the most of all those classes and hours spent wracking my brain for answers.  It’s just that my mind has a way of shelving it all wrong, and now it’s made a library of loose papers stacked without order.  A hoard, I suppose.  

A hoard of things I desperately gathered but cannot access.

The gate to the back pasture wobbles as I climb over it.  I used to be small enough to squeeze through, back when I didn’t care that the wind tied knots in my hair or that the grass stained my clothes.  

This place used to feel like a different world.  I could imagine it to look like and have whatever I wanted, a limitless place outside of reality.  Some of that childhood magic still clings to the ground and it soothes my jumbled thoughts.  In the distance, I see a flock of sheep in whites and browns.  I’ve spent most of my summers with them in our various pastures, but this particular one is my favorite, because when I’m here I can’t see the house and it feels far away from the pressures of time.

Everyone wants to know what I plan to do next.  

I tell them I want to have my own flock of sheep and move far away from cities and towns, perhaps coming back to civilization once a year for sheering.  I tell them I will read all the books I’ve been meaning to read and I will write poetry and I will finally be at peace.

They don’t believe me, and I can see how crazy my plan sounds to them, even if they don’t say it.  That’s alright.  I know it wouldn’t work out like that. 

It isn’t really my plan.

I’ve only just come home, so the flock is wary when they notice my approach.  I keep my distance, sitting some distance away and watching, letting them warm up to my presence once again.  In time, they will gather around me and follow me and make it difficult for me to leave.

The truth is I just want to find a way to learn that sticks, and I want to grow more kind, and I want to figure out what I think and how I work.  Perhaps later, however long it takes, when I know more . . . 

Then I will decide what to do next.

I don’t say this to the people who ask, however, because people aren’t usually satisfied with a plan that doesn’t have an ending.  I suppose we don’t like the uncertainty of the future.  How little control we have over it.  That’s just the thing though; even if I make a plan and stick to it, the future remains a mystery and so does my path through it.

What I see is what is in front of me, and the possibilities for what could lay beyond.  It’s frightening and exciting and overwhelming, and it fills me with an urge to disappear.  Run away.  Away from making decisions and mistakes, away from questions and watching eyes, away from stretching and growing pains.

The wind plays with my hair like a long lost acquaintance trying to reconnect.  I tell my heart to stop racing off with my thoughts, I’m not running away.  Instead, I will venture out another step.  And then another after that.

Perhaps I will never open my school books again, or perhaps I will.  I don’t know yet if I will use them again, but I hope someday I will be curious and open their pages.  I hope someday their words won’t bounce off the walls of my mind but instead fit into an empty slot and settle there.

I hope I learn to be a little more discerning.

A little less afraid.

A little more ready for the next step I take.

Madwoman

The base of the cliff is bathed in purple shadow, swallowing the details of jagged stone edges, scampering lizards, and a boy with hair the color of wet sand.  He is waiting for the madwoman of the cliffs, a woman of slate gray hair and keen eyes.

He is still and silent as she approaches, but his mind is so terribly loud.

She stops before him and says “Tell me the truth.”

She always says that.  

It was unsettling at first, the way her eyes never wavered as she waited for his response.  There was something demanding in the tone of her voice, in the steel of her gaze.

“Which truth do you want?” he’d asked then, for he knew there were many things true in this world.

“The truth you know.”

Funny how certain of their thoughts people can be until they stare into the eyes of a madwoman who demands truth.  The boy placed his hand on the rough cliff face, feeling the heat of the day emanate from it. “The sun beats down on stone all day, and its warmth still remains for a time after it is gone.”

She nodded, and said “Good.”

But she’d said it like she expected him to go on.

And so he did, until he spoke of things he’d dared not voice before, truths that he had yet to deal with.

Today he looks her in the eye and does not waver. “There is malice, and there is apathy; the former is a ferocious giant and the latter is a terrible force.”

She nods, and there was a weariness in the dip of her head. “Good.”

And so he goes on. “They pull down on my bones and sit in ringing silence in my mind.”

She reaches out and takes his hand in a gentle hold.  It was perhaps the tenderness in her touch, the sorrow in her eyes, the feel of ancient ruins beneath her skin, that made him at once fragile and resolute.  Both small and immense.  

Frightened and calm.

“Now what will you do with this truth?” 

His hand trembles in her hold.  There have been many truths told, many of them uncomfortable, but none so far had made him feel so much like bolting as this one did.  He knows the answer, this is not the first time it’s been asked.  Yet this time, it takes far longer for it to leave his mouth.

“I will face it, and not deny its truth.”

She nods again, watching his struggle with a piercing gaze.  Her next question is different.  Her next question comes with a voice hoarse from its past. “Do you know why they call me mad?”

He shakes his head, for although he suspects much, he does not know what is true.

She looks down at his hand, young and scraped up from climbing rocks, and then meets his gaze once more.  There are untold stories whispering soundlessly from her, old and haunting and desperate. “They call me such because I demand the truth, and the truth is not comfortable.  It is not easy.  It sits unmoved, and it drives them mad.”

She slides her hand from his, and for a moment he is afraid she might fade away. “It does this because they will not face what is true.  They turn a blind eye to it and insist it is not there.  This is not how truth works, it cannot be undone because it is ignored.  So it festers inside them, contradicting their lies, stirring up chaos in their minds.” Her mouth is set in a line of untold ghosts. “We fear what we do not know, and yet we run from the very knowledge that we desire, simply because it is not what we wished it to be.”

There is the smell of electricity in the air.  She gives him a sad sort of smile, and brushes his hair from his eyes. “Do not run away from it, child.  It cannot be denied, nor should it be.  I grieve for how few have sought it out.”

She steps back and turns, picking her way along the cliffside until she is gone, and he is left standing in purple shadow.

A slight breeze brushes by, and he lifts his shoulders with a determined gleam in his eye.  There is so little he can do with it for now, but that does not make it less true, and it does not mean he can let himself be consumed by it either.  It is a strange thing to hold something so delicately.

Turning, he picks his way over broken stone.  The path he takes is a worn one, becoming something like a friend to him.  Lizards dart out of his path, leaving the slightest puff of dust in their wake.

His mind is quieter now.

Bamboo Forest

pexels-photo-52706

There are fairy tales that double as warnings, about creatures that lurk in forests and deep waters.

Your hazel eyes shine green among the bamboo, and your touch is fragile in my hand as you say “wildflowers and wildfires; both are equal in beauty, but not in terror.”

I pull us farther in, trying to reassure you with a shaking voice.  This will work, you’ll never have to go back.  I swear it.

You whisper, more to yourself than to anyone, “I’m not sure I’ve really seen a wildflower that didn’t burst into flame.” 

I know, darling, I know.  It breaks my heart, to hear the certainty in your voice.  Someday, I hope you will believe me when I say not everything burns your skin.

For now, you took my hand and followed when I said the word ‘escape’, and that is enough, though I don’t know what to make of the trust you gave so easily when it’s never brought anything but pain before.

We’re deep into the forest now, and each direction looks the same.  I can feel the panic consuming you.  There isn’t much to calm your fears, but I try anyway. “If we can’t find ourselves, they won’t be able to find us either.

I don’t say that the place we’re going can only be found once lost.  I don’t speak about what lives there.

We are raised to beware anything that is not us.

Thin tendrils of mist poke out between green stalks.  It’s still morning and we’re catching up to the retreating fog.  We’re almost there, and I can’t tell if I just think it or say it, but we’re so, so close.  Your trembling legs need to carry you a little ways farther, and then you can rest; or at least start learning what rest is supposed to be.  We just have to find where mist sits as thick as a thundercloud.

Because the fog doesn’t disappear.  Not in the bamboo.  Not if you go deep enough.

Not once you’re good and lost.

It looks like smoke,” you say, the words as bare as sudden thought.  You stop yourself, but the rest springs out anyway.

I’m running in circles and I’ve always run in circles.  There cannot be a good ending to this.  There never is.

I know it looks like that to you.  I know that’s how it feels, and you don’t know any different.  But you aren’t running in circles and you haven’t been.  You can’t see it, until you do.

There isn’t a good ending.  Until there is.

I just say, “It isn’t smoke.

You wouldn’t believe me if I said the rest, and I don’t blame you.  Only time will separate me from the others.  You’ll figure it all out for yourself when you have the space for curiosity.  You won’t need me for that.

The fog is growing thicker, and I have to remind you to breathe.  Cool mist brushes up against our skin and sticks.  Light fades the farther in we go.  I don’t know how to convince you if you decide you can’t go farther.  I don’t think I can.  Just please, please.  You’re so scared of the future because it’s unknown, but what if there’s something good in it?

You catch your breath the same moment I feel it.  The air has shifted, my feet aren’t grounded, and my head feels like it’s finally been laid on a pillow after a draining day.  The fog is comforting and sheltering and safe.

It terrifies you more than anything.

I hold your hand like it’s the last peg holding down a tent in a windstorm.  I know you don’t know a calm that doesn’t usher storms.  I know you were raised with the warnings about these kinds of things.

There’s movement, a shadow.  I try to whisper for you to breathe.

A creature emerges from the fog.  Built like a knotted tree, it has rough bark and soft moss and eyes as old as time.  Other shadows begin to move and emerge around him, from as short as reaching my kneecap to as tall as the bamboo.  The elder lowers himself to the ground, his eyes softening as he looks at you. “We invite you to stay,” he says, and his voice is deep like sleep, “and we invite you to be free.

Now I’m the one holding my breath.

As long as you are with us, they will not find you.  When you decide to leave us, we will show you the way out.  You will not have to return to where you once were.  Should they wander near, we will make them leave.  This is our promise.  This is our vow.” He holds out his hand for her to take, and he waits patiently.

You are staring at his hand of sticks and leaves.  The tales always say they cannot lie, but you have known too many lies in your life to believe them.

This is the part of the story that I cannot control.  This is the decision I do not get to make.

You rise on trembling legs.  The elder does not rise, nor does he retract his hand.  He merely tilts his head to watch.  You take a step closer, and I wonder if you can hear the pounding beat of my heart.  You stare into his eyes, his ancient, patient eyes, and you place your hand in his.

The tension in your shoulders drops.  I think I see relief gather in your eye.  The elder stands, drawing you in, turning to me. “She is protected.” he says. “She is safe.

They disappear back into the mist, taking you with them.

There are fairy tales that warn about these creatures.  I think most people get it wrong.

The elder spoke true with his vow.  They are the creatures of the mist, and fire will not follow you there.  You will figure out what it is to not see fire everywhere you turn, they will give you the space to be curious.  They will give you the space to feel your healing burns.

I know this.  After all, I remember following someone into the fog.  I remember clinging to the word escape.  I remember taking the elders hand with shaking fingers and clacking teeth.

The warnings about these creatures, they weren’t meant for the children.

No, no.

They are warnings for the ones that children run from.

Drained

pexels-photo

The tension in my shoulders is a fraying string that holds me together.  My ribs are a cage that presses down on my heart to keep it from running away and leaving me behind.  My legs tell me they work just fine but I can hear the weariness in their voices that beg me to stay sitting on the floor just a bit longer.

Days like this are hard because they are mundane.

It is warm outside finally.  The sky is growing a dark kind of blue that makes the evening look like it’s yawning, the kind of color that belongs in the backdrop of a grainy polaroid photo.  The trees and grass are impossibly green with glints of golden light from the low hanging sun.  Time feels strangely slow, until I think about tomorrow and the next day and the rest of the week and suddenly my limbs have gone boneless.

Like a child spooling in their kite string because the wind has gotten too difficult for flying, I’m pulling my thoughts back into the present and making them focus on the feeling of carpet under my toes.  My gaze turns from out my window to inside my room.

It’s a mess again but at least my bed is made.

A growing collection of mugs sit in clusters on my dresser, my desk, and my floor, holding used tea bags and coffee dregs.  There’s a stack of books I want to read on my headboard, three of them have bookmarks stuck inside that haven’t moved in weeks.  Blankets form a mound on the floor because even though it’s too warm to need them, I like how soft they feel against my skin.

I don’t let myself linger on any one thing.  Not yet.  Not today.  Today I am drained and fragile, and must store up strength before taking on more difficult things.

I open my window.

It’s a short drop to the ground below.  I’m tricking my legs into forgetting their heaviness by telling them that we’re going to do something ridiculous and fun.  I take with me a beat-up journal and a container of glue, because really, that’s all I’m going to need.

I wander aimlessly down the sidewalk, humming something tuneless and fleeting.  Up ahead, there’s a Bradford pear hanging its branches over my path, white blossoms fading and casting their petals to the ground.  Its fragrance hangs in the air like humidity.  The smell isn’t good or bad, but simply a scent that frames so many memories, and so it makes me remember being a kid.  It makes me remember the fears I got over and the ones that linger.  The hopes I forgot and the ones I didn’t.  How I didn’t care about the bruises I collected from trying things because I was too busy wanting to try them again.

This is where I stop.

I sit under the tree and open my journal to a blank page.  Smooth, sturdy, cream-white paper.  I cover it with glue.

I don’t have a brush to spread the glue, so I’m using my fingers, making sure it gets everywhere I want it to be.  The grass that edges the sidewalk is vibrant and the sort of height that calls out to lawn mowers.  I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s mown by tomorrow.

I grab a fistful and tear the grass from its stems.  One by one, I pull out my favorite blades and stick them haphazardly to my glue-covered pages.  The tips of my fingernails are getting stained because the feeling of tearing up grass is cathartic and I’m trying to fill the pages until they are green overlapping green.

I apply another layer of glue while wondering if I’ll be able to close the book when it has all dried.  I suppose I’ll find out tomorrow.  The thought makes me smile, mostly because it’s silly and I have no reason not to.  It takes me much longer to gather flower petals than grass, but I fill my lap with the fallen white petals and start sticking them to my new layer of glue.

I’m there until twilight, covered in glue, thinking about nothing of consequence and humming without a tune.  I don’t need to do any of it right or well.  I just need to do it for the sheer joy of it.

Carefully, I climb back into my room and leave the journal open on my desk to dry.  Firmly, I shut my window and draw the curtains to the darkening sky.  Smiling, I peel dried glue off my fingers, barely realizing that my shoulders are no longer a fraying string desperately holding me together.

Tomorrow will be its own creature.  I can face it in the morning.  For now, I am growing sleepy, and my bed is looking safe and soft and entreating.

It’s been a day.

And not a bad one at that.