There’s a spot in the corner of my bedroom. If I look at it just the right way, it moves. Not wall-breaking, earth-shattering moves, just a little wiggle. The drywall patterns begin to slide, like a wet hand over sand, drawing comet-trails down and a bit to the left. Sometimes, I like to look just past it, blurring my eyes in just the right way, and watch the wall move. It reminds me that the wall isn’t real. And if the wall isn’t real, then nothing is.
I want to dive into that spot. Arms up and out, like a professional diver, and just throw myself into the wall, feel my body shrink tenfold as the world accommodates me in this new way. Maybe the wall is passage to another universe, where nothing matters. Maybe I end up nowhere, nothing. I’d like to try, but I’m not sure the wall would keep moving if I stood and prepared myself to dive. It’s shy.
Sometimes, when I’m looking at the wall particularly hard and then turn my head, I begin to move. Not earth-shattering, mind-bending moves, just a little wiggle. Like television static, my multicolored thigh ripples and waves, reminding me that I’m not real. Nothing is.
THE KETCHUP BOTTLE IS STILL ON THE COUNTER
The ketchup bottle is still on the counter. 12 days into this, everything, everywhere has changed, but the ketchup bottle is still on the counter. It’s the little things, I guess. This new way of life is getting to be habit for me. Get up, use the little camping stove I bought four years ago for that one failed camping trip and haven’t used since, boil my water and sieve it, drink mercury tea.
Mercury. Sounds dumb, but it works. I know, eventually it’ll kill me, but it’s die now of exposure or later of mercury poisoning. I choose later. Take off my outer layer of clothes for my long johns. I’m basically never naked anymore, doesn’t feel safe. For once I’m a little glad to be single—no sex to feel bad for not having.
Next, I gear up, grab my LEDs, and hit the pavement. Everyone’s doing it, that’s where you find mercury now. Oh, yeah. I mean hit the pavement. Axe, shovel, fist. Whatever. It’s almost like one of those 8-bit games I used to play, but with back pain. After that, it’s almost night time anyway, so we all gather in the square and have our share of rotting cabbage. Once those are gone, I’m not sure what we’ll eat.
Maybe some of that ketchup, sitting on the counter. Does ketchup go bad? I mean, I know everything “goes bad” but does ketchup, really? It’s all preservatives anyway. I feel like I could eat it still.
When we’re done in the square, some people dance, some tell stories, others commiserate, but tonight, I go home. I’ve got one thing left to do.
I go to my desk, with my useless-ass computer and my 13-day-old coffee sludge, open the locked drawer and take out my lucky cat coin bank. It was a childhood gift, back when allowances were a thing and money meant something, but I found something out about it, oh, 11 days ago.
“Fucking hell,” I whisper to it.
“Fucking hell!” Louder, angrier this time. Like the first time.
The cat yawns and stretches, its coin-retrieving arm bobbing up and down.
“You called?” It purrs. It is, after all, a cat.
“Who’s going to die next?”
A long pause. “Merle and then Myrtle. Both tonight.”
I shake its paw, which it seems to appreciate but I can never be sure, then gather my gear and head out again.
Merle, then Myrtle. It’s a good thing it’s happening alphabetically, my name starts with a Z. Plus, some of those A name kids were assholes.
I pass the square, skirting the activity and watching for them. It seems Merle and then Myrtle each wanted to die at home, whether they knew it or not. Oh well, it’s not like they’ll be able to interrupt my work.
WHAT'S IN A FONT?
Some people read like the font they are. I mean. Some people are fonts. She is Geo, but soft. Geo is probably only a poem on Google, not Word or whatever, but she is Geo. And soft. When I put mine into Geo, it looks square. Too big. Boring. Ugly. But her words sing through Geo, softening its edges, warming its simplicity.
I am not Arial. Not that simple, plain, normal. But I never change the font. I use the default. See my words pressed into the screen, hard. I wish to be softer.
I follow structure, order. Write first, change later. Write, edit, font, edit, print, edit, edit, edit. I am never done. The words leave my lips, but never catch breath.
I walk, work, walk, sleep, walk. I never run, dance, sprint, shout. My days, like my words, only chase the wind.
I am too careful to be loose. Too tied up to share. I watch. Wait. Hope.
Will I ever have a moment if I continue to wait for them?
Blink, blink, blink. It waits for me, like I for it.
I hope to see myself, someday, not only watch.
Cipora Cohon (she/her) is a barista writing from her hand-me-down couch in Portland, OR. She grew up a sweaty, pale, Jew in Tucson, Arizona, and continues to be pale and Jewish. You can find her on Twitter @tweetypora where she mostly likes and retweets.