The Offices of Cardinal Health are very excited to introduce to the public their new and revolutionary cure for anxiety, Misericordia, which — after passing numerous cycles of rigorous testing and garnering FDA approval — is now available, over-the-counter, in both pharmacies and stores nationwide.
What is it? Misericordia is a unique blend of medication and simple practices that can be accessed by any individual, 18 and up, suffering from anxiety. Upon buying a pack, for only $19.99, customers will receive both a bottle of Misericordia’s capsules, filled with an organic blend patented by our apothecary, as well as an easy-to-read booklet of anti-anxiety practices which are proven, when utilized alongside the medication, to curb any level of anxiety.
The father places his hand on his son’s shoulder.
The son feels his father’s hand placing on his shoulder.
Hand that’s rough, yellowed and callused; a carpenter’s hand: the son feels. Little son, undersized for his age, who sits on the bed with his head lowered. Always, with his head lowered — a teenager. And in the mornings the son will often walk alone across the empty yard. He’ll reach the far fence line and hold its livid strings of floating barbed wire in his fists — while, before him, the neighbor’s horses prance in the pasture in the oncoming light, with their heads lowered.
A carpenter’s hand. His right hand. The father’s saw-bearing and masturbating hand.
The father has stroked himself secretly behind almost every door in this house. His son has stroked himself secretly behind almost every door in this house. Strange women in their minds. Unearthly women. Barely bilingual. Undressing in the light behind the door, behind their eyes.
The father built this house twenty years ago, an unmarried man, preparing himself for marriage. He brought on friends to help him raise the frame and to roof it. Otherwise, he worked alone. This was a way to talk without talking, without company, the sound of the tools, the metal on wood. Designing the interior, he thought of women. Bay window along the western wall of the kitchen. Oak banister at the right hand of the stairs engraved with crosses lying in heather. He worked by lamplight late at night. With a block plane, he trimmed the edges of a handmade door too large for its frame. Leaning the door across his lap, he trimmed, fitted, then bolted it into place; shavings fallen like skin at his feet. He opened the door. And there was the empty, white-walled bedroom. An opened window above where a bed might lay.
The Medicine: Misericordia comes in easily digestible, time-released capsules. Within each capsule is our unique and thoroughly tested blend of:
A Strategic Selection of Atoms (which have undergone cultivation for over
two millennia, and are both all-natural and proven to have been, at one
point, crucial to the makeup of numerous wild animals)
The GOODBYE ANXIETY BOOKLET: A 50-page booklet of anti-anxiety practices (each footnoted with their own possible side effects), which Cardinal Health, through many diverse and meticulous surveys, can guarantee to have multiple exercises suitable to any individual — regardless of location, health, or financial circumstance.
In fact, Cardinal Health is so confident in the GOODBYE ANXIETY BOOKLET that any potential customer may now view a selection of the aforementioned practices in a free pamphlet by simply going online to goodbyeanxietypreview.org, or asking his or her local pharmacy for a printed copy.
Just say Goodbye: Don’t let anxiety control your life any longer. Finally experience the world unclogged, one weightlifting breath at a time. We at Cardinal Health know that sometimes all of us need help untying our own knots, and we sincerely hope that by trying our accessible and affordable cure for anxiety, you too can just say Goodbye!
The father, sitting in a pair of boxer shorts on his son’s bed, clears his throat and says to him: All weather is right now happening. All weather. The words make a sentence and the sentence a statement and the statement means nothing. Flat, it falls, weighing nothing. There was the time his father stood drunk in the yard singing love songs. Clouds rolled in. Things darkened. And it rained. His mother sat in the doorway, calling out his name. He danced from foot to foot in the grass, softly. He got wet and he sang. The son watched from an upstairs window, not hearing the words but knowing they were there. Then she ran out to meet him. She wore a long white dress that swallowed the water as if it were water itself. As if everything was water. She tugged on his arm and he shoved her away. She tugged again. Then he shoved her harder and she fell to the grass. Her dress cleared in the rain. Her dress seemed to roll into her skin and then roll away. She was naked. She was water. He didn’t hear the words but he knew they were there. All weather. Right now happening. The son nods his head. He looks up to the ceiling and stares at the light. His eyes water. His eyes water, but he doesn’t close them.
*We recommend all practices to be performed only while taking your Misericordia capsules, available for only $19.99, by mouth each morning.
EASY, DO-IT-YOURSELF CURE FOR ANXIETY PRACTICE #1:
If at the close of a particularly stressful evening — winter, summer, or spring, but never autumn — a feeling of anxiety begins to bloom within your chest, corresponding with the usurping of the sun by the night, remind yourself to stay calm and remember the infinite cyclicality of all things: life; knowledge; the vocal durability of syllables throughout disparate languages, both alive and lost; and of the atoms that you yourself swallowed just this morning, which on evenings identical to this one may have possibly run, unbound, as the paws of countless, unconscious mammals. Once a moderate level of calm has been reached, find the nearest light bulb to you and stand, completely still if possible, staring directly into the light for 10-20 minutes. Whenever you are able to close your eyes and see within the blackness of your eyelids the burnt formation of the light, and then open your eyes and see within your field of vision the burnt formation of the light, leave your home or office.
Then rush outside, into the darkness.
Then the son, after his father has spoken, looks to his left. To the open window, where there is the lawn, a line of cypress trees, the morning sky — of an off-green texture — where there is the wind, unseen, violent, tearing within each gap of space; making space. The son’s mind sits occupied, given over to given language, thinking, Somewhere, an animal is speaking. Somewhere, outside this open window, a stray dog stands baying at an empty bucket. Specious scent of morning. Of summer, ending. The wind tears at the leaves. Leaves fall. And it all looks like nothing to him; the burnt formation of a light.
Possible Side Effects for PRACTICE #1: If this practice were to be performed, against suggestion, in autumn: the presence of dead leaves beneath your feet, after having rushed outside, will almost always rupture the calm brought on by the remembrance of infinite cyclicality.
The crunching of the leaves will remind you of the most innate quality within Continuation by Cycle — the unavoidable death in rebirth. And, with death so immediately at mind, the word infinite will become suspect: making the ring of light, which was originally burnt into your vision to help you see always a light within the dark, momentarily change to a more reddish tint and seem to expand unendingly; taking on, resultantly, an image of the void.
In the mouth of the doorway, his mother stands, wide-eyed, holding a dirty rag.
In the mouth of the doorway, his wife stands, wide-eyed, holding a dirty rag.
These women folded into one. Along with others: daughter, friend, sister. All rolled into each other, all bundled, like socks. She used to pray alone on her knees at the Baptist Church of Dangerfield, way off in the east of Texas, where the pine trees grow together in tight rows, touching each other’s needles with their needles, similar to how she once saw orphans in a picture standing against a wall holding each other’s hands, afraid of being lonely, it seemed, though they were only trees, and orphans could only feel lonely. She was way off in the pines and she sweated. These were the seven months she lived alone, after school, when she moved from home. She worked at the bank and had a little white frame house, one bedroom, a backyard that led to the woods that led to a lake. People called her by her name. She watched the lake ripple in the middle of the night in the shirt that she slept in. Amongst strangers, she walked through life as one woman, beneath one name. She never felt lonely. Seven months passed and her mother died. The celestial power of prayer drowned in the biology of cancer. She came home, leaving the pines for the sprawling steppes of Central Texas. She set her bags in the doorway and found her father sitting alone in his recliner, his eyes mute, his lips moving, “Sweetie,” he said, “you’ve come back.” She stayed and she married.
And as her husband and son look at her now, there’s that sudden and silent splitting of identity, again: creation and lust; an intimate body, simultaneously maternal and sexual; lost cheeks and helpless mouth: a mother to her family; a light standing absently awake.
EASY, DO-IT-YOURSELF CURE FOR ANXIETY PRACTICE #2:
Whenever the pulsing of anxiety avoids the body altogether — skipping your hands, feet, genitals, chest, throat, etc. — and centers, instead, completely in your mind, where it then makes the natural process of connecting dissimilar occurrences into one unbroken pattern not only painful but seemingly impossible: gather your life around a word. Any word.
Understand that we know this is hard.*
Still, we urge you to try. We urge you to walk away from wherever you are and find a place where you may be alone. If you are in a room, a dark corner is preferable. There, you can easily focus on a single world. We’ve found that adjectives work best. Colors specifically. Any color. For example: Green.
Green. Hear yourself thinking it, as you stand in a corner — with or without your eyes closed; your choice — let the word green echo through your mind like a peal of choir bells. Hear it over and over(green green green)until it seems as if the sound itself begins to grow physically larger and, in doing so, acquires an adhesive quality. Allow the word, then, to take hold of all else that’s currently rushing dangerously unguided through your mind, and bind them to its meaning. Its color.
Which will provide you pattern. Suddenly, you’ll notice it: the connection. The green stream. A coming back of the world through a green door. Your disconnectedness uniting like green blades of grass. And what may seem random to you now, whenever not suffering from anxiety, will prove during an attack to be a calming truth. When thinking — green nose, green song, green highway and road-sings, green Friday, green coat, green Heather and Heath — the linguistic connection will seem to you like an unavoidable law of nature; as something to cease the anxiety pulsing in your brain. Green grin, green hope, green smoke and mirrors, green toast, green shake, a green light and sky.
The word you’ve grown inside you will take everything. Opinions, love, fear, and violence. Your consciousness, your name. I am Mr. Greensly, you’ll think. Or is it Mrs.? The word will stretch itself entirely out, like a child does to a rubber band. Then once it seems like an impassable presence, the word will contract onto itself. And wither slowly back to its original denotative form until, finally, you can turn from your corner, or from wherever it was you hid, and conceive the world as one unsliced moment again.
Green, you’ll think, unknowingly, when thinking anything at all.
She looks at them and they watch her. She stands in the doorway, in her nightdress, as they sit on the bed in their underwear. Between her and them, that’s air, that’s space. Call it nothing. Call it the bedroom. The father’s arm wraps around the son, his hand still placed on his shoulder.
His skin on his skin.
Her own burns a dark olive hue, as it has for all her life, and her son’s skin burns in that tone too. Despite season. Or light. The father’s flesh ebbs in place without heat. On his son’s shoulder, his pale arm is brightened by the contrast, whitened like a wave in its crest; it’s frozen, locked inside a hushing roll of foam. A color mixed from their colors may result near peach. Peach; empty; peach; nothing. Her great-aunt once grew a skinny tree in her front yard and it dropped fruit, circles, but those were plums. On hot days in July the flies would come. She remembers that, just standing there. The plums blackened and smelt sour, so the flies came and they ate, buzzing. Her great-aunt kept black curtains drawn across her windows. She walked through the darkened hallway, murmuring. “I’ve been a widow now for thirty years. It ain’t so bad.” With a wool sweater over her robe she sat in the kitchen near dusk, falling quiet for a long time, then speaking again. “What you lose, you lose. Don’t worry about it. No point. Listen. If I could go back now, to my husband, I wouldn’t.” Peach. Blackened plum. If she closes her eyes then all things fold into black, all skin, all tone. Despite season. Or light. Their colors mixed with black would turn each color black. One structure. A single thing to love. Closing her eyes, she views the flesh painted black, unreal, in the black, like heaven, their endless bodies at last ended and connected.
Possible Side Effects for PRACTICE #2: Language is tricky. Our lexicons are subject to personal experience, so consequently a word can come from anywhere: the dark or the light, and may carry with it also any number of images: mother, the grave; car, pain; somewhere, nowhere. And — since language is always to us a reflection of our own lives — anxiety may increase whenever a person attempting to center his or her life around a word falls further into the disconnection of his or her own mind, instead of pulling attention toward the union of the world.
EASY, DO-IT-YOURSELF CURE FOR ANXIETY PRACTICE #3:
When the anxiety is all over you, think of your body as an atmosphere. Through testing, we have found that starting externally and working your way inward is easiest. And can be done wherever. Whenever. Simply look down at yourself and begin: your skin, topsoil; your body hair, vegetation; your muscles, collections of sedimentary rock. Feel your will as a wind guiding your eyes across not your body but a landscape. Then look in. Your lungs, geysers; your stomach, a cavern of spring water; your veins, long and twisting branches of the same perennially replenished river.
Your heart, the only ocean. Your mind, the whole of the sky.
Then imagine your anxiety as the weather within this atmosphere. Think of the thumping in your brain as a cracking of thunder. The tingling in your arms and legs as the slow trickle of rain gathering together as it rolls down your hillsides. See yourself standing in this weather. In an open field that’s expansive as an ocean. In an open field which is at the same time an ocean. See yourself there as you or any other thing. A horse, a field mouse, a beautiful man or naked woman, a spider, or a sperm whale; whatever. See yourself there as your favorite image of God, if it helps you understand that, in this place, you have full control. That just as the field, ocean, sky, and the trees are made up from you, the weather is a part of you too. So control it. Clear it.
Make it blue. Make it quiet. See yourself there as you.
Or any other thing.
Outside, it’s greening, and darkening, the unreflective sky. Might come something. From some invisible stock up above them, violent and uncaring, blind while falling out. Might come rain. Shake, the leaves held in place by the cypress trees; rattle, the floating barbed wire. As wind whispers along metal — like water running along metal — in a lonely voice of broken violins. The earth is a twister. The earth is the wind of heaven and the wind of hell having met in the middle, where they wrestle, laughing, without either one ever winning, like brothers. His father said that. Not the son’s father but the father’s father. Years ago, meaning a time when he was a boy, and sad, without knowing what sadness was. His father taught him the trade of saws and hammers and nails. On Sundays, his mother took him and his two sisters to church while his father stayed behind and, coming back, they’d often find him out in the yard, working, cutting boards to the right length for tomorrow’s work. He’d unbutton his shirt and hang it from a low-hanging branch and stand next to his father between the sawhorses. He drew lines across the wood, dark and wobbling lines, across the oak and pine and fir, to mark them for the cut. He handed them to his father who placed them beneath the miter saw. Then the blade entered the wood, throwing saw dust to the air like sparks. Silent, silent, he and his father, they stood hearing the blade in the afternoon. And once the cut had finished, his father lifted the blade, still spinning, and it sang. His father leaned back, and he lowered his head, and together they heard the chime of the blade, its voice, passing note after note as its pitch ascended higher, moaning and then crying, as it stilled, sounding in the air like the echoes of church bells unraveling themselves to air in the air, which was the sound of departure, or the solidification of absence, for the there and the not there, which was church, or god, or even heaven, until it was gone, voided in the wind, like wind, gone.
The father pulls his hand from his son’s shoulder and looks away, down. “I remember things,” he says, “I don’t want to remember.” The son stares out the window. The mother closes her eyes. Nothing’s happening. Nothing’s happened. This is normal. These are knots in their chests. Wake. “Remember the time we found the possum in the crawlspace, after the storm? It was still raining. But just barely. Little fat drops. Remember how it flooded and the water rose to the third step and the possum drowned down there? I put on my work gloves and pulled it out by the neck and we couldn’t even bury it, what with the water so high everywhere. And remember how the lips were all pressed back and you said it looked like it was smiling? Remember that? And I said no. No, not that. Because it’s wrong to make light of the dead, even dead possums. And you, you were just a little kid then and you asked me if possums went to heaven. So I said sure. Sure, but not while you’re watching. So go inside, I told you, so it can go to heaven. Then after you went inside I walked to the ditch where the water was running like a river downhill. Remember that? No, none of you can remember that. I did it alone. Well, after you both went inside, I walked to the ditch and I dropped the possum in the water and as it landed it rolled over onto its back and I could see its face then, as it took off with the current, watching me with its little legs spread apart, and I thought to myself, Shit, it really does look like it’s smiling. Shit. But anyway. I don’t know. So that’s heaven.”
Nothing’s happening. Nothing’s happened. This is normal. These are knots in their chests. Wake.
Possible Side Effect for PRACTICE #3: Flash floods, cyclones, earthquakes, landslides, heat waves, lightning strikes, limnic eruptions, tornadoes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, hurricanes, wildfires.
*Each due to a lack of control. *Each in an internal sense.
EASY, DO-IT-YOURSELF CURE FOR ANXIETY PRACTICE #4:
At any time, say one or all of the following:
“Mother Nature has a mother.” — “A book and a brick are made from the same earth.” — “My car is to a train as a Coke can is to my car.” — “The city of Houston and I are made from the same earth.” — “The earth is to the earth as I am to myself.” — “My mother’s mother had a mother.” (like a song) — “By taking my capsule this morning, I have eaten the earth.” — “Somewhere, an animal is speaking.” — “All weather is right now happening.” — “Somewhere, someone’s thinking somewhere.” — “God is the mind that invented Him.”
The father looks to his wife, seeing, as she twists the dirty rag in her hands, the clenching of her breasts and sensual licking of her lips, as she says: The earth is to the earth as I am to myself.
She prayed alone on her knees at the Baptist Church of Dangerfield. She delivered thoughts to heaven from earth over the body of her mother. Clear the cancer. Clear the bones. Men from the back pews watched her dress tighten over her ass as its lacy hem folded between the back of her thighs and her knees, and she prayed on, without company, seeing skeletons. Clear the bones. Peal. She rose and she straightened her dress. Tucked in the dark in the pines at night were the sounds of little animals, little bugs. There were the cicadas — having left their bodies, their homes, those shells left clinging to tree trunks like blind children — inside the pines, raging. She followed the foot worn path at midnight. She removed the shirt she slept in and dipped naked in the water. The pines around the lake drew over the world and darkly removed it, like the curtains across her great-aunt’s windows. “It’s a trick,” her great-aunt said in the kitchen near dusk, after a long silence. “They’re tricking you.” “Who?” she asked her. “Don’t feel sorry for me,” her great-aunt said. “Don’t look at the black I wear, and the black in here, and start thinking I’m thinking of what I’ve lost. Look. Pull back the curtains now and take a look. You figure the light’s dying, but you’re wrong. The light doesn’t die. No. A whole new light lights up instead. And I can see my light in it. Pulsing nice and dark, in the dark — so hard to see you think it’s not there at all, and that’s the trick. They’re tricking you. Go to any downed fire and kick the embers for a bit. That’s how it is. Kick the right ember and you’ll find the fire again, still burning. Give it air and it’ll catch all over again. But don’t, not now. Just close the curtains back. Cover me.” Clear the bones. Soak them in clear water and wash it away. Hold them in your hands, Dear Lord, keep me here, she prayed. Alone on my knees. The water at my chin. Clear the bones.
The son looks to his mother, seeing, as she twists the dirty rag in her hands, the soft fragility of her fingers and heart, which could never be alone, he thinks, as she says: My mother’s mother —
Possible Side Effects for PRACTICE #4: See side effects for PRACTICE #2.
Then the mother walks away, to the master bedroom, leaving the mouth of the doorway empty. She moves through the hallway, steps down the stairs, moves through the following hallway, reaches her room, and opens the door. And there’s the white-walled marital bedroom, pictures stationed here and there, an unmade bed beneath the window. Its curtains spread. Then drawn.
The son stands up and heads to his closet. He removes a towel and leaves the room.
Then the father sits alone. He looks to his left. To the open window, where there is the lawn, a line of cypress trees, the morning sky — a late summer rain setting in — where there is the wind knocking against the parameters of the window-square, squirming in place, like a trapped animal, to escape the endless tethers of his vision. He reaches out. Quiet. And he closes the window.
EASY, DO-IT-YOURSELF CURE FOR ANXIETY PRACTICE #5:
Upon an unbearable feeling of self-awareness (or anxiety) in your chest:
1. Immediately take a Misericordia capsule, which we highly recommend be kept on your person, and then go as quickly as you can to the bathroom.
2. Turn the faucet on, both the hot and cold handles to full pressure, so that you’re wholly releasing the water that’s available to you; and place your dominant hand in the stream.
3. Watch the water flow onto, over, and past your hand. See how it curves into an aesthetically pleasing spiral around the sink before falling, in a groan, down the drain.
4. Think of the river water within the Misericordia capsule currently working itself into your bloodstream.
5. Think of how water, both thoughtlessly and despite geographical circumstance, always runs its timeless path.
6. Let a little certainty let you forget, if only for a moment, your present self.
7. Then, keeping your hand beneath the faucet, look in the mirror.
8. Think, timeless path.
Possible Side Effect for PRACTICE #5: If at any point during this practice, you were to think of the ocean, or of how a river — especially the water of the river within you — wants nothing more than to fall silently into the deepness of the ocean and, once there, lose its identity; an overwhelming sense of loss may replace your feeling of anxiety.
Thereafter making the mirror itself seem like a standing pool of water that reflects your image as ubiquitously as the ocean reflects the sky: turning the sight of yourself, to yourself, into this withheld moment of watching your body fall into the ocean, or of looking at your own reflection in the sky from beneath the surface of the ocean — which in some cases has proven to be a positive development.
The son is young but the water is younger. With memory, the son can see a clock and know it means time: know it marks with ordered numbers the time that’s gone and the time still present which, before it can even register in his mind as the present, immediately slips into time gone, for the whole thing is always moving on, is always stretching ahead without route, like a blind highway, into that blue black fog of all time coming on. Helpless. While, without memory, the water has never experienced birth and yet still rolls, water over water, through an infinite cycle of rebirth inside a well so bottomless that it is really a chasm which, in turn, is really a space beyond title and time, where nothing has ever been counted or named, for nothing’s been seen, having no light there, where the water rolls and is reborn, and therefore no numbers, inside a well that is a chasm that’s really an unknotted knot of what’s unborn, what’s unconscious, being alive. Helpless. Equally, the two of them. The water runs. The son feels it cross and abandon his hand. And nothing can be caught. Or changed. Unless all that can’t be changed is only change — that old thought — so that what resists his sense of capture only scrambles into a corner as it escapes, nearing the deep and veiled point. Explaining the horses.
Explaining how, in the mornings, whenever he’s crossed the yard and holds the floating barbed wire in his fists, a horse will often meet him at the fence with its ears pinned and nostrils flared, leaning its long head over the wire to take his shirt into its mouth, between its teeth, and tug him towards it, inside the fence. “No,” he’ll say. “You come on out here. I know you can leap this little fence.” But the horse will only tug at him again and then let itself be shoved away. It will straighten and stare down at him. “Just jump the fucking thing,” he’ll say, feeling desperate. But it will turn and canter into the pasture, where the morning burns. It will graze for hours, locked within the pasture by the fence. Too stupid to even know the inside from the out, he’ll think before he walks away. As if spools of wire wrapped around poles set in the earth by man, as if poles and wire set in a square in the external, as if metal, could ever capture the internal.
Corner after corner. Endless water.
Time is not the river.
Uncaptured. In the corner.
The son looks in the mirror, too stupid to know the inside from the out.
EASY, DO-IT-YOURSELF CURE FOR ANXIETY PRACTICE #6:
To soothe the anxiety which keeps you from sleeping at night, imagine your own suicide. This suicide: where you take yourself to the riverbank and walk slowly up to the water. See yourself writing goodbye in blue ink on the palm of your hand, while remembering that by being made from the atoms of the earth, you’re going both nowhere and everywhere. Then drop the pen. Then drop your head.
Now for a moment, leave the river. Come back to your bed. And feel the sheets ripple all around you as if your body were a rock falling onto otherwise unmoving water. Whisper, “I’m not really going to kill myself.” Say, “I’ll always be able to fall asleep and dream.” Think, The past is no more real than any dream.
Now take yourself back to the river and walk into the water. Let it take your toes, your calves, and your knees. Stopping once it reaches your waist. Then dip your hand — the one with goodbye written on it — into the river. Let it keep there. Feel how the water’s as hot as cold sweat. Look around you and notice how the river is covered on each side by moving shelterbelts, which sway in the wind like laundry lines of outgrown dresses. Notice how there’s not a bird in the sky, yet you can still hear the birdsong of your life compiled into a shuffle of unappreciated memories, from childhood to now, of yourself innocuously in the present. Stand in the river until around your hand, the water begins to blue. Until the death of your life, like a baptism, has been taken by the water. Then pull the covers over your head, (fall into the water) whisper: (swallow the river) nothing (nothing).
The mother stands on the bed, reaches up, and turns the light out by its chain. The curtains are drawn and the light’s gone. The smallest night has entered the room, removed its hat and jacket, stepped from its shoes, unbuttoned every button, and waits naked near the bed, watching. Standing on the mattress, she pulls her nightdress over her shoulders and tosses it to the floor. Rain knocks on the window, but no need for it. The night she’s made, in this morning, cuffs its palms around the backs of her knees and she feels its grip tighten. It pulls her legs from beneath her and she lets herself fall to her back. Across the sheets, a ripple rings from the edges of her body. The night crawls on top of her. It calls her by her name. “Emily,” it whispers; she whispers. Emily, her great-aunt called at night, motioning her to the window. See my light now. See my light burning out there in the dark. Emily, the men in Dangerfield mumbled, sweating inside all those pines and nodding their heads at her as she passed, as she worked, or prayed. No wife, then. No mother. None of that rolled up inside of her. In Emily. Only the little house. And the woods of pine. Only the foot-worn path and the raging cicadas. The darkened lake. She’d strip and she’d lie in the water, letting the slow pulse of its waves come over her body, covering it, the way the artificial night covers her now. She wouldn’t feel like saying anything, then. She turns her head, laying her cheek against the mattress, and watches the ripple of her fall reach towards the edge of the bed — as if to wave onward, into the dark — then die at the edge. She wouldn’t feel like making any sound at all. She watched for her light. She whispers her name. Naked, without a sound.
Possible Side Effects for PRACTICE #6: Suicide.
He stood between the sawhorses, hunched over a board with a pencil, drawing a dark and wobbly line down the pine. Behind him hovered the fleshless frame of his recently raised home, behind which rose another Sunday sun — shining its golden light between the spaces of the beams, tossing pinstripe shadows across the ground. A lone possum sniffed trash in the ditch near the road. Three weeks ago it had birthed kittens, but they’d been lost — taken by coyotes from her burrow. Now the possum prowled in the light, pained from sleep by its milk, and paused in the ditch to watch him settle the board beneath the miter saw. Loneliness was nothing then. The possum didn’t think and he didn’t think. Their lives banked on opposite shores of life without a family. The possum covered by a thin strip of the home’s shadow and he inside the spacing of the light. As he lowered the miter saw to make the cut, flecks of sawdust lifted and fell from the pine like shooting stars in brief summary. Love was a long time from then. Leaning back, he pulled the blade from the wood, and it sang, with that voice of moving metal, as it always did: mimicking the music of echoing church bells, filling the air until it became the air: For the there. For the not. The blade stilled. And the possum scrambled away. Thoughtlessly, it pawed down the ditch. While, thoughtlessly, he stayed: boarding out the light with each new slab of pine nailed, like a curtain, across pine.about the author