By Chief Turey
The nurse’s face follows me into the bedroom from the free clinic, and i think of the click of her tongue as I lock the door. How thin her mouth must have been behind her mask, speaking to me as if I were already dead.
Before my eyes flutter open I’m overcome with how heavy my body feels in a different bed. I grab my phone to better bury the silence. Plenty of opportunities to grieve the time I’m about to kill. My boyfriend brings me news with a warm bowl of soup. There is no hot water in the shower. I curse my landlord for breathing.
Thorns in the throat. Green Tea with lemon to calm the bats in my stomach. I do not know what’s worse, the fear, or the doubt. Sun Tzu said all warfare is based on deception, so I must be at war with myself, told myself too many times the dead don’t speak for my mouth to not become my own assassin.
Thorns in the mind. There are no more doors to lock. No more windows to shutter. I’m as closed off as I’ve ever been. A piece of me is buried under the carpet, or chucked into the walls like a rat. I cannot sleep for shutting out the sound of fingernails.
Pain I can tolerate -- but silence? That’s why God invented smart phones. I busy myself with someone else’s dying, push my thumb through miles and miles of glass, until my eyes become two graves. I’ve had my fill of deception. My mouth waters for rage.
The things I’ve lost are never coming back. A moment of silence for the missing underwear, the basil on the windowsill. I make peace with the lonesome numbers in my phone, a different kind of burial. The friends I’ve ghosted. How many rooms could I possibly haunt?
A police siren beats its red hands against my window. I cannot see the scuffle, but I hear the desperate shouts for help, the bold and bloody men moving in for the slaughter. I hear the sound of them breaking the man’s head against the sidewalk -- knocking, like, against the earth, demanding it to open for another body. The ambulance, I assume, is just a formality. Suddenly, someone is screaming, distant and delirious. Maybe the ambulance crawling into the distance like a blood fed wolf. It hits me in the night, when my lungs are raw and scraped. I was the one screaming.
Grief makes of us a chain of memory -- after as many burials as we have seen, as many fathoms of opened ground we have covered, I have become a blacksmith for grief.
I don’t know what it is that I want, but I know that I want it back.
Everywhere else in the house is Christmas. In my room, it’s just gratitude to walk out of the darkest days of winter. My mother calls me on the phone, and I omit the part about my lungs still filling up with gasoline. She is happy to see me on the other side of the killing field. Sunlight creeps behind the trees and, once more, silence visits the apartment, her face hidden behind a mask. I watch her shadow flit beneath the door a while before I let her inside. In the morning, I greet the kitchen for a cup of tea. My visitor has left a present for me on the counter, by the oranges. A candle and a single match. Like a spy in the daylight I walk out onto the porch. There is still blood on the sidewalk. I light the candle, and the earth opens up. Then I swallow the match.
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