I’ve been writing about the end of the world for months now, in fits and starts, redo’s, edits, charts on the wall, memories I cannot grab in the air, a past unwritten.
I finally get the opening right, and I feel spent, worn already.
Her black boots against the pavement mark, the slow heave of her gait. One foot, left foot, this foot, right foot. Footfalls against the buildings, ratcheting between. Breath ragged, steady. Measured.
Crows cascade from the branches of a maple, her eyes follow as they scream across the grey sky. She sniffs at the air. Snow, soon. The leaves have turned to gold, nearly grey with cold.
“It’s October.” harsh, like nails, a voice unused. She looks to the crows circling. “October.”
It’s a fucking STORY. It’s not nuclear medicine, it’s not childbirth, it’s a story and a woman (one of three, three stories trying to be told in separate places) I cannot get out from under my fingernails and into the light. This is as close as her voice has come, as close as her stained hands can get to daylight, out from under my lungs and disappointment.
I think her name is Molly, but I’m not sure. Her other selves were too weak, too brash, too echoed. She will search for home, for love, for peace. She won’t know why, or how, but she will search.
If I can wash her from me.
I am so fucking clogged.
I can write the fiction. I know I can. But it gets stuck, or the clock shows 1am and I’m tired or there’s yet another question from a kid or a job to be done, laundry to fold, something to clean, and the simple pleasure of coloring in the world in my head? It doesn’t pay the bills or feed anyone and so Molly gets crammed into the back to wait. When the time comes, when I have 5 minutes to dash together, or an hour, she pouts like a fucker in the corner and refuses to talk to me, to tell me why she needs to travel across country to find her likely dead, or why she’d only wear heavy leather boots and refuse to cut her hair despite lice and filth. She won’t talk to me, like a petulant child, all wiry, flashing eyes and a bit of pudge which won’t last forever, not if she needs to walk and survive.
She will not move.
She has a daughter, and a lover, gone, a silvery whisper in air grown clean again. She has a ring on a finger and marks on her belly to prove they were, and a voice she can no longer sing with.
She will not speak.
Her hands will become calloused, her hand formed to the knives she will find she needs to carry. Her heart will grow over, five times, covered in moss and stone.
She will not let me be.
She will not leave me.
How do you then, writers? How do you find these people, in the silences of minutes, in a world of so much noise-how do you give them space? I find myself breathing her in all day and when I sit to let her loose, I cannot shake her from me.