My new collection of flash fiction and short stories, Nights Without Rain, is due out in October and I want to share one of the stories within with you here.
A number of the stories appeared elsewhere, like “Cold Beer—Cheap Rooms” (Nixes Mate Review) and “Desperate Ain’t Lonely” (Full of Crow) but this one is unpublished and just for you. It’s called “Life Cycle” and I hope you enjoy. More details about the full collection, and a cover reveal, are coming this week!
Tumble of hours, stasis of overhead lights. This office life is killing us all. Outside there is a small pond where red leaves float and ripple, trees bend in silence, time melts our lives down to ingot. Outside there is a bird song.
We are not outside.
I disappear into old thoughts too often. I have loved you and lost you a dozen times every morning and every afternoon, but no one is able to hold on to anything for long. Not in hours that tumble. Not in a stasis as bright and staid as this interior life of ours.
We live here as out there all life and love cycles through red and gold, green and blue, silent and eternal—just like that. There are nights of freedom, though. Temporal escape from the towline. In the neon and silence of dying bars forgotten by youth and progress, unpolished wood and the soft clatter of a pool table, songs on the jukebox, fables of our remonstration, empty prophecies on the rocks. Watching a bartender work as the world blurs, pain and hope become conjoined twins reaching through the night, and for what?
In the rose-gold hour of dusk on that long walk home through a neighborhood so wealthy I could never live there, but must pass through to get home to my three-room apartment, I pause and stare at the swath of thick green grass between the sidewalk and the street, as lush as carpeting, cool soft earth beneath, and I sometimes I have this vision of lying down on that grass near the road, curling up there and resting, never getting up again, watching the sun set before closing my eyes to end it all.
It feels so strong, this sensation—not of giving up but of resting, of finally letting go of the stasis of overhead lights and window gazing, of lowering myself down to that green grass, unencumbered at last. The sweet taste of dew in the air, and so calm.
Sometimes there are clouds in the sky that make you think of fish scales, and some look like long thin waves like ocean whitecaps, and some remind you of animals ever morphing into other animals. When I have this vision of lying on the grass by the road, those clouds are all in the sky at once, orange and pink and purple in the western horizon.
I keep walking. I think of timesheets and gas stations on the way to work, and the bills I left in the mailbox going on four days now, unwilling to face them. I think of all the hateful ignorance in the world, and you might think that would make me want to stop and lie down once and for all, but I don't. I keep going, never to feel that cool green grass on the side of the road where I might lie as the world spins on. It’s an strange thing, you know, to want that feeling and then waking up the next day to find myself entering the tumble of hours, the stasis of overhead lights, the sun rising, life working to kill us all, one by one by one, as we wait for the rose-gold hours of dusk and the fables to call our name and offer us something new, something true.