The page glares at me from behind my open tab in Firefox, so I delete it without looking. I’m in the middle of an emotional embargo and I will not be the first to fold. I follow his online footsteps and grumble at his shadow, curse the thoughts he is sharing with the world but not with me. My fingertips pound at the keyboard as I erase the beginnings of a message. I shut the screen and wander downstairs. I need to live this real life. I need to be present.
I already hate it here. I take the wet snow as a personal insult and my blood boils late at night with the stress of loving and leaving and having nowhere to go. I run on a machine and miss the smell of maple trees and the cool rain in my face. My feet move in circles and I watch the people out the window waiting across the street for a bus:
A man with a worn brown coat and a florescent orange hat pulled low over his ears, rocking back and forth on the balls of his feet, ready to run and waiting for the gun.
A plump, mousey-haired woman, big in the bust. I imagine hugging her and how it must feel like falling into a newly made bed.
An angry-looking girl in the glass shifting from side to side, wearing hand-me-downs from a sibling.
I want to love them all. I want to strip them of layers and defences, get down to the nitty-gritty scar tissue that heals up and over all the heartache. I want to follow the trails of veins in their wrists with my fingertip. I want to open them like musty, dust-covered books and break the spine. Spill the pages in puddles of unread words on the floor and set it all alight.
I want to burn this town and walk away without looking back, orange flames reaching for the stars and everything else in flickering shadow. Burn it to the ground.
You aren’t sandy deserts anymore, not in my mind. You are cool rivers burbling over smooth stones, powerful currents dragging at fishermen’s lines and carrying all manners of violence away. Foaming white rapids with all your salmon struggling upstream. I beat myself against your hidden rocks. I drown with the effort of staying afloat, gasping in lungfuls of water.
But, I burn. I burn and I burn and you’re the only one that can put the fires out. You’re the only one who still knows how.
Fleet Foxes – White Winter Hymnal