She was a creature made in glass
A camouflage transparency
Pierced by light and colour, she
Could be seen in all her trembling
The pulse in her lips standing out and
Anodyne innocence recurring
By turns she hid and by turns she gave
That laughter of daybreak on snow
Then dull unto fading, lest one forget
Incongruity in afterglow
Every embrace the first, the last
With frets for nerves pulled thin
Exquisite as a crystal shattered –
Swayed like a bough in spring
The only reason she has him, is because she doesn’t.
This man, sitting next to her, who cannot remember to put the bathmat back up on the side of the tub. She sits next to him only because he is so laissez-faire that he let it happen – and then she became a part of his routine. A part, not a prime mover.
Like his cards. Like the music to which he bobs his head. She is the movement of clothes, some his, some hers, into the washing machine. It happens.
She is the added pressure of a pair of feet on his thighs while he reads his newsfeeds. He could be doing the same thing minus that pair of feet; that’s how she knows he would be the same without her.
She wouldn’t be the same without him. Without him, she would no longer be watching these differences, or measuring distances.
Beside the rock garden
I think of him
Always, always, as I touch pillows
And yearn after mountain peaks
Like the bonsai ranges
He once seemed just there to me
But they are mountains, truly
Dwarfing and displacing pebbles
I miss him and I have him
In my dreams
Elizabeth Cook, 2016
You’re the only friend that I lost in such a horrible way.
You said that you would speak to me again. As the time approached I saw the stone in a shop; smooth and black, dozens of layers of lacquer, and shining with two iridescent red and orange goldfish. It was from Vietnam. I bought it for you, for when we’d speak once more.
You didn’t speak to me, so months later I bulled my way in. Then it didn’t seem right to give a present.
I always knew that you had the softer heart, that you cared deeply about me, when most of the time he didn’t give two straws for me. He never seemed to care as much about people as you. Meanwhile you and I talked and fought and cried on the phone together. And I knew all along. I knew we all might have been happier if only I had fallen in love with you instead, and I have never forgiven myself for that.
We once amused, frustrated, and relied upon one another, but those days are growing longer and longer ago. I gave you the stone with the lacquer fish some five years after I first acquired it, and for a different reason than first intended.
I gave it to you before you went away, because, although not much farther apart than before, I knew you would be more gone than ever. You’re moving on so that memory seems stranger and stranger. The stone may no longer be here to catch my eye, but that hasn’t prevented me from thinking of you and your two fish.
I hope you’ve kept them.
Fan wondered if she was the only one made uncomfortable by the stillness that had fallen over their newly-formed squad. Sitting under a few stunted trees on the edge of a dusty ring, Umi faced the pond in the next field over and closed her eyes as if in meditation; Hildr was out of sight, seated on the other side of Umi’s chosen tree; and Marielle, who had been embarrassed in front of the whole Rank 2 class, was listless, her hair falling down in front of her face and her food largely untouched.
Excepting Umi, they were all dusty and sweaty. Their instructor, Shamira, had left them alone for lunch, and now that Fan was done eating she wished that she could fade away, as her older brother was so adept at doing. Hwan had ignored her in the classroom that morning, like she was nobody at all – to the point that she wondered if he would still smile at her when he got home.
He would, wouldn’t he? Unconsciously, she raised a hand to her ear, gently tugging at the lobe in a manner that she could feel, but hardly hear. In Fan’s case, it was good that Shamira spoke so loudly and moved her lips with such emphasis; this way, she could understand the instructions.
Aware that she would not notice the small noises that could bother others, Fan tried not to fidget as she waited for Shamira, facing a world that was as quiet as if padded by cotton.