seals

It’s always the same; one parent starts to look a little tired, while the other appears normal. Fast forward a certain amount of time, and one of them looks like his or her best friend died, and the other looks like a beautifully well-trained circus seal: plump and sleek and shiny, all over.

Sometimes the seal is a woman and sometimes it’s a man. I haven’t seen any great differential gap between who does the hurting and who gets hurt – between the jellyfish and the seal.

youth

The director rubbed her temples, looked off into the distance. The middle distance? I don’t know. She stopped rubbing her temples and looked at her hands. “You’re only young for a moment, Lola,” she said quietly. “You should make the most of your life.”

I nodded. It isn’t anything anyone doesn’t tell me all the time.

panda face

Sometimes I stay up too late, writing. I tell myself at least it’s not Facebook and that gives me a righteous few minutes but it is late at night and my face will bear testimony to it tomorrow. And what can I tell my co-workers? “Yeah, stayed up real late. Writing and shit, you know. Real cool stuff.” No, I mean – no.

Ever stay up way too late and look like a panda the next day? I texted Elsa.

Ya. She replied. I waited a moment.

Why? What doing? I asked.

Facebook haha she replied.

envelop

All the feelings I have about him are protective. From there you already know where I’m going: warm, tender, emotions that envelop like arms.

Sometimes, very late nights, I worry about him. I do not want him to disappear one day and come back, three days later, a changed man. So I put it out of my mind very quickly and think about something else.

everything

Everything he says sounds like the right thing, I thought, up to my elbows in sudsy water. I thought of his face. He looks earnest when he’s talking to me. I guess he just looks earnest all the time. I guess . . . I need more coffee. It’s the afternoon, I don’t need coffee. I’ll just be up until 4 again.

I don’t know why it’s 4 – the magic hour when I suddenly fall asleep no matter what.

Late night/early morning is the loneliest time imaginable to be awake. Sometimes I feel like the last person alive, and I wonder how many other people are feeling like that, like me, just like me, and are only a few yards away.

legs

“Do you remember when you were successful?” she asked me, turning her face to look at my hair separately out of each eye. I looked at the ceiling. Sometimes it’s easier to disappear with my eyes open, I thought. “Of course I do,” I whispered back, eternally obligated to answer even when I felt like turning over, wrapping myself in my fluffy cotton blanket and kicking her off the bed with my legs.

They’re strong enough to do it, too, even if I never could make them.

drunk man vs. light bulb

“Just because you can reach the light bulbs with ease doesn’t make you into some sort of superior human,” I told him. He cocked an eyebrow at me. “Just leave them alone, Paco,” I wondered which tone of petulance was the right one to use, which one would remind him of his mother –

Right, I reminded myself. He never had one. Mostly.

“Your light,” he started, looking up at the ceiling fixture, “it wants to smash me in the head, and also I think it is dying.” I sighed. He thought everything was after him once he started drinking. My cheap light fixture? Murderous. His wife? Homicidal. The cows on the side of the road? Obviously plotting his doom.

“Come here!” he yelled suddenly, grasping the light bulb, then recoiling and sitting on the ground immediately. “Did you – did you burn yourself?” I asked, my mind jumping between Serves you right – I hope he’s okay! – What are the repercussions to a burned dad? quickly and repetitively. He wiggled his fingers. “Good thing I have this ice-cold beer!” he was cheerful again. I could relax. Mostly.

“Like I told you, Lola,” his grandiloquence – or imitation of it – was returning, “cold beer cures a multitude of sivels.”

“Are you trying to say ‘sins’ or ‘evils’?

“Yes.”