I’m not sure exactly what this piece is. The impulse came while driving home from the grocery listening to Jimi Hendrix’s “If 6 Was 9”. I wanted to write a thing that moves like that song. Alternating bruising punch with psychedelic caress. This isn’t the thing but it has some of the shape of the thing.
That first night after her burial is the longest night of your life. You are meant to be putting the past behind you, placing things in their proper order, making room for the new normal. That first night becomes your entire life. It never actually ends, just stretches more and more thin until the shell of it finally cracks and morning rushes out in a bloody smear of light.
You don’t sleep. Every where you look is a place she isn’t, a place she is meant to be.
Evelyn snores in the next room, coiled cozily in oblivion. She is too young to need the help of sleeping pills but the doctor gave them anyway, pressed her gently into the soft, dreamless slumber beyond grief.
You don’t take the pills. You want to keep your wits or at least keep watch for them in hopes those wits might return. This night is the rest of your life.
You envy Evelyn, her youth, her future. She still has the illusion of a long, happy life ahead. Perhaps she has not yet sensed the thing you now know that life is short and brittle and brutally brief.
You looked through the pictures in the photo albums, the photos on your laptop and phone. How all those moments seemed enough to fill a endlessly long lifetime but now seem to have gone screaming by. What had seemed long years, decades now seem a mere piffle of days. There is nothing for it but to revisit. Each picture a moment gone, a memory you could visit but only as a guest knocking on the door of your neighbor’s house. The door opens. You are welcome to come inside but you can’t really get comfortable. You don’t really belong. This place is not your place even though it is close to where you live. The past, even your own happy past, is a friendly neighbor’s home. You are welcome to visit anytime but you cannot stay.
That first night is the longest night and you mark time by walking the floor. Checking the windows and the doors. Keeping all the lights turned on, wondering how to keep all that darkness outside from getting in. You do not check the clocks. The clocks are all liars. They measure it out in steady increments. The ticks. The tocks. The clocks pretend time is a constant, steady thing but now you know it is not. Time is capricious. The past moves quick. Now drags slowly by. The future is a mote of dust right in front of your face. Right in front of your face. A moment. Then another. Perhaps another. That’s all there is.