She’s sitting on the porch with a yellowjacket attached to her head. Not attached, per se, when it’s walking around with an occasional flutter of its wings and lifting its legs away from strands of hair. She can see this in the window’s reflection, see the sting at the end of its stripe-serrated belly as it bobs in time with movement. She reflects back at the reflection
this is my life, wouldn’t you know it. a teeth-grit decision, living with this or doing the running and screaming bit in hopes that the bad thing won’t happen, that it will just go away. or sitting here for half an hour and hoping that it will just go away. but it doesn’t, does it?
And it’s not that difficult, in the end, having someone knock it off with the broom before her panicked dash for the hermetic and conditioned box behind the glass sans nature and all its stinging wonders. Only there’s the next day, and the next
risking life. that’s what we do. knowing there’s the one moment in a million where it’s going to cut my heart out and watch me eat it, watch this bloody and still-beating thing settle into some new and mangled configuration behind my ribs. it’s what we do every time we step outside, right? so why do we open the door into the big, wide world? why do we even bother? is it the monkey curiosity that seems like one more piece of junk dna when we step into the cave and come out with a hemorrhagic virus? is it the limbic urge of fucking and eating and all around sensory indulgence? is it
She wonders and wonders and wonders behind closed doors and sealed windows hoping that she’ll figure it out by the time the warm weather comes, before the first spring rain because she can’t help but recall the feel of light against her skin and her skin becoming gold.
She knew. When the phone ceased to ring and every refresh of her inbox left it just like it ever was, when her name disappeared like it had never been a memory to those who’d nailed her canvases to walls, signature and sign a harsh scrawled blotch in a corner like she’d rather be forgotten, like the paintings themselves were her substance. She knew that once the absence came it was the kind of presence that invaded, a hole that wrapped itself in fragments of her images until it became the images or the images became the absence. She couldn’t tell because every work after was a frame for its echo and every work before a hole that felt its lack. They leaned against a wall, wooden structures rigid with cloth and gesso, waiting for her to paint the stillness in, the silence of a room just vacated, the hesitation behind an incomplete phrase. Over and over as if it could mean anything else.
It took him a while. Long enough to learn freedom, that it wasn’t flight or the fulfillment of desire or even a quiet room with sterile walls. He wasn’t sure that even now he could describe it in terms other than a lift of soul, the occasional moment in which he felt whole and alive and present, truly there and patient for the next hint of rhythm in his living. Freedom, he felt, was knowing just how far the idea of choice could take someone before it proved to be part of a surrounding structure. Freedom meant he didn’t care so long as he could breathe and dream and love because everything else was merely detail. It brought his existence down to the personal, the point of relation between his body and another’s, his hand and the things around him. It meant that not only could he create, but that he was created every day as he woke up to existence, his self a glimmering light in a sea of other stars.