The Black Side of Wonder

Word Count: 498

If I count to thirty-nine and miss twenty-seven would anyone care? If I take the stairs two at a time does the stairway become six or seven steps long? I go up to the bedroom and somehow don’t remember the stairs. What if I take them in one giant leap; will they even be there? Do people run numbers or instead, are lives dictated by the hours, the minutes, the weeks and the years so that all we can do is estimate, guess, return numbers that didn’t work out back to the hollow dark of the lottery ball and spin it and spin it again?

I woke up at five and the sun was missing from the morning. Something else wasn’t there, an escape of breath like an early spring breeze. A twitching of toes like a caught bird at the foot of the bed. If I rewind the time to yesterday’s dawn, will the sun pop up as it did? I worry. Tomorrow has such an effect on yesterday that if I can hold it back on the other side of the covers, keep it from entering, I can control the next day. So I burrow under the worn satin quilt that my grandmother made for our wedding. I hold the top tight against the pillows, yours and mine. I search this oyster shell for a pearl, a hair from your head that I will then have cloned and grow into you.

I wonder if you would still leave me if I am there from the start. If I suckle you and teach you colors and numbers. If hand-in-hand we follow butterflies to the edge of the meadows and live in a treehouse and climb up a ladder not stairs. If we made up our own secret language, something that sounds like the chirping of tree frogs out back near the pond every night. Songs of harmony, accord, communication.

There were times when I knew, I just knew that I should have backed down, should have smiled and nodded and floated along with your flow. What is it in me that couldn’t give into the moment? That assumed a position and found it always opposite yours? That stood straight and tall against windstorms both good and bad, unbending, unwillow-like, but more like the cliffs where your waves crashed against me trying to split me, to find a small crevice. Or maybe it was just to smooth out my rugged and ragged facade. Maybe that’s all the war you mounted against me but I came to it fully armed, too alert, ready for all the wrong things.

I don’t know if the sun has arisen. I know I won’t for a while. The lightweight summer quilt is dark and heavy as a shield. I wonder if morning is mandatory and if I’m required to respond. In this soft blackness I can wonder and no one else, least of all you, wonders or cares.

(Inspired by this video by John Timmons: and no one would wonder)

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to The Black Side of Wonder

  1. Meg Sefton says:

    Oh, these questions pull at me so! And how we are set up for this with the exquisite description of interiors: of a home and of a psychological interior and the effort to control certain realizations that are dawning with great force.

    • susan says:

      Meg, thank you. Sometimes the night is suddenly the friend the shields you from the reality of morning.

  2. Marcus Speh says:

    The language rises and falls beautifully in this piece. The sense of shadow prevails throughout no matter how much light you bring to the page. Congratulations for winning the Glass Woman Prize!

  3. ***I woke up at five and the sun was missing from the morning. Something else wasn’t there, an escape of breath like an early spring breeze. A twitching of toes like a caught bird at the foot of the bed***

    Powerful. Heartbreaking. Beautiful.

    Congratulations on your Glass Woman Prize. You deserved it.

    • susan says:

      Thank you so much! Experience goes into all our writing and it’s so satisfying to see it come through. This Prize brings out some of the best writers I’ve ever read and I’m proud to be among them.

Comments are closed.