Humidity Index: 84%.
High: 92° / Low: 65° / Feels Like: 98°.
Temperature: Something Temporary. Always coming and always going. Was only just some fiery summer evening an hour ago. The same clouds still hanging overhead in fat billows like smoke trapped in a room.
Wind: NW 6 mph. A slight breeze moves through you over your clothes that stick tight to your skin like a vacuum seal.
Precipitation: 100% Beneath Your Arms / Between Your Legs. Eighteen minutes spent changing out one shirt for the next for another, paired with whatever shorts to feel comfortable, to appear careless but not homeless, and without the awkward pocket bulges to distract from the truth you’ve got a decent set of legs. Yet still, somehow you settled to wear the one bright-colored shirt most prone to sweat through, as thin as cheesecloth, and between your legs is a hot gooey mess the exact consistency of a melted candy bar.
Sundown: ☼↓ 8:47 pm.
Visibility: A Scenic Scene. Fireflies and train tracks and lush green almost everywhere that looks more and more blue in the evolving dark. A tree swing with a wooden trapeze seat sits suspended over a dirt clearing where enough feet have kicked and pushed and scraped away every last trace of grass. She brings you here like a secret. Outside of town. You push her and she pushes you. Higher. Higher. With hands that are sweating. With hands that are conscious of touching another’s body. Not too high and not too low, either. You’re both young, vulnerable, lost human beings gone in the woods with a stranger, this is not some excuse to play grab-ass and get handsy, you dirty asshole. Ashamed of your ways of thinking. Ashamed of feeling ashamed of your ways of thinking. Ashamed of feeling.
High: Enough To Feel The Air Through All Your Non-Existent Hair. The two of you, bald. Impulsive. In search of something that feels like looks like self-control. Outside of comfort. Pushed high up like the fireflies. Brains light up like the fireflies with electrical signaling of dopamine and oxytocin and serotonin kept inside in-check inhibited by antidepressants and by habit. Talks punctuated like the fireflies, broken up into flashy revelations of your collective persons, of past of presence of hypothetical future, all in efforts to attract, and sometimes not. Talks of teenage drunk driving. Episodic self-rebellion. Shared skin, sweat, bodily fluids with others. Isolated scares of pregnancy and venereal disease and anything that even faintly resembles intimacy. Talks of how exhausting it is sometimes to just be a person. Of how none of us asked for any of this—to be born with a brain and heart and sweat glands that sometimes short-circuit and catch fire like some broken machine—to exist is not your fault but it is your problem. Talks of how this and other melancholy topics with another with someone like her somehow seem to make the whole problem easier to deal with. Talks of how this, whatever this is, is a date, and is actually going quite well.
Pressure: ↑Something Social ↑Something Heavy ↑Something Gaining. A deep, guttural howl in the distance warns of an oncoming train. Explosive as it approaches you both closer-closer-evercloser. Floods the night with noise and attraction and distraction from the fact that you’re smiling to yourself like a dumb idiot, and thank goodness it’s so dark she can’t see you nor your chipped front tooth you’ve kept hidden beneath your curled lip this entire time but still wonder if maybe she’s definitely smiling like an idiot, too.
Dew Point: Commit This Moment To Memory To Fiction To Body. Go one more time in the pitch black on the swing to swing high and bust your ass. Pick at the scab that forms until your skin calls it quits on healing just like the grass beneath has quit on growing. Consider taking her hand in yours and holding them together there until sweat drips between them like a faucet until your heart stops racing the train until it passes back into the distance the darkness a comfortable silence and then still hold hands some more.
Feels Like: 180°.
Feels Like: A Good Sort of Terrifying°.
Feels Like: A Forest Fire In Your Chest In Your Bowels In Your Head A Fire That No Amount Of Caffeine Or Cold Showers Or TV Or Sleep Can Ever Be Enough To Put Yourself Out There In The World Is The Scariest Fucking Thing My God I Swear You Swear Sometimes It’s So Much Easier To Shut The Blinds Lock The Doors Turn Off The Lights And Never Lay Eyes On Another Soul Again If It Means Being That Much More Safe From The Threat Of Enduring A Pain So Entirely Outside Of Your Own Control A Feeling You Can’t Just Shave Away On A Whim And Start At Ground Zero And Maybe Grow Back Over Time Maybe So Dependent On Another’s Reciprocated Care That You No Longer Feel Like One Cohesive Person But Only A Scattered Body Of Fireflies Flashing Bright Like Green Little Astroillogical Constellations For The Sake Of Attraction For The Sake Of Lighting Up The Darkness For The Sake Of Another Until It
Feels Like: It’s Time To Go°. You don’t kiss each other goodbye because there still exists the slightest doubt of what this will be after what it’s just been. These things take time. No need to rush. And plus, you’re not really sure what your breath tastes like other than dry and gone. “Goodbye,” “Goodbye.”
Low: The Return Back Home. Try your best to keep down the cereal you have for dinner. Take the shit you’ve been holding in all night. Take a shower. Avoid staring holes into your naked body in front of the mirror trying to see in you what she sees in you, wondering just how truly long that mirage can last. Brush your teeth over the kitchen sink. Avoid relentlessly checking your phone with that sort of horrible desperate expectation. Feel ashamed. Be exhausted. Masturbate to help you fall asleep with sweat as a natural lubricant. Remember. Remember that to exist is not your fault. Consider some day having kids of your own. Consider being a father like your own father. Consider having a vasectomy. Consider self-castration. Lose your erection. Check your phone. Lose your mind. Read a book in bed in a dim light with words you won’t comprehend but will still bring up in casual conversation with her next time because you know it’s only going to get harder and harder to seem smart funny interesting sane. Be honest about who you are. Scatterbrained like the fireflies. Tell her all of this next time.
High: There’s Going To Be A Next Time.
About the Author
Stephen Wack is a graduate from UGA where he studied Neuroscience and worked as an intern at the university’s literary journal, The Georgia Review. He has been the featured reader at multiple events in his town of Athens, as well as co-hosts a monthly open-mic night, Goetry. In February, Stephen self-published his second chapbook, “Loneliness & Other Human Endurances (haha, etc.),” a collection of auto-biographical prose and poetry navigating a wide variety of human hardships. His work has recently been published in b(OINK), A Quiet Courage, Linden Avenue Literary Journal as well as in forthcoming issues of prisma and FIVE:2:ONE.