A graphite halo hovers over a tiny staff. Sometimes it spins like the rings of Saturn; sometimes it elongates like a slow-motion tear. I’ve uncovered and uncrumpled sheets upon sheets of your letters. My favorite is that vertical vowel peppering your page like an exclamation mark in the midst of a cartwheel.
“This weekend, my family visited Matia Island. We rode two ferries: the Klickitat and the Kittitas.” Your inept teacher left you nothing but a crimson “Tell me more” in the margin. Hoops, droplets, stars, and even one dolphin skimmed above the midpoint of that line. They provided enough material for even the dullest of craftsmen to fashion an inviting home.
Outside your vowels, my world stretches too far. I quiver when I see a clear sky, imagining all the possible paths across it. My eyes ping and pong, searching for a corner in which to shrink. My pupils dilate, colonizing my eyeballs. I lose the boundary between the Earth and me.
When the terrifying, picturesque expanses threaten me with such blind levity, I wrap myself in my thickest thermal underwear, heaviest hooded sweatshirt, three stiff pairs of jeans, and steel-toed boots. Not soon enough, I find myself falling face first into your familiar trash bin. My hands quiver and fumble as my ears and fingers anticipate a paper’s crinkle.
One day, the loop of that letter of yours will collapse in on itself. No longer anchored halfway between the top and bottom lines, it will dot-dot-dot your manuscript like an ellipsis plodding across the page. That day, I will take your papers to the cavern of an industrial cement mixer. I will initiate the machine, and smother myself in your sheets one last time.
I could resign myself to this self-cementing, but it sits second-best among solutions. In first place, I shrink myself into a homunculus and take refuge inside your i.
About the Author
Eric Owen lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he works for an education-based non-profit. In addition to three years of teaching high school special education, his resume includes stints as a homebuilder, an elevator operator, a pizza delivery cyclist, and a dog walker. Eric writes about cashiers with unlined palms, friendless rock farmers, and professional nose-hair trimmers. He has piled up several stories in his laptop, but this is his first to be published. To contact Eric, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.