A Reason to Bend KATIE BICKELL
ast night I imagined my eyes fell from their sockets like acorns from an oak. They caught in my throat and I whistled while tilling the empty spaces with my thumb. This morning I tear at my eyelids, fingers pinching, sliding, pinching again, pulling splinters from my pupils. I blink twice, wince, push the heel of my hand against the sting. His frown in the mirror is as familiar as the shaving cream he forgets to wash from under his ear. “I think my contacts are stuck.” I say. He moves me aside with two fingers and points. The case sits on the counter, sticky with dust, lenses inside, unused. I swallow, remembering the woody thickness of my dream. Outside, daisies are dried fists. The days are shortening; the season is fleeting. There was a time when my stubbornness and bad dreams and forgetfulness intrigued him, the costs of loving a woman as scattered as the wildflowers. Now, every yawn, every nightmare, every patch of dry skin: all are symptoms, preludes to an upcoming failure. “Remember that first summer, when my hair got caught in the spruce?” I offer him this to make him smile, this, the moment that we first met. Just two kids, underpaid laborers on a Christmas tree farm. “I stood there for hours! Thank God you checked the grounds. You’ve always been my hero.” “I don’t know what to do.” His chin twitches. “Tell me what to do.” No one needs landscaping in the autumn. He passes his days counting seeds into packets the same way we count the dollars that slip through our fingers. It’s too much. He needs to dig into the soil, to dirty his hands. He’s going to plant tulip bulbs along our driveway; they’ll make a beautiful homecoming, later. “I’ll drop you at Nuella’s,” he says. I tell him we’re fine, that he can leave us at home, but he insists. “You could use the company, Dar. Besides, Chloe loves Nue.” Over coffee, Nuella tells me not to worry, that people change. “I used to be a fish, after all,” she says, her hands wrapping and spreading like restless fins around her cup. “A kiss a day keeps me from swimming away.” “But that’s the problem,” I say, “I never stop changing.” I think of April, of robin, of sweet peas on windowsills. “Only months ago I was green. Sweet and cool, remember?”
The Spring 2014 Issue of A cappella Zoo.