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So These Are My Twenties

stories & poems by Cheyenne Varner


SO THESE ARE MY TWENTIES By Cheyenne Varner Artwork (front, back, and inside) By Rayce Nakayama rnakayama92@gmail.com © 2015 All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed or transmitted for commercial purposes without the prior written permission of the author. For permission requests write the author, subject line: “So These Are My Twenties Request,” at the address below: chey.varner@gmail.com cheyennevarnerwrites.wordpress.com Richmond, Virginia, USA. Special Thanks to my first readers: Lyn, Jessie, Malori, Rayce, and Gabby.


Contents Poem I If My Boss Were Like My Almost Boyfriend I Crashed Jesus’s Car into a Tree The Story Pumpkin Night One Time I Would Love to Perform Duck Man Tornado Girl Tornado Prayer We the Dancers, Actors, Choreographers and Writers Poem II

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Poem I I don’t have any children yet. I feel my poems are like my children, even though I haven’t seen them lately. Maybe this makes me like a terrible mother who leaves her kids in grocery stores and doesn’t smile when people dote on them. Who braids their knotty hair before bed thinking how they’ll knot it up again by mid day the next day. Who buttons all their buttons to their necks when it gets cold thinking how they’ll run home jacketless, noses red and running, sick, and touching everything. Who sings although she never sang before, through headaches and through tiredness, stroking their arms and pressing her lips to their sticky cheeks. You know she always goes back for them. She always scoops them up and sits them in the cart again. They’re always in the cereal aisle, necks craning up, eyes open wide coveting the sugared cereals. She always knows they’ll be there. There’s never really any danger. She always knows she will return for them. She really loves them.


so these are my twenties

If My Boss Were Like My Almost Boyfriend There is a knock on the office door. Yes, come in. I am so glad you were able to take some time from your lunch break. I was planning on leaving this meeting until next week but, then I thought it was better to get on the same page sooner rather than later. Yes. Your email said you wanted to talk about my future here? How are you? How was your day? It was alright. I had a couple of coffees this morning so I was a little more chipper than usual, ha. That’s good! I’m glad you’re feeling good. Starbucks a block down? No, actually a little place right outside my apartment, on my way to the bus. What’s it called? The Librarian’s Room. What a fantastic name. I’ll have to check that out. It’s very good. That’s so convenient, right outside your apartment. That’s really great. Good for you. Yes, well. Your day’s been good? Oh yeah. Yeah. Great. Yes. Okay well let me begin. You’ve been an amazing asset to our company. You’re a highly functional member of our team, you’ve contributed numerous skills and talents, and you continue to display that you have so much to offer. I’m sure having you around has made us better, you’re like family to us, really. And you deserve a job with much better pay and benefits, it still kind of surprises me that you came along of your free will! You are a model example of an employee— what any company would be looking for in an employee, really. Thank you, sir.

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The thing is—I’m really afraid about your future, though. I mean, things between employees and employers don’t always go so smoothly. I mean I could promote you and it could all be peachy keen for a minute and then, you know, I could have to fire you. It would really eat me up if that happened, I mean you are such a great employee, it shouldn’t even potentially be able to happen to you. But it could and so I’m sorry I don’t think a promotion is the right decision here. In fact, I’m thinking that I need to just let you go right now. Hold on. I’m sorry. What? This is really hard for me, please believe me. I’m sorry. Let’s rewind a moment. Have there been some issues I’m not aware of? Issues? With you? Don’t be ridiculous! No. No complaints? None. I’ve been here for months… And I’ve loved having you around, honestly. I’ll miss you. I’m not—But—So— It’s too hard for me to think about letting you down, in the long run. You’re firing me… now. As your friend. You deserve a better job. I applied for this job. A better job. A better job. I feel terrible. When I realized this was the answer, I knew it’d be hard. I was really nervous about it. I was really nervous you’d hate me. I’ve been sick all morning. I thought I’d feel better than I do right now once it was all said, really. Then do you change your mind?


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No. You should go. Are you okay? Do you want me to help you bring your supplies to your car? What are you thinking? No. We’ll be okay right? I mean I know it’s hard right now but we can still grab drinks now and again, in a week or so, right? I don’t know. I understand. It’s hard. The whole thing feels really lose/lose. This is better for you though. I really believe that. Listen, thanks again for coming in. I’ll always cherish the time you worked here. Remember that.

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I Crashed Jesus’s Car into a Tree I crashed Jesus’s car into a tree. I drank a lot that night, Jesus there beside me at the bar. Flirted with three different men over three hours, back to back. Made eyes at the bartender all night. Didn’t pay for a single drink; got the three sad, I think divorcees, to buy them all. He told me not to drive. It wasn’t wise at all. But I said what the hell do I care about wise, Jesus. I was angry and not thinking like myself; and I was drunk. I took his keys, and he let me. He just made sure I had my seatbelt on when I got in. His arms reached over me, softly and slowly, like the arms of an older brother or a guy who loved me once and still does. I jetted out of the parking lot; jerking the car so hard I nearly hit my head on the steering wheel. On the main road, I pressed my foot down more and more. I wanted that pedal to touch the floor. The road was black with just us on it. I don’t know how he could have done that but I think he did that. He was always doing things I couldn’t understand. When the car went on the bumper strip the growling sound reminded me of dogs I was afraid of as a child. My heart beat hard. My mouth felt dry. I turned the wheel real hard to dart away from them. When I woke up I felt okay. Except my lip was bleeding, trailing blood all down my chin and chest into my shirt. I reached ahead for the steering wheel but it was gone from out in front of me. I was in the passenger’s seat and Jesus was where I had been. Should only be a couple minutes now, he said. The EMTs will get here and take care of you, don’t be afraid. Stay very still though; I’m concerned about your neck. You whipped it pretty hard when we collided with that tree. I cried a little bit. The judge gave him community service. For months he would go and pick up the trash on the edges of the highway right by where I lived. I’d see him out there in the light grey suit the state provided, with reflectors and one great long zipper. I shouldn’t let you be all dressed up like a criminal, I told him over coffee later. I should go in and tell the truth and pick up that trash instead. Also, I think it’s absolutely disgusting how people just toss cans and chip bags and crap like that out of their cars. What kind of people can be so careless? I stared at him, wanting


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him to think I wasn’t selfish anymore. Come pick up trash with me, he said. Alright, I said. And when I did you know I felt real good. Sometimes we’d take a break a couple yards downhill off of the highway where this little river I had never known about ran quietly. I would lie down with my hair all spread out in the grass and listen to the sound of cars flying across pavement with my eyes closed until I thought of the front of Jesus’s car after the crash, crumpled like the soda cans we’d drop in our jumbo pull-tie trash bags. Just rest, he’d say, when my mind got there, when I began to picture that. And I’d just hold his hand until I felt okay again. Didn’t seem like a thing I should feel: okay again. But you know, that was Jesus.

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The Story I was walking through the dank and aching corridor that is the subway’s throat. I saw a man with a beautiful bouquet of flowers, turning his head with haste this way and the other. I saw his eyes fill up with the finding of her face — the face of the woman he approached and whose arm he gently touched at the elbow. She turned, not startled but interested in the pressure on her cardigan, and skin. Her eyes were taken by the colors of the flowers, a myriad of orange hues, all different shapes and sizes. He settled the bouquet into her hands and for a moment she held them. Everybody watching was starting to sigh. But when her eyes found his face, her almost-smile faded away; she was still and tight and then suddently loose, letting the flowers slip between her opening hands. She didn’t look particularly angry, just not glad. Not wooed or forgiving. At first I thought, how cruel. But then I thought I didn’t know the story. It may have been perfectly called for. It may have even been merciful. I think that bothered me even more than the look on his face as he knelt down to collect, one by one, the strewn gingery flowers on the cracked cement. As the train pulled off he walked about, giving a flower to every woman and man who would allow it. His shoulders were low like two angels were sitting on them, whispering to him, Still be generous in this time of grief. He gave one flower to me. His eyes passed over my face like I glance over the sign of a street I don’t need to take. I thought about it all that day. How every day I get a moment’s glimpse of hundreds of stories I’ll never be told. It bothered me. When I went back to my aunt’s, placed the brilliant marigold into a tall thin glass of water, it bothered me. I threw myself into bed, pulled a pillow over my head, and it bothered me. Every time I saw that flower, I remembered, and it bothered me.


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Pumpkin Night That night, we carved our names in pumpkins. Yours looked incredible with the candle inside. Mine caved and burned itself away, down to the cement. I guess my name is too long. And you had steadier hands. We took a drive that night, shot too fast out of the rutted, pitted streets we knew into the shade of tall, stone buildings we looked up and imagined ourselves on top of. We ran that night, like we wanted to wear the bottoms of our shoes out. We had to catch our breath over and over. Amber’s coat ripped on that fence she tried to climb. Fry caught a falling leaf on fire, playing with his lighter. We stomped it out, laughing uncontrollably, right before that cop came by and told us to go home. So we went to the river, and watched the shadows darken on the rocks. We got quiet, sitting in the dimming warmth of the sun as it set. Even though we feared quiet, that night we didn’t mind. Jeff with his braces, Fry with his chopped-up hair, Amber with her eyes all teary with glee. And you, still permeated by the smell of burnt pumpkin. It was the most still, the most felt, most tangible moment I’ve ever known. My mind had white knuckles, holding on to it. I made it last a little longer. We were the last ones in the bed of the truck; I called it, and then you did, too. I wanted to look up when the sun was gone, the stars were dim, and the streetlights shone the same dismal yellow-orange the old wallpaper in your house turned to in the corners. You handed me a bunch of pumpkin seeds, I started wishing I had brought a sweatshirt, and I wrapped myself up in some old rug, chewing a handful of shells. Then everyone sang. I took some blurry pictures of the sky. You fell asleep. We drove so long I heard three sirens go three separate ways. Then I couldn’t feel my fingertips, even in my coat sleeves. When you helped me out of the truck and walked with me to my front door, my teeth were chattering. Still, I was hesitant to admit good night. The city felt like ours that night. And I knew we wouldn’t feel that much more.

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One Time There was one time. One time when it was late at night. He came to my room to study. The lamp on my desk was broken when he came in. He noticed when it got dark and he tried to turn it on and it didn’t switch on. About ten minutes later it was working; it was on. It was something about the outlet it was plugged into. He moved the desk, half disappeared behind it for ten minutes figuring it out. I had been disappeared behind the pages of a book, so I didn’t notice. I didn’t notice that it had started raining and then stopped either. He made a note of it; he put the end of his pencil on the spine of my book, prying me from my story to be sure that I heard him. That’s when I told him that I hadn’t noticed. That’s when I looked up and said, Oh, the desk lamp! You’ve fixed it. And he told me that it was something to do with the outlet. Then I disappeared again into my book until a few minutes later the end of his pencil was tickling the bottom of my foot. I had to laugh but I was annoyed. I tried to end my laughter with a solid grunt of disapproval. I turned my legs in so I was sitting what we used to call pretzel-like. And then I don’t know what he did. He studied. Or he watched me read. Some combination. He didn’t bother me with that pencil again. Occasionally I would tune into the rhythmic rise and fall of his breath, or become aware of his foot leaning toward my leg. When it was late into the night, so late that we had the desk lamp on and the lamp by my bed on and the floor lamp by the door on, he rose from lying on the floor, came around behind me, crouched, and kissed the back of my neck as he hugged me. It was strange, that kiss. I would think that a kiss there would make my shoulders tense, but I felt very relaxed. I used to complain about his bristly stubble but it just felt warm and nice. My eyes trailed the line I was reading. By the time I looked toward him he was standing up and reaching for his jacket, saying he was going to leave, unless of course, I wanted him to stay the night and keep me warm throughout it. I saw him out. I clung to the frame of my door until I saw him disappear completely past the corner of the hall. I still felt the warmness of his kiss, his face, on the back of my neck. I remember breathing out.


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I Would Love to Perform I saw a street performer while I was walking to work. He was painted silver and moved slowly in mechanical movements. Don’t see those often, I thought. Maybe in a movie. Maybe online. I thought I would love to do what he does, but not being silver, not moving mechanically. I would love to perform my talent. But what would that look like? I could set up two chairs on a corner, I supposed, with a sign reading, Tell me how you feel and I will write you your own story. People like things to take home. They like the weight of something, theirs, in their own hands. They like to put those things up, pinned by magnets, straps of fabric, or the glass inside of frames. Someone would come to me and say, I am terribly broken. I fell in love when I was still very young and naïve and the other person hurt me, really hurt me, and I thought for a long time that I was made for that so I let it be. Now I know I am not but I am still broken and may not be able to trust again, I feel. And I would write a story about a ceramic dish set, six plates, crafted by hand with the greatest amount of care and detail, painted with the determinate strokes of a paint brush, so beautiful it was purchased the same day it was set out on display and many people were actually angry and upset that they hadn’t gotten to enjoy the satisfaction of taking this dish set home with them. The person who purchased this set of dishes though was careless and soon she didn’t even think about the beauty or the detail anymore she just thought about the use and she left them in the sink water too long so the paint began to peel away and she left them hanging too far off the side of the counter so they teetered, fell off, and shattered, and she left them where the cat could scratch them, and threw her forks and knives onto them recklessly so that they chipped. Then one day she packed away the plates which she then regarded as trash and dropped them off strewn in newspaper to a Goodwill and the volunteer at the Goodwill sorting through the brown boxes found the dishes and she happened to be a connoisseur of ceramic art and she recognized the attentive definition of the artwork on the plates and she rejoiced and told the manager and begged, Please these are not just any dishes and the manager said, Sure, sure, take them home. So this Goodwill woman took the plates home with her and she nailed shelves into her walls


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and purchased equipment to prop the dishes up and she put them all into place stepped back and said, This is the most beautiful thing I have. And the dish set was just a dish set so it did not have any feelings, but if it had any feelings it would have felt like all of the weakness it still felt was nothing in comparison to the look of appreciation in her eyes. And it would be glad to experience the affirmation of it’s beauty and worth again. And it would be glad to be considered someone’s again. And when the Goodwill woman did take the dishes off of the shelf to adorn the table for some special guests who were arriving, the dishes would feel so capable of enhancing the dining experience because chips and scratches are nothing in the presence of laughter and good food and fellowship and if six people are present it won’t matter that the sixth dish is not a part of the matching set because only five in the set remain. Just because you lose a part of yourself doesn’t mean you lose your whole self, you know. Then someone would come to me and say, I am just sad. And I would write for him a story about the sadness of word Just. Close friends with Almost. How sometimes the two of them go out for long walks in the evening and Just says, I would just like to be happy. And Almost acknowledges, You almost are. And then they both become quiet because the sun is almost and then has just set. They like to watch. They feel connected to that image, although in slightly different ways. The person would like that the story is so small and concise. Then someone would come to me and say, I am lonely. I have never had many friends, no one seems to want to talk to me and I don’t know how to begin. And I would write a story about a book, and how the book was written and then it was published and then it was put in a bookstore but no one purchased it and read it. So then they took it out of the bookstore and put in a thrift store but no one purchased it and read it. So then they took it out of the thrift store and put it in the library but no one checked it out and read it. So then they took it out of the library and put it in a box of books to be donated somewhere across the world and it went through the mail and went through the hands of all of the post people who never even opened it and finally into a bag that was delivered to a

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school where the children were hungry for books. All of the children read the book, and what a wonderful book it was, they thought; they passed it on to all of their friends and they quoted from the book in their everyday conversations and then one day someone who wasn’t from that town came in and talked to the children and the children spoke of this favorite book of theirs and the person thought it sounded lovely so he read it and then he put quotes from it in his letters to his friends back home and his friends from where he was from read the quotes and they thought they were lovely so they looked up the book and when it wasn’t available in their book store they ordered it to come into their library and when it arrived there in the mail they picked it up and read it and told their friends and their friends read it and put it on their blogs and soon thousands of people knew the lovely quotes from the book and hundreds were reading it and asking for it to be brought to their local bookstores and the publisher noticed and put it back in stores. Then whenever one was found in a thrift shop people would take smiling photographs with captions like, Can you believe my luck? and, What a steal! The funny thing is how it was always a lovely book, a lovely book all that while. Then someone would come to me and say, I am completely happy, I have everything I want and no complaints. I would only be able to look at that person. I don’t know what I would write and I think that — in addition to bills needing paying and lack of upward mobility — that is why I will not become a street performer.


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Duck Man He rides a road bike. It isn’t great for the city, but it’s what he has. As it manages the cobblestone on her street it adds an undulation to his cries. A twisted mat of hair grows from his face, around his mouth, and away from his chin. He’s not like most people around here: mostly white or mostly black. He’s mostly something else, Middle-eastern maybe. Maybe Asian from a place most of them had never heard of. Everybody’d heard of him, though. His threadbare white road bike and his quack. Everyone had stories. First time I met Duck Man stories. The time I saw Duck Man scare the living crap out of some stranger stories. She saw Duck Man riding by the basketball court. The kids were playing Horse. Duck Man rode by, quacking, looking forward. DJ, thirteen, tossed a shot, then looked at her as it fell with a whisper through the hoop. I’m scared of him, he said sincerely, his voice not singing in the way it was when it was joking, or insulting. On Tuesday, mostly dull and worth no mention Tuesday, she walked from her house to the butcher’s shop. As she passed by the park, by the old elementary school and the barbershop, she did two things: pulled the V of her t-shirt up, because it’d slipped low, and jumped at Duck Man’s quack. He was just behind her, passing at a leisurely pace. He cycled forward leaning right and left, almost like he was drunk, but he wasn’t. She watched him. He had a basket on his bike, for the first time that she’d seen. And for the first time that she’d considered, she considered Duck Man knew where he was going, and had somewhere to go. He came into the butcher’s shop through the back door, after she’d gotten through the front and into the line: the three older women with frowns so long they looked like their mouths wanted to drop right off their faces. She watched Duck Man from the corner of her eye, until he stood behind her and she couldn’t. This was the closest she’d ever been to him. She felt something like that first dance feeling — something like the anticipation when you see the boy approaching, and you begin to know exactly what his moving toward you means. Except she didn’t know what being in front of Duck Man in the butcher’s shop

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might mean. She ordered beef. You can recommend the cut, she told the butcher, smiling. I want to try something new. The butcher smiled back in a stony way. You’re my favorite customer, he said. And she thought, under his breath, she heard Duck Man quack. With her meat wrapped up in paper, she left. As she left she heard the butcher say, Well good afternoon Duck Man, and Duck Man say, Hey Obie, how’s it hanging? It took about fifteen minutes. She leaned against the wall of the house behind the butcher shop and tried to imagine Duck Man cooking, eating, wiping his face with a napkin, loading his dishes in a dishwasher, or to dry on a metal rack. When Duck Man came out from the back door, their eyes met. Why do you quack, she said. He looked away from her. He took his bike, set his package in his basket and then he looked at her again. People know me here, he said. They shout, Hey Duck Man! They smile and wave. I could give kids candy if I wanted. And I’ve done it. Maybe someone doesn’t know me, maybe someone’s new — someone else will tell them. I show up on someone’s door, dying, they’ll say, Oh my God, it’s Duck Man, call the ambulance. Someone shoots me, someone’s gonna know my face. I disappear, people remember. Plus, he continued. It’s a matter of consistency. There’s a lot in life that’s inconsistent and it can be disheartening. Humanity, we like consistency. We like for our friends to stay our friends and close, our enemies our enemies and far, and our loves to last forever. We put up with changes we can’t control because we have to, and only after we fight them. It doesn’t even matter if a thing doesn’t make sense. It’s still comforting if it stays the same. It would be disheartening if tomorrow I meowed. I might get shot. Duck Man stared at her. She nodded. She crossed her arms. She hoped in the


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butcher’s shop her shirt hadn’t slipped too low again. Listen, if you want to meet me by the river sometime, Duck Man said. She straightened up her back. No, she said. She looked sideways and then at Duck Man again. You must be like, sixty, at least, right? Duck Man turned his head away. Quack, he sounded, in a way that seemed offended. And he mounted his bike. Can I get a ride home, she asked. Quack, he nodded, putting one foot on the ground. She put her parcel in his basket, and stepped up onto the bars jutting from the back wheel of his bike. She just put her hands on his shoulders at first, but as he rode, it became easier to lean, and in two block’s time, her arms hung around his neck and she could feel the side of his matted beard on her cheek. He smelled better than she would have thought. Not good, but not bad. As she directed him which ways to turn, he was quiet. There weren’t any people out for him to quack at. It was overcast and a little chilly for a summer day. Mostly everyone was inside, it seemed. Thank you, she said, from her doorstep when he dropped her at it. She could picture him now, in a kitchen, over a pan sizzling with oil and meat. She could see him waking up in the morning, pulling the blinds open and reaching for the ceiling. She could picture him locking up his bike on his back porch railing, struggling with his key in his door until it gave, and flicking the lights on to a mostly empty, slightly unkempt house. Duck Man nodded. He quacked. See you later, she said, watching as he rode away, shuddering on the cobblestone.

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Tornado Girl They said tornado’s coming. She said that’s fine. She wasn’t scared. She stood outside to watch. Until the day she died, she was always sure she’d stay alive. She stood beyond the porch, out where the ground wanted grass, the wind blowing back against her lack of fear. The sand tried to be pins and pricked her skin. But a little sting was nothing to her. Inside the house the dog was dying. No point in rushing off, said Uncle, risk getting caught and swept away. Great full tears rolled over Auntie’s cheeks. She just stood on the porch, out where the ground wanted grass. When later asked, she said she saw the eye of the storm look her up and down and turn away — heard the flat of the land crying out to be flatter.


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Tornado Prayer I’m all valley here, she called. Come on and smooth me. Lift the rocks that I cannot and put them where you will. Where they are I’m not content. I’m groaning underneath them. I won’t worry on the crushing. I’ve been crushed along my way. My lungs have learned to re-inflate. They wrinkle back to near-right shape like crumpled paper palmed against a desk. Don’t worry that you’ll hurt me. Come and clean the fear from me. I know that you can make me feel the things worth feeling more than that. In the presence of your wrecking winds my mind will not spin. It will lift, straight, slow and narrow. Minds can do that in the midst of terror great enough; they overcome it. I will think not in circles but a cool silk line, threading out like ink in the lines of drawn-on-skin. I saw today my skin is made of tiny plates all shaped like triangles. I scraped myself that’s how I saw. I will see much more when you come round. I’m going to live. I have a love who takes my breath and makes it like a line of string that frays midair, though I don’t think that’s what love is that’s not a thing that I take lightly. Or mean to leave behind abruptly. Understand me. I’m your valley. Hum along my lines and make my landscape new. Snap my dying trees and churn my soil. You know what I need and where. Show the living bits of me how much I live to live. I live to live. I do. Smoothed.

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We the Dancers, Actors, Choreographers and Writers So, what are some of your favorite things? The idea of dancing. The idea of dancing? Yeah. Like, I love the idea of knowing how to dance, how to do those turns—I love the idea of being able to do that anywhere, like just running home down the sidewalk on a day when I’m really happy and turning, and turning and turning. Why don’t you just do it? I took a dance class in college and when I was tested and I did the turns, you know I started in the upper right side of the room and ended in the lower left. That was bad? You’re supposed to go in a straight line. If I try and turn down a sidewalk I’m going to end up hit by a car. Okay okay, well, what else? Movies. Too general. Be more specific. Movies. I don’t know… Try. I love movies that can make me laugh and cry. That’s how I know I can watch it again, especially if I laugh more than I cry, but both are important. Mhm. And I guess the idea is… those are really intimate things, laughter and crying. And when you think about this movie, you know it’s a script and it’s very intentional direction of people to take on these roles… When I think about my life it’s only the people who have been closest to me, a best friend or a family member or someone I loved who have made me really laugh or really cry and then… I watch this movie and I’ve never met — I may not even catch the name of the screenwriter or the director. Now, lately, I’ve been paying attention since realiz-


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ing this, that — it’s incredible. This person made me laugh and made me cry. It’s like they knew me, at least it feels that way to me. Oh! And then, you know, about the dancing thing I just thought—you know when you’re sad and you’ve been sad for a little while and you start to feel useless too, uselessly sad, sadly useless and maybe you do something kind of dramatic like throw yourself backwards onto your bed or the couch or something, but then that’s it you just lay there, that kind of feeling. Well, if I were able to dance, I like thinking about how I could actually express my sadness through movement. Emotion to motion, you know. And I mean that’s why I write, that’s when I write a lot, when I’m in that same place but sometimes I don’t even have words and I think that’s when it feels like I should, or I wish that I did know how to dance, because then I’d have something sort of productive, and at least, beautiful, to do. And you know, come to think of it. Do you ever think about the choreographer? The choreographer. Yeah, when you see a dance. I don’t think that I think about the choreographer. I just think about the dancers. They’re doing the dance but it isn’t theirs it’s like when you borrow a jacket from your roommate — I don’t know do guys do that? I’ve borrowed a lot of clothes from my roommate but maybe that’s not relevant for you. Not really. I can’t think of a better metaphor. But the point stands. The point being? A dance doesn’t really belong to a dancer, unless that dancer is also the choreographer. Like a movie doesn’t really belong to an actor, unless the actor is also the writer. In our lives though we’re the dancers, the actors, the choreographers and the writers, I guess. Oh God, I feel like I haven’t stopped talking in ages. You’ve said a lot. I haven’t given you room to get a word in edgewise. That’s alright.

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so these are my twenties

Is it really? I mean I enjoy talking, I feel like, oh God I was going to say I feel like that’s how I express myself, how awful is that. It’s true. You sound bored out of your mind. I’m not. Honestly, I mean it. But you’re astounded, and not in the good way. That’s what you get when you ask out a practical stranger to coffee and get her talking. How did we get to dancers and actors and choreographers? I asked you what your favorite things were. Some of them, at least. And what did I say at first? The idea of dancing. That’s right. That’s right. Then movies, connecting eventually back to dancing. I think in circles. So you never stop thinking. Exactly. You talk in circles too. That’s funny. Subtle jab. All fun, no jab. You made me laugh. Did you hear that? I caught it, yeah. Guess that means I’m in. In what? The circle with the friends, family, directors and screenwriters of your favorite movies. The people who know, or at least seem to know you. Maybe. I mean you’re getting warmer. It’s the laughter and the crying, remember. And the crying is tricky. The crying is tricky. Because when you make me laugh it’s always good, almost always good. I might laugh because, oh, disbelief, I can-


so these are my twenties

not believe you said that awful thing so much I must laugh! But that’s rare. But if you make me good cry, healthy, needed, constructive cry — I mean I can’t even really imagine the scenario for that but I know it can happen, and that’s — if you want in, that’s what your goal is here on out. Constructive crying, got it. Like I’ve got this check. I’ve got it. We can’t split it? No. Next time. No. Well, I won’t argue. I’m sorry I couldn’t stay longer, when we made the date I didn’t realize I’d also scheduled this meeting. I’m so bad with that. That’s fine. I’ve got things I should be doing too. I’m going to go. Thanks so much. Do a turn on our way out. What? Just one, just do one, it won’t send you into the street. I’ll do one getting up. Oh! I’m so sorry! Oh God did you see I just hit that man. He’s fine. The turn was worth it. The turn was beautiful. Oh God, I’m, I’ve got to go. Thanks again. And I’ll call you next week okay. Or, you know what I say that but I’ll forget. Call me next week we’ll have a proper lunch, alright? Sounds great. Goodbye. Goodbye.

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so these are my twenties

Poem II They're cutting down all the trees on Abermonth Avenue. The churned dirt is a dry empty mouth that wants to speak to us. It wants to tell us what it feels like to have roots and then not. I see a man in a bright yellow vest. He is one of the men who hammer the dirt. He looks at me. His eyes tell me he wants roots. I want roots too. But not here.


so these are my twenties

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So These Are My Twenties  

Collection of short stories and poems.

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