3 min read

Sinking

No turning away. Your eyes and theirs. Some laugh, champagne bubbles rising up from the stomach. Some forget to blink, in fear the other may disappear.
A photo of a desert with a construction site to the right. The sky is cloudy, and the entire pictures just feels very dusty.
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Originally written in 2018.

1.

Sit across them and look into their eyes for five minutes.

No turning away. Your eyes and theirs. Some laugh, champagne bubbles rising up from the stomach. Some forget to blink, in fear the other may disappear. Feel your body falling asleep and frantically fix: fidgeting feet, cracking knuckles, licking lips, clicking fingers, poking at pimples. The eyes stay. Just look.

Green is more than the rustling in a backyard.

Try this at night with green eyes warm like basil pesto, even behind their glasses. Hold hands. Play with each other's fingers. Caress the edge of their thumb as you will drown otherwise. Hold on and watch the other float away. The blankets turn to water and sand, closing around your legs. Fly towards the sun, watch your wings burn down. A film of tears between you. Clasp your fingers more desperately with every word, feeling your tears drop on their hands and yours. Watch a future disappear in mist as their warmth dissipates. Keep looking, stubborn. Maybe the clouds will blow over. Maybe everything will come back.

It’s your birthday, a late afternoon, now green eyes are fresh like mint chutney. Car rides through traffic jams, talking about dream weddings. Warm wind on a busy street floats the noise up to the rooftop. Smile into your sparkling wine. The smell of burning leaves. Your lips hold on to just whispered words, saying them over and over. Certainty in three syllables.  Cradle the other's hands as if they were birds. Stroke their feathers. Feel the pulse. This time, they won’t fly away.

Just after sunrise, you lose them to green eyes like absinthe. Their stare burns into your retinas. Fear rising up as time ticks. Forest fire catches on your hands from theirs. Try to let go, but can’t move your feet. Remember, you can’t move your eyes away. Look back, sweat mixing into your hair. The panther stares from a bush. Feel the sharpness of their nails digging into your palms. Heavy breathing. Hands quivering. Hesitation blinking.

You can look away now.

2.

Breathe in. Breathe out. Make sure you inhale as your foot strikes the ground and exhale as the other leaves it. Steady. Step on the balls of your feet. Don’t propel your body forward. Think of it as falling. Plunge your torso into the ground and wait for your legs to catch you. Do it again. Trust falls with the ground. Don't think about it too much. Surrender to gravity. This drives you forward. It's easier to seize yourself if you open up your steps. Wider. Further. Make sure your arms make right angles. You didn't practice drawing them with a protractor for nothing. That’s right. Now, relax.

Look at the perfectly laid asphalt in front and graveled sand to your right. In between, a thin sidewalk. Jump on it as a car drives by, watch headlights illuminate your neon sneakers. Don’t fall to either side or intentionally leave the tightrope. The sand is gentle on your feet, but you know it slows you down. The road brings certainty, but your knee will hurt when it’s over. Make your choice. Change your mind over and over as you move, you've got time after all.

Feel your breath rushing from your mouth, as if your lungs are knocking at your throat. Feel your heart jump rope. Remember that you're alive. Speed up. Realize your heart can't keep up yet. Slow down. Wonder if your feet will ever feel lighter. Push against your entire weight. Remember that you were supposed to fall.

You've been told that sometimes gazelles appear along this route. Now there's a barrier between their desert and your road. Look at the promotional pictures, filled with happy families and working professionals in the fake green parks of a residential complex. When construction is done, where will the gazelles go?

Drop.