Lentils and Popsicles

I am living just outside my life. On the edges, sewn into the hem, along the outline, in the grout. I am quite sure I can fit myself into one of the cream tiles lining the bathroom floor. Picture it: the tile is a square dime, smaller than an inch by an inch. I could fit there. Or on the head of a pin or on the pale green shoulders of a dry lentil. I am bigger than the blue in the sky if it were to be bottled and sold on low wooden shelves at a farmer’s market. I would never sell shit at a farmer’s market. I’m not that kind of person. I’d buy it, though. I like to own things. I’d like to own the pattern of my breath. I believe I can fly. I think I can walk. Walking trips me up. I try not to think about walking when I walk. I have to be careful with things like that. Now if I could fly, I wouldn’t need to think at all. I am usually not here. I cannot put my thumb on life. It is curious. I cannot press it or mark it. It is like this. I sit in meetings and talk numbers and dates. You can’t imagine. It’s not me. I never show up. The furniture is out of proportion and I consider touching the person sitting beside me. To feel their outline. To know if they are as porous as I am. They’re not. I spend a lot of time pressing my back teeth together, like a hot iron held firmly in place on a stubborn wrinkle. I want to flap my wrists and flutter my fingers in the air beside my temples, shaking my head like a child and humming low and deep in my throat. I look pretty when I do this, if you have the right kind of eyes. It is curious. I sit in a meeting. I sit in a chair. I perch on a top shelf. I curl into a candy dish. I rattle in the floor vents. I drop my eyes onto a pencil on the table, a pencil gnawed by a nervous child. I am a nervous child. Teethmarks run the length of the pencil with dents, the pencil marked like an old fashioned typewriter. I slip through the bands of light between the blinds. I pull at my feathers with my beak and chirp from a tree outside the office window. I know songs. I know songs. I’m full of shit in real life. I’m top notch on the edges. This is hard to follow. I don’t have names for myself. I haven’t a clue what my name is. I don’t answer to anything. I’ll answer to pretty much everything. I’m confused like a vase holding dirty water, dying flowers pulled out from the water with a hand tight around their necks. They’re already dead, so there’s no need to strangle them. Maybe it was me who gnawed the pencil in the real life that I sit on the edge of, like a child sitting on the hem of a community pool, concrete pulling at the seat of her swimsuit, legs loose in the water like cooked spaghetti. Her thighs are hot. Her calves and feet slim once they cut through the chilly casing of the pool water. I am stuck in casing. I am going to die in here. I have been minced and cased like a pork sausage rolling in a hot frying pan. It’s definitely probably me who gnawed the pencil. I am always gnawing at something. You haven’t any idea. I am at all times looking for something to bite, something to sink my teeth into, something to fill my mouth, something to worry at with my teeth. I am going to break my teeth doing this, crack them and grind the stubborn ones into a fine powder. I should have been a beaver. I would have been an excellent beaver. I am not an excellent human. Humans aren’t always looking to bite, to snap. Maybe the little girl is me. Maybe those are my thin legs in the water. I left myself behind so long ago, sitting on the edge of a pool with a grape popsicle in hand. Sucking out the purple and leaving behind ice the color of skim milk. My lips were cracked and purple. My tongue was wrinkled into ruffles like a walnut. I haven’t eaten in years. I can’t stop eating. Maybe somewhere a narrow version of me is walking, thin and tall as a pencil. That bitch is probably living my real life. I hate her and mark her as selfish. I cannot fit into my life. I am too big. I cannot fit, I would like to scream. Wrists flapping, fingers fluttering. I ruined my bathing suit sitting on the concrete. The seat is pulled and pilling, so I left the suit behind in a damp pile on the tile floor. I stand naked in the middle of a 7-11 on a fake street in a real town in a fake city with matchbox cars zooming across steaming black asphalt. I clench a soggy box of grape popsicles in my hand. My fury has a fury. The box turns soft and furry as the popsicles melt. Somewhere everything is melting, everything is softening to a pulp. I scream at the cashier with a tattooed neck: I cannot fit. He doesn’t look up. He rings up a young mother with a thick brown ponytail held in place with royal blue elastic. She has left her small children in the car unattended. The children will be fine. No need to fuss. I am too small, and there is too much room to fill. What can I possibly do with all this space. I get tired of thinking about it. I can’t sleep. My mouth aches. I am always tired. My tongue is pilling, the ruffles sloughing off. A pale green lentil rattles in a mason jar. A string of cooked spaghetti slips down the kitchen wall, leaving behind a tacky streak of starch. Grape syrup can’t just leech back into ice. That’s not how it works. I don’t know how you don’t know these things. My wrists are flapping, my purple fingers are fluttering. Ladies and gentlemen, I am starting my engine. Blue pistons break apart the glass bottles, too big to be contained, splitting the glass with sharp cracks and long lines. There is no place for me here. It must have been me who gnawed the pencil. There’s no other explanation.


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