Friday, July 31, 2015


The cool chill of a wet pint of ale in your hand.  The first acrid taste wetting your lips.  Tiny bubbles of carbon dioxide rise to the surface of the beer and pop, releasing a fine spray of mist against the tip of your nose.  These are the things you relish.  This is now.  You squint across the pub through the smudged windows into the afternoon sunlight.  Relief.  It’s a relief to have something, anything, to do besides make eye contact with her.

Your sight drifts languidly past the packed patio, past the bustling sidewalk, past the gridlocked street, over top the countless roofs of houses and apartments buildings, to an indeterminate spot in the scattered clouds beyond.  How long has it been?  Eight years.  Nine.  You don’t know.  You don’t keep track of such things.

Time is a paradox-
Constructed, constrictive,
an imaginary prison.

Her chair legs roughly scrape across the scarred floorboards.  A subtle signal to you that she’s over this awkward silence, a subtle signal you answer with your own – a forced clearing of your throat.  You take another sip of ale, smiling into the mouth of your pint, and turn to meet her eyes.

She returns the smile, warm, genuine.

You sigh and return the pint glass gently to the table.

“How long has it been, you think?” she asks.

“Eight years, at least,” you say, squirming in your chair. 

“It’s been ten.”

“Well, I’ll be damned.”

You pull out your phone to check the time, a habit, and you’re suddenly aware of the date, the year: 2015.  It hits you in the gut like a punch from a heavyweight champion.  Anxiety rises.

“You look good,” she assures you.  “You don’t seem to age.”  She laughs then, that laugh she’s always had.  It’s easy.  Disarming.

“Thank you,” you say. “You too.  The years have been kind.”

This is that thing humans do for each other.  They reassure one another that time has forgotten them.  They pretend they’re staying young.  They paw at the possibility of immortality – it’s right around the corner.  They hang onto youthful pursuits a touch too long.  Attempt to understand the next generation.  Fight to stay relevant.  Don’t even think about dying.

But it’s too late.  Now you are.  Thinking about dying, that is.

It’s why you don’t think about the past or the future.  Why you avoid old acquaintance.  Why you won’t watch reruns of Seinfeld.  Why you don’t look at photos.  You don’t need a reminder that you’re older, that you’re creeping closer to the end, that time will not stop.

You can feel your heart racing.  A lump growing in your throat.

You know the next question, and know you have to circumvent it: What have you been up to?  A question designed to make one take stock, to measure, to explain your yesterdays.  But you don’t do that.

“What are you thinking about today?” you ask quickly.  “Any new ideas?”

She appears caught off guard at first – a head tilt, lips slightly parted – but relaxes a moment later, sighing, lounging back in her chair.  She takes a drink.

“Actually,” she says, “it’s funny you should ask.  I've been running over this idea for a new short story since last night.”

“Pitch it to me,” you smile.

And she does, excitedly talking.  You listen intently.  She’s here.  She’s now.  She’s present.

And you soak it up, heart rate returning to normal, relaxing.  Time stretches, pulled taut by her words, strung between them like taffy.  This is how you’ll beat it, this cursed short life.  This is how you’ll beat time.  This is your cheat, your loophole, your workaround.  You stick in the present.  No reminiscing. No planning.  No past.  No future.  Only now.

You take a gulp of ale, and feel the cool chill of the wet glass in your hand.  The slowly warming liquid wetting your lips.  The scent of hops in your nostrils.  These are the things you relish.  This is now.  

Thursday, July 30, 2015


Nearly motionless,
this languid summer-
I find myself not breathing.