It Is Always The Same In The End
Let’s start where this story is heading: boy flat-backed to the earth with legs propped knees-to-the-sky and arms spread to mimic a bird’s. He is looking up through the leafed branches of a tree, which is casting a coded shadow/light/shadow/light pattern down on him.
[5 seconds earlier] The boy is sitting up, arms wrapped around legs, a human Crazy Creek. There is a girl in the picture now, just barely: her back-turned, she’s walking away. Still can’t see her? Follow his eyes. Those are the starred heels of her converse sneakers, and the seat of her cut-off jeans where the pockets have been ripped off, exposing star-shaped windows where the rivets used to be.
[10 seconds earlier] and the girl is standing and facing the boy who is sitting. The girl, with arms akimbo, has a knee cocked like the preamble to a hip thrust. But the pose is not flirtatious (the boy misreads); it is all attitude, and the curve of her body could be copied down as a supplementary punctuation mark: stronger than a period, not as excitable as an exclamation, but marking an end just the same. Freeze-frame and you can almost see the trajectory of her upcoming swivel (the cocked knee serving here as the pivot point to a snap), and trace the line of high-test monofilament that snags deep in his heart with this same motion.
[2 minutes earlier] The boy and girl are seated side by side under the tree.
B: “But, you said it was okay.”
G: “I said it was okay, if that’s what you wanted.”
B: “It wasn’t okay then?”
G: “ .”
B: “You’re mad at me?
G: “ .”
B: “You’re not talking to me anymore?
G: “ .”
B: “Cool, I…”
G: “Just stop talking for a second. Please.”
[Back to the present] and now every time he sees stars he will think of trees, which will make him think of Morse code, and messages he will never be able to understand.
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Portland Fiction Project
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