Tangled Yarn

some strung together words

“Tell me a secret,” she whispered as the two of them lay under their white comforter, pretending to shield themselves from the world. All they could ever block out was the moonlight streaming through their only window.

(Really, though, it was the unnaturally bright overhead lights that their neighbors across the street always forgot to turn off, but she likes to remember it as moonlight).

“Don’t you think you know all my secrets by now?” they whispered back.

She didn’t say anything, just waited because she knew they always longed to fit the silence in conversation, always wanted to truly, completely answer a question.

They sighed, a playful sigh, one that brought a light to their face despite the sound, despite the darkness under the covers.

(She can't remember the words they exchanged, all these years later. She's sure it was dull and boring and yet they were dazzled by each other.)

Slowly, their whispers turned to snoring, turned to fluttering eyelids taking in the gradual light, turned to blaring alarm clocks, and blink and you'll miss it chirping of birds, and the world came back to greet them.

They fell out from under their covers, and in a couple years out of love.

But the moments she comes back to are always these. Not the two month backpacking trip they took across the Andes or the lavish joint thirtieth birthday party they shared with everyone that loved them — it’s these moments. These are the ones she can’t get back.

It happens slowly — the glimpse and you'll miss it whisper, the suggestion of disaster, a double look. Slowly, softly, it's hard to argue otherwise. It's not just a scratch from a ghost of a frame you never hung up. There's something wrong.

It's easy enough to ignore. That is, if you never go into the bedroom. It's easy to convince your eyelids to stay open as the sky darkens.

The day the rain comes, after a months long draught, there's a small moment when you feel, for the first time in years, a flash of hope. That is, before the splatter of droplets sound too close, before your uneven floorboards create barely-there puddles throughout your home, before you open the bedroom door for the first time in weeks.

The walls, they have truly come crumbling down. Really, there's nothing to do at this point. It's almost a relief, because well, this is so much worse than you ever imagined. When nightmares become reality, is there anything left to fear?

So, you climb into the rain-soaked bed. You nestle under the covers, lay your head down on a pillow engulfed in water. You drift off into sleep thinking silly thoughts, joking with yourself, wondering that if this is what people call a water bed, you've been missing out for years.

In the morning, well, it doesn't really matter what happens in the morning. The worst has come to pass. The small shadow, the flicker of disaster has become a flame and you've been waiting to be caught up in something other than your own head for your whole life.

There’s a bird on a power line opposite my apartment building and I’m worried it’s lonely. As soon as the worry hits me though, the excuses accompany it: maybe it wants alone time, maybe it’s playing hide and seek, maybe it only feels like it can breathe when it’s away from the rest of the flock, maybe, maybe, maybe.

Maybe, the bird is watching me too. I leave my room to write about the bird (as one does), and while I’m gone, the bird leaves. Is it hopeless to think it flew away with someone?

The thing is, I keep seeing lonely animals. The lone goose in a man-made pond in front of a Hindu temple. The outdoor cat that followed me home from a park, into my apartment building, and stopped right in front of my neighbors door, coxing me into knocking on a neighbor's door for the first time in my adult life. The wild turkey trying to drink out of a puddle with baby chicks, surprised when they all scatter away in fear. The bird this morning. Me. Alone. Everyone, alone.

Fuck loneliness, I wanted to say — far before I knew the meaning of either word. Fuck loneliness, I still say now. The emptiness, the ache, it’s just — that poor bird. That poor goose. That poor cat. Are they okay? Will they survive? (How the fuck did I survive?)

I recently saw a chart for suicidal ideation and depression rates from early 2000s to present day. The rates, they start exponentially climbing exactly around my high school years. When I first saw the chart I thought — damn, I can’t believe how much sway I had on the whole US population. Sometimes my brain does that, takes all the suffering in the world and says here — this is your fault, deal with it.

Usually, I want to see it all burn. I want to go back. Maybe before the agricultural revolution. Sometimes, I think, I could settle for before the Internet. I keep thinking about my six year old cousins. Their eyes glazed over as I walk into a room where they’re watching YouTube shorts. “Too boring” they now say to TV shows and movies and they won’t even consider glancing at a board game.

And damnit now the bird is back. In the same spot. Alone. Again. And now I’m still here, looking out the window waiting for a FedEx truck on a Friday morning. My partner is on a work call talking about serving sizes and on days like this I want the air so badly to taste like hope.

The green frog with yellow stripes is out of breath.

He takes a leap forward, and forward, and forward again. Yet, he’s never where he wants to be. Tomorrow, he sighs. Tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow. Still, despite all his forward momentum, despite all his undulation, he stays firmly (he would say unfairly) rooted in the present.

In the present where he doesn’t notice the chill of the pond water on his skin, or the taste of the flies he haphazardly catches, or the smell of budding lilies. He goes through the motions because tomorrow, tomorrow is where he needs to be. He’s a stubborn guy. Despite his failure to throw himself into tomorrow, he doesn’t stop from thinking one day, some day, tomorrow will happen when he needs.

The yellow frog with green stripes can’t breathe.

She takes one look back, and slowly pushes air out of her lungs. Another look back, and even farther, and even farther still. Yet, she’s never where she wants to be. Yesterday, she sighs. Yesterday, yesterday, yesterday. Still, despite the craning of her neck, despite her refusal to move, she stays firmly (she would say unfairly) rooted in the present.

In the present where she doesn’t notice the quiet arrival of spring with its longer days and warmer nights, or the transformation of the tadpoles that once swum beneath her, or anything really, except her memories of a better day. She goes through the motions because yesterday, yesterday is where she needs to be. Suffice to say, it’s never yesterday. She has a stubborn resolve, though, one proportional to her sadness. Yesterday, yesterday she was happier. She can’t stop herself from thinking one day, some day, yesterday will happen again.

The green frog with yellow stripes and the yellow frog with green stripes won’t notice each other. They won’t ever collide on the pond or plane of the present. Though they exist here, they refuse to acknowledge it. And with that, they slam the lily pad down on happiness, friendship, love — on anything more.

It only takes a moment though, a second of hesitation to break free from all these patterns. Takes only a breath to notice the flashes of green and yellow in the corner of their eyes.