A Narrow Escape


You’ve felt a warming for months. The cream walls look peach to you. The shower water cannot cool enough. The best you can get is room temperature from pulling the knob all the way to C. You keep ice buckets beside the trays in your freezer to stockpile. You keep all your liquids in the refrigerator door.  

You used to slide your hands into rice when you were young. You used to bury your hands in sand still wet from higher tides. You’d sit for hours submerged, thinking of the lives of the crabs that are charting paths around your fingers. You’d let mountains crumble off your knuckles as you unearthed and raised your hands, always sad to know that you’d eventually leave the beach, that the sun would blast through the cloud coverage and heat the cool spot you’d found.

Lately your clothes do not fit. You stretch and pull them over your body, everything feels like an unwanted embrace. You don’t want to be held down. Work keeps you tethered to a timeline. You arrive barely on time. You leave a minute too late, always finding the doors closing on your train, always staring at rats on the tracks, slipping in between old wrappers and used tissues. They must have it good down there, in constant cool dark.  

How does one leave a life? You write in script in a notebook from a past relationship. He’d given you the thing, wide lines within it, yellow and orange butterflies on the cover flying over light blue outlines of illustrated New York City landmarks. Cool and Warm. Blue and Yellow. His name was Sam. Hirsute Sam. His knuckles were dark with hair. You used to imagine him slipping out during full moons. You used to picture him tearing tendons from a bone. You imagined him tracing your spine with sharp claws before sinking his teeth in between the base of your neck and your shoulder. He would have delicately moved your hair to clear the way for his meal, and the delicate way he would have done it would have ruined the whole thing.

When you were young there was a cave very far from this city. Bad stories surrounded it about bad things that happened within it, and bad spirits that lived on. You used to spend whole days there. Kids out looking for a scare would turn a corner and there you’d be, reading by the lantern, under a blanket. All you had to do was acknowledge them and they’d run screaming.

You could just slip out. You could disappear, leave the keys on the kitchen table and leave the window cracked the way it always is. You’d take the fire escape. You’d adjust your dress to any pervert eyes below. You’d leave everything as it is. You’d leave no note, no explanation, you’d simply vanish. When they came looking for the body, after months of mail deliveries and missing rent checks, they wouldn’t find a bad odor or unpleasant smell. They’d find a perfectly clean place that is too warm in the winter and too warm in the summer. They’d find the small vague signs of paths that you traveled and places you’ve been. They’d find the outline of your life.