wormwood, pt. 38

I might need to tangle myself in the degenerate plant of a strange little vine.

Meanwhile, in the subway tunnels, Rosalind and Nicole drank. At first the sound of the meteors impacting the city above worried them, but the warm glow of the absinthe soon took what fear they had away. They drank until the world made sense--at least, as much sense as it can when viewed through a filter of wormwood.

"This," Rosalind declared at length, "is stupid."

"I wasn't planning on getting smart, Rose."

"Not that. Though that too." Rose sighed. "Plans and apocalypses. The world is over no matter what we do. So we're just running around like, like--"

"Chickens with our heads cut off?"

"Like chicks with our heads cut off. Except prettier, in your case. But the point is, what's the point?"

"Not having our heads cut off, maybe?"

"You are making making a point very difficult, Nicole."

"Sorry, Rose."

"My point is, uh." Rosalind frowned. "What was my point, Nicole?"

There was a long pause before Nicole responded. "Less hiding, less running around, less planning. The end is here and we are fucked and it is time to make the rest of our time the best fucking time we can make it. Your point is you are too wonderful to waste all your time thinking of a way out of this when there is no way out of this."

"Yeah, that." Pause. "Do you want to wait it out here, or should we follow the rails and see where that goes?"

"Sometimes I don't think you listen to your ideas very much."

"Hey, bite me. It's hard to pay attention to my ideas when you're the one telling me what they are."


forget about me

You never told me your secrets, so I guess they stayed safe with me.

It's a funny thing when an evening of seething misanthropy ends with that odd reminiscing over old times and opportunities I couldn't have missed because I never even had them. A girl across the ocean who never quite confessed her secrets, who loved the words that I wrote in a way that most people didn't, who loved my ironies. Everything always comes back to the same things in the end, even if we forget about them for years.

But there were always oceans in the way, so there were just words--important words, perhaps, words that stayed in my subconscious, but just words. Words, stories, fables, and the curious comfort of a definite answer to a 'what if?' And then one day there was nothing at all. And I wondered, but there's no good wondering.

But nobody else was able to grasp those things I was too afraid to actually express. So I hid and I obfuscated and everyone else just assumed I was saying something profound. I never was, of course, and I'll never forget the woman who called me out on it.


why i'm lonely

I. She worries that it is too soon to call. Is it too soon to call? Is there even such a thing anymore in these days when we all have our cell phones with us all the time? She decides that she will call him after she finishes her beer.

II. A pen and ink. Some paper. A written apology. She deserves nothing less. The words come quickly:

We both said some hurtful things tonight. I lost my temper. I'm sorry. But I have spent so much time in my life being something less than sincere, apologizing for telling the truth, and I am done with that. I could have phrased it more delicately, but I want you to know that there is no excuse for what you have done, and just as I cannot apologize for calling you out, I cannot forgive you for it.

I know I cannot send this letter. I know that I have to finish it.

III. She laughs at my jokes, sincerely. In a world of polite laughter she finds me genuinely funny. So much happened tonight, but at the Port Authority bus terminal late that night, as the haze of cheap wine fades and I wait for a 3 am bus home, I can still hear her laughter.

IV. She opens another beer and decides to start watching some French film on Netflix. After that, perhaps. There's always after that.

V. We are drunk together and kissing in the street--on the hoods of cars, in the abandoned park. I am ostensibly walking her home. "My boyfriend is out of town," she says, and I feel guilty that I don't feel guilty, and then feel guilty for declining her invitation to come inside.

VI. Another movie, another beer, and now it's fast approaching midnight. Nobody actually goes to bed before midnight anymore, but you can't call people that late. And now she's missed the window, she is certain, and she can never call him now.

VII. Am I depressed, or just afraid of everything? Does it matter?

VIII. We had a beautiful thing for a very short period of time, and then it faded like city snow. Now it is over, I try to convince myself that, like snow, this was meant for the country, to cover the hills of New England for months, until something green and beautiful and alive springs from under it. We could have made the rivers flood, if only the city hadn't been in our way.

IX. In order to become a patientsincere man, I have lost all patience. I will not be conciliatory when I should be fighting. I will not apologize when I should be demanding apology. I will not compromise my values to make someone else happy. Tonight I have no company but a bottle of dark beer and a movie on Netflix. This is what victory looks like now.


wormwood, pt. 37

Did you ever wonder why we had to run for shelter while the promise of a brave new world unfurled beneath a clear blue sky?

Winston made a decision when he saw the smoking crater outside. He decided that there was nothing that would make him decide to sit on a boat in the middle of the ocean while the stars were falling from the sky--although, he corrected himself, they weren't actual stars, it was probably just a freak meteor storm. That kind of thing must happen sometimes.

He tried calling Rosalind, but her phone didn't even ring. He decided that she was probably dead, along with Nicole. He decided that he would stay here. When he announced this to his companions, they did not welcome the news.

"Are you crazy, kid? This city's falling to bits. We need to get out of here."

"And hope that was the only meteor falling tonight?"

The man hesitated. "I'd rather be outside than in when they fall. Buried alive is no way to go. And you can see 'em coming."

"Then go."

"Not without this." The man hefted the bag of things Winston had been carrying, along with that of himself and his wife. "As compensation for our wasted time."

"Fine! Take it!" He considered calling Rosalind and mentioning that his companions had robbed him--but the phone would still be dead, wouldn't it? She was probably dead still. That took some getting used to. How could that even happen? "If you're boat's even still there," he said quietly.

The man fled. His wife lingered to add, "I hope you make it. You seem like a nice boy." Then she, too, was gone, leaving Winston with his new companions, who were already moving to take shelter in the basement.