fresh air

recycled homework assignment by Rachel Landau, ’16

“Mom, I’m going outside,” Edith said as she closed the front door behind her. A casual walk, she smirked, intending to never return.

She wanted the evening at the end of the driveway. A faster disappearing time. Isolate the musical consistent pounding of neckblood overcoming gravity, she thought. Pavement footsteps plus heartbeats equal a drumbeat sound smooth. Dim those pesky neighboring house lights. Frost the air with cold, paint the night with dark, fill the mud with ice.

But instead the sun. The cut dandelions that announce themselves with a wave. That instantaneous response to wind. There would be no real night again before Summer with her belt of smoke and stars returned. April a curse of extended afternoons. The cruellest month, each day dragged by her hair into an evening of inkstreaks… The fate of those lilacs. Edith turned around to glance at the blue house. She knew then how an earthquake felt, tremors running through cracked ground with shoes half-on-half-off, blood climbing. How her parents once stood in the doorway and yelled, Won’t you come inside?

From the expansive grey sky, the first few drops of a spring storm fell. No, there would be no shaking voices at the door today, no one peering through the window, just rainwater spilling over the top steps. Edith reached the gated entrance to the baseball field. They would notice puddles and never her absence. This much it will take: A flood for forty days and forty nights. Messenger doves to get a sense of traffic near the turnpike. So God commanded.

Edith, by now at the far end of the field, arrived at the steep hill that would return her to mowed lawns and paved roads. If there were to be a flood, she decided, she’d be the first to drown. It felt good to know so much about so little. The standards of humanity unstandardized. How the clouds could drain water over her hair and never offer salvation, not even a high five. They never even asked, Won’t you come inside?

Each word miniscule compared to drops of rain. And why did she ever leave the blue house, why would anyone leave a roof and heater for an hour of April. 

So much about so little. These rotten plots unprepared to receive the truth. The flood. Nightmare suburban basement water damage. She could see it now over there that yellow colonial destroyed. Memories coveted and memories resold. The demand for weather patterns inelastic.

At least for now fresh air was free. Edith continued her walk through the neighborhood, a cell phone dead in her back pocket, the wind picking up, the storm finally ready to begin.


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