In the days after there was much talk of precious minerals, of rare stones. Our hearts went from being rubies to emeralds, a slow transmutation we did not notice until the blood ran dry. In those days the palette was more limited, the reactions predictable. I looked you up on a Thursday afternoon and we glowed green together, cut off our heels and tossed them in the furnace. I held you close in a way that reminded us of physical strength. My body was a cash machine, my mouth spouting silver coins, my feet trailing gold to pave the way to your apartment. Your roommate was not home that night, was never home, did not live with you. Your roommate was a giraffe you had seen roaming the streets one night and claimed for your own. Each time you saw her you grew a little rustier, the revelation of secret desire, so long hidden, slowing your step. You would summon me by messenger and recite short stories in my ear, beg for oil, for maps, for airborne magic, and in return I would ask only for a warm red, for an onyx carapace falling away to reveal a shorn pink, for the courage to return home.
I found Jolene’s lipstick in my brother’s truck. To apologize, she volunteered to tie the cinderblocks around his lifeless feet.
“Don’t—” I begged.
My fall was no accident. Jolene’s cousin loves prescribed candy.
“It’s love,” I promised.
She started scribbling.
Heidi had dyed her hair and fled to the Hillbilly Underground Railroad: a haven for ex-meth cooks and multi-offender shoplifters.
Now I’m outside Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Shoulder throbbing.
“Heidi,” The Wal-Mart P.A. announces.
“Heidi to Customer Service.”
there are details about my bedroom that can be analyzed and turned into broad character assumptions
when i went on ‘wheel of fortune’ every word ended up being ‘death’ and i never guessed it
if i wear enough black clothing i can dissociate from my body and watch myself from above
the stripes on my blanket make me think of a race track where the road only goes straight and when you reach a certain point the track curves off and you fall off the face of the earth
i have been practicing holding my breath; i can hold my breath for almost three minutes now, watch me
i will write poems in the margins of the book i lend you and you will read the notes and send me a picture message of a poem glued to your forehead
i once found a lizard on a rock island in the middle of a lake and i left the lizard because i was scared the lizard would bite me; can lizards swim?
when i held you tightly during a thunderstorm you told me my arms were too cold
you told me to count how many times i think of you in a day and i told you i couldn’t because i only have ten fingers and ten toes
when i think about ‘church’ i feel an indescribable sickness, like i am led on a leash by an old man and have to run a marathon, but my mouth, nose and eyes are forced closed
whenever i hear an ‘interesting’ fact, i file the fact in my memory; one day i will compile enough ‘interesting’ facts to become an ‘interesting’ person who will attract other people
when i meet someone new i introduce myself with, ‘hi, i’m james. i can eat eight hotdogs.’
i keep a tally by my dresser of how many times people accuse me of being autistic and question whether i feel ‘emotion’
i want to ask every person on earth to explain what the word ‘emotion’ means to them in a 100,000 word essay
my thought process is usually inactive unless i am on a drug and if i am on a drug i only want to escape my thoughts because they are too lucid
i have not remembered a dream in four years
is there a pill i can take to revert to a past version of myself?
You can find James’s work over at http://7monkeysinawheelbarrow.blogspot.com/