Breath & Shadow
Volume 6, Issue 2
"Good as Gold"
On a fresh, dewy day in May, where the woods of Maine approach the coast, I stood in the riding ring at Bush Brook Stable, home of Ever After Mustang Rescue, feeling like an idiot while I waved around a carrot. I was trying to get the dang horse to let me pat his neck. Patting, so normal for ninety-eight percent of horses, was utterly out of the question for Good as Gold. He nearly jumped out of his horsey skin the first time I made a light slapping noise on his neck. His fear was large, as was mine, although for completely different reasons. Or so I thought at the time.
"Let’s Make a Deal"
Spring teased them with new life that year. Shiny new leaves on the maples, gaudy new flowers in Trinity's gardens, fuzzy new baby llamas shyly peeking from around their mamas' flanks. Trinity fervently hoped that Peyton's white cells were also newly replenished and ready to stand guard against recurrence. The October mastectomy had tricked Peyton's hobgoblin into submission. For now.
She stood behind Peyton, arms around her waist, both of them facing the antique mirror. Peyton's right breast was familiar and beautiful, holding its own admirably against the gravitational pull of forty-plus years. Her left breast was gone, replaced by a bubble-gum pink half-moon scar. Trinity ached to touch the scar, lick it, throw Peyton on the bed and ravish her for a change. But she restrained herself, trying to be sensitive to Pey's feelings.
I am not on fire. Not on fire. I have to convince myself not to let my arms jerk open to swing where they might catch the air. Every part of me wants to, every part of me hurts. Every singular molecule of my being is radiating with misery. I used to be proud that I did this every day. That I let myself breathe in and out the intolerable--but always shockingly bearable crushing of physical hurt and that panicked starvation for relief. It was never coming, and the pain was undoubtedly never ending. But it had ended--and if not ended had at least become livable-- manageable and beautifully noiseless in its daily existence in my life. For months I've been just fine...
"The Bathroom Battle"
Tatiana Hamboyan Harrison
Every day in elementary school, an aide follows me around, including into the bathroom. It's the epic humiliation: having an adult go into the bathroom with you. It doesn't matter whether or not the other kids know about it. I know it, and it makes me feel ashamed that I can't even go to the bathroom by myself.
It's not even that I can't use the toilet alone or have trouble getting on and off the seat. I wear spandex pants every day because I can't do zippers or buttons.
"The Urban Funeral"
On a moonlit walk through the cemetery
One is never alone
No more can the weary dead rest in peace
With all this damn racket
Boy-racers zooming past, broken bottles
Clanging on the fence...