Ain’t living long like this
Anything fits once you’ve stopped running.
The boy leaves and returns to the sad town; like swapping flu spit. Big world! Big world! Big world! He came from one of those colossal cities where it was all money and letting others know you were doing something. Ever fanciful, he pays sixty bucks for an old suitcase with a broken latch and tells his friends he’s going to try and see some of it.
In the sweaty history of somewhere new, the boy relaxes into cold drinks and easy introductions. Boozy conversations don’t fixate, and in the swirls of topics, his problems are specks, the kind you can only read with one eye closed—the men with guitars play with the feeling they’ve seen some shit but still know the rhythm of laughter, a tune to live by.
People work here but don’t look it: everyone’s fat and smoking and takes their coffee with heavy cream because heavy cream is delicious and it’s a smoking kind of world. Lips curl over yellow teeth in that kissable way. The boy re-wears the same shirt three days in a row, because anything fits nice once you’ve stopped running.
In the mountains, storm clouds gather over the tips, you can watch them glow for hours before any rain makes landfall. Everything in the desert is a threat or a blessing, and the ghosts who have replaced the trees whisper of their rapes. “You’ll be back!” the bellhop grins. The boy feels equilibrium, as much as he’s come to know it, empty for empty in the dry heat.
On the beach the boy feels small. Big world! Big world! Big world! But the sun bakes his wine and the shores are too white. A sandy sliver the skyscrapers pissed, some dude is toying with a drone and the world becomes small again. It’s then the boy wonders if he could go all the way: live in the country with the bugs and rashes and no midnight takeout. Could he learn to cook and grow a long beard, which he’d twist until it looks like a rat tail for the times he gets whiskey lonely and to thinking of colossal cities? Like the straw hat hanging on the closet door he puts on whenever he feels too Jewish. Which costume will he wear, whichever fits right today, he supposes, I suppose.
Jacob Seferian is a writer and editor living in New York City. His work has appeared in over 13 magazines, and he is the Editorial Director of CH-VOID.
+ IMAGERY: Sophie Marsh ( @serpentofvenus )