• Flux Magazine

"and then there was one" by Tyler Zeanah

we were children. constantly tired from trying to grow into adults every day and feeling

like failures in the long-winded lists of anxieties sitting to soak in murky water like dishes

from the weekend and it’s Monday. commitments were tricky, consistency was still far

off. setting alarms on our cell phones, we would crawl into her unmade bed between

noon and 3 p.m. regularly. tucking our insecurities underneath white, tossed pillows

because the world expected a lot from us in our twenties and we were still trying and

recovering existentially from trying to be normal and make it to work and class on the

same day. we coped with taquitos and sour cream, sex and the city, weed, and

distracting each other from being alone with ourselves and our thoughts. depression

isn’t such a scary unnamable thing living in your house when you have a friend who

also knows there are several shades for the color “empty wall,” and each of them reads

like a synonym for numb. we were in love with other people but relationships hurt

regardless and our breakup was the number one natural disaster my heart ever lived


we weren’t children anymore. swaying and clinking vodka ice glasses in your backyard,

laughing and spilling ourselves all over the floor. we smiled wider than we thought our

faces knew how and what a relief to learn. disconnecting from ourselves was our only

chance at peace; a minute, we begged for even a split second, a gulp of air, a long blink

before opening our eyes to face the question marks, the rattling earthquakes in our

minds. to shake with that pure, unadulterated laughter and have no fear had to come

from the silent loneliness of uncertainty in each simple decision. i see us in slow motion

now, backwards in time - we learned we could force the universe to pause if only for the

smooth rhythm of a song in the car with the windows down - that kind of reprieve we

found in the safety we built in each other all came from the extra gratitude in finding it

was actually possible to live in the moment sometimes. we tried. we always tried. and

when we cried with exhaustion in the morning, we went back to sleep together to wake

up and try again.

we loved like vines reaching for the sunlight, intertwined, connected to the same stem,

unfolding into each other until we broke through the blinds of the window and the sun

didn’t want us anymore. we burned in the brightness and lashed out. left dried flowers

on the dashboard in my car when you loved me; they’re still there and you don’t

anymore. we sacrificed limbs in an instant as if they weren’t always attached to our bodies. propagation is painful when you grew something in the soil together. the days

the nights, the nutrients, the fights trying to get it right - the water, the temperature, the

shade, the space, the reassurance, the hope i had we would make it to each other’s

wedding. then we’re yelling in your bedroom the first time. pulling branches from roots in

the first fuck you’s we fired at each other as if our mouths were loaded for weeks. when

you love so much, you hurt the same and we relearned this; but what if i can’t decide

which was more real? the loving or the hurting?

we sank in your dad’s driveway, secrets hurled like last chances that came and went

and we come and go instead. out of each other live’s as if i never drove to your house to

collapse in your arms to cry about what hurts me. and i miss you and you call me drunk

to say you miss me too. we fought for your birthday and i took someone else to the

concert in San Francisco. i invited you to mine the next year and you didn’t come. you

fuck my brother and i don't care cause i love you both and maybe this means i will get to

love you forever now. but then i’m jealous and i run away to Lake Tahoe because you

can forgive him every time and not me this time. this was the first fight i learned we were

capable of disappointing each other past coming back from. and that was that, wasn’t

it? your aquamarine eyes never looked at mine with the same appreciative secret -

where we knew we built that little world together to withstand the worst times - but we

couldn’t go back now. not together. the children we were grieved and said goodbye to

their best friends at the end of the most memorable, unending summer. we couldn’t

laugh together the same if we tried next year, and we knew it now without saying. we’re

both too tired to try to reincarnate something we murdered. there was gossip we were

lovers but what is it supposed to look like if you just loved each other unconditionally?

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