« back to article: FICTION: Opening the Dam

Page 4

I’ve watched men burn through her. They are taken with her and she is too much. She’s not trivial and she takes nothing lightly. They leave for easier, more certain things.Some of them used to be good friends of mine. But a thing like that changes everything.


    I want to write letters to those precious few men that have been good. I’ve known plenty of neutral men, but only a few that I miss with a falling-forward sort of depth. Like looking for a door in a dark hallway that never appears—your body leans forward in anticipation, but only ever with anticipation and it is exhausting. I want to yell at the others, the ones that burn bridges before they’re built. But all they’d hear is p-r-i-d-e and I’d be tearing at pages trying to read them the pictures.


    It’s here that I wish pain was like chemistry. I wish people could be reactants and the product always balanced. Like adding and subtracting atoms and molecules until things didn’t hurt so much. I think we try to do that but sometimes a rogue element gets overloaded and zings off into space or something. The body heals itself and we try to follow suit.


    There’s a dam on the river north of town. It’s the same river that had the logs, and that foolish bird. I told her I wanted to be the hydrologist that gets to decide when to open and close the dam. And then I say it’s a big job and maybe I don’t want it. I almost burned my house to the ground once baking a pie. How could I be trusted with a river? I’d be letting it flow and flow and before I knew it we’d all be under water. She said she’d trust me with it. I think we trust the man who does it because we don’t know him. He’s the perfect hydrologist, infallible because we don’t see him brush his teeth and roll through stop signs. I’m glad I don’t know him. I might not be able to sleep through the rain if I did.


    One day I told her I wonder if birds feel how we feel in flying dreams while they’re awake. Or do they have dreams that they can only walk and it’s somehow exhilarating?