In our dark little room, a reading lamp illuminates your way into the worlds of Catcher in the Rye. Jaws. Catch 22. 1984. Animal Farm. Fahrenheit 451. The Lottery. You’ve turned from dark little me to these goddamned books. Can’t you be the wife you once were? The woman I loved before words re-opened your mind? The woman who served me cold oatmeal for dinner. The woman who ruthlessly cut down young saplings to make way for our Ring of Gloom. We are not meant to live in the Now or in the enlightenment of Catcher in the Rye, but here where our life is hard and dark and feeds upon us. Let’s stomp and sway again at the frightening crack of dawn, us in our misshapen clothes and long black hair never borne the adultery of scissors. Then hot spots of victory, dominance and deranged merriment nudge up your cheekbones. I fooled you! I fooled you! you chant in our dark little room. You laugh and scream at your trick on dark little me. We kick out the reading lamp, dance like twirling dirges and from our dark little room we’re quick to our Ring of Gloom. Build our fire high. Your white teeth, like the former fluttering of pages, flash in the flames. You rip pages out with authority for you are certified bitter and tortured and you are back in the fold with dark little me on the mountainside. We kick flimsy paper pages into leaping flames. Catcher in the Rye. Gone With the Wind. And at the frightening crack of dawn, they find us.
AJ Atwater is a Minnesota/Manhattan abstract painter and literary fiction writer with stories forthcoming or published in Literary Orphans, The Gravity of the Thing, PANK, Vestal Review, Crack the Spine, Cowboy Jamboree, Heavy Feather Review, Barely South Review and others. ajatwater.com.