Staying sweet

Calm yourself, Charlotte, calm yourself. Hasn’t that always been the traditional pacifier? Stay sweet. Peace is over the next hill.

But there are no hills, just this flatness. Footsteps that stretch for miles, no barriers to create even an echo, just blunt, rustling corn that has its own strange voice. Calm yourself. Stay sweet. You’ve walked, what, two miles? You should see your home soon, that’s the only advantage of the flatness, you can see what’s ahead from miles away. But the illusion of waves from the road distort the distance. There are no markers, no mail boxes, no trees to lend perspective, no hills to strive for, just this straight, distorted line of road. And the heat, Lord, the heat. Not a cloud to be seen.

Remember the powdery clouds of spring, thin, near transparent silk. Skim milk clouds. And in autumn, those September clouds that could turn mean, but when they didn’t, they were piled like snow, thick frothy clouds you could grab by the handful if you arms could reach. But summer, this summer, just this greasy blue, this frying pan sky. Calm yourself, Charlotte. Stay sweet.

It’s all a guise, you know. Staying sweet. Where did I get that? Why was it bestowed upon me that I be the sweet one? If a person has no voice, they must be filled with sugar. Any complaint is sour, and they think you have an unkind disposition, a bitter outlook. Sweet is better, silence is preferred. But what if I wanted – needed – to talk back? You’re not being very sweet, honey, you need to stay sweet. Peace is over the next hill. What hill? Show me these hills and I’ll climb them, if only to get away from the aggravation and isolation. I never asked for a tall sky. Maybe I wanted a short box of a sky, with trees and rooftops I could see. Maybe I wanted clouds I could reach and pull down like curtains. This grand, tall sky lends no perspective to who I am, or could be. I feel swallowed by Leviathan, digested every day, until the sweetness is gone, like a depleted piece of candy.

Calm yourself, Charlotte, you almost half way there. Half way to what? To rest. A glass of ice water and a chair. Half way to a place with some shadows. You can turn on the box fan, turn on the radio if you want. You can pace the floor of your own kitchen and wait. Wait for what? Wait for whatever’s beyond the next hill.

And wait. And wait.


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