My Hidden Lives // Prose

152. blank slate


„I’m so tired,“ I say to the Medicine Man as he lays next to me, cinnamon and caramel wrapped up in white sheets. His long hair spills over my shoulder like a blanket as he leans in to kiss my cheek.

„Do you want me to sing you to sleep?“

„I’d much rather a story,“ I whisper and trace my finger down the length of his forearm, scars and ink and negative space. „Tell me what this one means.“

„I’ve told you a million times already.“

„Tell me again.“

The Medicine Man spins a web of stories then, his words coil around our bed until dawn. The faded seagull I caressed is a reminder of his father, the sailor, who roamed around the world until they had to amputate his leg because of an unfortunate encounter with Somalian pirates. Afterwards, he bought a small house in the middle of the bay and stayed there for a couple of years, a fish trapped inside of a bowl. One morning, he took a small boat out to sea and nobody saw him again.

„Do you miss him?“

„Every day.“

„Don’t you wish you could forget sometimes?“

„Not a thing.“

I wish I were as brave, to have all of my life out for show like that, to have the courage to start over without erasing everything that came before. I wish I had the motivation to learn from my mistakes and not sweep them under the bed. I wish I had a past worth telling.

„How do you live with so much truth out in the open,“ I ask and kiss his painted skin, a book, a diary. A living, breathing, flexing autobiography. „How do you live with so much loss?“

„By making it into gain, little bird. By drawing a picture.“

The Medicine Man holds me close, then closer still, until I am but another two dimensional character etched on his surface. He turns and opens his hand for me to see the swallow on his palm.

„I don’t like being so close to all those other ghosts from your past,“ I say.

He closes his hand around the bird until his knuckles are almost white.

„Don’t worry. You’re always firmly in my grip.“

Although I suppose I should object, say something in line with my feminist beliefs, I really am too tired. I’ve lost myself so many times in the last couple of days, it feels good to know someone is keeping something of what I used to be safe.

„You won’t forget me, then?“

„Not a feather, not a song, not a thing.“


You think, therefore you are.

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