Absence Seizure: lapses of awareness, sometimes with staring. They begin and end abruptly, lasting only a few seconds. More common in children. Absence seizures can be so brief that they sometimes are not detected for months.
The way I remember it, we were not screaming with our words, but our eyes did the yelling as we sat facing each other in the woods. Everything seemed to be moving slowly. The wind stopped blowing through the oaks and the pines, giant fortresses who have lived through far worse in their hundreds, or thousands, of years. The water ceased to rage in the ravine below us. Every creature inhabiting the 1,168 acres surrounding us craned their heads to listen, holding their breath as they waited to see who would make the first move. Or, perhaps nothing stopped, but for a few seconds it seemed that way to me.
Our positioning made us enemies rather than partners. Although, he probably thought I was facing him so I could look into his eyes. I never wanted to see those stupid, blue irises again. I let my leg dangle over the water to challenge his ability to protect me. Coming at a time where the shavings from the chiseled absence of wood on my bedpost were becoming a burden I carried with me in a fabric bag, I had a vested interest to make this work. But I didn’t want to. My shoe slipped off and fell on a rock that had a small pool of water with millions of living creatures, one of which was undoubtedly also trying to break up with their partner but couldn’t. Everything came to life again.
When you grow up with a mullet in the quiet valley of Pennsylvania with lungs full of cancer and cement dust and no passport to your name, everything looks exotic. Especially boys from Glasgow, even sans accent.
I was fascinated with Graham from the start because he seemed utterly sad and out of control. As I positioned myself to get closer to him, his absent birth father and condom usage became a win and a challenge. I was once that convicted, until someone took the choice right away from me. I approached Graham as you would a wounded animal whose trust you needed to gain. I needed to let him know I could heal him. Protect him. My approach was to crouch down and walk slowly. To take many pauses. To never break his gaze. To reach out long before I made contact. No sudden movement. I knew what I was doing. I was in control.
I couldn’t remember any of our early days as we sat in the woods, my thoughts were on how pathetic he had become. Time stopped again. I couldn’t remember the way it terrified me when he laid alongside of me, content to sheath my sleeping body as my human bulwark. Or how he bought me candy cigarettes to fill the void once I quit. Or that he liked my family. I remembered the control I had while touching what fell between his legs. The night he let me take away his protection , I knew he trusted me too much. From there on out, I floated above my body as I waited for it to be over.
The cold concrete we were sitting on snapped me back to reality. I watched the water begin to flow below us once more and I knew it was over. I felt nothing for this man, nor any of the ones who had come before. Not for the woman I spent 8 months with. Not for the man who introduced me to my sex. Not for the ones who took away my freewill.
Graham's face was a canvas in varying layers of oil paint with drying images of hurt, fear, and loss. Feelings I wish I was able to feel. The cool water swirled about and rushed over rocks and fallen branches, and in its tumultuous path, I saw us. The distortion showed the ebb and flow of our bodies moving closer together and swaying apart, and it was beautiful. “Stop daydreaming and speak,” I heard him say.
I thought about how happy I would be to fall into the water. To hit my head on a rock and die in this moment. I hoped that Graham would jump after me and die next to me and everyone would talk about how happy we were together and how good it was we had each other in death. I believe the person who found us would smile. And, everyone would get what they wanted. Graham would have me and I would be able to commit to forever with him without fucking it up.
We lasted a few more weeks before I ran. I give myself credit that it wasn't sooner. That I wasn't swept away with the wind and the water that day by the river. I’ve thought about him often in the following years. About reaching between those legs and taking back what was rightfully mine.
I hadn’t gone back to that day by the water until years later. After I had moved out of state to be with the man who came after Graham. His family had become part and parcel to my life, even more so than he was, when he was around.
I was washing dishes when I heard the news of Sophie’s passing. It came as a shock that was immediately overshadowed by hunger. Not even the death of my friend, the one who I guiltily dreamed about kissing when I had a moment alone, could rid me of my need to eat every few hours. What was even more shocking was the nature of her death: her strong, beautiful body had fallen down the air shaft of a building where they found her splayed in the basement hours later. “But, she was a professional dancer,” everyone said confused, as if dancers shouldn’t die from falling 50 feet.
After phoning Oden to tell him of the accident and beg him to come home, I peeled back the layers of clothing that shrouded my withering body and stepped into the cold shower. Time stopped. It started. It stopped. The sound of the water brought me back to the river and lying with Graham, and to being with Sophie. I used to wish my first kiss had been from her. I cried into the stream hitting my face. I couldn’t stop. I had been crying a lot during those days. Maybe it had even lost its sincerity by then.
Two hours later, when Oden snuck into the bedroom, I pretended I was asleep. I heard the excuse of his late arrival. I decided to go out with some friends and lost track of time. Someone had mentioned mini-golf after you called, and I was just in a bad mood. I had too much to drink there. You know. I am sure you understand. I feel terrible about it. Hold me so I know you aren’t mad at me. I cannot do anything right.
Something along those lines. It has always ended with me comforting him after he screwed me over.
I thought about the previous night, when Sophie told me of her plan to move to NYC to go to med school and I asked her if I could go with her. She just smiled and chewed on her straw. I leaned over the bar and ordered another drink. Tequila, straight, on the rocks. Now the plan was off and I was stuck here, in this godforsaken shithole that he brought me to.
My tears blurred my already poor vision as his body slipped next to mine under the covers. He felt unfamiliar, and fat, and dangerous. "I am truly sorry, baby," he whispered and I knew it was not for my loss. I took a deep breath and emerged from beneath the cool sheets and floated up into the sky, above my body, as I watched him kiss the tears from my cheek.
Corrin Magditch is a writer from the mountains of Pennsylvania. Her work has been previously published by Rag Queen and self-published in countless docs on her Google Drive that will probably never be read by eyes other than her own. This is okay as she is a wonderful audience to herself and others. She is also the author of three self-published zines that are available to purchase on her collaborative online shop, Many Mothers. When she is not writing books for herself, she is busy knitting, reading, or watching Scandinavian crime dramas.