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The evening light affords you no secrecy. Your feet crunch against the pebbles and whisps of detritus from the trees and Mojave bushes around you. You sigh. Your hair is flat against your forehead. You smell the lust in the dust of the people who walked this path before you.
Something catches in your throat as you draw another ragged breath. A muted phrase of comprehension, the dry air deprived of humidity, or cough due to your seasonal cold? You couldn’t be certain. Sometimes you feel the weight of your lungs rising and falling beneath your clavicle. You stopped asking why a long time ago.
You continue on. The evening becomes night before you know it.
You silenced the music coming from your earbuds twenty minutes ago. You liked the self-imposed censorship of another artist’s mad canvas of love from invigorating you into a creative frenzy. There’s something about the melodies in the silence that brings you sour comfort on this cool autumn night.
There’s sweat pooling in the nape of your neck. Your lower back reminds you of the accident you suffered last spring on your tailbone for the briefest of moments. Are you really walking that fast? Maybe you should slow down. Cool down. Let Mother Nature bring your body’s temperature to an equilibrium.
You’re ugly when you cry.
Do you dare to dream of moving on from here? Is that something you deserve right now at this moment? An air conditioner creaks to life in the immediate distance, shuddering and whining. The Fear scares you but you refuse to put a name to it. It has no power so long as you deprive it of its strength. But you can’t outrun it forever.
A family of coyotes howls. Their insistent fussing vibrates in your teeth. You’re intimately connected to them now. You can hear their stories because they imprint on you as your footfalls clang against the gray sidewalk. You give them names, titles. Bob the Father. Alice. The Mother. Gregory. The eldest son. Barbara Ann. The adopted middle child. Millicent. The baby who survived from the last birth. Colonizer names for the colonized.
You keep walking. Don’t stop, says the voice in your head. You don’t plan to. It’s not the right time.