There’s a little ring-neck snake I’ve been observing for months.
When I first saw him he was only two inches long.
A tiny worm slithering across the pavement, basking.
Soon he was almost six inches long.
I felt comfortable enough to pick him up by then and on my way into/out of work I’d go look for him and pick him up and see if he was healthy.
Sometimes I’d give him little bottle caps of water and eat lunch next to his favorite spot.
And one day I was coming into work and I saw the ring-neck laid out on the sidewalk.
His head was completely smashed, disintegrated -- like there never was a head in the first place.
Just a rotten smush attached to a long ribcage.
I couldn’t even move.
I just stood there, staring down at him.
My last brain cell murdered.
Eyesight narrowing into blackness.
Because that’s always how it happens.
You struggle and grow and survive, somehow, and then a boot comes out of the sky and smashes your fucking skull against the pavement.
Spit in the sink and know there will be red in the foam before it ever slinks from my mouth.
See a moth struggling in the running sink water.
Wonder how I hadn’t noticed it yet.
Look in the mirror and feel distinctly inhuman in my wrinkly graphic tee.
Notice the moth again which is now turned on its back/side and rapidly taking on water.
Its dying, bleeding dust from its wings into the drain.
Feel guilty and look away, toward the cabinet.
So many bottles of vitamins.
Like, hundreds of dollars of vitamins.
Count the days since I started taking all these vitamins (96) and recognize that number as 1/4th of a year.
Seems like a long time.
And nothing has changed.
I feel the same.
Keep brushing my teeth, bleed harder.
And nothing changes still.
Spit blood on the moth corpse.
And nothing changes still.
I want to talk to people.
I want to hear them, too.
I want and continue wanting.
But still, you know?
Haha, like, I want to smile at people and mean it.
I try to be nice, but, about halfway through a gesture or a compliment this sour taste in my mouth makes me feel real nauseas and I wind up vomiting and twitching like the head of a rabbit shot through the spine.
My mom says when I was young that I was the sweetest boy in the whole world.
She says that I would talk to everybody; that we could be in the supermarket and I’d see the lobsters in the tank there and get very sad about it and go up to strangers to tell them lobster facts.
Lobsters are invertebrates, lobsters may cannibalize other/smaller lobsters, lobsters cannot see well… they navigate mostly by smell.
They don’t sell live lobsters in the grocery store anymore, but I still regret not ever being able to save one of them.
Or maybe I don’t.
Maybe I just want to be a sweet little boy again.
But I can’t/won’t/whatever.
I’d like to talk to strangers for no reason other than us existing at the exact same place at the exact same time, which is really special if you think about it and really fucking stupid if you think about it too much.
But I open my mouth and cannot speak.
Can’t even whisper.