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a peaceful protest

I was 16, and the thought of being forced to mention God as part of the pledge of allegiance was too hypocritical an act for me to play along with. Each day of high school began with this mundane recitation, as most people just stood with their hand jutting from a hip, the other dangling across their chest as they counted out the seconds until they could sit back down. They leaned against desks, and talked through it about what party and where it would be, if there would be a keg or a bonfire in the woods. I recited the words, omitting the "under God" part as a sort of half-baked protest. I was raised to flaunt my family's ramshackle atheism, as a choice of smug pride. We knew better, was the prevailing logic.

But one day, I could not stand and say any of it. It felt so rote, so hollow, so devoid of choice. There was no law that said I was required to say it. I knew this was my right, a form of free speech. My homeroom teacher was a legendary drinker, a trash-talking re…

another life


There must be people that are not influenced by the seasons, or the weather. Rain must leave them unchanged. Snow may not fall in pirouettes outside their windows, then later on piss-stained piles. The sun must not finger into rooms late in the afternoon, drawing the edges of chairs and tables, buttery and warm. And at night, the streetlights must not feel like sleeping guards, leaning against the sky. The scatter of gravel under a car wheel, the wet thump of garbage thrown, the low moan of the trucks as they take it away. The smell of ice, antiseptic and sour. The smell of fresh cut grass.

I am sure they do not appreciate a fresh cup of coffee, foam dancing around the edges. Or a cup of tea, ruddy brown and wobbling in your mouth as you sip. Or a cold glass of water in the middle of the night, slugged back with the refrigerator door wide open.

None of this matters to them. They are not ruled by the whim of wind and sun. They do not stare out of windows, waiting for answers. They do not take that step back, saying "When winter is over I'll start."

I do not wonder about that life.
Give me the endless Russian snow, because it gives me time. Give me the loneliest streetlight and I will paint a portrait of him.





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