The Very Last Thing
One tiny insufficient winter, the whole world gradually blew away. Every minute, every hour, every day, a little bit – robin’s egg, paper plane, rogue pizza menu –was gone. It took everyone time to realize that there were pieces missing – here a patch of sky, there a story. Split pea soup, down feathers, the speed of something fading in a sunbaked photo. When they started to notice, everyone wanted somewhere to go, somewhere they could hold on and not lose too much, not disappear. So everyone went to a tiny insufficient cave. The good thing about caves is that even though they are made of stone, they are warm like a belly or a memory. They are fortified. They will not crumble when everything else does.
Everybody clamored to gain entry to the cave. Because they knew the world was receding, they took small care of one another. Here’s an extra hoodie. Here’s tea, still warm. Here’s a song, partially sung. Nobody knew the shape of kindness, exactly, but kindness was what was left. “What is kindness supposed to look like?” Some small child asked, and grownups hemmed and hawed, unsure how to answer. People tripped and fell, and were left behind. Most everyone made it into the cave. Some people got hurt. Some didn’t know how stay whole here, from sunny world to this tiny sudden dark. Everyone was kind and unkind at one time or another. That is what one adult finally told the small child, the most honest thing she could think of to say. Everyone clucked affirmation. It was true.
Everyone lit fire in this cave, painted its walls, celebrated. Outside the cave, winter was fading slowly. Dandelions. Deer. Brown paper. Coffee. Swatches of floor and of sky. Inside the cave, everyone held tight, holding whatever they loved, whatever they had left. The cave grew warmer because everyone was in it. Later, things started to disappear even from inside the cave. Small wooden toys. Promises. Books. Swatches of earth. Everyone understood then that everything would always blow away. They held tight as they could to everything. They braced themselves against the cave’s walls until the cave itself blew away, all in one piece, everyone inside. The warmth was unbearable. Everyone flew. Everything came into view. Kindness. A sigh. Everyone realizing. They were leaving, yes, but they were going somewhere else.
Temim Fruchter is an essayist and fiction writer who lives in Washington, DC. She believes in magic and in queer possibility. She is co-founder of the Mount Pleasant Poetry Project, and her first chapbook, I Wanted Just To Be Soft, came out on Anomalous Press in April 2016. Her work has appeared in [PANK], Tupelo Quarterly, The Washington City Paper, The Account and the Tishman Review, among others. More at temimfruchter.wordpress.com
Photo by Severi Karevesi