Toll
May 28, 2021

We were turning freakish after a few months inside. The pair below evidenced the transformation with a nightly conjugal horror show. Mad love, mad hate, all the same from above. Loss of community and forced confinement will do that, no matter how many screens and speakers surround you. Who knew? We all thought we would make comfortable hermits and monks, that our consciousness would expand, that we would come into contact with the eternal light of the universe, or that even God might grace us if we accepted our solitude nobly, with open hearts. After all, everyone was on everyone’s nerves. You could taste the venom. But if we were meant to be alone, evolution would have made it easier. No one ever talks about the changes wrought by solitude, the metamorphosis. No one ever tells you how truly abominable being alone is. My eyes began to drift apart, threatening my ears with demotion to my cheeks. My nose had lengthened and widened and had grown a little horn. I couldn’t help but stare at it in the mirror with horror and flick it with my fingernail. It smarted, but not as much as my teeth. My teeth had taken on a life of their own, kicking out a rotten few and giving the remaining works that rustic wooden fence aesthetic every cattleman enjoys. Personally, I’m afraid of horses, and they know this. But despite all our differences let us agree that we can still agree on many things. For instance, who doesn’t like the Rock? Who doesn’t like pizza? Everything else is up in the air, perhaps. And it’s true our nerves will reject such claims as caprice and folly and continue buzzing alarm. Also true perhaps: our zeal for connection cannot help but be thwarted by natural forces more powerful than us. Our flesh is but fruit hung in orchards, waiting for the squirrels to feast or the rot to start. Let us put aside our calculations and promotional pamphlets and look each other in the eye like ancient Greek philosophers. For you, it would mean leaning in and ignoring or forgiving the sheer monstrousness of what you must perceive. What did this poor man do to himself? What am I looking at? Where’s the door? Someone show me the fucking door. Part of me hoped I was simply going through a psychological phase; another considered the commercial possibilities. The field is wide open for anatomical rearrangement, however attained. Savages yearn for wounds, they say. Thankfully, the masks enforced by medical experts kept enough of my face concealed that no one cried for help or pulled an alarm or attacked me. Must be that time — I hear screaming downstairs. What is it now? What the hell are they doing now?


Photo by Juan Pablo Serrano Arenas from Pexels

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