/ Theo Erickson (Writer), Helen Huang (Illustrator)
Fiction — 1 min reading time
I get dizzy looking up at the tops of eucalyptuses. Tens of birds chatter in a particular patch of trees, rising whoops and wavering chirps. Wounds of bark peel from new skin. Blue sky glares through fragrant leaves. Nearby, the twisted oaks’ branches curl and smoke. The cold air burns straight through my chest. The eucalyptus trunk is deceptively slender from a distance, and on windy days, I imagine being crushed.
The grass glows after it rains. I want to shove my nose in it and go green in the lungs. I think there’ll be plenty of time to get acquainted when I’m dead. In the summer, the grass is yellow, and trumpets sound a cacophony where the horizon presses against blue sky. When I see yellow dusk on blue water, the world flips. The blinding white glare presses into my eyes until the ground lurches back and my skull connects with oblivion.
Small birds cluster on power lines as the evening dims. They burst upwards in quick flaps, then hold their wings close to the body and fall. Instant by instant, they arc and twist between damp grass and darkening clouds. Underneath my bones, my lungs expand with wet greenery. The birds alight among the leaves of a tall tree and become movements in the half-light.
How can I describe a sunset? I gape at firmaments slowly revealed like organs under ribs. Spots and streaks of clouds bloom pink. My bones fill with air. The world tilts upwards, till I think I could reach the end of the earth and walk off the horizon at the end of Redwood Hill.
The sky blazes. Clouds smolder and my hair ignites. I don’t think there’s anything left to burn but a heart that’s breaking open. The enigma of my breath meets purple twilight and the capillary joins the vein. Tears drip down my face. The only thing that walks back home is a ghost wearing my clothes.