The Passed Note Issue 6 February 2018 - Page 39

After Papa got sick, too, they took him out, and now there is a different man in his spot. I don’t know his name, but sometimes he shakes soundlessly. There’s a boy somewhere close who does nothing but cry and I want to tell him to stop, that he should save all the moisture he can because we won’t have any more water for a long time. I want to tell him I know this because after they took my Papa, I cried until I felt all wrung out, like a used washcloth.

But I don’t say anything. I don’t know where he is exactly, or if he is even really a boy. I could reach out maybe and try and touch him, offer the comfort of my hand, but he may not be able to reach it or may not know it is there or, like me, he may have too many hands touching him already. Prying, poking, and grabbing. I want to scream, “STOP TOUCHING ME!” But it feels like I cannot draw enough breath to do so.

The boy or girl may long for the sky, even a stormy one or a grey one, like I do. Something high, higher than this boat, than the buildings we lived in, than the planes that bombed us. The air would fill with the dust of the streets and the rubble that resulted, but at least there was air to fill. At least it moved and slid around you, teasing your hair, your skin, your clothes.

Here there is hot breath and foul odors from too many people in too small of a space. I feel like I am breathing in others’ expelled breath, and sometimes my heart beats so hard and fast because I don’t think there is enough oxygen in here. I smell pee, and sweat, and vomit, and all the other fluids that come out of a person, whether they want them to or not. We all leak, eventually. Here it has nowhere to go, so we sit in it. We lie in it. We rock in it. I worry sometimes that maybe we’ll drown in it. Drown in a boat, in the sea.