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The International Writers Magazine: Letter

Fleeting Moments
Kathleen Radigan
When you see red paint on a piece of paper, or a trace of lingering emotion that someone was struggling to keep hidden crawl across their face.


When you see cuts like scabbed rubies swimming up and down somebody’s arms, carved with intention, or when you listen to someone speak in gorgeous colorful rivers and the words unlock springs in your stomach, an avalanche of untapped amazement sliding through.  Or what about when you watch chubby fingers squishing bugs for sport, every petrified insect brought at once to  an untimely smashing. When you see a boy walking down the street alone at night and you’re possessed by the itch to tell him Everything, or when you cry because you’re in love with someone who is too perfect to actually exist, and there is no mayonnaise in your house and a spider web of whitewashed internet encounters cannot satisfy the fire in your stomach for somebody to Bounce Things Off.  When your friends surrender innocence and lock themselves behind glass where you can no longer touch them and feel their thoughts crawl across their face; or maybe you’re the one behind glass: the main exhibit in a secret people zoo (pay 5$ to look in close then leave).

What about when you laugh so hard you feel like you’ve been knocked off your axis, gravity forgotten, vision obscured by the stomach pounding serendipity of funniness? When someone must’ve just forgot to call you back?  When you’re informed that women are from venus and men from jupiter, when a kid in a flannel shirt calls you “weird.” When you smell a book for the very first time - openings and closings. The feeling of stepping, self-conscious through hallways separated into clumps, Ugg boots and bad haircuts and good haircuts and wearing shirts that hide your arms. When you idolize somebody and they smile at you and say “that’s my favorite book too!” When you’re floating like a feather on the surface of a swimming pool. Autumn leaves in swimming pools.  The smell of changes, of wind licking your bare shoulders, different tastes in your mouth.  Hanging over your bed, limp and ugly and undesirable, mangled by words poking jagged holes in your pure self. Buying polka dotted pants because why not? Watching the sun rise from someone elses’ bathroom window: the smell of strange shampoos and tiled walls and hair curled like a kitten in the drain. Forgetting to fold the laundry and put the plates back in proper array.

The man in the wifebeater who pulls up next to you in his navy blue truck, whistling and yelling ‘dayum gurl you fine need a ride?!’ and feeling angry because you’re a woman and you’re walking helplessly by yourself and he could take you and rip the sleeves off yourself right here if he wanted to. Sighing when he finally passes. Wishing you had powers, wishing you were free.  When you start to write and you cannot stop, hand bobbing up and down definitively like a buoy to your self, a foreign extension of your body wired directly to the world.  Blurry eyed and faintly hungry at 2 in the morning, when you’re sucking on a sour apple jolly rancher.

When you’re crying and you’re not sure why, when a dream has revitalized your being, when you discover that you are everyone you’ve ever met, fingerprinted, internalized.   When chicken or fish is the hardest decision to make.  When you just want to listen to somebody sing
I’m right over here.

© Kathleen Radigan Feb 2011

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