In Irons

 

/in/ /ˈī(ə)rns/

Trapped, unable to bear away or move forward. You can go sternway and let yourself be carried back, reverse helm and choose to turn around, or slip sideways, losing distance–raising daggerboard–to change the course you’re on. There’s a fourth option: hiking out as hard as you can into the eye of the storm.

She’s in a cold lot with a warm pizza they argue over because he bought. She’s begging him to take it but he has to know by the fire behind her eyes that she means her, damn the pizza, take her and make it better. Fix this love– whatever it is she threw on the floor and shattered. He doesn’t get it, or maybe he does and this is his way of shaming her, watching her scramble to pick up the pieces and set everything back in order before she has to admit that anything was broken in the first place. That’s it, that’s her resolve. She’ll stand there and look him straight in his face, heart pounding, and tell him that she’s proud and that he’s a good man. That’s her way of sweeping it under the carpet and pushing him toward the door before he sees the cracks. And she does it. She waits until he crosses the lot, gets into his car. She sees the brake lights and watches him not stalling, not stopping, all the while making up her mind that his mind is made, and then he’s gone.  It’s only when she tastes the iron–she’s biting hard on her lip–that she realizes she hasn’t taken a breath. The rush of air and the weight of her resolve buckles her knees and she sobs with a fierceness that could rattle all their demons. She got him out the door but couldn’t get it closed before the room was flooded with regret. She has more to worry about than what she smashed; now it’s washed away,  and she’s lost to a wave of understanding about what she’s done. She feels everything– it’s the first time she’s felt the loss and it threatens to crush her heart and tear her lungs. She wipes both hands across her face and down her neck, stopping at her throat where she pulls and grabs for the breath she can’t catch, over and over and over and over…Until she does. Methodically and as if it hadn’t happened at all, she moves from the pavement toward a harbor she alone knows. Steadfast, with a fixed gaze and bitter air hitting her swollen face, she does what she always has: she pushes on.

Photo by John C. Lewis
Photo by John C. Lewis
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