TWO FLASH PIECES
by Taylor Lorenzo
How to Climb the Rope in Gym Class
When you reach the top, do not ring the bell. Keep climbing. Don’t stop until you have broken through the roof. The air will be cool when you take your first gasp of breath on the other side. You will notice you have not broken through the shingles of the roof. Instead, you’ll find yourself in clean-shaven grass. In front of you, there will be a golf ball tee. Place your chin on the tee and let go of the rope. Let your muscles relax as your body dangles in the gym. The students below will form a line to take their turn at ringing the bell of your body. When someone has finally climbed high enough to reach the tip of your toes, you can do one of two things: 1) Measure the tenderness of their touch; if it is delicate, let them climb the stillness of your anatomy; they will cling to you as long as you remain still. 2) If their first grasp is tight around the ankles, kick and thrust your body, violently, until they have lost their grip; until they have fallen 20 ft. onto the hard, waxed floor; until your shoes fly off your feet; until your head slides off the tee. Let your body slip back down into the hands of the students in the gymnasium below. Before they cheer your name, before they plead to take photos with you, in your barefoot landing, you will hear what I have been meaning to tell you: Always ask others to remove their shoes before letting them step on the welcome mat of your body.
You aren’t seventeen anymore. Look into your black coffee. Your skin is white enough to create a reflection, and your face forms new creases that you must introduce yourself to. Every day you wake up singing the same song, and every day that song becomes a year older on the Billboard list. Think about your childhood and realize you don’t remember the excruciating detail, only the vague relation to a seven-year-old girl who memorized every country’s name on a world map. You can’t recall the names of these countries, and you can’t remember your first kiss. You can, however, remember two nights ago at the bar when a bearded man bought you a beer. You remember how bitter it tasted. Get up. Walk to your car in twelve strides and drive to your friend’s house. She will be there making a tomato basil stew with one hand and throwing a seventy-two-inch vase with the other. Stare at the curve of the vase. Stare at the curve of your waist to your hip. See how smooth the vase is. See the hillsides of your stomach. When she focuses two eyes on the stew, walk over to the wheel and knock over the vase. As she screams, apologize, not to her, but to your body: a soft, broken apology.
Taylor Lorenzo is a graduate student at Missouri State University and currently serves as a Poetry Editor for Fields Magazine and an Assistant Fiction Editor for Moon City Review. Her work has appeared in The Cossack Review, Wu-Wei Fashion Mag, and Metatron’s online journal.