Fairytale No. 1
Someone left a beanbag on the roof but I’m not sure who it was. I saw it yesterday from the sidewalk because this building only goes up three stories and also maybe because I was wearing my glasses for the first time since last April. The next step seemed like forced entrance so obviously I break into the building after the security guard goes home and that’s when I see it up close. It wasn’t hard like I thought it would be, the breaking in.
Tonight, the sky is the kind of sky you feel compelled to take pictures of but the pictures aren’t any good and you know this because you have fifty seven photographs of the same white dot not to mention that entire album dedicated to sunsets that look like shit but it’s sort of lovely how you always try even though you know all this already.
An airplane sounds like prolonged thunder if you’re not paying attention. Last weekend, I placed my chin in your hand as though you were a porcelain plate and I was trying not to break anything. I hate it. I want your fingers to touch my mandible. I want you to tell me what erosion feels like. The human body is a shape and all those things we rub up against and everything that rubs up against us means that we’re all just clay. This is my theory.
If I tell you to read the dents in my bone, will you lie and say my insides looks pretty?
I never sit in the beanbag because it doesn’t belong to me. And it rained yesterday so it’s heavy with rainwater, weeping as I sit beside it. The most I ever do is let the concrete burn my thighs pink and rest my cheek on the cool surface. I try to ask how it feels, once. Not twice though.
B-side of that record we forgot to flip
Floor to ceiling and she never bought blinds. Doesn’t like curtains and she thinks they are the most lovely things, windows. The squares of light around here blink off around ten or earlier even. She supposes her own soul is a yellow lighthouse in such dark waters. Sometimes but not often she wonders if other people look into hers like she sees into theirs. Right now, her nose is a smudge on glass, a fogged breath all blue, the blurred living room a few streets over but so perfectly across. There is a woman dancing with her lover, off beat and barefoot on thin slipping rug, and she imagines the woman is identical to her, but she can’t really tell.
Maybe the woman is really a dog walking on its hind legs, only playing at human. Or an old, gray cat settling in for the night. Maybe the woman is a woman closer to her mother’s age, ugly underneath fluorescents and daylight, and she is a fool thinking they’re the same. Maybe the woman is a man. A wisp of dust bunny some dead landlord will never sweep. She can’t tell if perhaps the apartment parallel to her own is empty. She always feels like her rib cage is and it breaks her bones, knowing no one can imagine that far.
She sees mostly shadows because she is awake mostly at night. There is something sexual, not quite romantic, about other people’s outlines, but of course she can’t put her finger on what exactly it is. She knows they remind her of hooking up. Fucking, panting lips open wide then never speaking after. This may seem sad, but she rather likes knowing someone for just the briefest sliver of time. She draws her curtains closed.
“Once, I fell in love with a shadow,” she tells her ex who is beautiful in an obvious way. She doesn’t tell her ex that she never sleeps, not really. Her eyes are red and dry and always a bit weepy.
Which her? It’s hard to tell.
Her ex asks: “Was it my shadow?”
No but “yes.”
They break up in an obvious way.
If she thinks about windows long enough, she becomes afraid. She has a habit of scaring herself but she never stops looking in and she never knows what she’s looking for and maybe it’s nothing but maybe she should have some hazy idea. Outlines are solid, safe, secure, but she has no idea what exists between them. No one will tell her. She won’t ever ask.
She has a theory that most people have bad insides. She has a theory that her insides are rotten and clumping. She has a theory for pretty much everything. She is starting to think that she thinks about windows too much. She peers out of her lighthouse now and spots a crashing ship. Probably imagines the dark pair of eyes staring into her light ones miles across the city, not so far away. She digs around in the couch cushions for her silenced phone. Orders blinds for her too large windows.
Court Ludwick is the author of These Strange Bodies (ELJ Editions, 2024), and the founding editor-in-chief of Broken Antler Magazine. Her words have appeared or are forthcoming in Archetype, West Trade Review, Full House Literary, Oxford Magazine, Jet Fuel Review, New Note Poetry, Sweet Tooth, Watershed Review, Red Noise Collective, and elsewhere.