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Sometimes I wonder if people notice how short the sleeves of my jacket are. It’s 1:13 AM and this is the thought that stands out to me. I am leaving the library, slipping from the last step and standing abruptly on the ground, the rhythmic motion stopped short. I try to pull my sleeves down around my hands as I walk, thinking, questioning this place that I live but don’t really know. It’s dark and calm, and before I realize it my steps have slowed and I am standing in the middle of the street. The lights of the library are still on, along with a few lights from dorm rooms and street lamps illuminating the night. I have been so many different versions of myself in that very spot, having switched skins daily without a second thought. I’ve raced down this street late for class, sipping iced tea on a hot day, drunk on laughter after dinner, or drunk on liquor and holding hands with a boy I barely know.
How do we compact so many aspects of life into one body, into one human? How can feelings so huge, colossal and meaningful squish themselves into our hearts, pressing and squeezing until your chest is close to bursting? On this road I have walked and ran, driven and flown, the pavement acting as a side note, a detail on the way to the actual story. The real events, the memories, the excitement and life.
It is 1:14 AM and I can’t remember the events. It seems as though someone else has purchased the rights to my memories, and I can no longer access them, they are smothered under legal terms and copyrights. I feel clean, empty and bare, my mind a cavern of air and silence, the sound pressing against the walls and trying to find purchase in the bones of my skull. They aren’t trying to escape. They are trying to let something, anything in. They are desperate, and I don’t care.
Let me be, I think, the winds ignoring my desire and continuing their search for an opening. Good luck with that, I think, and start walking again. The moon hangs low, glowing behind heavy branches of auburn leaves. I try to pull my sleeves down over my hands again, forgetting that this is impossible.
I imagine tunnels beneath the roads, passages to anyplace in the world. There is magic and lightness and freedom and laughter. I see it like a mirage, a tunnel hidden for the few to find, but oh is it worth it. It is 1:16 AM and I long for anywhere but here. Anywhere but this place. I trace circles on my thigh, and dream of elsewhere.