sometimes I gather into wherever the wind blows and watch as mama leaves her love behind to chase after the butterflies my papa raised in his spare time, between picking the tobacco and rustling together the money to purchase that tractor we always needed to make our carnival rides the very most that small children ever wanted to see, dad always complained about the truth we spilled doing what we loved most, eating the fruits of their labor, always the reddest ones off the top that we needed to scarf down, hot off the grill, leaving the little tracks in the dirt where you can see behind you for miles what you left but not why. I always liked the thought of not needing, of being so inflatable with gas and pressure and praise that my cheeks pinked to the perfect medium rare, over the moon with envy for the sweet opportunity I had to impress her, music flowing freely from my fingers and my toes, sand grating on the soft webbed skin, leaving marks and wishes for what might have been, had we achieved everything we wanted to, nothing we didn’t, nothing they wanted, pushing on us with their expectations and promises of mundanity that they chase us with, always running so fast towards things they can’t see, escaping the dread of the past, the shame of doing exactly what they did and didn’t want to do, forever knowing the crops would have grown if only they had, if only they had, if only they had. I never did, I never will, not to spite them, just to transcend the expectations of what they did, because I’m hungry, two corn on the cobs isn’t enough to sate the need of my intestine, my appendix, my poor liver crying for reprieve, haunting me from the inside out, never knowing the glossiness of the things I pour into her, goldschlager and amber liquids and the promises of people who promised only half of themselves, only portions of what they had to give, holding back in favor of finding more, finding the satiety, finding the fulfillment that I am not big enough, smart enough, lovely enough to offer, too much and simultaneously not enough, a second thought and a bursting to the front leading the way CHARGE type of person, I never knew the pain my words could inflict until I let others hurt me, tears brimming 24/7 I find myself hurting for the love I don’t get and the love I can’t give and wondering where in the world there is equal exchange, a currency transaction where people get what they need and give what they don’t and why the concept of selfishness prevents this, why people want what they don’t need and sing songs that aren’t in their key and lament over people they don’t know who they’ve created in their minds to fill an expectation they know they don’t deserve to have, what a comedy of errors it is, begging for heartache and sadness and each affirmation is just a chunk of ice floating away from the iceberg that sunk us all, down to the cold dark depths, but some people have masks, tanks, air, yet they don’t share, breathing freely and watching everyone else slowly fade away, sink down to the bottom, leave behind the ones they knew and depended on for a breath, just a breath, just a chance to swim up up up towards a top they can’t see, they don’t know if it’s even there, are we even going up or sideways, left or right, who knows? They swim around us, laughter bubbling from their lips in every direction, they don’t care they can do this forever, this is their meat and potatoes, their gills expand and bloom around them, pulling in nutrients to lungs that used to match ours but no longer do, they thrive on things we starve while stuffing ourselves with, aspirating on the desiccated crumbs. There’s never a chance to grow when you live in wanting and we chase those that don’t, stupidly wanting what they have and never realizing that it won’t be achieved, won’t be a possibility, they won’t even have a chance of turning and seeing us until we relinquish the leash they pull by their neck, dragging us along and forward on a journey we don’t know and can’t understand and that pulls us deeper and deeper into a place we can’t comprehend and weren’t ready for but we’re there now and how are we going to learn when we skipped steps, we’re faking the whole thing, there’s no chance or opportunity for us to catch up so it’s fake it ‘til you make it, offer what you have, watch people learn from you and scoff at what they think they now know without realizing it is so much more than you, so much more than you ever could, you are losing yourself in a sense of superiority you have no right having, you fool, you scoundrel, you absolute hound, you deserve nothing at all past the grease on your lips, left from the dark meat you knew you wanted, socked away to sustain yourself in whatever futile mess you’ve embarked on, the music playing in your mind never fades below a dull roar and you wish there was more to what you’re achieving, something that will do what you can’t comprehend or estimate, and you hate yourself for knowing that if there is, you’ll never know, you can’t know, because if you do that negates the very nature of the thing you intended to create, you desperately wished to push into the universe around you, forever leaving a mark as though you mattered, and isn’t that the crux of what we all want?

*Feature image created for Pipeline Artists by Antissima

Alyssa Buchthal is a writer of all forms based in L.A. Living through perennially tumultuous times, Alyssa’s works embody vulnerability and softness in the face of an often-cruel world.
More posts by Alyssa Buchthal.
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