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after December; or, an exercise in delusional optimism after December, everything will be all right again. (after fourteen days; after summer; after winter; after summer again, and now, after December. this time, it will stick.) call your Congress member, they said. I did. the girl who picked up the phone couldn’t have been much older than I am. I said, “what are we going to do, before it’s all right again? before we get to after December?” she said, “thank you for calling.” I said, “no, you don’t understand. we need an autopsy.” see, after December is the white sky behind the grey tin roof. once upon a time, someone wanted that roof to be red. it is still stained with chips of paint. what can be erased? what can’t? or maybe after December the broken pieces won’t matter anymore. it’s the cracks and holes that let in the light, isn't it? (they let in the cold too, but after December the cold won’t matter anymore either.) after December my fingers will not shiver, and the little monsters that live under my kneecaps and behind my sternum and in the chewed-up insides of my lips will go and live somewhere else. maybe, in the umbrella stand at a public library. after December. not a time, really, but a place. when I get there, maybe I’ll buy a plane ticket. I’ll buy a plane ticket and go somewhere else. somewhere warm. maybe, California. maybe palm trees and orchid-pink skies. after December, I’ll paint a mural on that California sky with brushes made of poppies and cactus flowers and sidewalk chalk and I’ll peel an orange, perfectly sun-ripened and bite into a section and smile as the sweet, honey-colored juice drips down my face and I’ll wander through a museum alone and stop and stare at the same painting for hours but after December it will be just because it is beautiful and not because I want to escape. after December, I’ll call my Congress member again. “cancel the autopsy,” I’ll say. “no one is dead or dying.”


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