A Story Can Be A Sonnet, A Sonnet Can Be A Dear John
by Nichole LeFebvre
We eat grapes with our raisins. Compare the nature of dried up to new. We pick scabs off our face to make sure we look mean. We sit at work and stare at screens. We look at your photos but never like them. We are useless stretched-out sports bras. We are flinching. We are sickly sweaty sheets.
We were stalwart now we whistle. We wear ascots to the backyard. We tell everyone Happy Thursday, daily, so they think we’re insane. We are dead serious. We recognize every stranger we see. We over caffeinate. We forget to eat. We sleep in. We’re oceanic. We’re dried out. We’re expansive. We are not wrong.
We keep busy: We blot our lips on your old bed sheets. We chew plastic straws until they’re flimsy mangled roots. We schedule moisturizer into the afternoons.
We self pity. We pity the dogs dragged around the park. No. We envy the dogs dragged around the park. We miss panting. We miss you making us pant—late at night, good morning, seven times that weekend, lakeside, panting. We walk into mud puddles in our best suede shoes. We blister our toes. We knock on doors. We find unlocked cars and sit in the back seats.
We lose weight from our arms, from our face. We wear stripes to feel expansive. Watch us grow and decay. We envy all the gap teeth we see. We despise every dimpled cheek. We pull our air conditioners on leashes. We eat lychees. We chew saltines until we taste crab cakes. We carry mugs of old coffee, white curls of rotten milk. We chew ice. Ice smells like toast. We learn it’s possible to stress nosebleed. We take the subway deep into Queens.
We harden into icicles. We hate the word “harden.” We throw up thinking of you, hardening. We look at everyone who likes you. We keep ourselves sick. Empty stomachs and coffee. Empty stomachs and bourbon. Empty stomachs and Tums. We squint into the sun to feel blind, uncaring. We walk with strangers and laugh like old friends. We sprint in the snow for miles.
It’s a food poisoning feeling. A stomach churning. We lie. We describe to everyone this overwhelming relief we feel. We lie. We wished closure grew like hair. We’re too calm to care. We’re tired out. Hyperbolic. Mint in iced coffee. We’re too calm to set the clocks back. We’re cemented to the bed again calm. Lorazepam calm. We wake at 3am, 4am, 5. We wake with backaches, stomach cramps. We think, so this is vertigo. We wonder if anyone else can see the clouds shake. We admire the acid rising to cut up our throats. We hear there are people who can’t help but walk into flames. We hear we are those people.
Nichole LeFebvre won The L Magazine’s Literary Upstart competition and was published in their 2013 Summer Fiction Issue. Her stories and essays have appeared in The Butter, Gigantic Sequins, Necessary Fiction, and Bustle.com. She is currently an MFA candidate at the University of Virginia.