I woke up in the middle of the night, got out of bed, turned the lights I don’t usually use in my office, and wrote this.
The rain is especially acidic today. I know this for a fact because my skin is red and itching. But the rash isn’t raised, so I know I don’t need to be alarmed.
The grass is struggling as much as my skin; hovering between a hue that is not quite green and not quite brown. It doesn’t crunch under my feet, but it isn’t exactly springing back straight after being stepped upon.
While I am leaving small sandal-shaped artifacts on the acid-grass, there is a figure. Wait. A person. This person looks like something out of a museum because the way his spine is curved isn’t something real people can do.
His skin is paper that has the thickness and texture sure to impress any hiring manager that would review your resume. His hair is black, but not shiny because the acid rain has taken it’s vitality and given it back to the grass that is just getting by.
I see him because he sees me first. It doesn’t seem like he has an opinion about me, or the shapes my sandals are leaving on the grass, specifically stepping as if I were treading on snow.
I extend my hand in the direction of his, and he examines it only out of his peripheral vision. I think I am looking at him with most of my eye-attention, but it is hard to focus on anything completely these days.
In my periphery, I see a couple not dressed for the weather wading through the water that I am guesstimating to have the pH level of ~5 due to the condition of my skin. I am getting used to the rash, but I will need to be sure to apply my ointment later, lest my skin starts to flake in an effort to heal itself.
His hand is soft. If he has been out here long, it is hard to say, because I see no sign of acidic sensitivities. I pull him up, and something that must be his other arm slides out of the gray earth. It was the kind of sliding in the kind of way that ground up meat product is injected into plastic casing that is made to taste like intestinal lining and is just edible enough.
It is limp, gray, and bloodless.
I touch the arm and start to rub it to get the blood back inside. He is still only looking at me sideways. I don’t know why I am doing this as I am doing what I am doing. I put both hands on the arm and attempts to make all of the gray go away. The arm is twisted and shriveled because it has forgotten what to do with itself.
This person doesn’t seem to mind, and only sees me sideways.
When I feel like I have done all I can, which is when my shoulders become sore and hike themselves up next to my ears in order to displace all effort elsewhere, he raises his chin, just a little. He has a nice profile. The kind of profile that gives you more information about a person than a profile usually would. Without moving his head, his body moves in the direction that his eyes were watching me. His eyes shift to catch up, just a little.
I can’t tell the difference between his pupils and his iris because his eyes are so dark and because of the weather. The weather puts a sheet between us, which is probably why it felt safe enough to do all of this in the first place.
He sees me like regular people see for a moment, and then the wind blows, and he is gone.
The grass is still somewhere between brown and green. By now, green grass is just a pastoral dream that we use as a basis for comparison to the current grass. Only no one really does anything to get it back.
I kept walking- making my sandal prints in the grass. I looked at them sideways and relaxed my shoulders.
Even still, I have no destination. So I just stand.
Then I sit in the grass where he was. This pocket of atmosphere is cooler and dryer than the usual March. The hole where his arm was is gone, healed up the way gums heal when you floss too hard. I lay my cheek where I speculate the hole was, and I am tired.
I almost can’t remember him, nor the wind that carried him away.
Does this mean I am changed, or is all of this just field notes?