Fiction · Gallimaufry

The You Not Looking

Something’s been holding back the words. It might be the version of me that’ll read these lines one day. Winding me down back roads toward a painted horizon, as fabricated as one on the set of an old western. Pulling my eyes from the one I’m driving towards. Still something’s been holding back the words.

My pen’s been tapping on my head, hitting anything but the page. I reckon it’s the version of you I won’t be able to describe that’s got me worrying so. I can no longer be your chronicler. You exist beyond this pad of paper. I can only put you here if it’s the you I let stay in the bright of my mind. So it seems the you I’m writing now is the version I’ll be clinging to. Now my pen’s tapping out a scratchy rhythm as it’s streaking across the page.

The words slide on out with the help of a rockabilly record I set spinning. This dirty yellow canvass fills right up with smeared scrawls. My hand is spongy like an inkpad. You could never make out what it said when I got to scribbling. So the you not looking now still couldn’t read them marks anyhow. They slide on out, those words of mine, and my ink-stained hand cuts its own record. Spin on, spin on.

I’d say to keep an eye out in whatever’s going to come. For there’ll be an imprint of you pressed in every line, but you never saw yourself as my words make you out to be. There’ll be time enough for living, darling dear, so stop working out what might have happened. It’s the you who sees these words who’s the you I’ve learned not to fear.

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