Take Off Your Socks for the Reckoning by Lindsey Clark

Take Off Your Socks for the Reckoning

I’ll give you fourteen days starting now. After that, either your body has succumbed to the virus or you’ve slid safe into home, wrapped in a luxurious, soft blanket, despite spring warming. The problem is you have to live with yourself, which you’ve been avoiding your whole life.

Take a bit of advice from an old woman: Set up your personal safety rules. Did you know I once lived in Madagascar? Venturing far from home or seeking the unknown within: both entail risk. A long way from Boston, real men steal cows for social currency. But please don’t go do that. One dangerous activity might be like getting into love with a local husband. Maybe he has the same motto as you: Work hard (but not too hard) and be good (but not too good). The union is protected, at first, by a chrysalis made thick by desire and denial. Do you need to be reminded, my dear, that it will eventually dry and crack open? What will be born from it?

It’s easy to say all this from my perch, the rocking chair on the porch, most of life behind me. That doesn’t mean I’m not right.

Some scientist used the word flamelick and it lodged in you, festering until you snagged its splintered end with a tweezers and pulled it free. You put it under the microscope for a larger-than-life view of peril. Then you added it to a collection of near-misses and close-calls kept tucked in a drawer among mothballs. (Mistakes-made and accidents-realized need not be stored for posterity. We bear their scars here. And here. And here.)

Meanwhile, you dreamt of your ex last night, I can tell. He was warm and loving and you felt you were home again. But then he let you go, like before. You woke when your feet were too hot in wool socks. How does he keep hurting you while you sleep? Well, there’s no double-jeopardy clause exempting serial heartbreakers. I want you back is only for the movies. In this new reality of ours, the only direction is forward, even as we relive the past in recurring spikes and waves. Kicking chickens is uncouth. Though do what you must to keep them from shitting on your pillow.
The knots are sanded down smooth where I sit. My forearms rest comfortably. You be me, and I’ll be the Malagasy. Just say maray koa andro: Tomorrow is another day. I’m starting to feel I am one with the rotting wood. And you: How many days are left?

The only thing Lindsey Clark enjoys as much as exploring the world is hunkering down at home to write about it. Her work has been published in a variety of journals and anthologies, and she is the author of a travel memoir, “Land of Dark and Sun.”