I have been thirsty for silence. Silence like seltzer from a just-cracked can, the fizz stinging the tongue on its way towards the long glug. Like a steaming shower on jittery limbs. Like when you’ve just gotten out of the ocean with tentacled hair clinging to pink shoulders, and you reach for a sun-squashed, sand-battered plastic water bottle, and the warm water tastes syrupy-sweet, and you realize that water has had flavor this whole time. Thirsty.
If this were any other year, there’s so much I’d want to show you and tell you about. About the first roasted tomatoes of the season, bubbling under their blistered skins, devoured three days in a row for lunch or dinner because why. would anyone. ever. eat anything. else. About the pillow-soft figs, how the cracked and too-tender ones are the sweetest ones. About the sunset that drenched the sky in the same aching amber as the ripening peaches.
The only sound is the snickering of candles we’ve arranged on the edge of the sink and the closed toilet seat, their flames flickering gold on our forehead sweat. Is the occasional swoosh of the shallow water that we swirl with our bath-puckered hands, just to sense movement. Is the steady tide of lungs, inhaling and exhaling the thick steam and incense smoke. It’s as if we’re cocooned in this small apartment bathroom and in the smooth edges of its bathtub, smaller still. I start thinking about how four square walls can be a jail cell or can be a cozy nest, depending on context.
It began as jumbled mumbling before it crescendoed to a regular, raucous chorus in the background music of my mind: Write more. You must return to writing. You are a writer, and a writer must write.
We clink through the glass mason jars on the shadowy shelf in the cellar, squinting to read the Sharpie labels in the dark, and select an intriguing pint of pickles, prepared and preserved from last summer’s cucumbers we weren’t here to witness being grown. The stems of dill wriggle in the dusky brine like jellyfish tentacles. We carry the jar upstairs to the kitchen counter, plopping it next to the sink that’s spilled with sunlight from the wide, square window above it, and crack the metal lid with a knife, then take turns dipping our fingers inside to fish for soft, slimy spears of pimpled green.