Lauren Sarrantonio

Ecstasy, Existentialism, and Eggs

While getting to know you, I recorded anecdotes, thoughts, questions, answers, anything onto index cards because it is the fastest flash of reverie I could get without having to inject anything. Sometimes they’re scattered in my drawer, or I find some random jail breakers face down on the floor. I pick up the parts of me on paper. Sometimes I slip them into your coat pockets.

2.

I held my breath and tilted my head into the wind. There were train tracks we needed to cross and then we’d finally make it to the venue through this breath-sucking weather. “Do you think it’s sold out?” I manage to sough my own cloud into the chilled air.

“We’ll keep our fingers crossed.” You slipped me a blue pill split in half and before it could dissolve in my hand, I jammed it under my tongue. You had a way of pulling off plans unmade. When I get mad at you I call it getting whatever you want.

One night while staring at my ceiling in the dark, we thought out loud. What does it mean to be happy? Like happiness, friendship is a skill that goes utterly misunderstood until acquired. But what constitutes a friend? How do the two meet and harmonize in three parts? What is the third part of that harmony?

We decided. We were on a mission to achieve a song.

“It’s already 5 a.m.—we might as well stay up for the rest of the night.” I’m not sure who said this because by now you’ve instilled a voice in me, and I in you. But maybe it was never said aloud, like most things, because the silence between us is the most effective form of communication. Intense, intergalactic soundlessness. This was after the concert that was, in fact, not sold out after all.

We stayed up all night to bake a cake in a cooking pot that wasn’t ours. We’d ricochet between a spoonful of chocolate and a confession of who we used to be. I told you about my tragic attachment to a girl who has passed away at sixteen. We both lost her in high school but I had lost a childhood friend, while you lost the one thing that maybe you might love. We’re now nocturnal kids who are both convinced that ghosts exist. I still joke with you that our ghost is the third part of our harmony.

Remember in the parking lot of McDonald’s in Buffalo around midnight? We blasted Bassnectar through our new friend’s car speakers and hopped out to dance in the late August air. The woman alone in the car behind laughed at us. We laughed with her.

On the drive back to Nowheresville I found a place to hold our heads in the backseat of a new friend’s car. In between the headrests we laid back, looked up. The rear window was our lens to an ocean of crystals hanging on a small wall of the Milky Way. Our faces reflected in the view. The stars became scars on our faces. I wanted to know the story to every one.

11.

We were scrambling eggs for dinner. In my dorm’s communal refrigerator you found a thirty rack of Bud Light and I snatched it without a second thought. I was a much more mindful thief before you came around.

We rejoiced in free drinks and a cheap meal and you threw your hands at the ceiling, “This is all thanks to the EGGS!”

I wiggled the cooking pan around the stove to disperse heat. “Thank you, eggs.”

 

You ripped open the thirty rack. We were both past our years of bent and broken innocence but this could help us forget.

We migrated to the common room. Our energies were anchors set so soundly that the cleaning ladies had to vacuum around in the morning. I think we’re always scaring spectators.

Before the sun rose, you led me to a valley’s worth of dying cornfields. I was hesitant about climbing through scraps of pollution and vegetation that bordered the highway and the farmland, but you convinced me. We made sure to forget our shoes.

Past that rough transition, we never noticed the sun come because we were busy venturing. We found tiny globular cities away from civilization, a drop of dew on a three-leaf clover. I hid between the wilting cornstalks and leaped out in front of you, “BAH!”

Your jump scattered crows away in every direction and our laughter echoed off of them.

Heavy bellied skies followed us with rain. It poured so hard the air looked like a vertical white noise you get when your grandma’s television can’t get any signal.

That rain followed us but you taught me that sometimes we have to follow rain.

Remember the harsh damp walk back into the daylight? I wore dead plants in my damp hair that hung like a Medal of Honor.

Please don’t cut your hair. This is the longest it’s ever grown and it’s starting to look like mine, tangled and thrown but blonder. If you cut your hair there won’t be any place for dangling plants to catch onto and hang like a Medal of Honor.

October brought brave pursuits. I asked you if you’d like to walk to Fallbrook, the local waterfall and preserve, even though I hate heights. I hate oncoming traffic. We walked against the current of the highway and kicked our fears in the face with every step. Though I jump at the sight of an eighteen-wheeler.

Once we got to the place where the path in the woods meets the road, we followed it over to the top of the waterfall. It undoubtedly that takes its time. The creek fell slowly off the side of the cliff, as if to tease me. We had laid parallel to each other on our stomachs. I squirmed with anxiety, but you encouraged me to dangle my head over the edge alongside yours. We saw a hole of water and ice and thinning trees from birds-eye-view. Heights distance me from the earth but it makes being next to you worlds closer.

On the walk home you tell me about your brothers and I tell you about my dead pets. It’s hardly at all about the conversation and all about how long we dare to look each other in the eye.

Just a few days ago we laid parallel again, but this time in the middle of a cold concrete hallway on a knit blanket and mere mattress pad as an excuse to sleep beside each other. You told me, “I’m just… really excited—I feel like a little kid” and I wondered if that translated to, “I love you.”

On a bad day you took me to the children’s section of the library to play with puppets through the bookshelves. While you animated a dull pink pig with your hands I spotted a sign taped to the side one of the bookshelves that read, “Have you ever really seen a tree?” It made my heart pump tears out of my eyes.

I looked at you worrisome and back at all the leaves and branches pictured below the words on the sign. Austrian Pine, Pitch Pine, Red Pine, Scotch Pine, Norway Spruce, Douglas Fir, Japanese Larch, Red Maple, to think that I’ve ignored the deliberate distinctions all my life because I was wrapped up in my own bark, trying to cling to my own foliage, and learning to let go, like them, when the time comes. To think I never gave them any notice when they’ve been my breath. To think my skin was anything more than bark. But you knew it was more than knowing which trees are which. I told you I was born a human, not a Red Spruce, living long and rooted strong at up to eighty feet through whatever weather. I was born a human, not some humble Hickory despite the height.I admitted to you that I don’t hold feather-nests, though sometimes my chest feels like something’s fluttering inside. I apologized for a lot of things that day. For being human. You smiled as if to suck out my sorry with that same silence that could kill us both.

I insisted that my voice was lost, not because I was sick, but because I was tired of having to talk. You nodded and pulled a blank sheet of loose-leaf paper out and smacked it down on the table in front of us, alongside a pen. You wrote the words: You first.

I posed the question: What is something you wonder about me?

Before you began to answer, you leaned over and scribbled, as if out of compulsion: I’m so proud that you’re my best friend.

You continued:

I wonder how much of you is something I’ve constructed in my mind, if you actually exist, I wonder how long you’ll be around, though I try not to. I wonder, do other people get to experience each other this way? I wonder if this is as special for you as it is for me, and if you’ve been through something similar. I wonder how many times you pee over the course of twenty-four hours. I wonder what the significant events in your life are that shaped you into this being. I wonder if you think it’s weird that I just wanna fuck my mom and that I’m using you ever since our conversation about Freud. Just kidding. But not really. I wonder, what would you would do in life if we split now and you had ten years to yourself? I wonder how much you doubt me, I wonder

The page ran out of space before you finished that last thought. Intense, intergalactic soundlessness.

I flipped our conversation on paper over and titled the new page with: Which of those questions would you like me to answer?

You wrote: None please.

I replied: Thank god.


 

Have You Ever Really Seen a Tree?

In the children’s section of the library there was a sign taped to the side of the bookshelf that read, “Have you ever really seen a tree?” and it made my heart pump tears out of my eyes for the first time in weeks. Now I’m sitting worrisomely in my art history lecture, thinking of all the leaves and branches pictured below the words on the sign. Austrian Pine, Pitch Pine, Red Pine, Scotch Pine, Norway Spruce, Douglas Fir, Japanese Larch, Red Maple, to think that I’ve ignored the deliberate distinctions all my life because I was wrapped up in my own bark, trying to cling to my own birthed beauties that are their foliage, and learning to let go, like them, when the time comes. To think I never gave them any notice when they’ve been my breath. To think my skin was anything more than bark. I’m sorry. I’m sorry for the selfishness, but I was born a human, not a Red Spruce, living long and rooted strong at up to eighty feet through whatever weather. I was born a human, not some humble Hickory despite the height. I’m sorry. I don’t hold nests of feathery families, though sometimes my chest feels like something’s fluttering inside.

I was born a human, and I’m sorry.

 

 

Lauren Sarrantonio is native to Long Island, NY and is currently studying at State University of New York at Geneseo. She majors in English with a concentration in creative writing and a minor in art history. Her poetry is forthcoming in MiNT Magazine. Lauren’s poetry was also featured in the June 2014 exhibition by Teen Art Gallery, recognized by The New York Times in 2011. She has been previously published by ReadWave, The Lamron and Thought Catalog. She anticipates living abroad in Florence next semester and writing through her travels.

X