“Little Trophies” – Michelle Kelm

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I wanted to run to the smaller car, the older model Toyota, its front end crumpled like a paper bag. I wanted to run to the aid of the grey-haired woman who was visibly shaken but not visibly injured, hands over her mouth, unsure of whether to get out of her car or not. I wanted to ask if she was okay, had she hit her head, was she dizzy. I wanted to say don’t get up just yet, catch your breath, does anything hurt, help will be here soon. But I was worried she’d brush off my assistance. I was worried someone else would run faster, get there first, and I’d be left breathless in the middle of a wreck, everyone wondering what the hell I was doing.

I wanted to call 911 and report the accident, two cars, one pulling onto a busy street, poor visibility, a tough spot for a left turn, the other going too fast, but I was sure someone else was already calling, and I’d just clog up the line. I was sure someone started dialling as soon as the tires squealed and the glass fell like ice in a warm front. The operator would be audibly annoyed at another call about the same accident. I might be the third, fourth even. I’d hear it in their voice.

I wanted to help the old man sweep the debris from the intersection. He’d come out of the barbershop with a push broom and worked methodically in neat lines. He was used to pushing hair across linoleum, and the tiny slivers of glass on the rough concrete fought him, springing into the air like mist under a waterfall. He rested often, and I thought about offering a hand, but I didn’t know if he’d be insulted. If he would think I was suggesting him incapable of the assistance that he so freely provided. That he might scowl and shake his head at me, certain I must be too senseless to identify my own way to be useful.

I wanted to comfort the passenger from the other car, the newer model SUV. She was probably the girlfriend or wife of the driver, the tall man who was pacing, concerned only about his vehicle. The passenger, the woman, was now sitting on the curb, shocked and in tears. I wanted to acknowledge her upset, to see what she needed. I could go in the corner store I was standing in front of and buy her a bottle of water, a package of tissues, but I thought maybe she’d think that was stupid or the ambulance would arrive while I was in the store and they’d wrap her in a blanket and give her water and tissues, leaving me to walk home carrying water and tissues that I didn’t need, left to sit on my kitchen table. How many days would I stare at them for? Little trophies of my ineptitude.

 

these words by Michelle Kelm were inspired by the work of Sylwia Kowalczyk

mosquitos

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“I fell in love with you the first time I saw you fall off a horse.”

Her eyes are watery, glistening in their sockets. I can’t tell if it’s drool running over my lips and down my chin and neck or just some bruised emotional response to what’s happened, happening.

“You’re so stupid.”

She’s wiping at her eyelashes. If she keeps doing it I feel she’ll have no eyelashes left by this time next week. The window is open and all I can think is I know the mosquitoes are eating me alive and I can’t feel it. Most people unconsciously wish they could live a life in which mosquito bites don’t itch, can’t be felt. Others don’t mind the actual itching and scratching, finding themselves more inclined to fume at the violation of it all, the unseen bloodsucking and flying off into the night.

“I told you not to go.”

I think what happened was I drank a little too much, as is habit, and walked or stumbled out to the stables, snuck a horse out with what I can only imagine as indescribable grace and horsemanship, thereupon divining myself up onto it’s back, into the saddle… And there’s where all memory stops. And if I’m being honest, something I am not necessarily known for among both friends and enemies- everything I just remembered could be made up. I’d cry if I could feel anything physical. Not for me, but for this girl that knows the truth, the reality that I can’t remember. I can hear Sarah, and I think I can see her, but what I am listening to could be nothing more than unreality catching up with me. She sobs uncontrollably and I see her right arm, the good one, swing and slap my left arm. I can’t feel it and though my head wants to whip toward her in some accusatory fashion, nothing happens.

I fell in love with Sarah under a harvest moon. Sarah says it was blue and I made a mental note to check and see if harvest moons are ever blue. I never checked. I told her before we got serious that I can’t really have friends because I fall in love too quickly, platonic, heart-love, sexual fantasy, all of them separately but often attributed to the same person. And as a result I end up hurting everyone, like a man made of plutonium, some inevitable occurrence will disrupt my atmosphere and I’ll blow up and there won’t be anything left of us: and so I lie. I lie and never stop lying.

And now in an ironic twist of fate, here I am lying, on my back, catheter rooted and probably a dish of some kind caressing my naked buttocks, tubes jutted unfelt into my skin and veins, into my blood and the girl I may have actually changed for is crying and pulling out her eyelashes and I can’t even muster up the words, “It’s okay.”

word by Anthony Statham

colour by Sarah Burwash