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Licked


“No one leaves here unsuccessful”. I committed this gym phrase to memory. I repeated the words to myself beneath the fluorescent lights.


They blinded me as I pushed my hips up, narrowed my feet, tucked my elbows in as the weight precariously approached my head. In this position, I saw no one else, not even my trainer. Success was impossible to see when you're shaking, much less define. I felt defeated.


I had attended this early morning class because I needed to adjust my schedule for a family commitment. This meant we had a moment to chat while people pulled on jackets or settled in to stretch.


“Do you think your current choices are holding you back?” my trainer asked, somewhat absentmindedly but with the same precision as she identified joints and muscles in need of adjustment or new habits. She meant living with my dad.


Hmm. Maybe, but not my family so much as the dog." I shrugged my shoulders and gathered my bag for the shower. Most of the soreness I would walk off in the course of the day.


She squinted at her computer screen, her notes, and probably my answer. “Can’t you take him with you?”


The idea of his shivering, confused self in the cargo hold was one thing that terrified me, in the short term. Long term. Long distance. Those impacts were something else. I folded up my shirt and dog hair floated to the floor. It could have been from either dog, my own or my brother’s. His dog had already taken the trip I had considered, except in a different direction. She never stopped licking wounds, real nor imagined. She swept her tongue constantly across her own hair and my father’s skin. When his sores healed, she snipped them open again with the edge of her tooth. She chose, always, to be licking wounds.


I once wrote, “Stories often ask us to suspend disbelief. We must also suspend disbelief in ourselves, and then acknowledge, more easily when our role in the story is over.” What about beginning new ones?


My colleagues in Guatemala informed me once that using the word “autor” or “author” instead of “escritor” or “writer” implied creative agency. The wounds I had come home to heal, had long since stopped bleeding.

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