I am not a writer who can have more than two or three projects going at once. I’ll write an idea out until I can’t write it anymore. Lately, I’ve been writing this essay about death and how to conduct a postmortem — on a body and on a long-dead relationship (seems slow-motion heartbreak and love are the things I do best) — and I haven’t been able to work on anything else. Even though I need to. Even though I should. But this death essay, in its almost-but-not-quite-done state, won’t let me work on anything else.
The 26 parts of Yes, I Know What You Think Of Me (available in Mental Shoes issue 21) were never meant to be separated, though I didn’t write the parts at the same time. I had this rough idea of moments of transformation, or, actually, the moment before transformation. And I was working my way through how to best capture the moment before transformation when these vignettes, for lack of a better word, demanded attention.
I’d write one or two, then close the document, and I’d write others. I was lucky. Mental Shoes Editor-in-Chief D. H. Dowling told me to write whatever I wanted. The issue would build itself around the words.
One of the first things I told Dowling I wanted to write was some sort of fairytale. Which I did. Kind of. More than 200 days ago. And he was right. Inside the issue are other interpretations of the themes I grapple with inside my essay. Fairy tales like Brooke Shaden‘s Sleepwalker (below). You have to imagine the ever-after ending; you have to imagine what happens next.
For Aurora, my daughter, on the occasion of your 184th post-delivery day.
You will laugh and you will cry and you will not be afraid to laugh and you will not be afraid to cry and you will give away your heart and you will not be sad when you have to take back your heart because you will know that someone, maybe even someone you know, is waiting to receive your heart. You will run, but only to be caught. And you will chase, but only to catch. You will demand seven mattresses on top of a pea, and three bowls of porridge, and a road of yellow brick. You won’t need ruby shoes; you will wear Doc Martens. You will fly in tornados and you will tumble down rabbit holes and you will never learn to sew because you will not risk a needle’s prick. You will speak Spanish and French and maybe Latin. And you will concoct recipes and spells and potions. You will be kind. Above all else, you will be kind.