Love
 
  

I was walking alone at night down a street near the house where I grew up. It had been a long time. All of the neighbors’ houses were still there, but it looked as though they’d been abandoned. The whole subdivision looked that way, like it had actually been someone’s science experiment before, and I was only just finding out. There were no lights on in any of the houses. And the things around them that could grow wild had all grown wild. The windows had been caked over with dirt or broken through. The bright squares through which families could once be seen eating and arguing and making up were now just dark squares of nothingness, shattered into even darker shards of nothingness. The mailboxes had all been consumed by weeds and fallen east or west, like slowly dying scarecrows falling to the ground. Somehow the streetlights still shone. And I was strangely comforted by this. I stopped walking and soaked in their yellow electric warmth for a while at the edge of the cul-de-sac where the street dead-ends. I gazed up at the sky and down and around at the inky silhouettes of my old hometown. When I turned around again in the direction of the cul-de-sac, I saw that it was filled with what must have been a hundred babies, maybe more, all of them at rest and on all fours. They were all dressed in identical gray pajamas and their faces were indistinguishable. None of them were moving except for the one who was slowly crawling toward me. When it reached my feet it tugged on my pant leg and pulled itself up to its feet. It asked me for milk and I said, “I’m sorry but I don’t have any.” It said, “Drugs, then.” And I said, “I’m sorry, but I don’t have any drugs either.” Then it gave me a look of disgust, got back on all fours, and crawled back into position, shaking its head in disappointment. I repeated myself in a louder voice to make sure all of the babies could hear me. “I’m sorry,” I said. And they all just stared, blinking slowly. Then I said, “I have an idea. I’ll go to the store and buy some milk and come back. I have a credit card. And it has a pretty high credit limit. So I can easily buy all of the milk in town and bring it back.” But this seemed only to disappoint them more. The one in charge shouted, “You’re missing the point!” And I said, “Okay. That very well may be. Probably I am missing the point. I’m pretty confused right now. What do you want me to do? Just tell me what you want me to do and I’ll do it. I can’t help much with the drugs, I’m afraid. But the milk—I can get you some milk! If it’s something else you need, though, please, just tell me what it is. I want to help. I want you to have what you need. The world is cruel. The world takes. But not me. I give. I have love in me and I want to give some of it away. Because, to be honest, I have too much of it. And it hurts. So you’d actually be doing me a great kindness by allowing me to share it with you. Just tell me what you need me to do and I’ll do it.” Then the one in charge looked down at the ground and shook its head. Then they all looked down at the ground and shook their heads. Somewhere in the distance I heard a bottle break.

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