Here is what will happen in the first year of the pandemic

Woman holding a drink at a bar alone.

It is March and I am standing behind the pine of the dive bar I work at holding a spray bottle full of sanitizer. I have cleaned everything I can think of that has ever been touched. The light switches. The doorknobs. The undersides of the stools. The skin of…

You carried me for eight years, and now I am going to carry myself

I’m sorry I brought you to the city.

I’m sorry we ever left the mountain, I’m sorry the last four years of your life were attached to the end of a leash, and I’m sorry I didn’t take you swimming enough when we came here. I’m sorry for that time…

I am listening for
signs of life, listening because
I don’t trust the horizon, and so much can be held in the mouth,

I am biting down.

My body…

The easiest part is
falling backwards
and knowing already
what the impact feels like,
counting the moments
suspended in air
and bracing
for the pavement
because you know
exactly where your ribs
will crack…

Since publishing my last set of essays, my inbox has been full of confessions from strangers around the world, telling me their stories that mirror my stories, thanking me for finding words in the catacombs of their silences, in all of our silences.

We are messy and tempestuous because we…

I need to believe you are good, in case this never gets better. In case there is never a resolution, in case all that is left here is silence, the kind that is thick, palpable. In case it is just ghosts.

In case it someday feels like that town in…

You are still
entirely whole,
made of all the parts of
what you have loved
even on the drive back
alone in the car, even with your
pockets full of lists of what you have
even helpless,
you are still intact

Sometimes there is just a
series of hallways
and burned…

We were not dating, you were not my boyfriend, we were beyond those sorts of commitments, we were so woke, we could transcend all those prickly, binding words. Our generation does not like definitions, we do not like to be restrained, you were not my boyfriend. We were not dating.

I am harboring pieces of him like fugitives, stuck here, a cluster of cells and soul, and this ghost does not want to go. Inside my body it is a collection of memories, too. We made this in the dark or in the morning, he and I, each time with…

Rock bottom
for a woman
is sobbing in your friend’s arms,
How did I get like this? I am so smart, I am so smart,
how did I
get like this
when I am so smart?

Nina Szarka

Apocalypse carnival mistress, essayist, and animated story maker.

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