My brother and I grew up in the river. Like tadpoles or insect larvae, we spent our youth maturing in the fetid water. We collected things that floated and things that sank. We collected bottle caps, rubber tires, shiny glass, and rusty old cans. We collected scabs and rashes more than once, and we cleaned each other’s wounds.
The first memory I have of stealing a word was when I was ten years old.
It came from a brochure crammed in the pocket behind the driver's seat in a shuttle bus that was taking my family to a beachfront hotel. "Waves crash rhythmically upon the sandy shoreline," it advertised. I plucked the word from the page and I tucked the brochure back into its pocket.
“Look Pete, no one’s forcing you to come. If you’re so scared you can just go home.”
We both know I can’t. The coat of arms is too bulky for one person to carry and this is the first time we’ve ever been invited anywhere. Who knows when it’ll happen again.
“Axiom,” they called him. They’d been on assignment together for three months and she’d never seen his face—never would. Never should, anyway. But suppose next time she were to linger on the park bench, flicking through a newspaper until the stranger came along to collect what she’d left him?
My concert tee was tucked neatly into my destroyed jean shorts and my right leg was tattooed with bike chain grease. With my iced beverage in my left hand and my handlebars controlled coolly in the right, it occurred to me that I couldn’t look more like a middle schooler if I tried.
I'm not very good at getting started.
In fact, I've gotten up and done four unnecessary tasks since typing that first sentence. Two of those tasks were cups of coffee and two were the resulting bathroom breaks.