You guess it was the chocolate you ate several hours before, a half of a square of the $25-bar that tasted like chalk and grass and off-brand M&Ms that always remained uneaten at the bottom of Halloween buckets that imbued the night with wonder and significance, a heft to the grey clouds, impending storm, as you rode shotgun on the way to get better chocolate, the real thing crushed up and blended, served upside down in a cup, its immobile red plastic spoon proving its thickness, a treat that felt necessary.
It had been a long, hard week in a long, hard year and a half. Surely there was some form of deservedness at play. What you want is what you need, a phrase you often recalled and feared, those two nodes oppositional throughout most of your life. Did you, in fact, need a Blizzard? Did you, in fact, need anything? Were you not just talking earlier in the day about how evolved you were as a human? How you had leveled-up, now out of the messy cesspool of one’s id? And yet, ice cream, candy, in a paper cup.
And you sit, waiting, in the drive-thru, the last lingering light of the day gets pushed aside, smothered, by greyer, thicker clouds. Palm fronds shudder, birds fly for safety, a man in khaki shorts approaches, hand out. You see without seeing. You see without being seen. How easy to pretend—non-existence. Car inches forward, cash handed over, change thrown in the cup holder next to the e-brake, two sweating, frozen treats in hand, mission accomplished. Onward.
To a red light next to a gas station. A gas station with a barber’s shop inside, its door open, fluorescent lights on, two chairs, one taken by a man. A woman with bleached hair circles around him, arms swooping down with scissors and comb in hand, the precisely practiced movements of her trade. From afar, she looks young. Does anyone grow up wishing to be a stylist in a gas station? Does anyone even consider that such things exist? The local Qwik-Stop or Kangaroo could be a community’s hub—why not? Except here there are two on every block, the community never grounds itself but shifts by the season or semester.
You think about the stylist with the platinum bob and chiseled arms and black denim pants well after the light turns green, well after you’re on the interstate, well after it starts to rain then stops. You imagine an honor to her life you most likely will never know for your own. Would she offer the same assessment? We’re all blind to the wonders of ourselves. We’re too close. We only feel the struggle, the exhaustion. Across the city, the streetlamps have started turning purple. You know this means they’re dying, but what a beautiful way to go.
HANLON AND SEAMUS DISCUSS THEIR VIEWS ON ART
Sit still in silence. Receive. Art is not meant to be easy. There is no valor in suffering. I drink from the fount of joy. I seduce he muse and allow her to seduce me. My mind is my muse, and I am in control. Breathe in and out. Following the breath, I am contained. I am a container. Restraint only restrains. Creation ought to be an explosion, a flood, quivering and pulsing and throbbing with beauty. Oh, beauty—the lure for the simple mind. If that is true, then fuck: I’ll bite. Until my lips become a sieve, until my teeth chip away like ice. I refuse to be starved, while you— I? I refuse to eat. I have raised myself beyond all that. —all you know is hunger. Yes, please. The hunger satiates.
Shae Krispinsky lives in Tampa, FL, where she fronts the band, Navin Avenue, whose sound she describes as Southern Gothic 70s-arena indie rock with a pop Americana twist. In 2022, she released her band’s first album, A Little Warming, as well as her debut novel, Like Lightning. She is currently at work on her band’s second album, her second novel, and a poetry chapbook. Shae is also a photographer, tarot reader, and janky baker. Find her at https://www.instagram.com/dearwassily/.