IMAGINE by Zachary Tringali

I am running through a field, pink with irises.

After the surgery, I won’t be able to do this anymore.

The grass is damp under my toes, the sun is warm. When I get tired, I keep running anyway. When I crest the hill I jump, and the world falls away so that it’s a marble, glossy and small.

The surgery is four hours; new advances have made it an outpatient procedure. It’s practically painless after the gas. I still can’t make my heart calm down.

I’ll spend my last hours here, a hundred thousand miles above the earth. I float among the stars, touching them in order, forming a picture, connecting the dots. When I step back I see it as tall as a tower, my name in shining lights. I like to think it will stay even after I’m gone.

It’s not that I’m lonely, it happens to everyone. I checked the records, there will be a dozen others there with me at the hospital, all there for the same thing. Solidarity is a word I can’t wrap my head around.

I leave the stars and touch down on earth. The snow is falling; the smell of my favorite bread is in the air. I’m home, before we’d moved, when the rafters of the house were still too tall to touch. I spend the last of my time baking cookies with my mother, hands sticky with dough, lips sweet with chocolate.

“The doctor is ready to see you, now.” The woman says, but it’s not my mother, and I’m not home.

The doctor’s office. Clean, clinical, crisp. Nothing has changed.

Today is the day I get the third quadrant cut out of my brain. Clinical terms replace the messier ones; my dreams are gone. For a while, I thought about running, but skinned knees and broken fingers proved the wall was too high.

Today is the day I become an adult. It’s only now that I realize how much I hate phrenology. Or maybe I just hate myself; my body got older before I was ready. Change is inevitable, systemic; I thought I’d have more time.

I get to my room.

I look out the window and search for my stars.

As a student in Gainesville, Florida, ZACHARY TRINGALI has only one option: ditch the heat and the textbooks for a keyboard and air conditioning. He writes novels and short stories about gods, witches, and old magic.

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