By: Josh Zimmerer
Every time you went back home, the world got a little bit smaller. In the beginning it all appeared so natural, so matter of fact you relinquished any urge to ask your parents about such a thing, anticipating that they would only mock you for just now catching onto how the real, and invariably terrifying, world works. You chalked up the closing gap between your head and the ceiling fan in your childhood bedroom to latent hormones. You convinced yourself your knees rubbing against the windshield of your father’s Camry was a matter of perspective you were unable to quite grasp—that things were different, were made different, well before you were even a drop of ink blotched on the pages of your family history. Yet despite your many attempts at normalizing the exponential amount of space you were occupying, every time you returned to your parents’ house, where you were raised, you had grown increasingly suspicious that the solid, and previously-agreed-upon formidable, earth below your feet could no longer bear your weight.
The nights you spent back at your own apartment, crammed into the lacunas of city side-streets, had become cluttered by the innumerable paranoid fantasies of your next trip home. Fantasies of swatting at June bugs that land on the nape of your neck only to realize that you had just crushed your cousin, wiping his smothered body on the underside of your couch. Fantasies of tripping on power lines and leaving hundreds, if not thousands, of high-school acquaintances without the means to comfortably live, even robbing an ex-girlfriend’s phone conversation with her recently acquired fiancé stationed at a base outside of Yemen. You sobbed onto a roast-beef sandwich terrified that the bottom of your jeans would soak up rivers like splotches of melted snow, depriving entire ecosystems. A healthy relationship with a TA in the sociology department at the nearest university was even ended because she didn’t fully understand your fear that soon trees would amount only to toothpicks, and toothpicks would amount only to dead skin cells. That was the worst.
But your pandemonium was not entirely unwarranted. The world, in fact, had started to grow smaller around you. Or perhaps you were growing larger. Aside from this dispute, though, your condition was problematic: not just to you, or your family, but to the experts taking your case. Physicians asserted it was a psychological disorder, while psychologists asserted it was strictly physiological. One of your grandmothers blamed it on your recent separation from the Catholic Church, though she was oblivious the last time you attended mass was at her husband’s funeral four years past. The other grandma blamed something in the water put there long ago by communists, or the liberal-biased media, or the terrorists, or as of this week, the U.S. postal service because where do they get off snooping around her streets at two in the afternoon when the kids are all at school, and the men at work, and the butchy lesbians too. Evangelical preachers and Silicon Valley up-starts mustered up all the advice news-programs and blogs would pay attention too. College roommates called with their condolences but not a cigarette you could bum. The only plans that even seemed remotely feasible were given to you by your own drunken self, wailing about in a pool of your own pity, and your mother. Both required, however, that eventually you had to get through your parents’ front door.
Josh Zimmerer studied Creative Writing at Capital University. After being a part of the local musicscene, and spending too much time working in pizza shops, he is now going to Wichita State for his MFA in fiction. He has been published in Blotterature, ReCap, and the Coe Review, and has yet to go to Mars.