three weeks into june.

by Michael King

Three weeks into June, and I’ve grown accustomed to pulling a mask over my face before walking out under the sun. At 25, hands shaking, I promised myself, if I could just say the truth out loud, I would never have to wear a mask again. It feels the same and different, hard to breathe but no smile at my disposal to reassure everybody else.

Three weeks into June, and I hear your life updates from a friend you still talk to. It’s been years, I tell myself, but some wounds sting long after they’ve healed. You are the ankle I sprained seven summers ago, still tender when the weather changes. Have no fear, I am well-practiced in the art of writing you letters you will never read. I whisper well wishes into the cardboard boxes you’ve still yet to unpack.

Three weeks into June, and I don’t know what to do with my reflection in the mirror. Has my body changed, has my face grown weary? In my first week of solitude, I broke down in tears remembering no one I love had seen me in days. Lately, the second I find myself surrounded in company, something in me yearns to be alone. I think I’m afraid to get used to the sound of familiar voices.

Three weeks into June, and I am trying with every atom to show up, and I am tired down to every hollow breath. Sometimes I count every footstep on a four-mile run. Sometimes I run longer, just so I can stay outside and forget how different the world was a year ago. Living the same story each day is a wave crashing against the rock wall of trying to muster the energy to write something else.

Three weeks into June, and hope arrives in a hundred forms. The sun rolls itself across green park grasses. My niece sends a Snapchat in the Pride filter. I hear the sound of a friend’s laugh over the phone and forget he’s not right here. I meet a man on rollerblades as I nurse a margarita on the sidewalks of Hell’s Kitchen. I notice people are hugging each other again, hesitation giving way.

Three weeks into June, and I miss making plans. I wonder at my audacity, just a few months ago, booking flights to London and building itineraries. I have hit backspace so much in 2020 that I sometimes forget it is not 2017.

Three weeks into June, and I’m here, hoping and building, tired and trying, fighting like mad to push love through every layer of concrete between us.

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