A Rotting | JI Daniels

David Peinado via Pexels

There is a rotting in my house, and I can tell that it is me. It is slow, but the knowledge comes. It is that kid you knew, who was lax in showering, who was slow to deodorant, who would catch a whiff of himself and screw up his face and accuse someone around him of farting, the one who, later that day, in a burst of insight, you would catch trying to subtly smell himself, that look of realization and shame on his face when he realized. I wonder about those kids. I hope they figured it out, changed in such a way that they remained who they were, but adapted only as much as needed to avoid the barbs of our cruelty. I hope they found peace, though I imagine few did. Most doubled down on their isolation, bitter and alone, ignoring the things that made them beautiful in their embrace of ugliness; or else they contorted themselves into the shape that they were told they should be, finding how to fit in, joining the fraternal order of concessions and uniformity, chaffing inside of the normal-suit, unwilling to unzip it, even a little bit, in the worry that if they spilled out, they might never get back in.

I am an Assistant Professor of English at Clayton State University, the author of the novel, Mount Fugue, and If You Can, a collection of short stories.

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