Gone Lawn
a journal of literature
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Gone Lawn 43
Second New Moon, 2022

Featured artwork, Baby Orange on Fire, by Charlotte Hamrick

New Works

Nathan Xie


My landlady believes I broke the washing machine with too much laundry and left the garage door open and dropped a shampoo bottle down the toilet. I tell her it wasn't me. I don't tell her it was a ghost who looks like her when she had a meltdown at the front door and bawled at her ex to stay. She doesn't want to hear my explanation and stays obscenely late at work so I have to take her Yorkie on a near-midnight walk. The dog whines and pulls me ahead. I never thought I could be a person who hates dogs, but I can. I tell myself there are people I love who love me back: a long-distance boyfriend, a best friend who lives overseas, and there must be a third someone for the magical rule of three. The Yorkie sniffs for the perfect place to squat and shit. After I clean up and toss the bag into a nearby trash can, she runs for the old-fashioned well at the end of the street. Here, she stops and gazes at me with big brown eyes, so I circle the well to see what she wants, but she yowls and jumps up and down as if to leap into it. This dog. I keep her on a short leash and shine my phone flashlight down. The well is deep, the water dark and still. But the act of illumination in and of itself is enough to quiet her even though I don't think she can tell. I lean over the well more and, like a teardrop, my mind slips out of my head; it falls and sinks silently. My body walks away with the Yorkie yap yap yapping until my mind, peering at the rippling night sky, registers only a vast absence of sound and texture. How weak and minuscule my mind is compared to the airplane above blinking red, carrying so many nameless people. The scene, my thoughts, and space-time dissolve in the cool water and become everything and nothing. But then my body returns alone with a fishing rod and baits my mind back to the surface with blueberries and my boyfriend's boxers. When I'm complete again, the fishing rod and hooks vanish, and there's nowhere else to go but my apartment, where my landlady is back and calling her Yorkie sweet nothings. I enter my room disoriented and after I flick on the lights, I see my hands are blue and water-wrinkly. I strip off my clothes; the rest of my body's the same. In bed, I put on headphones and open a private browser to watch men kiss like they're stealing breaths from each other, seeking a deeper connection, only to release those precious breaths later as soft, shallow moans. After I come, my skin lightens to its original tone. A sigh of relief, then the heavy weight of exhaustion. But sleep doesn't grant me the respite of drawn curtains; instead, it throws over me an untouchable dream-blanket. The stars are marigolds in a washing machine, tumbling and tumbling, yet blooming in the dark.

Nathan Xie writes from Connecticut. Recent/forthcoming work in Sledgehammer, Every Day Fiction and levatio. He exists on Twitter @sneaky_stabby.