Thursday, July 22, 2010

Writing Prompt: Every Day

 by Shannon Peil

Every few mornings I'll wake up from one of those dreams that are so vivid, so
true, that I can't stop the resulting panic attack for hours afterward. I
realized during one of these that I wasn't terrified of death, not really. The
heart palpitations and nervous sweats staining my bed weren't from the myriad of
gruesome endings I've seen; they weren't even from the thought that at some
point I just won't have any more time. The sweats were from the details before
that. The details depicting the wrong wife, the girlfriend I settled for, the
friends I wasn't sure why I was hanging around anyways. The bad choices, the
failed plans, the loss of hope. Yesterday morning I woke up just as I died of
old age, surrounded by my three snotty children, all looking a great deal like
my bitch of a wife. It was infuriating. It was terrifying. I had only a few
breaths left in this life and I spent them unhappy. I resented all of them, but
it wasn't their fault. It was my fault.

This morning, I drove to work and wondered if it was going to come true. I
wondered if maybe everything I was worried about was moot because you'd never
say yes anyways. I wondered if I wouldn't get the chance to have a bitch of a
wife because no one would ever call me their husband to begin with. I thought
about Wednesday. I wondered if instead I was going to die like I envisioned that
night, a car accident while driving my deadbeat best friend to his latest court
date; maybe I'd get t-boned in an intersection a little too late on a yellow
light. I wondered if the last thing I'd see was this fucking stoner leaned over
me with this dazed look in his eye like "What do I do? What do I do? I'm gonna
be late to court again."

But these aren't valid concerns, not really. It's very few who pick how they
die, and I'm certain not a single person in the history of humanity has been
completely content with how it went down for them. And every few mornings I'll
wake up to the stale scent of sweat and shivering, pick the blankets and pillows
off the floor, and think of you.

I think of you because no matter how fearful I am of the day I die and how it
happens and who I'm with and what I'm remembered for, my death won't be the
tragic one. I think of you because I can't stand the smell of hospitals. I think
of you because I can't even remember what your face looks like. I think of you
because every time someone says the word 'cancer' my jaw locks up and I become
fifteen again. I think of you because I'll die some day, too. I think of you
because I never said goodbye. I think of you because I'll never be able to.

Shannon Peil lives and writes in Boulder, Colorado. His work has appeared in a
few dozen online publications and a couple in print, but more notably he edits
for people who actually know what they are doing at He gets
referred to as Ms. more often than not in e-mails.

SSF: What is one of your favorite words in the English language?

Shannon: Torrent. I like rain, and I like downloading things, and that word is pretty
looking. Torrent.

SSF: What is one of your least favorite words in the English language?

Shannon: Vagina. There is absolutely nothing attractive about the word 'vagina' or
'vaginal' that does justice to the description of a hot cunt. It is unfortunate
that my favorite body part is named something I shudder to say.

SSF: What are your favorite kind of sneakers and why?

Shannon: I'm a product of the '90s. I still wear Vans. It's harder and harder every year
to find a pair I like, but Vans is one of the only skate companies still making
shoes that I can stand. It seems like there is this huge shift towards
multi-colored panels, ugly low tops and canvas (sorry canvas fans, they suck)
and thick, puffy sidewalls.

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