Published on January 29th, 2020 | by Melissa Chandler


At Least For Now

I haven’t written about you two as much as I should, not nearly as much by far. Maybe because you’re so close to me—in every sense of the word—in my face, in my path, pushing me, pulling me, so loud in my ears, I can’t think my own thoughts. You’re always in my hands, I’m always kissing the silky round bulbs of your heads, and when you’re not next to me, you’re in my thoughts. It’s not just that you demand the majority of my space and time. It’s that (at least for now) you’re the rightful owners of it.

I forget I was once a person who could sit with nothing but words for hours, rearranging them, creating something where before was only blank space. Now I’ve helped create you, and it feels as if we’ve been walking together in a deep wood. It’s dark and we’re following a trail. None of us remembers what it was like in the place before here. None of us thought to bring a flashlight. But we walk forward, and how hard could that be? (Extremely, it turns out.) Like walking with a concussion, or naked through drifted snow. If I lie down once it may be forever. I’m so tired. You’re always present, always the thing that’s going on. Full speed: wanting, shouting, hurting, laughing. You’re always kicking off your covers in the cold night air. Your skin is always slipping on the slick bottom of the tub. Now you’re biting your sister on the arm. There’s the ridged half-moon shape of your little mouth on her flesh. You really hurt her. She’s outraged. I hold her against me to comfort her and I cry too because I know I’m failing you both. For you to have become such animals at each other.

But how amazing your capacity to forgive. Ten minutes pass and you’re best friends again, pulling each other by the torso, falling in hilarity to the floor, limbs tangled, cheeks reddened. Your voices are so different from each other’s, so perfectly yourselves. I want them always to be a thing that exists in this universe, your two voices exactly as they are now, and they won’t. They’ll melt away. I can write about your voices. I should: How C’s sentences tip up in pitch, and how she yells without meaning to when she’s very interested in a subject, which is almost all the time, and how H sounds always a tiny bit hoarse, how her voice chugs along like a fat little train, steady and low. I haven’t written about you two as much as I should, not nearly as much by far.

Writing (at least for now) feels like a strange sort of separation. Like, how can you write about two hummingbirds while they’re humdancing over your head? You have to watch them the whole time. You can’t afford looking away even for a second. How should you write about two merry bulldozers, two zaps of lightning? How can you pause and write about two stars while they careen toward each other, while they collide, while they obliterate your world in their joy?

All photos (c) Paul Hudson

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About the Author

Melissa Chandler lives and writes in Akron, Ohio with her husband and two daughters. She holds an MFA in Writing for Children & Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts.

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