There is a commercial I viewed for the drug Lyrica.
In the commercial, a woman (protagonist) explains what Lyrica treats (chronic pain) and prompts the audience to consider Lyrica for the treatment of chronic pain.
“With less pain, I feel better.” This is a line in the commercial, spoken by the woman.
I like to imagine the person who wrote that sentence.
I imagine him (protagonist) at a copy desk,
letting the line live on through to the final draft.
Later, in bed, he does not wrap himself in his own arms, because
that would be the opposite of a private joke.
When I was 23, I went on a date with J., a man I met on the internet.
At a bar in dim light, he brought up the death of his father, which was the result of a semi-famous 1980s plane crash.
I said nothing. I watched a candle on the table. I kept my hands near my mouth.
He said, People usually say something when I tell them that.
Without any confirmation, I took that sentence
to mean I was noble.
By the time my hands were away from my face
I was inventing new ways to be different.
When I was 26, I watched my friend T. role an empty water glass between his hands. I tried to get him to talk about his father.
When he did, I held onto sentences
I brought to life through his mouth like they were small bits of light
for me to have for future use.
He said, I’m always honest with you
while he covered a small candle with the water glass
until it stopped being lit.
When I told D. something horrible,
I did it to feel close to him.
We were at the back of a different bar,
near the exit, by the patio.
With my body facing him at an angle, I said something like
I know you are hurting
because he was. His brother was freshly dead. Maybe a year or so.
When I said
I know you are hurting,
I was building a transition to
my own lines.
He (protagonist) is treading water, kicking his feet back and forth in a pool.
He is moving his legs in a circle, as if he is riding a bicycle, partly holding his breath.
When he empties air from himself he is still aching. It is like that is the only act
to keep breath pushing out.