nebraska (a short story)

The ladder existed in the middle of a field swarming with chiggers and ticks. It was a day in June I would have titled: denim cut-offs sky with acid washed pocket clouds, had I thought long enough.

Leigh did not like heights; she could barely stand on her tip-toes without feeling excerpts of vertigo.

This ladder was buried eight feet deep into the ground. Held by cement and sturdy earth. She told me she was doing this to get closer to the sun because—and here is where I must quote her, “because when we whisper our truths to the sun, they are burned into us like ritualistic brandings.”

photo by Raluca Albu

 

We had only known each other for twelve days and she announced her queer after an evening of shared mead. I can still feel the fermented honey drinking my tongue.

Where she came from, she told me, there is no room for declarations such as this. You are born into the gender you are assigned. You are to marry the opposite of what you are.

I told her that where I come from, they extended the land perimeters to make room for the additional boxes declaring the array of humans that exist.

Of course, I come from New York City.

I watched her ankles tremble. Even her blond hair shook like corn stalks in the wind. I stood at the bottom, ready to catch her, but I knew she wouldn’t fall.

And when she finally got to the top, she kept on climbing.

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