She didn't go in to work that morning, all that day she sank. The air was smothering, viscous. Clouds collapsed across the horizon and boiled down to tiny imprints on the back of her eyelids. The sky was a wash of light, too hot to notice. She sank in the tub, in water full of epsom and pearlescent soap tendrils. Foggy tiles revealed the scrubbed cursive of chore.

She sank on the bed, leaving wet traces beneath her and dried into the moist air. She rolled a towel, put it under her hips, waiting. The speckled ceiling plaster vibrated patterns down her back, each elaborate, unique, fleeting.

She sank on the couch and didn't watch the television flashing pixels from beneath the slow drift of incandescent noon along the floor.

She sank in front of the computer, clicking through pictures of the lives of people she used to know.

The filaments in her eyes jerked and rested, jerked and rested as she sank into the lawn beneath a birch tree that towered above the house her children were growing up in. The tree pinned the lawn to its corner lot, surrounded on two sides by ditches that were dry all summer and piled with old leaves and desiccated twigs and road dust. The green smell of grass held her in a bubble of memory.

She sank into a patio chair and felt the hum of cell phones and the Internet, and power lines and traffic and air conditioning and refrigerators. Fractals of home after home spiraled away from her in all directions. Deep within them, a swing set piled up squeak after squeak on her chest. She inhaled deeply, spilling them off.

Sinking across a stained recliner, she didn’t read the book laying on her lap.

At last, she sank into sleep.

In her dream, she was a wild running dog. She leapt gaps wide as a river and twice as dark. She caught a rabbit and snapped its neck with a wet click. She rutted. She panted off the heat pouring down from a desert sky. The scissor logic of dreams put her on a shrimp boat in a foggy ocean. The shrimp were rubber bands woven into nets that dangled off the drifting boat. She sank into the water, pulling rubber bands out of the netting and weaving them into a basket. She put the basket on her back and it was a papoose filled with fish that she carried through a sultry forest. The fish smelled like a dock, flies buzzed and buzzed around them. The flies laid eggs in her hair.

Habit woke her.

She drove to school sinking into the seat of her car.

Later, after she’d followed the trail of clothing and bags, scrap paper and lunch boxes from garage to television, and after she’d hugged her children and cooked for them and read to them and put them to bed, and after she’d made love to her husband and lay curled around him while the sweat they made blended and left its own traces across the bed, echoes of fur and blood haunted her mouth.


About the Author: Kana Philip was born in Michigan and one time he stole a handshake from a surprised yet gracious Edward Albee on the stage of Lincoln Center.

Story Song: "At Her Open Door" by Dead Meadow and "County Line" by Cass McCombs