photo of an attic from a home built in 1935

Once It Was Everything by Lindsay Fisher

He climbed boy-easy up into the high loft and a second-cousin called Chrissie climbed with him. And the scritch-scratch of owls or mice was there in the dry breathless dark, and her face so close he could smell the scented talc on her skin, and her hand tucked into his, small as kitten paws, and kisses then that were spit-wet as licking.

On top of the world they were, two miscreant angels, or vagabond gods in cobweb clouds, and the shapeless babble of everything rising up through the floor, all prayer-meaning muffled or gagged. And Chrissie said to pay them no mind. ‘It’s just me and just you,’ she said, ‘our rules’. And she put her searching hand down the front of his blue jeans, and she let him touch under her pearl-button blouse, and he’d never known that before, not any of it. And she said ‘Don’t tell’ and he nodded, and she said ‘Promise’ and he mutely did.

He is old now and maybe she is, too, and he peers through a glass darkly, looking back to that put-away time, sifting a thousand mis-shaped sinning memories and wishing he’d paid more attention to every small detail in just that one. He puts his hand down the front of his own pants and holds himself limp, that part of him that will not remember, and he thinks her name was Chrissie or Chris, and though she did not need to she wore a bra in the smallest size and loose-fitting, and he made her a slip-sticky promise and he forgets what that was except once it was everything.

Lindsay Fisher leaks. It is an age thing, they say. It will come to us all in the end, and they say that, too. Lindsay leaks stories and it can’t be helped, and sometimes they drift to nice places and are hung up to dry in strange shapes; sometimes they sink soggy into the dry ground and leave not a mark behind. It is enough.

Lead image“The Attic” (via Flickr user Jamie Beverly)