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The Tortoise And The Hare

The Tortoise And The Hare

Brandi Wells

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Dear Tortoise,

Again, I feel sickness. I feel hardening in my bones and I’m sure my bones will become a separate entity. They’ll escape me, shed my flesh and begin life on their own. They’ve always resented going wherever I directed them. They thought it tedious.

HARE

Dear Hare,

I have built molds for you. In order to set your bones, your muscles, your skin. I want to admire you today and tomorrow and every day. You can be exactly the Hare I want. I love you in the stillness, in the lack of happening, in the moment before crescendo. Let’s stay there together. Don’t move. Swear you won’t move.

Tortoise

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Dear Tortoise,

I need to ride my bike when I want to. Eat dinner when I want to. Wash clothes when I want to. Drink when I want to. Talk on the phone without worrying that you listen to my words, critiquing them. Hold hands with creatures I find interesting. I need a full stop. And a start and a start and a start. Oh, lovely start. You are the finish and that is why I cannot love you. You, the low, mean finish.

HARE

Dear Hare,

We can go away together. Just the two of us. To the beach, to the ocean. I will teach you how to swim. I want to draw you into a place of familiarity, map the familiar on your body so that your body becomes a body more like my own. We can live beneath the blue, beneath the surface. The ocean, a cowl that will protect us from every creature, from life, from Earth, the Earth that has been beating down on us, the Earth that would take you away. My body can be a cowl for you. You don’t need to exist to be mine. I can fit you inside. I can make you the perfect version of you.

Tortoise

Dear Tortoise,

I am not interested in the ocean. I am interested in desert and sun and heat. I desire burning, the crisp, dry heat. The way the sun will smolder. My fur, singed. Each strand of hair standing separate from another. I will feel alone and powerful.

HARE

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Dear Hare,

Where are you? I will pay attention to you for hours. I will watch everything you do. I have so much room for you in my life. There are no friends, no activities, no interests other than you. When I am not staring at your face, it is like I am not doing anything. Please, I just want to stare at your face. Taste your face. Make your face into a face I own. Belonging. I am the correct proprietor. Lean in. Lean in a little.

Tortoise 

Dear Tortoise,

I feel the hardening spreading to organs. Liver, lungs, spleen, kidneys. I have grown stiffer. I move so slowly. I sense everything around me more slowly now. Birds fly across slowly, hardly moving. Poems drape across hours and I have no way to read them. My nausea swells larger than me and I cannot manage it. I need to be farther from you. Please, quit chasing me.

HARE 

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Dear Hare,

I emptied your ant farm onto the street and sprayed the ants with a bleach-water solution. They quit moving and floated away. There was something lovely about it. I watched them float for hours.

Tortoise

Dear Tortoise,

I am nearly stone. There’s been no Medusa, no snakes, no stares and yet my body has grown rigid. My movements are undectable. I am not sure I have breathed in hours. I have no way of knowing whether my lungs, intestines, or kidneys are functioning. I fear I’m becoming the version of me you could keep.

HARE

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Dear Hare,

We will be together because we have always been together. It is what the story says. The tortoise and the hare. That’s us. We are in print together. We are locked into a cycle of happening. We’ll happen again and again. I always win I always win I always win.

Tortoise

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All rights reserved to Brandi Wells.  Wells is the author of Please Don't Be Upset (Tiny Hardcore Press). Her writing appears in Denver Quarterly, Sycamore Review, olio, Chicago Review and other journals.

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