- The Fragility of All Things
That kind of evening when you find yourself holding onto your favorite scarf that you have to let go because it's threadbare and shouldn't be worn outside anymore, and as you touch the fabric you remember the name of one of your first crushes, only his first name, but you can't place his last name for the love of god, no matter how much you try, and instead remember another crush's name, first and last name, and then another crush's name who has the same first name of the crush in question but not the same last name, and this crush's last name makes it harder for you to get to the crush in question's last name, which frustrates you, and in the tangle of names your brain sidesteps its way to seventh grade when you began to have feelings for this crush (whose last name you no longer remember) not because he was cute (though he was) but because he made jokes in class that made you laugh from your belly and humor was at the top of your list for what you were looking for in a guy back then. You remember a friend pulling you aside by the girl's bathroom in ninth grade to tell you she had a crush on him too and you thought "no, bitch, he is mine," but you didn't tell her that, not like it mattered, because the crush in question probably had no idea that either one of you existed because, you know, he was all popular and shit, and you two were … well, smart, but they didn't use that word back then. You also remember taking an English class with him in high school. He used to sit next to you and never wrote a single word down. Once, when the teacher called on him to read his response to the "Do Now" question scrawled on the blackboard, he looked down at his blank sheet of paper held in place in his binder and said the most profound things about life and grief and tragedy. You [End Page 137] had a sinking feeling that he was one of those bright stars who might make it in life or who might not—you just couldn't tell. You remember the younger version of you holding her breath, rooting for this young man, hoping he would, as Jack Kerouac said, "burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars." He could be somebody. Or he could not. You just didn't know. A few years later, there was that day you ran into him while waiting on line to purchase a scarf at Urban Outfitters (the one you are holding in your hands right now, the one you are going to discard). He had a child around two years old who called him daddy and had her hands wrapped around one of his legs. He remembered who you were and waved his daughter's tiny hand and told her to say hi to you. You don't remember if he knew your name; you knew his name then, first and last. Now, holding onto the scarf a decade later, his last name faded from your memory, you wonder if, in another ten years, the first name will fade away too. You toy with the loose threads of the scarf and think of the fragility of all things, how time bends people and shapes them and then carries away marks of their existence in an ever receding line until all is forgotten, as if nothing ever existed at all. [End Page 138]
Ashwak Fardoush (@AshwakF) is a writer, an educator, and a creativity workshop facilitator. She was born in Bangladesh and emigrated to the United States with her family at a young age. Her work has appeared in The Margins, Spoon River Poetry Review, and Poets & Writers's Readings & Workshops blog.