The Season Of Leaking Fear

When you think about it, we’re not allowed much time here on earth to make lives for ourselves: I mean, to scrape something together, get married, wait for death. –Roberto Bolaño
Arseny Meshchersky
Arseny Meshchersky

Yes, it’s another season where I can’t say I love you.

I can’t buy nice things because nice things have to stay.

I don’t know if I can stay.

Maybe that’s really a message for myself, that this is the season of leaking fear.

It’s a season where I’m lying down and don’t understand how the overhead flashing green light on the grey plastic circle protects anyone from fire. It’s little-kid-with-a-camera blurry now because of the tears, mine. It is one of those nights where my understanding is crippled to how regular people work. I hate how I want to be normal when normal is a ghost and this should never be a goal to be normal.

I don’t know what it is to wait.

I almost tried to move home as I thought that could be the balm to my life woes but no and sure I’d save some money and sure I could eat right and exercise and things that an adult should do when they aren’t pretend but there is so much vice and so much other and so much I have to do before I can grow up, no not even that, before I can be healthy and financially safe which it doesn’t seem like it is that safe at all.

So this is the season of leaking fear.


From the loading dock at my job the snowflakes float around the parking lot floodlight like insects, diaphanous now in the premade glow. They disappear to a place where insects will go, someday, too.

In this sense I am still here.


On the phone with my mom she tells me I need to be healthy.

Zippo click and I listen.

She says Exercise and Quit and Understand.

I erase my bootprint with another bootprint. I hack off a bulbous icicle fused to a bike lock used to link outside patio furniture.

She says You shouldn’t tell everyone your life plans. Mums the word, she says, and laughs.

I tell her I feel like I don’t have a home, that I am in nine different places along with the schools I applied, that I cannot write since my creativity is in all of these places, too.

She does not think this is dramatic nor trite and says to me You always have a home which is what moms should say and now it starts to feel cliche and I tell her No I am staying here, in this different state, it is too much to move back and to maybe move again.

She says Do you even like us as a family?

Of course and Yeah, I think I answer.


I can’t tell my mother two things.

The number of women I have slept with.

The last time I prayed.


Okay. It’s not even about sex or fucking or the difference between the two. It’s about the dating, this to me is a poison phrase that I do not want share with her and sometimes anyone at all.

I think it’s a fear to disappoint. I want to show all of my family that I am not some sort of addict or at orgies or something, that I write and drink tea sometimes and take the bus and have tried to quit smoking about fifteen times now but I can’t help feeling they see the mistakes like people complain about getting a cast, looking up at the nurse and saying:

I don’t get it. It’s still broken.


My counselor, when I started seeing him two years ago said it is okay to withhold certain things from my parents. When I am trying to be honest with them is when they are skeptical about my life.

It is always strange to think about them as people who chose to have children.

It is strange to venerate.

I am waiting.

But back to the dating thing. It’s hard for me to talk about that, with anyone. I won’t bring it up in conversation in fear that the person may actually mean something to me. Or the exact opposite. I am not quite sure. I’ve talked about wanting a healthy relationship before but there are too many taillights in my brain.


I am waiting and huddled in a dumpster hut.

It is semi-warm but there’s metal so it’s cold and I’m on the phone.

A rolled up red text receipt looks like a discarded tampon in the street.

Maybe there is nothing more for me here, in this place.

I add my ash that looks like snow now to the snow, now.


This is the one time I was almost kidnapped so bear with me while I sort it out.

I am little and at the dolphin show and I love the dolphin show and a man takes my hand, a man that isn’t my father because my father is working and we’re trying to have a good time at the zoo and my mom is placing my sister in the stroller and I am not holding onto the side of the stroller because I tend to explore because kids are curious and prone to wander. Let’s keep this wonder today as adults, okay? I don’t know this was a stranger. I guess I just took a hand — think little baby hands and a big person finger, think squishy hammer on a kneecap in a doctors office, how they do that because they can only react — and I forget this whole thing because I was young and little and I think it’s weird that people can remember the color of their crib or the color of their first toy or the color of a sibling’s eye.

There is a part in the story where my mother yells at the man taking me away. Where she shouts and says That’s my baby or That’s my child or That’s my son and he drops my hand and runs away and I am safe.

Come back and you’ll be okay.

And it’s weird that this could be a part for all of us (and listen, this could be now) where you are alone, even for a few moments between the running of the guilty and the not guilty but yeah there was the part where you are alone and can’t remember the part where someone, anyone calls out your name, maybe like a savior, maybe like it’s normal (but this is transition and transition tempts you with loneliness. It says Remember you’re alone?) but the point is don’t listen, listen to the people that love you yell to the silence that hurts and the waiting that stings and the pain perhaps inherent in change. They say I’m your friend or I’m your lover or I’m your partner or I’m your family, come back, please, come back and the parts of you that hate yourself drop your hand.

Think: It’s all right to be yourself around another person.

Think: Here could be a home for now.

Think: The best parts of us are made in transition.

Remember the people that love you and know your name and will help you when you’re ready to surrender to a life that is okay in the grayscale because there really are caring people among us and there are moments that still can shock us like the moment when someone remembers your name and screams it until everyone turns around.

So maybe fear begins without listening first. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

Buy Alexander Helmke’s eBook “Bonfires” on Amazon, the iBookstore, or Barnes & Noble.

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