off my mind

I’m on the plane back from Florida, earbuds in. I’m thinking about how I could never be a pilot- I would never want the responsibility of someone else’s life in my hands. Thinking more about it though, writing has a certain weight. Words can swoop through phones and make you cry, can drift through the pages of a book so you’re left disheveled on your bed, your heart hurting just a little that it’s over.

But, I think, writing heals too. I think of the exhale after finishing a journal entry, the way the pain is distant now that it’s been confronted. I think of the angry scrawling I used to do in my diary at twelve, when I was furious at my sisters over something stupid. It’s like screaming into a pillow. You can close it up, and suddenly you’re lighter, drifting down the stairs, ready to apologize.

I’m bored of the playlist I’ve made for this trip. The plane creaks as we begin to ascend. I scroll through old playlists, desperate for a song that will distract me from feeling like the plane is about the split in two. I pick “March 2018.” A miscellaneous group of songs, all of them remind me of Italy. I used to walk to class during Florentine rains and listen to the playlist to distract me from my broken boot heel and the puddles that splashed up from under a car and onto the edges of my jeans.

A specific song comes on. I feel a pinch in my chest, like I’m a fitted sheet being folded. I remember listening to this one on a plane back from Sicily. I had imagined reunions upon my return to the U.S., my breath hitching in my throat at the thought of those embraces. I had imagined hurried conversations, the kind that unravel like yarn and remain fragmented and unfinished, talking over one another. Those silent understandings, confessions in the dark. I wonder what the other passengers had thought when they saw me, chin tilted back, smile creases in my cheeks. As if I fell asleep in the middle of a laugh.

Now, on a different flight, in a different time, the song feels hollow. The hope has been tunneled out of it. I know now that all I imagined was left unsaid, undone, and it hurts there, in its emptiness.

But I keep listening, and suddenly I’m taken somewhere else. By the time the song is mid-way through, the memory detached itself, almost willingly, from the song. It’s replaced by some other dream. Me, dancing in a bar, branches tickling the windows. I’m lighter, I open the door, palms up to catch the rain. I’m ready. 3 minutes and 21 seconds later, it ends.

I unlock my phone. Press repeat.

By Danielle Fusaro

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