Forever Young

By Peyton Sheppard

 

my mother told me that

when i was very young i spent

my summers drowning myself in her bathroom.

she told me that

i told her i wanted to know, just

know if i could.

 

when the water was shut off

for good

in the ramshackle twenty acre

farm that we owned since my father finally

dug up his corpse, and jumped in with him,

(he sends me postcards

on sundays), i was forced

to look elsewhere.

 

when water was not an option,

my mother said i turned to fire.

i spent the long cold winters in

the shed. slicing open the blue veins

on my palms and

triggering into my inner arsonist.

 

she said the lack of heat

within the house and the shed made

me want to ignite myself into

bright orange and magenta

flames that could never burn out, or

at least that’s what i told her.

 

at age ten i decided to

try and hang myself, just to know,

just to see if i could.

 

however in the dried ruins that left

no place for water, left no room for oxygen

either, and so i did not

need it.

 

the sweet sap of the willow

burned my nostrils as i swung back and forth

kicking the leaves, desperately trying

to amputate my legs

just to see if i could bleed.

 

when i was fifteen i

began to question humanity

not just mine, because i knew i was not

but of others and the craft of

what it meant to have flesh

and bones that bent and cracked

 

yet the heart to treat fellows like

rubbish because of the chroma of the

pigment in their skin

or the way they carried themselves

if they could at all

with time

i realized it might have been easier to die.

 

so at age seventeen i

filled the tub again with water and

instead of submerging my drunken head into

the waves of simpilicy i

threw a box of lightning in the water and

watched as the violet rays burnt

my skin

 

my twentieth birthday was when

i finally realized that i couldn’t be human because

i wasn’t like them and i never was;

i could never bring myself to

the steep levels of degradation

and hatred

the humans seemed to enjoy

in their big white cottages

as my family starved

 

twenty three brought a new time

once my sister showed her morality

and let herself

die in the hands of a

man who just happened to be snatching

up pretty girls to love them

fight them and kill them.

 

my mother said i never had to

worry about those things, it was a woman’s issue

and she proved herself wrong once

my brother soon died the same way

but by a man that was

lenient to either sex.

 

at the age twenty nine i experimented

with knives and lacerations, just

to see what would happen

of course, nothing did and i moved

in with my mother full time, now

that no one could take care of her.

 

on my first day as

a thirty year old man i celebrated

by trying to drown my liver in

ethyl alcohol as i chugged

down the beverages my mother warned me

about.

 

my great grandfather had gone

that way, she told me with

a cigar between her pale and chapped

lips, which confused me.

hadn’t grandmother rosary gone

that way?

 

eventually in the summer musk

of the fresh flower fragrance in the

forests, the bustling burning sensation

in my throat caused my vision

to blur, and the abstract

shapes of the trees faded to black.

 

my mother gave me a

taste of the Hell she swore i

was going to, when she stood above

me and told me that this was

the last straw, that i came too close this

time, and that i had to stop.

 

i apologized to my mother, and when dear

old grandmother rosary came

around to bring her back

to the church on south street, i hardly had time

to say goodbye before they left in

a gust of wind that is only audible now in the fall.

 

 

when i turned thirty five, i

still lived in my mother’s house, and great grandpa

visited me sometimes. father must have lost my

address, because those letters weren ́t

coming in anymore, and that was fine.

 

winter brought strange arrays of silver

streams and green hawks and blue studded

penguins into the fresh

air, only at night.

 

i wanted to obey my mother,

but the fact of being

an inhuman creature in a

skinsuit was forever punishment because

i could not die, even when

everyone around me lived out my dream.

 

cousin harry, aunt linda,

bobby turner down henry ave,

everyone left me in the cool breeze

that stole my father, and i realized why he

jumped in.

 

when i turned sixty four,

my bones started to crack and ache

like my mother complained about,

and i knew it was my time.

 

at seventy one, i had finally

found the deep, wet, abyss that my father

fell in when he was

seventy as well, and i watched the

sleeping figure cry to himself when he saw

me.

 

he told me that he didn’t mean to

leave, but he just had to know if he would die, and

i understood my father ́s words,

and horror brushed my open and

bleeding wounds as i realized that we could

not, not even underground.

 

i jumped in with him, and his muddy hands

held me and his rotting lips kissed

my already rotting ones.

and from his embrace, i felt helpless cries

of my childhood flooding from his

black saliva, and i knew that this was

the only thing i had ever wanted.

 

at one hundred ninety three years old,

i finally died, in that hole with

my father, our bodies intertwined in the

fate that had been sealed

since i entered the world.

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