The negative space swelled, filling the room with pregnant pause.
No. Not pregnant, she thought. There was no anticipation of energetic limbs thrashing, dancing, no movement concealed beneath thinly veiled skin. She felt barren. Wholly infertile. Could one swallow the seeds that sprouted black holes? That birthed an absence?
Her cold limbs creaked like old farm house floors, drafts breezing through autumn sweaters and skirts.
Only this morning the season had called to her, had coaxed her like a lover to linger beneath blankets and sheets. Coffee and waffles and driving down country roads in the fog and rain with her partner. Stitched together in a patchwork quintessence of harvest time, the heady smell of spices thick in the air.
Her partner. He bustled around the kitchen, humming here and there to the music playing upstairs. He was making dinner, a hearty Southern meal that’d stick to the ribs. Comfort food at its finest.
What was there to feel empty about? Was there really negative space? The ever-present critic, surveying the room, raises eyebrows. Demands a precision of speech. After all. The use of the word “bustling”. Not only is the writer not alone, but she’s joined in the room with a partner, and one who is humming. (And currently dancing to some glorious hip hop music.) Where is there room for emptiness?
Oh, existentially. It almost doesn’t matter how full or warm the room is. Sometimes it all feels inaccessible.
The unanswered question. The quest for purpose nudged her on, then violently, pushed, pulled, tossed her through turbulent waves. “Whatever small happiness you have, offer it up”, whispered the gods and goddesses of existential crisis.
Yes. It was absurd. Self indulgent. And immediately relieving, the ability to stop playing the defense to the depression that skimmed the surface, dug fingernails into her skin, threatening to break it. She exhaled and surrendered to the threatened weight of it, all resistance leaving her body. And suddenly, the allure of its grasp on her evaporated. Suddenly it clung to her no longer, a thing that had no staying power. The jealous spirits writhed and fussed and slunk off into the fog.
And so the flip of a switch, a perspective shift. The kitchen, once barren, now impregnated.