In the Case of an Emergency, You Must Have
by Katherine Yeh
Eyes. To see the roads that have yet to be taken, or the ones that should be left alone. To remember the space your body takes up walking those roads in cracked shoes, feeling the breeze on your little toe. To believe in the possibility of survivors in the general store with its blown-out glass front and tipped over shelves, searching for supplies in the dark.
Hands and arms. To break and to damage. To place the remaining packages of chips and granola bars in the backpack taken from a place you cannot remember the name of. To steady against your ribs the anxious heartbeat caused by the threat of human contact. To pull the trigger at a passing rabbit in the hopes of missing, but also wanting to satisfy your widening hunger.
Legs and feet. To carry you to the biggest abandoned metropolis, or away from it, wherever anonymity provides safety, because your eyes are failing. To kick open barriers when your hands can’t relinquish the hopes you’ve resorted to carrying, though your backpack is close to empty. To ruin your own desires and become a burden, pus leaking and festering from an infected gash.
Ears. To seek the prayers someone may be whispering in the hopes of salvation. To differentiate between a rumble in weather and the glory calls of the ones who somehow always survive the apocalypse: homicidal adventure seekers too dumb to die, too young to keep you alive. To falsely interpret their breaths for yours despite being so methodical, so safe, until it is too late to run, even if your legs could still carry your weight.
Heart. To remind your body it is alive, therefore you can still try. To chase. To run.
Voice. To release breath into the dark night, panting beyond exhaustion for a space that willingly welcomes you. To surrender without complaint because words are difficult when you are struggling to breathe. To render you exactly as they wish you to be, compliant, eager to please, you never could have escaped.
About the Author:
Katherine Yeh is an MFA Candidate and writing instructor at Emerson College. She is currently working on a novel. She can be found on Twitter as @kathissimo.