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  • Writer's pictureLannie Neely III


I’m always looking up. Or I seem to be, when I hear people talk. Our ears and mouths are in the same places, so that’s simple enough. But I’m up here and they’re looking that way, and it gets confusing.

I don’t like people to see my bald spot. I cover it with my hat, and that’s what they see. It’s an awkward fit, though, and slips easy. A little floppy, a little pocked. The nose is a bit big, the chin weak. I don’t mind. It works.

I saw the stars last night, brighter than usual. I slipped into the woods—missed the big game. Or whatever it was. A meeting of people... but the stars are so bright in the dark! There are no paths up there; nothing so confined. It’s all path. My mind wanders; colorful visions of exotic animals and parades of music swirl in and out of each other. In the heavens, all that light and blue-black crafts stories that make my bones weak.

I hate being bumped into. And the words, mostly—like rain and snow and hail. Annoying. Disruptive. People are my headache. That’s what my hat’s for: it keeps the rain from making my eyes red. Be pleasant, be sympathetic. Smile, hat. Frown, hat.

But then there’s this girl. Her thoughts are beautiful, I know. I’ve heard her, and we kind of talk. We say the same stuff, and it’s apparent that we’re both looking in the same direction: up. She doesn’t see my bald spot. I can take off that itchy goddamn thing.

We went into the woods together. Twice now. Alone, together. But still alone. We saw the stars, and traced the infinite paths among them. Here’s mine, and there’s hers, and here’s my other track, and so on. All night. It’s lovely, and blissful, and other good words.

But we have our problems. I can’t see her, and it burns me on the inside. I wonder if she feels the same way. I want to look in her direction, but it hurts my neck. I see glimpses in my peripheral, but never the whole woman. We don’t see eye to eye. I never see anyone’s eyes, the way I look. My hat has eyes, but they never see what they seem to. That’s not the right direction, and the same with this girl. It’s a torture.

Now I dream sour dreams, dreams where my head's on crooked and I understand the way people grin and scowl with such ease, all looking forward instead of up. Stupid, these people, and I know it. Always stupid. These paths they draw in one direction: straight ahead. So limited. Never stray from the path, they say. Avoid the pitchfork. 

The sky provides much more, dammit! The depths of the mind! Think for a minute!

But I envy that they can see into each other like I never will. Their eyes meet because their hats are their faces. It’s weird. Smile, face. Frown, face. They have no bald spots, only cheeks and eyebrows and hair where their eyes should be, looking up.

She left me, this girl. Left us all, for the stars I really hope. Where the stories and the magic are. She broke her neck. I knew it itched, as mine does—and ached so much. Trying to look both ways isn’t easy. Her hat wasn’t any good, I think, and the weather got to her. Made her want to fix her neck. But now she’s dead, and I feel like joining her.

I bought some rope. I tied it to the rafters, like she did. Too easy, since I was already looking up there. It’s like they made the noose just for me. I don’t want people to stop what I’m doing. I’ve adjusted my hat, washed it. Smile, hat. Don’t let the weather beat you just yet. Once the storm passes, I’ll climb the rope and fix it all.

Mother yelled at me. I think she can see through me sometimes. I find it odd since I have no clue what she looks like. The color of her eyes are a mystery, even when I crane my hardest. But I imagine, and they’re soft green. I think she’s trying to look where I’m looking sometimes, but I can never know. Maybe she’s a liar. I hate her one path, that one direction in which she walks and I must follow. Her eyes are dark red, I think.

From the stars, maybe looking up is looking down. I think I see her up there, my lost friend. Can she see the world from where she is, and all its people? All the stories and colors? She makes her own path now, with no one to judge her. I wonder if the view is better from the top. Soon enough I’ll climb.

Smile, hat.


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