Self-Portrait as Daphne Blake
Updated: Sep 23, 2019
You follow him because that’s what you’re supposed to do. High school sweethearts or long-time crushes who finally prune near-miss into new relationship. Everyone tells you how perfect you are for one another, your relationship a sun-center. You beam at the compliments, pleased you have already checked off one suppose-to of adulthood.
It will be a long time before you realize how treacherous a bridge “supposed to” is. A narrow-roped path, signposted as the only way forward. You do not yet realize there are other ways, if you go looking for them. The words invisible labor or mental load are not yet part of your vocabulary. They will never be part of your partners’. Their hard-jeweled points crystallize in the joints of your relationship, cut in to you, sever the roped bridge behind you. It will look like you are stranded, for a time.
You do not yet realize how a person can change once removed from a place familiar, how a new season or planting zone can cultivate growth that creeps in like bindweed. You work this plot a while, desperate to salvage what you know is still good underneath. In your gut, you wonder if this has been here the whole time, if the bindweed has taken root in you, too. This is when you finally realize in the time you have been tending another’s plot, no one has looked after yours.
There are no safe routes, only that you must pick a direction and start walking. Trade your kitten heels for steel toes, but don’t leave them behind. There are more ways off a mountain, and things will not always be this steep.
He will stack fear on your shoulders to keep you in place, will say can’t and incapable. Will not see that even neglected, your heart has blossomed fierce, a compass rose.
Emily Capettini is a queer fiction writer from the Midwest who loves a good ghost story. Her work has appeared most recently in Dream Pop Journal, Passages North, and Permafrost Magazine. Her chapbook, Girl Detectives, is forthcoming from Porkbelly Press. Find out more about her at emilycapettini.com.