Mercury-Marvin Sunderland

In. And Out.

Shadow Walking Through the Day by Edward Michael Supranowicz

“Breathe in. And out.”

Julius fidgeted.

“Julius. Focus.”

“I’m trying,” he muttered. “My arm really hurts.”

“I know it does. You have to learn how to just let that be. Focus on the now. Focus on being.”

“I –”

“Shhhh. No talking.”

“But you just –”

“No, now we’re going to be quiet. Talking is just going to distract from the activity. We’re focusing on now.”

“Ugh.”

“Breathe.”

Julius did his best to inhale. And exhale.

“In. And out.”

Again.

“Focus on your breathing. Nothing but your breathing.”

Air.

“We’re gonna keep this up for the next few minutes.”

Julius stared in front of the mirror. He’d put on cologne, he was wearing his suit. He breathed, in, and out.

Well, not a suit, really. More like a semi-formal dress shirt and pants. And a tie. But, still, fancy enough.

“I can do this,” he huffed. “In. And out. In. And out.”

He walked outside and waited for his Uber ride. He didn’t feel like taking the bus and it was just too far away, anyway.

“So where do you live?”

“Oh, I have a dorm at, like, Portland State University. I’m getting my graduate degree in computer programming.”

“Oh,” he noted. “Well, that’s really exciting. What are you planning to do with that?”

“I wanna be a game designer.”

“Oh,” he said, “Well, that’s really cool.”

The guy stared at his hands. Julius sat there awkwardly.

“Hey,” Julius asked. “Is something going on?”

He looked up, startled.

“Oh, yeah, I — I’m sorry. It’s not, you, I just –”

“No chemistry?”

“No, no, not like that. At least, I hope not.”

He sighed.

“Look — I’m sorry. I know we were talking and things seemed fine. It’s just — I’m just — I’m getting over a breakup right now and maybe it wasn’t the best for me to be using Tinder. You are really cute and I do really like you.”

“Hey, that’s okay, that’s what I’m going through right now, too. It’s been a few months since mine. We don’t have to be super serious or anything. Does that sound good to you?”

“In. And out.”

Breathe.

“In. And out.”

Closed eyes.

“Are you getting better?”

“Yeah,” Julius admitted. “Yeah, I am.”

 

About the writer:
Mercury-Marvin Sunderland (he/him) is a transgender autistic gay man with Borderline Personality Disorder. He’s from Seattle and currently attends the Evergreen State College. He’s been published by University of Amsterdam’s Writer’s Block, UC Riverside’s Santa Ana River Review, and UC Santa Barbara’s Spectrum.

Image: Shadow Walking Through the Day by Edward Michael Supranowicz. Digital image created with GIMP. No other technical information specified. By permission. Edward Michael Supranowicz has had artwork and poems published in the US and other countries. Both sides of his family worked in the coal mines and steel mills of Appalachia.