Anatomy of a Story

This body is a living memorial. Here lies a moment in the crook of my arm. There, I found that memory under a fingernail. One morning in November on my kneecap, one sullen Saturday in a strand of hair. Every cell starts the story this way: I thought nothing would change.

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Stories begin in the blood, fresh and fast and throbbing. They are unborn, embryonic, waiting for cues. Sometimes a story stays in the lungs, going in, coming out. Other times it is alive in the liver, behaving like a screen. Plot gestation is a real process. It is just that nobody ever told you this is how stories unfold.

It is time to tell a story when she leaves your body for your brain. She takes the elevator up your spine, stopping on each floor, of course — a story will not ever be rushed. But when the doors open on the frontal lobe your nerves will shimmer. And it will be time to let her go.

You will not get away without dreaming. Prose slips into bed during the lucid pre-dawn. This is how you know you have held her too long. Pull back the sheets and lie naked in the cold, clear morning. After she leaves, admire the scars as if they were chapters.

 

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