Three Little Words

Feature / Brandon Taylor

Bones

Bone is not only a scaffold, as we’re taught when we’re children. Inside of our bones are jeweled sponges like the core of a pomegranate, and it’s from here that our blood flows out into our body, carrying air and everything else necessary for life. Bones are not static, either. They are made and re-made, fashioned from glinting minerals drawn up out of blood by small little cells that scavenge calcium like kingfishers swooping against the river. Consider bone as revision, fattening and slimming, changing to meet our needs, to meet the pressure of our lives—there is a name for this: Wolff’s law, a way to measure how a thing changes out of necessity.

Storm

In my boyhood, my family turned out all of the lights during storms. We would sit sweating in the closed room of our tiny house, all ten of us, waiting out the lightning and the rain and the wind. To pass the time, my grandfather would tell us stories about the man in the white suit who had come to fetch his soul away when he had been a boy. If we were loud, my grandmother told us that the devil would work his way inside of us and take us down to Hell—storms were God’s work, a way to wash away what was bad. Outside, there was a terrible noise, full of the unspeakable.

Time

I am most aware of time when I am waiting for something to begin, as in the life that will come after a parent’s death. When I am waiting to start again, I can feel every second as it drips into the bucket already overflowing with so much time and so much waiting. When will the hour come? When will the phone ring? If not for waiting, I think life would slip me by. If not for waiting, I wouldn’t think of time at all. It is a clear, empty river flowing over me. It’s only when I resist it that I glimpse its shimmering surface and feel the pressure of its steady flow.

Brandon Taylor is currently a PhD student in biochemistry­ at The University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he studies stem cells in tiny animals. He was selected as a 2015 Lambda Literary Fellow in Fiction. His fiction has appeared in Jonathan and Chicago Literati.