Three Seasons Before Prozac by Emily Nelson


There is a dream of disappearing in small ways.
On walks, on bike rides, on the path I pretend is lonely, trying to forget that I
know the way back, stopping to imagine what it would be like to simply vanish into the
dark green invitation of the silent trees. Drunk too many times on the grey skies and rain
clouds that a few months ago I longed for and curled into.
In my ear a woman who disappeared without a trace is singing about walking in
the dark
“not together /
but far apart.”
Each tug of the guitar string echoes off the walls of some distant kitchen, and I
wonder, briefly, if that kitchen still exists. Does someone still sit there in stocking feet
and dream about having your hand in mine?
I’m sure she thought nothing of the echo of her voice back then, the sounds that
shifting her guitar on her hip might make on the recording. But it’s trapped in my ears
sixty years later, I can still hear your echo.


Storm clouds crowd in the window frame, violently dark against dogwood
blossoms, sickeningly pink. The slip of boiled eggs shedding their shells under my
When I was younger I noticed how it always rained during Holy Week. I thought
it must be because the angels were crying for Jesus. Even after I learned about
condensation and weather patterns and radar, I briefly considered it every year as Good
Friday came and went in a torrential downpour. It’s going to rain hard today too. But
maybe that’s just April.
Even when I turn away it seems to tug at me – is it God pulling me or guilt? I’m
more convinced they’re the same thing.
I’m trying not to think about this time last year when I saw you get scared and cry
and I had to remind myself that sometimes adults don’t always have the answers. Not
God or my mother or anyone; random as the pattern of the egg shell peeling away.
Poised at the edge of the kitchen sink, standing on the edge of ​ really g ​ rowing up,
big decisions,
hot or cold water,
scrambled or fried?


The roses are yellow and remind me of Emily Dickinson (did she write a poem
about yellow roses?). They stand out against the sky like painted stars, crawling up the
pale fence of the neighbors I don’t know. Underneath the bush sprayed with electric pink
blossoms is a cat so dark it blends into the shadows, looking at me with pale lamp eyes,
low and judgmental. Am I being scanned? In a house behind me are the strains of two
violins out of harmony: one instructing, the other repeating. A creamy moon hangs heavy
on the edge of the woods, a fat wedge of butter nearly as lazy as the cat I’m staring down.
He doesn’t like what he finds and disappears into the lengthening shadows.
I don’t like what I find either, the same three concerns chasing after each other.
They never seem to wear out, but I’m certainly starting to feel the exhaustion. The warm
air tugs at my hair and skates across my shins.
There is an end to this, this summer, this feeling.


Emily Nelson is a Portland-based writer, editor, and amateur astrologist. She is an ongoing contributor to the music and culture blog half&half, as well as the literary website Drizzle Review. Her short story, “The Stewardess,” will be featured in an upcoming edition of Fiction Attic Press. She is a former editorial intern with Tin House books and a senior editor of Writers magazine; you can find her on Twitter at @notyouemily, where she tweets about Mad Men and being a directionless postgrad. 

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