Randon Billings Noble
verb [ no obj. ]
I paced a room, a neighborhood
Ate a party-sized bag of ripple chips
Whispered “Heathcliff” in the dark
Hit myself in the face with a copy of Wuthering Heights
I shaved off more body hair than I should have
Painted my nails dark and told myself that by the time it all chipped off we
would be together again
I Googled you
Googled your ex
Googled your current
I took a pill to try to sleep
I took a pill to pass the time
After a night with Vronsky, Anna Karenina returns to her own bed. But she cannot sleep.
“She lay for a long time motionless, her eyes open, and it seemed to her that she herself could see them shining in the darkness.”
Bourbon serves me as I wait. Ice cream, chocolate—the usual vices. Books. Walks. Porn. Despair. Time.
It’s as blank as a hotel room can be. White sheets, black screen, grey rug, bland art. Bed, dresser, desk—all waiting to be filled by me. Me, waiting to be filled by you.
Over the curve of the earth the eye cannot travel. At the margins of the map there be dragons. A newborn can only see ten inches ahead. Eventually we all grow up.
What’s the wait time now? And now? How about now? Now? Surely now. Now. Now.
With bated breath
Which I had always misunderstood as “baited” – that the breath was bait to lure whatever was desired by holding it. But it’s abated breath – breath held, restrained, almost stopped by the waiting – for you.
By now it’s become a farce, this waiting game. I sit and tell myself things in circles. I read your old letters. Nothing brings you back.
If a man came with a slave on a string I would welcome the distraction. Anything to stop myself from being the slave on the string.
Beckett says, “Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”
Beckett says, “I can’t go on. I’ll go on.”
I say, I’ll go on. I say, I’ll fail better. At least until the next moment. And the next.
Randon Billings Noble is an essayist. Her work has appeared in the Modern Love column of The New York Times, The Georgia Review, The Rumpus, Brevity, Creative Nonfiction, Fourth Genre and elsewhere. Her essay “The Heart as a Torn Muscle” is a Notable Essay in The Best American Essays 2016 and her chapbook Devotional is forthcoming from Red Bird in 2017. A fellow at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts and a resident at the Vermont Studio Center, she was named a 2013 Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation Creative Fellow to attend a residency at The Millay Colony for the Arts. Currently she is a nonfiction editor at r.kv.r.y quarterly, Reviews Editor at Tinderbox Poetry Journal, and a reviewer for The A.V. Club.