Locust House Variations, A Weekly Fiction Column by Adam Gnade, “The View from Here”
Sometimes I can’t believe how tired I am. After a week of war news, after hustling for money, running around desperate all day after day after day trying to “get things done.” Yesterday I learned Zelensky was the voice of Ukraine’s Paddington bear. I learned Russia has taken Ukraine’s largest nuclear power plant and that childhood poverty is at an all-time high in the US. I read about a bombing at a mosque in Pakistan that killed dozens of people. I made posts on social media and I wrote emails and I tried my best to plan for “the future.” (Here I put the words in quotes because sometimes I don’t believe in it.)
Today I worry about Alison off at the university in town. I worry about the animals we take care of and what happens if we must leave them behind. I worry about my god-sons up in Michigan and how this far away I can do little to keep them safe.
Meanwhile the cats sleep on the sofa and the dogs get up every few hours to look out the window when they hear the goats or a pack of chickens pecking alongside the house. Meanwhile the sun is behind clouds then it shines again and then a shadow falls over the land and the skies return to gray. I’m thinking of nuclear war. An end to all of this—to worrying, to news, to work, to loved ones, to sleeping cats, to dogs looking out windows…
Good friend, how are you not tired?
How do you take photos of your family laughing at the seashore and hashtag images of your smiling face with slogans about being blessed and living your best life?
Maybe the god you believe in will stick out his hands like a net and stop the bombs from falling. Maybe you’re as tired as I am and maybe you’re better at hiding it. Or maybe that’s how you cope—by ignoring, by spending sunny afternoons at a park somewhere, and your kid coming down the slide and you’re there at the bottom to take a picture. –Adam Gnade