If All Hallways Were 2 Feet Wide Theo Ellin Ballew Macro-Fiction

map If All Hallways Were 2 Feet Wide

by Theo Ellin Ballew

Published in Issue No. 244 ~ September, 2017

If all hallways were 2 feet wide I think that I could be happy. I’d pull my little elbows toward my little waist when I’d see you coming along, I’d roll myself in against one of the walls, I’d laugh, I’d splay myself flat like a starfish, just trying to make a bit of room. And you’d roll your eyes, you’d stick your arms up and turn to the side, you’d get your ass just barely past through the recess there behind by the small of my back and then I’d walk backwards, watching you recede, ’til you’d turn, around, and smile in a syllable at me, shooting my finger guns at you, and picking up my knees, like a cowboy.

If hallways had widths of 2 feet I would go nowhere without contact. I would never fear tipping over. I would run my fingers along a wall at every moment and I would never have really to reach. My elbow would remain ever bent. In hallways 2 feet wide even whispers would have their echoes! And there would be no room for not listening.

In a 2-foot-wide hallway that is white but dimly lit no part of me could come off into the air. I’d be held in tightly by walls 2 feet apart, and there’d be just enough room to sit. I could sit, crisscross, and it’d be fine to fall asleep. And you or you passing would be careful to be quiet. You’d press your palms against walls and step your toes over my thighs in an arc safer than the sky, as quiet as quiet can be.

If all hallways were 2 feet wide you would know when my eyes were watering. You’d duck your head down and look into them. You’d say, hey. And hugging in a hallway no one would see us because of course there would be no windows. We’d lean against one wall and then we’d lean against the other, and leaning you could always bear my weight.

In a hallway 2 feet wide when I’d sprint past smiling my skin would brush a wall and it would burn! I’d sprint, I’d smile, showing you and you and you, and that’d be exactly, exactly, what I’d get. No I could never forget in a world of 2 feet that my pretending only provides me with pain. And then maybe, one day, I would learn.

In such a 2-foot world I’d play music so loudly that it would be the only existing thing. It would fill not only my ears but also the arc of skull between them. It would fill my cheeks and my fingertips, my kidneys and the small of my back, always slightly sore and wanting to be touched, it’d fill all the spaces always in me and empty, there would be no room for wandering thoughts, it would keep them, right there, there it would prop them, up like pillows, it would fill those too in time and then I’d close my eyes and lean against a wall and it’d be like I was there in something finally very similar to what I want, you know, and then you or you’d wake me with that look all over your face and I’d say, aw hey, that’s sweet.

You’d say it’s time to go and I’d smile to prove you wrong. I’d slide down the wall into sitting. My legs would pretend to know the points at which they were folding, you’d turn off the music and you’d tell me to get up. I’d tell you, smiling sweetly, hey I’ve heard that one before! you’d tell me to get up and I’d laugh. You’d tell me to get up with me laughing and smiling and telling you to shut up you’d tell me again, et cetera. And then one day you’d leave because you’ve seen enough smiling to forget what’s said and because you’re tired of not being able to spread, out, or of being a wall, or maybe just because we all realize at a certain point that some people who seem interesting are really only sad.

And I’d roll myself over and press my breasts against the wall. My legs would be still crossed but perpendicular to the ground. I’d bring my arms slowly up, in inconsistent and bent arcs, until they were somewhere, looking very broken, above my head. And then finally my knees would start to hurt. The pain would slowly increase. It would increase until my body, was entirely, impossible, until it was crumbling under the pressure as it bellowed each of your infinite names, smiling and appearing full of faith, I tell you smiling and looking very full of faith, this disgusting thing shaking with smiling and faith in its happiness and as its echoes, again and again, died out.

account_box More About

Theo Ellin Ballew has gone home to Los Angeles, CA; Baltimore, MA; Cincinnati, OH; Scottsdale, AZ; Tempe, AZ; Fresno, CA; Phoenix, AZ; Salt Lake City, UT; New Haven, CT; New York, NY; Cambridge, MA; Dallas, TX; Brooklyn, NY; and Denver, CO, in roughly that order. She currently lives in Mexico City, where she directs ORAL and writes.