Nathan Dragon ~ What to Leave Behind

Sun came in through one half of a win­dow—the oth­er half was cov­ered by a wardrobe that he used as a pantry.

       Light through the uncov­ered half like a two by four.

       The wardrobe–he wasn’t able to get it upstairs and the wardrobe had turned out to be func­tion­al for him any­way. He’d told peo­ple this, the cou­ple or few total peo­ple that had each been by at dif­fer­ent times.

       Honestly, he’d say to them, It’s not bad hav­ing it down here and tak­ing up not that much space in the cor­ner. Mostly though, he’d been watch­ing some sur­vival shows in the liv­ing room. Shows on TV about how peo­ple make it own their own, how they called ‘off the grid.’

Hunt, for­age, pro­tect.

       But off the grid and on TV—shook his head at that one, he may not be a genius but those two things can’t be rec­on­ciled.

       Thought over how that could work out, with the TV and for as long as he could stand or maybe he’d just start­ed on some­thing else.  

       Then he was won­der­ing what had made him move to the woods.

        Still had to go to the store and into town.

       Humanity or soci­ety or what­ev­er.                 


       Still got a gas bill, elec­tric­i­ty. It was only November and he already couldn’t afford heat and they’d know where to find him.

       The move out here—hadn’t been think­ing about it much because of regret, the move, no nono, he had already been think­ing, say­ing this all to him­self, and his hav­ing been think­ing led to the thought.

       If it was a good idea. What is a good idea.

       He wasn’t sure what to do, start since he got here and he wasn’t sure if he believed any of the rea­sons he gave to the peo­ple for his mov­ing away from them, the peo­ple who’d want­ed to know and asked him things like: Have you been there before? Is it nice? Have you thought much about this? You get­ting sick of the city? Why not move back to your old town, where your fam­i­ly is from at least? Trying to save some cash? Who’s keep­ing an eye on you?

       Maybe they were laugh­ing at him as he answered their ques­tions, since he’d been think­ing about it, on top of every­thing else. He couldn’t tell if he couldn’t tell or just couldn’t remem­ber.

       All these things were asked of him fre­quent­ly, and sure, they all thought him to be direc­tion­less, hav­ing no abil­i­ty to climb, like not par­tic­i­pat­ing in some gen­er­al pur­suit. Repeatedly being asked things that they would laugh no mat­ter how he answered or what kind of house he lived in. Everyone he could think of laugh­ing at him and for what, mov­ing east. He couldn’t pic­ture them cry­ing if he had gone west.

       It seemed to him, that he knew this: he didn’t miss it with the how many and how few ways there were to get around, no, none of all of that, the con­stant noise, apa­thy and vicious­ness and how it cost mon­ey to do any­thing there, like to use a shop­ping cart at the big chain gro­cery sto­ry: $1.00. Stumbling up and down the aisles a mess, hav­ing to keep pick­ing up the things he had dropped, try­ing to grab things off of the shelves, open­ing the frozen din­ner refrig­er­a­tors, even­tu­al­ly break­ing down to cycling through things he had picked up ear­li­er on, putting them back on the shelves in wrong places in exchange for the things he went by as he pro­gressed through the store that had seemed more impor­tant; all the deci­sions on top of it all.



Sometimes things still hap­pened to him though, since he’d moved to the woods, that affect­ed him. He did some things impul­sive­ly and some­times he couldn’t get some­thing start­ed that he want­ed to fin­ish, like get a move on.  

       Usually want­ed to be in the oth­er mood when he was in one.

       When one was hap­pen­ing.


Once from the liv­ing room, he saw some move­ment through the win­dow half cov­ered by the wardrobe. Some pile of grey-brown and blur­ry in the brush.

        He put on his boots and went to see.

       Coy-wolf pups squeak­ing around a dead one, mixed into the bram­ble and dead leaves off the trail head lead­ing to one of the locals’ fish­ing spots. He thought, All this hap­pen­ing across the street from the house.

       Never heard of the things, the coy-wolves, until he saw the sur­vival shows.

       Right in from of him, some of the pups were still try­ing to nurse.

       At work the next day, he tried to tell the sto­ry. They all said, What’s that? What’re those? in their own ways and looked at him like there was some­thing they didn’t believe about it.

       Or the neigh­bors, when he’d told them or asked, said they didn’t see a damn thing.


Nathan Dragon has appeared in or is forth­com­ing in NOON, NY Tyrant, Egress, 7x7, 3:AM. Dragon is cur­rent­ly try­ing to write a book.