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.