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November 25, 2016 | Fiction

Naming What We Know

Jordan Castro

Naming What We Know photo

Violette walked around the arboretum, memorizing names of flowers by saying them out loud to Calvin. Fire alarm coralbells; Shredded umbrellas. The names sounded strange, like people interacting on hallucinogens. False forget me not; ‘Fooled you’ jalapeno pepper. It was beautiful outside, and the flowers were beautiful too.

It was an alienating process, finding words for things. A process of detaching and confining; a sequestering of oneself from the universe. Blue mouse ears; Lady slippers. Striptease. The more Violette spoke, the more Calvin felt inexplicably estranged from her. Words severed a person from what they were meant to represent.

Calvin and Violette continued.

Prairie Smoke; Jack in the pulpit.

There was a magic to the world that was lost in the naming of it. Calvin and Violette were writers. They wanted something knowable; something they could share, like a sentence.

Violette touched Calvin’s hand, lifting herself briefly onto the ball of her foot, guiding her and Calvin’s hands backward, then forward, gently, like a swing.

Violette moved away from Calvin toward a group of rhododendrons.

Calvin felt calm.

He thought about God.

If everything is connected - if everything is just one big thing - then that one thing is alone, he thought, distractedly remembering something his friend Paul had tweeted many years ago.

Calvin took a picture with his phone of Violette standing near a large tree and stared at it.

Violette waved at Calvin. Calvin looked at Violette through his phone. He took another picture of her.

He took another, then another.

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