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Falling Pine Needles

On a long circuit around the campus she stopped outside the marble think tank a socialist companion once
christened the local monument to opulence and watched a pine tree gone to rust. All the leaves dead and now
fluttering down in detached brown wings on the asphalt and white stone of the temple where once she insulted
a friend very terribly without intending to, which in a way makes it worse, and after the ensuing spat she went
off to get drunk with the girl who was nice to her from the beginning, and the girl held her. How often must a
person under ideal circumstances endure contact with other human beings? A man on a television in a voice
thick with hair grease and cologne says five firm embraces a day is best. Fuck him. What is best is to be brushed
on the neck and cheek by falling needles, mute unthinking things that don’t know that you’re there, or how they
feel on human skin. Like that webcomic where a ragged alcoholic rests her head a long while on the trunk of a
tree which might have been an oak. Drunk girl hugs oak tree. She, who was walking, got home and listened to
the whine of far away machines and forgot about the pine needles.


Harper Preston (she/they) is a second-year literature and creative writing student at Bennington
College.

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