Absolution by Adia Clark

Within its plainness lay convolution. The material housed two bodies, only separated by small periods in time. This made a joined identity for the clothing, albeit only in my mind. When I first obtained the plain white undershirt, it smelled of cologne. I hid it from my lover while he dressed so I could keep something of his. He knew it was gone but that didn’t stop me from keeping it. Every night I slept in it to feel a softness that made me safe. I could taste his words in my mouth. I could hear his kisses touch my collarbone.

By the third wash, he was gone. Has anyone ever told you how painful it is to interact with a shell of a person? To lay your head on the chest of a ghost? Times when it got too hard to bear, I turned the edge of the shirt in my fingers, whispered into the fabric and focused my eyes on the folds made as I slept the night prior. In that way, I was able to keep him close. In that way, our love survived. In that way, I had an escape, though small, from my impending reality.

For two months after its absolution, I kept the shirt. I changed its location every few days: under the pillow, in my dresser, spread across the desk. But one day it became a nuisance. Instead of being an artifact, it became a site of ruins. Its presence menaced me. I dreamed it wrapped itself around my neck and choked me. The next morning, I laid it across my bed and stood over the fabric, inspecting the source of my sorrow. Late summer angled in through the window and shone on it. The shirt swallowed the light but didn’t glow. With a slight hesitation, I folded it neatly and threw it among the garbage. Standing over the trashcan, I tried to go back to that first day. Just one last time. When I took the shirt and slid it under my pillow. And that memory didn’t seem quite the same. It just wasn’t in the same place I had left it.

Adia Clark is a writer from the east coast, born in New Jersey and raised
in North Carolina. Writing has always been a necessity for her – using
language as a way to understand the world she’s been placed in. Adia is
primarily a fiction writer, working on her first novel. She is currently
working and living in Chicago, accompanied by her dog Bella.

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