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  • Writer's pictureWILLIAM HAZEL

In the Middle

Updated: Jun 15

The fence shadows crept like ghosts back to graves and then it was the middle of the night. And then it was the middle of the month. I don’t recall November beginning. It went dark and the calendar said 11 and then 15. And the holiday season surrounded. Everywhere. On the streets, the screens, the office. ‘Tis the time for cheer, the countdown clearly stating remaining days, but nobody ever said it was starting. No longing, no anticipation, no time for theme free decompression. Suddenly in the middle of the rush.


I hold a memory of being nine, or maybe I was seven years old, hurling off the highest diving board. The one for grown-ups. That moment in the middle. Inners rising into my throat. Accelerating to the blue flat resembling concrete. I remember knowing it was going to hurt. And that I would still be okay. These days, I’m not so certain.


In a hump-day evening rush, stuck in the middle of bumper-to-bumper jam, the news spewed horror tales from the middle of two world wars. One, hundreds of years old, one, thousands. And still they fight. And in my own home I live in the midst of the great Civil War that also never ends. A war I once interpreted as historic, though now it thrives in times as dividing and as dangerous. I am only invited to choose a side. There is no middle ground to share. Conversations for commonality feel lost. Every slight difference is a chasm, every disagreement an argument.


In the middle of a blood battle between normalcy and autocracy in the middle of a post pandemic shift evolving with neither recognition nor definition a friend struggles in the middle of getting her degree, accepting she’ll probably never buy a home because she’ll be in the middle of paying off the debt for most of her adult life.


I write to feel lighter. Feel better. It works sometimes.


Through the middle of submissions to journals, editing a first draft of the next book, outlining my novel notes, and preparing a schedule for meeting upcoming deadlines, I find refuge and rejuvenation in the work with words. I have tried to connect with other writers. The social platforms, though, once offering digital avenues of relative ease, seem caught in the cross X hairs of devolving towards impersonation. All the platforms feel in the middle of maneuvering toward the era of more artificial than intelligent.

I run to feel healthier. Feel better. It works sometimes.


Just past the 5K mark of our recent 10K, M and I began passing runners who dashed off too fast. We spoke about plans for the upcoming year and laughed and smiled and waved to children cheering. We're both adventurers, always in the middle of planning the next trip. There was a rest stop serving little pies, and M had her chocolate treat half finished and couldn’t swallow and the other half went into her pocket but was melting, so the little pie with the big bite in the middle went into the trashcan. Almost. It bounced off the rim and landed in the middle of the street. We finished the race in the middle of the pack. It’s where we always finish. It’s okay. Finishing in the middle.


That night, in the backyard under blankets, we warmed through the middle of a cold autumn sunset. The hues 'tween the pinks and the blues coloring darker and deeper. A familiar robin jumped onto the middle of the northside fence. His favorite spot. He then broad winged to the patch of soft earth betwixt the tropical garden and our chairs. With studious ears he listened for his dinner. A meal after the light and before the dark.


The robin held the worm hard in the center. The creature wiggling from both ends. In those moments between life and swallow.

1. Cover photo and design by Author.

© Copyright William Hazel, 2023

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