Don’t Should on Yourself

She gave me the prompt and I groaned. No, not that. But I had asked and didn’t argue.

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Should is a shark tooth puncturing flesh. It’s blood leaking into water. It’s sinking, it’s stone, rough rope tied to ankles. Should is drowning, the thud of the floor, elusive surface and unreachable sky. Should is muffled, a voice encased in aspic. Should is every not enough, a tangle of debris. It’s litter on the beach and choking birds and Sisyphusian deceit, not to be trusted. Should is misdirected best effort, bound for defeat, hands over ears and strangled heart. Should is feeling invisible at the table, soul eclipse, murky underworld and murderous shadow. Should is unrelenting and insatiable, solitary confinement and treadmill illusion. Should is holding still instead of dancing, clenched fists, and suppressed expression. Should is a bully, a miserly hoarder, always keeping score, quid pro quo and threatening notes by the door. Should whispers, you’re falling short, always demanding more and more. Should is foul play and master manipulator and dream assassin. Should is old newsprint and yesterday’s news, hollow heart and denier of clues. Should is pavement over wild earth. Should is unworthy of so much attention. Should is goodbye and see ya, these boots are made for walking. Should is the war and you are the mourner. Should is staying home today in a chair in the corner.

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