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A Touch of Desperation

By Andi Myles

You ask me what you are worth—which I do not take to mean your value in terms of currency—though it is easy enough to calculate given your height and weight and the approximate percentage of elements that form the molecules that keep you alive and if forced to guess, I would say that your body, deconstructed, contains approximately $129 worth of oxygen, $384 of carbon, $7.20 of Nitrogen, and so on and so forth, finally supplying me with the number of $1,985.77; nor do I pretend to think that you mean your value as determined by the market, $18.70 per hour, but instead surmise that you wish to know your intrinsic worth as a person and, yet again, I am forced to make assumptions: that you do not want to know that your worth is nothing to the Prime Minister of Latvia, to the President of the United States it is only 1/169,000,000 (less since you don’t live in a swing state,) that you are worth only the dollar to the beggar in the street that you stopped to empty your pockets for, and, given your lack of newsworthy accomplishments, worth nothing to humanity as a whole (at this point I feel I should remind you that you are priceless to your mother) but I sense, however, that what you truly desire to know is your worth to me, specifically, and, I suppose, hope to hear how my life would end with yours, that I would never love again nor desire another bond and that I would, if forced, take you to every ancient place I visited, longing only to be with you again—which is, perhaps, how I should answer but we have always—if not always, at least since we sat up two gut wrenching nights in a row leaving each other again and again until we finally decided to stay, as we said, “for now”—valued honesty above all else, so I will admit that while I cannot know without a doubt, since worth is most quantifiable at the object’s moment of loss, time and absence are unkind to memory and though I would think of you occasionally—when I pass that Thai place I love and you hate or see a trailer for a movie I think you might like but not, however, on anniversaries since I am, as you know, notoriously forgetful with random dates like that—I predict, with the least amount of doubt I can muster, I would move on after your loss, in all likelihood rather quickly which, I know, is unsatisfactory because it does not answer the question—it only supplies in the negative, that is, what you are not worth to me—which is everything—and I am forced to answer that, while I cannot narrow the vocabulary between something and everything, I believe you already have the answer you sought.

Andi Myles is a Washington DC area science writer by day, poet in the in between times, and her work has appeared in Tahoma Literary Review, Evocations Review, and Willows Wept Review, among others.

Art by Tami Hattis.

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