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By Laurie Stone.

Sit in silence in the dark. Vibrate vigorously. Roll on your side. Picture tight, glistening calves and dark eyebrows.

Have sex with two different men named Paul Davis in the course of a month. Boost your immune system. Drink through your middle years. Look good but shorter.

Gather kindling. Learn the names of trees. Call your mother with hope. Call every day.

Lift a car off the ground. Break a bone. Become a mouse with a special skill.

Remember a woman you do not know anymore. Picture her chic haircut, dangerous sunglasses, splash of scarf, bright lipstick, and expensive luggage. Consider a story is the way you dress.

Compose a bible consisting entirely of cat names. Seek solace in a language you do not understand. Ignore a loose thread. Find a peaceful way of dealing with the world. (Just kidding.)

Remember the sweet, soft voice of your sister and the faraway look in her eyes. Leave an airport on foot. Answer questions about plastic surgery. Return after ten years without an explanation.

Recall a time you strategized to get something, got it, and felt shame. Start over. Develop a false sense of confidence. Picture being kinder. What are you wearing?

Become casually and emphatically Jewish — or unJewish. Do a DNA ancestry search and discover you are half wolf and half fox. Forgive your parents.

Volunteer a body part to an art project. Meet two people on the same day who have only one tooth. Stare into the darkness.

Walk in sharp rain from Grasmere to Scotland, reciting the diaries of Dorothy Wordsworth. Light all the matches. Stand unseen against a wall. Sleep with a person who is a bobcat, and then act surprised when they run up a tree.

Adjust the direction of the magnetized needle in your heart. Grow a second skin. Wear a watch with Japanese characters. Wait for the conversation to turn to TV.

Make an important decision based on whether you can swat a fly. Sniff your fingers. Form a friendship with the mysterious netting of romance, sustained with surprising dreams and no actual sex.

Match your T-shirt to the yellow of a fading bruise. Forget how they look at you. Ride the service elevator. Check the corners. Find something you love more than anything in the world that lives far away.

Watch a bird take off. Become the bird. Dissent from admiring Ulysses. Read all the Penguin novels with orange spines written by women.

Whisper into the ear of a man whose salmon colored feet you mistook for socks. Hitch a ride from a stranger with the blazing eyes of the Unabomber. Go on a talk show with a dog.

Catch your breath. Catch a falling knife. Catch sight of a man who looks like the same bad decision you still want to make.

Play the drum at the end as a final heart beat. Every day is the break-up museum.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Laurie Stone is author most recently of My Life as an Animal, Stories. She was a longtime writer for the Village Voice, theater critic for The Nation, and critic-at-large on Fresh Air. She won the Nona Balakian prize in excellence in criticism from the National Book Critics Circle and has published numerous stories in such publications as Evergreen Review, Fence, Open City, Anderbo, The Collagist, New Letters, TriQuarterly, Threepenny Review, and Creative Nonfiction. In 2005, she participated in “Novel: An Installation,” writing a book and living in a house designed by architects Salazar/Davis in the Flux Factory’s gallery space. She is at work on The Love of Strangers, a collage of hybrid narratives.

First published in 3:AM Magazine: Sunday, October 8th, 2017.