This is all there is

Updated: Jul 25, 2020

Written by Zadie McCracken & artwork by Althea Alano

I do not care for writing. Writing cares for me.

I tried to leave, to sweep my fringe from my face, and see clearly for the first time, like the moment in Rebecca Stead’s When You Reach Me when the veil lifts from the face, and life is direct and unequivocal. I wanted –

I wanted to be a plant, nurtured and hated by Hourani & Stone. I wanted to be a stone, or a flood. I wanted to leave – your hand touched mine, and my feet shifted in the puddles of black booze. Your tongue tasted of beer, your heart was a red brick in the middle of your chest, not to the left, you were the wrong kind of alien. This is the future, this spirit that comes over me, this girl, this pearl amongst the oyster flesh. I wanted to be a lemon cake I ate. I wanted to be a magician, I wanted to be Michigan, where you are from. The light spilled emptily, and as I was kissing you I gestured to Grace, five fingers, five minutes. Just a little longer. Maybe my hymen will break.

I gathered all my things in preparation for the march. I tied the napkin – the checked cliche, the gold, the gross – around my heirloom rings and my first novel. I wrote a text to my best friend:

i am leaving. tell the kids. i love you.

It was fun and historical – like being on drugs in the 1800s or getting caught in a rip and ending up on a convict island. I danced and I never paid rent. There was a place called Love Lane and I went there. There were many great trees. I stopped shaving, and battered grass kissed my body like a lullaby or a special kind of silk. I got really into astrology and joined a cult about Laura Dern.

July calls me while I’m in the bathtub. This is the first call of all time.


I tried to leave, to move in a way that indicated leaving. I read a lot – first serious works of

literature like Rachel Cusk and Virginia Woolf and Anne Boyer, then modern goodness like Chris Kraus and Jia Tolentino, then celebrity memoirs like Busy Phillips and Lena Dunham, and the latter was my favourite because –

Like a death-defying moth, I came back to Earth with all my teeth intact. No one had noticed. All the music sounded the same. I wished you away like a drunk elf –

But there you were, all shiny and good like a God/dess.

I turned off the dripping tap, I came back, I started touch-typing. I hoped my return was really 100% that bitch, but only to you. I hoped you would win at the Oscars. I hoped you would beekeep. I hoped you.

Zadie Mccracken is a Melbourne-based writer, performer and creative producer. In addition to her practice, Zadie likes to-do lists, personality tests, glitter and television. You can find her all over the internet, but especially at her website,, and Instagram, @zadiemccracken.

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