Somewhere I read that if you want to stifle a yawn you press the web of flesh between your thumb and forefinger to kill the impulse. I tried it four or five times before I gave up. I was in a five- star restaurant, trying to read the menu, thinking, I would kill for a coffee, I just want to stay awake. But the flesh was weak, as they say. A yawn escaped. And then another yawn across the room, then another, until five people had succumbed—again, “the flesh” and all. Somewhere I read that if you want to stop a yawn you have to kill the cycle, hold your breath to kill the need for more air. A yawn is just a need. Lungs want more air, forcing you to inhale five times the usual amount. I read somewhere that flesh was weak. That your own flesh and blood would kill you to inherit your earth. I read somewhere that astronomists found the yawn of the universe is really the sound of five billion mouths that want the same thing at the same time. They might want money or rutabagas or flesh or krill. They might want five million more years to live. Or to be allowed kill. Or they might simply want to stifle a yawn. Somewhere I read on a scale from one to five, all most of us want is more time to read. Not sins of the flesh, or money, or to kill. Just a book’s fluttering yawn.
Tara Campbell is an award-winning writer, teacher, Kimbilio Fellow, fiction co-editor at Barrelhouse, and graduate of American University’s MFA in Creative Writing. She teaches creative writing at venues such as American University, Johns Hopkins University, Clarion West, The Writer’s Center, Hugo House, and the National Gallery of Art. She’s the author of a novel, two hybrid collections of poetry and prose, and two short story collections from feminist sci-fi publisher Aqueduct Press. Her sixth book, featuring sentient gargoyles in the 22nd century American West, is forthcoming from Santa Fe Writers Project (SFWP) in Fall 2024. Find her at www.taracampbell.com