My first week living in this swamp I had a hard time admitting I was what I was. The growth formula, the fire, all the violence and loss—these things caused me to be the thing I am, and what was left of the scientist in me made me want to find an antidote of some kind to fix the problem I had become.
I’m in a sweaty, swaying Dodge Caravan coasting down I-10, squished between Jill and Jacob in the backseat, their elbows jabbed sharp into my gut. My father’s hot dog fingers reach across the middle console, tight around my mother’s cookie dough roll thin thigh.
Somewhere a young wife is taking a photograph of the full moon through her husband’s telescope. Somewhere across the border, that husband is struggling to purchase ecstasy, his English-to-French dictionary wrinkling in his grasp.
We had pasta for lunch. Linguini with lemon and curls of courgette. I made it because it was your favorite and I picked a bunch of rust-red chrysanthemums from my garden and placed them on the table.
If you want to bring a crow to your yard, get rid of anything that could scare them. Throw out your bells and windchimes and fix the squeaky hinges on the front gate. Get rid of reflective surfaces–they don’t like to look at themselves.
When you’re gone, I practice for when you’re dead. You might be gone to the store, or taking out the trash or having a bath and I’ll pretend not to hear the car or back door or water draining the tank.
After every show, when the crowds shuffle home with the stage lights still winking in their eyes and buttery popcorn kernels refusing to digest in their stomachs, you crawl into your trailer, the one where the freaks sleep.
Belmont station and it’s 2 a.m. and the father’s stranded out here somewhere in who the hell knows on his way back home, when it should have been a straight shot but has somehow taken him a good two hours to just end up getting lost like the sad-eyed dogs you’ll see tied up side of the highway sometimes and plus he’s starving, so bad it feels like pennies in his guts.
Though it is ill-advised, she looks back. How can she not? She looks back and sees the place of her life and her inside of it. Her and her brother rescuing the worms after rain. Moon shining in her dark wet hair, head leaning out the window, smelling the rosemary, smiling, saying goodnight.
And now you should say goodbye to the ones you love. Loop a pair of clouded binoculars around your neck. Pack a peanut butter sandwich and a rusty apple and a bottomless bottle of water.
Kate is not ‘imagining it’. There are small tufts of pale fluff on her neck, and no, it’s not ‘just a tissue in the washing machine’ as John suggests. There’s nothing drifting off his shirts, nothing clinging to Ella’s favourite black top, Josh’s Minecraft t-shirts. It’s more solid than tissue, just on her clothes. And only she can see it.
It’s been twenty minutes since the first bolt of lightning ripped a scar through the purple night sky. Since my mother said to swim in the rain ― it’s fun. Since her boyfriend Colin said he’d join us― to check we’re ok.
Ignis, the flaming wreckage, bubbling rubber, liquified cloth, her skin charred and blistering, acrid smoke, the tiny thunders of survival’s kicks
The old man fell asleep in his car, his nostrils pressed softly against the steering wheel, but the car kept going, because the old man’s foot was not asleep, was still pressing down hard, and later they would say, it’s not really his fault, he’s such an old man.
In the barren cold camp, you wear a dusty cape and top hat, wave my cane as if it were a wand and tell me your dream-stories, one after the next, your words spun and tossed like tethers into the air.