When You're Not an Alcoholic but You Don't Want to Go Home
Drive to a neighborhood other than yours. Read the names and numbers on the mailboxes. Note the condition of lawns, foundations; the presence or absence of junky old toys in the yard. Take comfort in missing house numbers, cracked cement, bald spots and crabgrass, deflated kiddie pools, abandoned sippy cups—any signs of stress or neglect. Observe a wayward toddler in a driveway, screaming, until someone (older sibling? babysitter?) runs out to wrangle him, jamming a binky in his mouth. Savor the sweetness of a scream that isn’t yours to soothe.
Drive to a grocery store to buy things that aren’t groceries. Forbidden, poisonous treats like Twinkies and Cheetos and Snowballs. Devour them in your car before ditching the empty boxes in the trash bins behind the stores. Stop again at a gas station or library bathroom to wash with weak hand soap over a sink laced with hair and mucous, cleansing your work clothes of industrial cream pie stains, your fingers of the orange grease-powder that clings like a baby clown’s diaper cream.
Drive to a cemetery where no-one you know is buried. Get out of the car and sit on the hood, savoring the tingling potency of the mist enclosing you, the unspoken, unspeakable wishes on your tongue—that you’d never met, never kissed, never married, never borne. Feel the power trembling within you, like the blade of the knife you’ve held, more than once, over your own blue-veined wrist, like the endless iterations of a dream of escape in which you run, without tiring, toward any other life you might have lived.
is a self-taught, Pushcart-nominated writer originally from Western Montana. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Wigleaf, HAD, Fictive Dream, Barren, Leon Literary Review, JMWW, Mom Egg Review, Literary Mama, Bending Genres, Drunk Monkeys, Door Is a Jar
Content Warning: My submission includes content that may be difficult/triggering for some readers. Please see note included on the document.