The cresting throb of cocaine found itself tangled in a costly labyrinth between my dead-end veins and a bi-monthly check from Souper Salad’s. Such dissolving nose-bluster ousted my caged reality of unhinged loneliness and suffocating rage. I rallied desperate attempts out of my phone to flatter friends into frocking up and meeting me. Not startled, but hardened, by the ripple of placid excuses, I found myself judged by another solitary sky. A last, blazing snort ripped out ‘you got nothing on me’ to all the faithless. I edged out the bedroom window, down branches to the grass. TV laugh tracks and a smothering love scent of burnt popcorn drenched my pores and wafted goodbye. The macabre part was to leave a house before anyone’s heart rate was their own.
Six blocks shrill with absence braced themselves for the plumage of assault, rape, and murder. Charging through demented streets thick with the pursuit of counterfeit footsteps, I teetered a landscape made ready for disappearance. Nothing but dimly lit corners and echoes of girls gone ghost kept me galloping toward some kind of life spent daytimes detouring in dread.
Streetlights plunged florescent flickerings out of nowhere into human packs punched overzealous with voices, honking, sirens. A city floodlit and reanimated appeared out of the back alleys. Comfort pooled itself in pedestrians hammering on in clustered posse’s rank with the spillover stench of bastardized cigarettes, refried oil, ice cream, and cheap beer.
I fleshed out the party through adrenaline. An address two blocks off Clark Street clasped the claws of my grip. And there they were. A flypaper gallery of bodies slumped, wedged, locked into each other, legs raised across, plagiarizing gestures, spread out and over the you-shaped porch kegged on either end with red plastic cups parading across the balcony.
Inside, people foraged up and down a flight of stairs. Lyrics raked the rabid imprint of monotone, astute with nesting bruises of yesteryears. The rubble of panic attacks might gather into weathered cages, diminutive in refrains, until they drained all angst out of repetition.
Oscillating need tattooed by crack-clawed nails, I fussed a woman’s cheek clumsy on my way through the crowd. Her face wore stone-clear edges and ocean views. “Looks like you and me got time to fly,” she said. Always ready to follow–I hollowed a spiny shadow in her wake. She clutched my hand and led me up and up and up to the highest crown of the house. Once again, I was climbing out a window, but not alone this time. She turned back. “Fuck the white powder. Keep moving or they will spectacle your pain.” She leaned into the hours of a clock. “Jump on,” and yes, I did.
We lurked through startling air shaken up by sizable whispers of smokeless chimneys. Tiny rivulets of splash and bones, undulant ripples of a suburb’s backwash reflected delusions of sky or grass. Stray hedges held their breath, charred by lightning, scoured with the blackened ash of childhood. Through the vaporous vacancy of clouds the woman said:
“So much to tell. Memory will bury this, but you singe the edge.”
She forged a split between myself and a small hole of existence she pulled me through. Sharpened by the strange reflection of her throbbing mouth backlight by jeweled words, it was all just practice for death. My mouth opened and said, “it’s so simple”, as though anything had ever been.
Meg Tuite is author of a novel-in-stories, Domestic Apparition, a short story collection, Bound By Blue, and won the Twin Antlers Collaborative Poetry award for her poetry collection, Bare Bulbs Swinging, as well as five chapbooks of short fiction, flash, and poetic prose. She teaches at Santa Fe Community College, is a senior editor at Connotation Press, an associate editor at Narrative Magazine, fiction editor here at Bending Genres Journal, and editor of eight anthologies. Her work has been published in numerous literary magazines, over fifteen anthologies, nominated nine times for the Pushcart Prize, five-time Glimmer Train finalist, placed 3rd in Bristol Prize, and Gertrude Stein award finalist. Her blog: http://megtuite.com.