Mirrors pawn the deviant out of anyone. Go ahead. Hotline coral lipstick over the muted thrush of festered gums. Someone a block away died harsh and blank as the soft peel of a flippant wind. Varicose cracks of the pavement cushioned him. Throngs tripped over the body, frowned at their shoes. Make-up was applied on a longer street with those bathed in a kaleidoscope of the next selfie. Gilded with purple pain, fingers scoured lower backs, necks, shoulders at stoplights. Rumors pinched into the kindling of old aches. What happened to autopsy results whispered through taut envelopes and dangling tissues? Flawed by life acres cropping the heads off tangled flesh; sweaty confessionals of overwrought innards yanked the leash to Owl Liquor Store. Mustering palpitations mapped that niche of space in aisle one and three housing the necessary bottles bogged under until bought and bagged.

*. *. *. *

“We talk about fucking weather,” Mom says. “Sister says the sun is a dirty wash of haze in California. Says it stalks through a fog not even clouds can track. And California throbs with the stench of desperation and obscurity.” Mom sucks a deep inhale of smoke. “Maybe Chicago is the same. Can someone tell me how we became two cut-out women in a magazine swapping recipes? Last time Sister looked into my eyes, she was waning. Next thing I know, she’s dead. Sister sliced the something I wish I had the fearlessness to slice. Always thought I was the damaged one.

Mom dragged out the Walmart gallon Vodka jug from the pantry. The crackle of liquid over ice sighed, ‘shipwrecked’ ‘you in trouble’. ‘There ain’t no trouble,’ ‘wait; it’s empty’, and sure enough there’s nothing floating between ice until smug, slugging waterfall of vodka reclaimed its standing and the whole damn world was roaring and rocking as Mom swirled her glass.

9 Comments

  1. Robert Vaughan

    Hi Meg, your entire first passage is so world-gone-wrong. In the most lush, and orchestrated blown-away lines. It’s like Garielle meets Diane Seuss meets Dominique!!! Your unconventional use of prose and syntax, line and word choice is flaberghasting!!!

    I love how in the second and third paragraphs we get fiery Mom, and Sister, and the protagonist who hides beneath the peppery dialogue and the narrative. Who are “we” in the telling? This is a conundrum. Is the first paragraph some clue to the second and third? Perhaps I have to go back and read again. And again!!! What a terrific first draft!!!

  2. David O'Connor

    Meg, you rock! As always, I love your writing and could read it all day long!! You could go anywhere you want with this and we’d follow! Lead the way!!

  3. Roberta Beary

    Meg, this is something else and the descriptive language that flows from your fingertips leaves me in awe!

    I’m not sure what’s happening in paragraph one. Sister dying or a malaise that stretches to Owl Liquor Store, but whatever it is, I like it!

    The Mom’s alkie/alky world view comes across in such powerfully strong images – I love this one: “… there’s nothing floating between ice until smug, slugging waterfall of vodka reclaimed its standing and the whole damn world was roaring and rocking as Mom swirled her glass.”

  4. Kellie Rankey

    I’m interested in the way that the first section suggests that while Mom says “We talk about fucking weather,” the speaker thinks about a lot more. The speaker’s world is bigger, darker than weather, and of course, as Mom goes on, hers is too. That first section is a linguistic montage, packed with suggestions, absent of clarity, which the second section then adds just enough. Whose life is in the first? Maybe it’s all of their lives. Each character in a sort of track-rut, not knowing despite differing geographies that they’re walking/running/vomiting on parallel lines. The line “Always thought I was the damaged one” then catches on the skin, the insistence that one’s individuality includes their damage. That damage pushes a line from overlapping (repeating) to parallel (similar), and the mind claims parallel as unrelated. Aren’t we all some bottles bogged under until bought and bagged? Anyways, my favorite line is “Can someone tell me how we became two cut-out women in a magazine swapping recipes?” It says so much, evinces so much emotional emptiness, captures a lot of the “we talk but we aren’t really talking” energy, without having to be on the nose or obvious about it. Master Meg at it again, as always!

  5. Benjamin Niespodziany

    “Mom dragged out the Walmart gallon Vodka jug from the pantry.” This feels like such a heavy undertaking! As if it’s an anvil from Looney Tunes. Lovely, haunting visual.

    The dialogue and the conversational tone are so striking and sharp here, I almost see this asterisk break as two separate pieces. Maybe a series of fragments between the lyric and the vocal? This one’s a rush.

  6. Len Kuntz

    Hi Meg.

    This slings a lot of arrows, and all of them hit a bullseye. The language is so lush and dense at the same time and everything after the break really anchors what came before it. I especially love how you sprayed this out—‘shipwrecked’ ‘you in trouble’. ‘There ain’t no trouble,’ ‘wait; it’s empty’
    This is a piece that needs to be taught in class. Brava.

  7. Ryan Griffith

    Meg, I love the wild linguistic abandon of the first passage, the way you push language to the limit of meaning. The mad sensuality is such an interesting juxtaposition with the second passage, like slowing from a sprint to a walk. The relationship between the two passages is mysterious and fascinating and very compelling. I loved it!

  8. Lisa Alletson

    Absorbing. Mesmerizing. Fresh even after a few reads. This is a wildly enjoyable story.

  9. Chelsea Stickle

    I was hooked by your beginning: “Mirrors pawn the deviant out of anyone.”

    “Rumors pinched into the kindling of old aches.” Yes.

    I appreciate the progression in this piece. At first the liquor store is enough for her, but later only the gallon jug from Walmart will do.

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