Today has been quite productive. The college I attend, Johnson and Wales University, had an event for the release of their annual literary journal, The West Trade Review. I have 3 stories, a poem, and a photo being published in their upcoming issue, and I was asked to read two of those stories at the event. Here is a video of me reading those:
The stories I read were “Mom & Tom” and “Raise Your Glass”. I know that these are good stories, I’ve been told that they are constantly. But for some reason, I suddenly find myself not liking them. I think that over the past few months my writing has grown quite a bit, and to me these stories feel very young. Either way, I’m proud of them. But I’m also very proud of the two stories I read a few hours later at The Evening Muse – even though a line had not been printed on one and I thought I had lost a page:
I read two very recent stories, “God” and “Rare”. I’m in love with these stories, and I am very excited to see what my readers think about them.
Last night I went to sleep with the lights on. Not just one light, but every light from my kitchen into my bedroom. It was one of the tiny pills I had taken moments before stumbling up the staircase, I can never remember their names but I believe it was the pink one.
Like so many things in my life, it was hard to swallow.
I woke up to the smell of cigarettes and Sam. Apparently I left the door unlocked, too. The lights were still on and I couldn’t breathe.
I drank water constantly, trying to force my body to remove the oxygen molecules from the liquid and fill my lungs, I’m not sure that’s how it works but it’s what I was hoping for.
Sam stared at me from across my kitchen table, tapping her ashes into my cereal bowl from the day before and often offering me puffs.
“Come on, we’re going to tea.”
The tea was fine but the pastries and conversation were overwhelmingly dry. I constantly find myself not enjoying the company I surround myself with.The emptiness that had followed me for days now had not lifted and I found myself wanting – but what was both unsure and unimportant. Mostly, it was out. I wanted out more than ever before, probably because at this point in my life out was not an option. Not even remotely.
I went to dinner with Steven, he ordered his steak cooked medium well. I couldn’t have been more disgusted. I reminded myself to be ladylike as I cut my own rare meat into small pieces, and reminded myself to look human as I sopped the blood that covered my plate up into these small pieces. I didn’t put too much care into this, and Steven didn’t seem to notice.
Steven’s middle name is Jonathan, which I think is pretty much pointless. Middle names infuriate me, I’m sure I am the only bitch in the restaurant whose middle name isn’t Nicole or Michelle. My middle name is Kathryn, with a K. My grandmother was Mary Kathryn, and she was a powerful bitch.
I excuse myself to the parking lot for a cigarette. Steven doesn’t smoke, and I only smoke as an excuse to get away from him. Slowly a beat up car barely pulls up next to me and the window lowers.
What sits inside is one of the most gross displays of a man I’ve ever seen, and he’s giving me the most hideous glance ever.
“Girl, you retarded sexy,” he screams over the loud rap music that blares from his speakers, the bass making my chest rattle.
I deeply inhale my cigarette and then blow the smoke out in a slow, steady, even stream.
“You’re quite retarded yourself.”
This question is not a question, and for some reason it catches me off guard. I fuck. I fuck all night long, I’ve made men cry I fuck so well.
“Yes. I fuck.”
He unlocks the car door, and I’m not sure why, but I get in.
This is probably one of the stupidest things I’ve ever done, and I can see myself ending up dead in a dumpster behind K-Mart in record time. I can see the re-enactment on one of those TV shoes I hate, but they’ll probably make it seem like I was forced into the car when they reenact it. I wonder how many of those stupid bitches did exactly as I did.
“Do you have any water?”
The stranger looks at me, shakes his head, and licks his lips. I fumble through my purse and find a pink pill and throw it down my throat dry.
“Do you have a condom?”
“Don’t worry about it, I’m just trying to have a baby.”
The stranger looks surprised – “I’m not ready to be a father,” he says.
“I don’t care, I don’t even know your name. Don’t worry, I won’t be looking for child support.”
“What will you name it?”
“My mom’s name is Catherine, she’s a bitch.”
I look deeply into his eyes and nod.
I’ve been thinking about high school a lot lately. I hated it while I was there, but now Im starting to miss it. Only two things kept me alive in high school: you and The Legendary Pink Dots.
You were perfect for me then. You knew exactly what I needed to keep from losing my mind after those seven hours of torture each day.
You had no idea that you were one of the only two things in the world that I was living for, but you never disappointed me either.
The only thing I looked forward to more than kissing you at the top of the stairs on the way to 3rd period was walking with you after school.
It was the same each day, we’d meet by the tree and start walking towards the lake – taking turns listening to songs by The Legendary Pink Dots on the walkman while talking about everything and absolutely nothing at the same time.
Once we’d get to the lake the photo shoot would begin. It was never planned, but you always said you couldn’t resist taking pictures of my perfect smile. You’re the only person to ever make me smile like that.
I haven’t heard from you in years, but a while back when I saw your photos in a magazine your model, unlike me, had much more than a great smile.
I haven’t smiled like that since we parted ways.
The photos would continue until we could no longer resist, and then usually we’d lay in the grass near the water. We wouldn’t always have sex, though it was amazing when we did. But laying there in the sun with your arms around me was just as fulfilling. I would bury my nose deep into your curly hair and inhale the scent of your coconut shampoo until I could no longer remember what anything else in the world smelt like. And then I’d make fun of you for using coconut scented shampoo.
These are the things I think as I try and get to sleep tonight while my husband sleeps next to me and my children lay in the room across the hall. My husband has long grown unattractive and leaves a sour taste in my mouth. My maternal instinct is, and always has been, non existent.
I start to wonder where we went wrong, and why it’s not you laying next to me right now. Why our children aren’t across the hall.
I step out of the bed and into the closet. I rifle through a box simply labeled “Old” for several moments until I find it: my walkman, with the The Legendary Pink Dots mix tape you made me in 11th grade in the tape deck.
I return to the bed and attempt to play the tape. The batteries in the walkman are, of course, dead. I remove the batteries from the remote and replace what remains of the long corroded bullets inside of what was once my favorite toy.
I press play. Lisa’s Funeral begins to echo inside my ear canals.
I wonder where you are, and I ask myself why in the hell I ever chose to smell anything but your coconut shampoo.