Tag Archives: sad

Caricature

sometimes I dream of my baby teeth –
of rearranging the tiny white mounds into messages
outside his bedroom door

I can almost feel their smoothness against
my palm. it hurts but I
write on, spelling out secrets on the carpet
wiping the blood from my chin

the door, closed,
the lock pressed inward – he is afraid
of the bone. he doesn’t know
what it means

the man leaves me in silence

with my tongue,
probing the sore and weeping craters of
my jaw

with my tongue
held and tied and angry.

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I-70

I am not entirely sure how I got home last night, only that I thought about God the whole time.

Not the famous one, someone else.

I had eaten the highway in a blur, exits and mile markers collecting on my tongue. Bitter. The kind of taste that makes you swear off farmer’s market fruit for a while. Eyes wide, I cranked the AC as high as it would go, lips blanching as the blood retreated back to my heart. White fingers curled around the steering wheel, music pounding like a pulse – I’m alive I’m alive I’m alive I’m aliiiiiive – and I shifted in and out. I was in the car, then I was nowhere, another mouth in the void, open and yawning. Panicked.

It is dangerous to be this way. I know.

His given name was Quinn, but I found him deep in someone else’s emotional entanglement, and she called him God. He wasn’t particularly religious, so I can’t place the nickname’s origin. He took it in stride – after all, who among us has not craved some level of worship?

I thought of Quinn’s hat first and that brought me back. I always imagine it as a newsboys cap – olive-green or khaki, maybe, and frayed. Dark framed glasses sat underneath, never askew, above a smile that never graced his lips when I was around. I was four years younger, too eager to be a part of a joke that was never mine.

A burst of red light snapped me more fully into the car. Someone had slammed on the breaks, so I did too. Traffic is not a place to express one’s individuality.

God never struggled with that. He poured over his fish eye lenses, capturing people and moments with a deftness I could not hope to recreate. Quinn was so unique (but in the way that every handsome boy can be). I don’t know what he does now. He doesn’t even remember I existed, you know, I’m almost sure of it. It’s funny how we do that to people. We cannot possibly remember everyone we’ve met – not without enormous cost, and I have accepted this.

I don’t know why I fixated on Quinn. We spoke all of twenty words and most of those were me squealing his nickname as we passed in the halls.

Frigid fingers tugged a hood over my head, pulling my jacket closed as if to doubly hide in the darkness. I wished I wasn’t alone. That’s the worst part, to be honest, that touch-and-go loneliness. It sinks its nails into my skin and yanks downward. I am continuously left in ribbons. The silence stretches me out in the worst ways.

He took someone else to the prom. I don’t know if my friend had wanted to go with him, but I imagine she would’ve said yes if he asked. I didn’t call him God after that. I didn’t call him anything.

I can’t imagine that he even noticed.

 

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Goodbye, Restaurant.

 

Leaving is an art, not unlike free-falling from an airplane. Sometimes you decide to jump, other times the airlock breaks open.

Either way, it’s dizzying.

The air’s too thin. The clouds soak through your tee-shirt as you tear through them, fingers splayed open like claws, your palms a paradox as they shift from hot to frigid and back again.

I am an expert, almost.

I don’t even watch the ground anymore, the vast expanse yawning as every blade of grass comes to life beneath me. Instead I count the birds, or I shut my eyes, or I retrace my steps out of the plane. It always starts the same: left. right. left. and then nothing, nothing but wind. It doesn’t whistle at that altitude – it shrieks.

Leaving situations is easy. It’s the people who are hard.

Wednesday marks the very last day at my restaurant. In an average week, I spend two fewer hours in that little building than I do in my own bed. In a pay period, I walk a bare minimum of 18 miles just to sling soup. My customers smile when they see me (some of them, anyway. enough of them.) and I ask them about their families, their cats, their plans. We joke about the orders that never change (tomatoes, really? those blood blister fruits) and they ask me to dance, or to drink, or to give them a copy of my first book. The owners laugh at all of my jokes, even the puns. Especially the puns. And my staff..

My beautiful staff. I’ll never forget the Saturday mornings we spent huddled around the fresh bread, dipping the salty scraps in rich soup. You took me to my first bar (and my second and my third). You stole cigarettes from men in the streets and laughed when I told you to put your pants back on. You told me horrible jokes, some which are still seared inside my brain.  You bought me my first jello shot. You cheered for me in every relationship. You walked me home in the dark, the stars shining unnoticed overhead. You drove me home and trusted me with your cars. You listened to my stories. You helped me escape an abusive situation – you even let me cry on your shoulders when I forgot how to be a person afterward.

You’ve told me how proud you are of me.

And for all my practice, for all the experience I’ve had leaving, somehow it comes up short now.

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