A Careful Measurement

It’s all I can do since you stopped writing to me
to recreate your image in a story
in which you are as tall as you ever were
and as sleek with the same bushy hair
but I’ve added some embarrassing skin afflictions

you are trotting across a country road in the rain
and to my credit, I don’t let any cars hit you
there is nothing but thunder and lightning
striking through the gravy of a sky
with the consistency of porridge
I have surrounded you with this setting
as a suffocating, lonely blanket
the mud staining the bottom of your skirts
and all the cows and horses in hiding
somewhere warmer than you will be able to find
until several chapters later
the scene is lumpy gray with mud and clouds
both splashing and infuriated
then, as you are running, your heel breaks

that is exactly how much I hate you today

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Yes, Miss

After my house burnt down a lot of people said the same thing
“My god-well, at least you weren’t in it,” but I was, albeit in hiding
I had pretended to be out of town for Thanksgiving
but hightailed it home early to enjoy the quiet

And hightailed myself and my dog
out of the smoking wreck at five in the morning
and watched the fiery flames burst out of my window
until around noon when the Red Cross showed up
and clothed my shivering, wet feet with socks

I didn’t have a wallet or keys
the Red Cross lady added that I also
wouldn’t have a place to sleep
I couldn’t stay with my boyfriend
and my aunt had gone south for the winter already
so my dog and I did a lot of hiking
while I petitioned to be allowed
a temporary respite on my old college campus

I was thirty and the other students
weren’t old enough to drink
Although that’s never stopped anyone
As evidenced by the loud music
constantly blaring from my neighbors’ apartments
but at least I got to hear people having fun
rather than, say, domestic violence
or people getting shot

charities donated to heavy garbage bags of supplies to me
and I remembered that young men on campuses
were always happy to help girls with these types of errands
I spotted two of them, Erik and Edionis, while I was moving in
used a little finesse, and they helped my carry
all my bags up without breaking anything

I saw Erik again two weeks later and greeted him
with the best news-I had found permanent housing
we hugged, and as I apologized for hugging him
I peered into his eyes and saw my favorite color
A velvety brown, maroon in a certain light
and he explained to me that he hadn’t had the best life
couldn’t really afford to live on campus
didn’t have nice parents, and seemed disturbed
so much so that I was reminded of myself as a youth
he reassured me that he understood homelessness
and was just relieved that I found housing

another week passed and I came home to hear yelling
not the type that could be confused with the Patriot’s game
but endless, one sided, and filled with obscenities
very clearly in my living room coming from another building
I remembered someone saying they had heard a fight
two hours earlier, and that’s why my dog was barking
but it was still happening and then I heard what sounded like
furniture crashing

I called the police. Only after the yelling quieted
did I wonder if it was Erik doing acid in his apartment
as I had done when I was younger or fighting with his girlfriend on the phone
or worse, his mother, and if now because of me he was arrested

later still and deep into the night a knock on my door
startled me out of sleep, I was sure it was Erik
either coming for vengeance or a place to hide
the officer asked me for a witness statement
and said the student had been arrested
I felt slimy. I asked what the charge was
and he said drunk and disorderly
the student wasn’t alone
there was another student
passed out on the floor
during the whole thing

and what else? Did he have a weapon?
Yes, Miss. He had guns. A lot of them.

I was absolutely right, but she doesn’t need to know that

When an old friend says Fuck you
and Go fuck yourself in quick succession
I tell her the conversation has ended
and it was completely inappropriate
and uncalled for to use that kind of language
that I just won’t stand for it

then I have to dust off
my internal Rolodex of all the times
i have used these phrases
against the patriarchy, mostly
or those who have tried to impose it on me
in my poetry and drunkenly
but never to a friend
just, you know, every lover
I’ve ever had

I have other friends, I started thinking
who still actually live in this country
and are vying to see me
too many, actually
I could use the gap of one less
to my advantage
I could use that time
to read or pick up a language

it is my ambition to never be sworn at again
and i could do it — for the most part
over the past few years, i have
but wouldn’t I miss her?

I pull over to the side of the road
on my way home, put the hazards on
and email her a question
are you ok? and then i add
a totally unwarranted apology
for both of our benefits

its kind of a funny story

I could tell you the saddest stories from the fire
and the funniest. Right now, I feel like the ladder.
On the fifth day, I was exhausted and couldn’t stop crying
and i remembered that my therapist told me
that i have to practice self care. So I said to myself
Georgia, you haven’t done anything for leisure
you havent talked to any friends in a jovial manner
you havent taken a walk, you haven’t read anything
you havent even listened to music. let’s treat
ourself to a nice, hot shower. So, I did
with my little shampoo bottles. but the steam
set the fire alarm off after ten minutes
and i fled to the public hall in my towel
with my dog in my arms, terrified and yowling

Guess what?

There’s a toilet paper holder
to put the toilet paper on
and its right by the toilet
and my dog is right around the corner
he comes and kisses me whenever i call him
and theres a bathtub which i need
with lavender and epsom salt-everything!
and this is my permanent, forever housing

Calling All Writers! Our Short Story Contest is Now Open For Submissions

Submit your short stories! Awesome prizes! No fee!

Noted: If the woman’s head is cut off in the picture, that was unintentional. I do not condone cutting off women’s heads.

Sudden Denouement Literary Collective

The Contest is officially open!

Since its inception in 2016, The Sudden Denouement Literary Collective has had the privilege of featuring some of today’s most fearless writers. With members that span the globe and editors who share a passion for pushing boundaries, we as a collective have enjoyed reading, promoting, and watching the success of each individual artist as they have grown in their craft and left their mark upon the literary world.

Now, as writers and readers, editors and fans, we at Sudden Denouement Literary Collective are ecstatic to open up the doors to our outstanding, award winning collective, and invite you all in to pull up a chair and tell us your stories.

The Sudden Denouement Literary Collective, and Sudden Denouement Publishing, are pleased to dip our toes into the waters of great literary contests and announce our first ever short story literary prize with a call for…

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The Last Reunion

i was always egg shaped

hunched over a book

with my knees drawn to my chest

i never left an impression

on my own small section of this country

not more than the hoofs onto the pasture

on a hot, dry day

left by the animals of my neighbors

who i could never identify

let alone name

 

but she left an impression

like ten bulls when the field was muddy

our local newspaper even wrote

an article on her and all the local diners

hung it in glass or laminate

and i went as her date

onto my own street

towards the swings

away from my family

 

i told her, let’s not stay out too late

and then, when she got caught up

with all of our high school bullies

who have apologized to her since

but never me, i got drunk

and i hooked up with two of them

consecutively in the back

of their pick up trucks

 

and when she found me

it was just like then

she kissed me good night

and tucked me into my side

of her bed