by William Fargason
The news is on. It’s Saturday,
but there’s still news. The screen
on mute, the car’s on fire, footage
shaky: another bombing, or shooting,
or missing person. You could be
the person missing, almost. You won’t
be able to watch after ten minutes.
Too much. Outside, it’s bright, it’s morning,
it’s terrible, but inside, it’s worse.
You don’t sleep. Or, if you do, never
well enough. You didn’t last night,
up thinking of her again, her brown hair
falling across her blue eyes, her leaving
you because you know that’s what you
deserve but you wake up
and she’s still here, next to you.
In the mirror, a man. He looks like
you, or a version of you. Reach out
your hand. Touch your face. Wipe
the sauce off your cheek from
the half-eaten burrito left out
on the coffee table from last night. Clean
yourself up. You look like a goddamn mess.
If the medicine worked, it’d be
working. Don’t forget to take it
anyway. Did you take it yet today?
You can never remember. Paxil.
Lamictal. Klonopin. Lithium, the old
staple. In your pocket everyday
you carry a pillbox you’ll take into
a bathroom stall on your lunch break
during work days. Little fire
extinguishers, you call them. You swallow
them dry, walk out the same.
Your parents call. This time, you
pick up the phone. They tell you
at least you’re not as bad
as last summer, all those hospitals.
Your father says you sound
like a zombie. You laugh to be polite.
Finally, you go outside. Today
you’re at least getting out of
the house. You’ve checked the mail
four times already. Besides bills,
you get letters only on your birthday.
The aluminum of the box
with your name card reminds you
of one of those morgue refrigerators.
You stand next to an oak tree
with Spanish moss outside
your apartment building. You used to love
trees. You used to love a lot of things:
sundials, apple slices, Christmas lights
strung from porch railings, peanut butter.
Put your cigarette out on the bark, go back
inside. After all this time gone,
she’ll wonder where you’ve been.
Last updated July 26, 2022