by Lindsay Hunter
I felt bad for her. Her fists up above her head, pounding away. Her sweaty black hair. Her shirt bunched up and her belly showing, such lovely olive skin our mom used to say, such lovely olive skin threaded with stretch marks and fat now, rippling and rippling like her belly button was a coin dropped in water.
Let. Me. In. Behind her the sky was so blue it stained her fists. I turned the TV on.
At the commercials I realized she'd been quiet, and when I looked at her I saw her watching me like I'd been watching the TV. I just need my clothes, she said. I walked over to the door and pushed my forehead against it. Did you see the sky, I asked her. Of course, she said. I let her in.
Cunt, she said. In the kitchen she stuck her head in the freezer and sucked at a bottle of vodka. The cold air billowed white around her. Our mom had once paid a man to paint angels in my sister's bedroom. They floated in white air.
Want me to help you, I asked her.
Go fuck yourself, she said. Someone on TV started screaming. Here, she said, and handed me the empty bottle. Fill this up with water and put it back in the freezer.
I let the water run and run. I let it fill the bottle and cascade over my hands and fall down the drain. I imagined time slowing until it was nothing, until it dripped like water.
I touched my wet finger to a piece of ice in the freezer and it stuck. My finger got numb. I can endure pain, I wanted to tell her. Better than you.
Hey, she said, and when I turned she was holding our mom's economy-sized bottle of Tylenols. She was chewing. White powder clung to her lips and shirt. Hey, remember when I pierced your ear and we used ice to numb it? She tipped her head back, poured more pills in. You bled like a motherfucker. She coughed and a pill flew out of her mouth and hit my shoulder. She picked it up and wiped it on my shirt. Popping it back in her mouth, she said, come outside and sit with me.
We sat on the porch and stared at the yard. Her lips were chalked with Tylenol. Light this, she said, handing me a cigarette. Don't inhale or you'll turn evil. She blew smoke rings. Look, she said, halos. She said, you're really annoying, you know that? Good grades and virginity don't count for shit.
Her words were slurring. She held the cigarette up and missed her mouth.
I'm sending up a flare, she said. She pointed at the sky. You see that? I'm sending up a flare. Here I am. Here I am. Here I am.
Her head drooped, her chin touched her chest. Here I am, she said. You don't even have to look to find me.
Evening was coming on. The sky turned pale and the sun was orange and smeared.
When Dad gets home, she said, make him count to ten before he looks for me. No, she said, make it twenty.
All content in SmokeLong Quarterly copyright 2003-2014 by its authors.
Lindsay Hunter is a writer living in Chicago. She is the co-founder and co-host of the Quickies! reading series, and her work has previously been published in McSweeney's Internet Tendency, Nerve, Featherproof, and Make, among others.
Read the interview.
Leah Tumerman, though exceedingly interested in illustration, cannot seem to choose a medium, and has recently created puppet animations, oil paintings, works of narrative prose and homemade handbags. Her work away from illustration explores nostalgia, dreamscape, perception and memory and plays with boundaries of both the charming and grotesque. Visit her on the web at www.leahtumerman.com.
|Issue Twenty-One (June 15, 2008): Paper Mouse by Bob Arter «» The Folk Singer Dreams of Time Machines by Matt Bell «» The Bone Orchard by Randall Brown «» Disease Relics by Blake Butler «» We Decided to Make Porn by Brian Allen Carr «» The Baby Drop-Off by Natascia Casey-Dean «» The Cougar by Dave Clapper «» Anointed by Myfanwy Collins «» Sister Earth by John Colvin «» Soap by Katrina Denza «» The Interpretation of Light by Murray Dunlap «» The Hole by Ashley Farmer «» Repair Man by Kathy Fish «» In the Kitchen She Wakes by Stefanie Freele «» American Gothic by Scott Garson «» Lobster Girl by Alicia Gifford «» Pen and Notebook by Natalie Goldberg «» Memento Mori by Rosanne Griffeth «» BiC by Steven Gullion «» Parting by Evelyn Hampton «» Tuesday by Lindsay Hunter «» Waiting on Lombard Street by W.P. Kinsella «» Johnny by Nance Knauer «» Like Swimming by Jeff Landon «» Feeling Sad by Darby Larson «» Alone With Cooper by Ellen Meister «» The Angel's Visitation by Corey Mesler «» South Dakota by Mary Miller «» California Fruit by Meg Pokrass «» Home Made by Bruce Holland Rogers «» Handful of Dirt by Jim Ruland «» Steam City Girl by Paul Silverman «» Sugar by Claudia Smith «» The 13th Toast by Amy Sparks «» Gathering by Kelly Spitzer «» Tiny Shadows by Maryanne Stahl «» Double-Exposure by Thomas White «» Epistemology by Joseph Young «» Why This Isn't a Good Story to Tell by Shellie Zacharia «» Liquid by Michelle Zellers «» Real Estate by Bonnie ZoBell «» Interviews: Bob Arter «» Matt Bell «» Randall Brown «» Blake Butler «» Brian Allen Carr «» Natascia Casey-Dean «» Dave Clapper «» Myfanwy Collins «» John Colvin «» Katrina Denza «» Murray Dunlap «» Ashley Farmer «» Kathy Fish «» Stefanie Freele «» Scott Garson «» Alicia Gifford «» Rosanne Griffeth «» Steven Gullion «» Evelyn Hampton «» Lindsay Hunter «» Nance Knauer «» Jeff Landon «» Darby Larson «» Ellen Meister «» Corey Mesler «» Mary Miller «» Meg Pokrass «» Bruce Holland Rogers «» Jim Ruland «» Paul Silverman «» Claudia Smith «» Amy Sparks «» Kelly Spitzer «» Maryanne Stahl «» Thomas White «» Joseph Young «» Shellie Zacharia «» Michelle Zellers «» Bonnie ZoBell «» Cover Art "Five Years of SmokeLong" compiled from art by Marty D. Ison, Robert Dornberg, Malina, and Rebecca Gullickson «» Letter From the Editor|